DiSanto Announces State Funding for Two Key Parks Projects

Harrisburg – State Senator John DiSanto (R-15)  today announced the awarding of state grants for two key parks projects in Dauphin County.

Dauphin County will receive $200,000 for the construction of a connector trail in Detweiler Park in Middle Paxton Township. There is currently no trail access from the new entrance and facilities to the future commerce/indoor program area of the park.

The county has recently begun developing the park according to the 2021 Master Plan with a major investment in the creation of the first dedicated accessible public entrance, restroom, event lawn and pavilion. Completion of the connector trail will allow visitors to move easily between facilities within the main public activities area and provide the first section of the meadow loop trail. The total project cost is $250,000.

The City of Harrisburg will receive $125,000 to rehabilitate Reservoir Park with recreational upgrades and updates to amenities. This phase of the project will construct an intergenerational recreation area, including tot play structures and adult fitness equipment. Additional improvements include the construction of walkways, including the conversion of Reservoir Drive into a pedestrian walkway, as well as stormwater management and landscaping upgrades. The total project cost is $348,237.

“Our parks are valuable community resources, offering opportunities for recreation, exercise and social engagement,” DiSanto said. “I am glad to announce these state grants to allow two important parks projects to move forward.”

The grants were awarded by the Commonwealth Financing Authority under its Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program. The program is funded through the state Impact Fee, which is paid by the state’s unconventional natural gas producers.

CONTACT: Chuck Erdman cerdman@pasen.gov

Meeting to consider SB 1201

Senate Banking and Insurance Committee

Wednesday, June 15, 2022 | 9:30 a.m.

East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-B


Agenda

Meeting to consider SB 1201

Schedule

SB 1201 Pittman: Requires health insurance policies to cover prescription eye drop refills at 70 percent of the prescribed duration.

  • A04400 DiSanto: Technical changes. Defines insurer and further provides for applicability after the effective date.

DiSanto Thanks PHMC for Removing Undeserved Historical Marker

Harrisburg – Senator John DiSanto (Dauphin/Perry) today thanked members of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) for voting unanimously to remove a recently installed historical marker in Harrisburg. DiSanto had notified the PHMC of his objections in December 2021 and attended today’s PHMC meeting in Bucks County to make his case to commissioners directly.

On or about October 10, 2021, a historical marker was dedicated by PHMC at 205 State Street in Harrisburg to recognize Richard Schlegel, who was born in Berrysburg, Dauphin County. The text of the marker is as follows: Fired from federal and state jobs because he was gay, this trail-blazing activist took his job discrimination case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. He lost, but his key arguments were valuable in later cases. In 1965, he founded the first LGBTQ+ group in central Pa.

DiSanto was alerted by a constituent about an interview that Mr. Schlegel gave in May 1993 at the age of 66. It can be found online at: https://outhistory.org/exhibits/show/philadelphia-lgbt-interviews/int/richard-schlegel (WARNING – This link contains explicit language.) In this interview, Mr. Schlegel discusses activity of a sexual nature that he, as a sixteen-year-old, engaged in with a younger boy, “eleven, twelve maybe.”

DiSanto told the PHMC he “was shocked and disgusted to read this account that sounds like predatory, grooming behavior from Mr. Schlegel, who admitted he himself ‘was the aggressor.’ Especially disappointing, Mr. Schlegel, as a 66-year-old man, rather than expressing any sort of remorse about putting the younger child in this situation, conveyed regret at not physically touching the boy, saying ‘I certainly wouldn’t make that mistake twice, because he was so cute.’”

Among other alarming admissions by Mr. Schlegel, he made light of a victim of underage pornography who was assaulted and photographed by an associate of Mr. Schlegel. Mr. Schlegel did, however, express his continued sympathy for his associate, the pornographer who was convicted and served several years in prison.

In the interview, Mr. Schlegel also expressed a terroristic threat towards a former public official, LeRoy Zimmerman, a Dauphin County District Attorney and later State Attorney General—“Remember I have this block about Zimmerman because I thought of even killing that man. And I think I would have the capacity, even today, if the opportunity was presented, to kill him.”

Regarding the LGBT Center of Central PA’s opposition to the marker removal (the Center had been the marker’s sponsor) and derogatory comments about Sen. DiSanto, DiSanto said, “as a Catholic, I am disgusted with the priests in my church who sexually abused children entrusted with their care and I don’t think they deserve to be put on a pedestal, so I am utterly perplexed about why the LGBT Center would rally around Mr. Schlegel.”

Prior to the PHMC vote, DiSanto told commissioners “Mr. Schlegel, by his own admission, was involved directly in, and dismissive of victims impacted by, child sexual abuse and child pornography. We can certainly debate Mr. Schlegel’s life and historical legacy, but we don’t need to celebrate him. We need to unite, and stand for the protection of children, not their exploitation.”

Attachments:

  1. DiSanto letter to PHMC 12/20/21
  2. DiSanto follow-up letter to PHMC 5/4/22

CONTACT: Chuck Erdman cerdman@pasen.gov (717) 787-6801

DiSanto: Senate Committee Preserves CHIP Family Choice

HARRISBURG—Today the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee unanimously approved three bills which included approval of telehealth for outpatient psychiatric clinics, financial solvency regulation for insurance companies, and preserving options for CHIP families.

SB 1235, authored by committee Chairman John DiSanto (Dauphin/Perry) and Sharif Street (Philadelphia), would prohibit the Department of Human Services (DHS) from soliciting bids for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in any way that would preclude a CHIP carrier from submitting a bid. DHS had considered using the Medicaid Health Choices zones to bid the program, which would have excluded Harrisburg-based Capital Blue Cross because its national association only permits it to sell branded products in 21 counties.

“Capital Blue Cross serves a quarter of the entire CHIP program’s covered lives, and this business line alone provides for 70 family-sustaining jobs,” DiSanto said.  “Under the originally proposed bidding zones, all these CHIP families would need to find new health coverage and these local jobs would be lost.”

SB 1222, also authored by Chairmen DiSanto and Street, would adopt enhanced state-based financial solvency laws for insurance companies intended to better protect consumers. The legislation is needed to comply with Covered Agreements between the United States and the European Union and United Kingdom, or risk Pennsylvania-based insurers be subject to costly and disruptive international accounting standards and regulations.

HB 2419, sponsored by Representative Pickett, allows outpatient psychiatric clinics to better utilize telehealth for the delivery of mental health services. The bill alleviates the ongoing psychiatrist shortage and improves patient access to care.  

CONTACT: Chuck Erdman 717-787-6801 cerdman@pasen.gov

DiSanto Cannabis Banking Bill Receives Bipartisan Committee Vote

HARRISBURG – Today the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee gave bipartisan approval to legislation authored by its Chairmen John DiSanto (Dauphin/Perry) and Sharif Street (Philadelphia) to afford state-legal cannabis businesses better access to banking and insurance services.

Pennsylvania is one of 37 states having legalized medical cannabis. This quickly emerging industry has brought new businesses, jobs, and investment to Pennsylvania and has provided several hundred thousand patients access to safe and regulated products for the treatment of health conditions.  

While the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued guidance in 2014 for servicing cannabis-related businesses, federal law does not immunize financial institutions from prosecution. As a result, licensed cannabis businesses have struggled to access conventional banking and insurance services. This industry’s reliance on cash operations has been a public safety risk as dispensaries are targets for robberies that jeopardize patients, employees, and communities.

Senate Bill 1167 authorizes, but does not require, financial institutions and insurers to provide services to state-legal cannabis businesses. The proposal grants safe harbor protections from adverse state regulatory or legal action for servicing the industry.  

The legislation also permits Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis industry the ability to deduct ordinary business expenses when filing state taxes. Current U.S. IRS Code prohibits these deductions despite being standard practice for all existing non-cannabis businesses. Tax fairness removes a punitive hurdle for operating a successful legal business.

“Access to financial and insurance services is essential for operating any business and it is against the public interest to relegate a multi-billion-dollar industry to deal in piles of cash,” DiSanto said. “Banking this cash safely in Pennsylvania provides certainty for businesses, is a huge opportunity to grow our economy, and should ultimately lower costs for medical cannabis consumers.”

“The Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition applauds Chairmen DiSanto and Street for their work on state safe banking legislation. SB 1167 will not only expand financial access for Pennsylvania’s legitimate cannabis-related businesses but will also create significant tax savings for medical marijuana operators that can be passed on to patients without significant loss of revenue for the Commonwealth,” said executive director Meredith Buettner.

CONTACT: Chuck Erdman 717-787-6801 cerdman@pasen.gov

DiSanto Announces $2.1 Million in Grants for Road and Parks Projects in Dauphin and Perry Counties

Harrisburg – State Senator John DiSanto (Dauphin/Perry) today announced state funding to improve community parks, sidewalks and traffic flow in Dauphin and Perry counties.

“A robust park system and transportation infrastructure that reduces traffic congestion and enhances safety are important for maintaining vibrant communities,” DiSanto said. “I’m an advocate for returning state tax dollars to our cities, townships and boroughs to help pay for projects that benefit the local area.”

DiSanto said the following grants were approved by the Commonwealth Financing Authority today:

Dauphin County
City of Harrisburg – $150,000
To rehabilitate Reservoir Park with recreational upgrades and updates to amenities. The project includes construction of a playground for younger children and expanded parking to allow for more visitors. The total project cost is $550,213. (Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program)

East Hanover Township – $213,000
To help pay for improvements to the township community park. The work includes replacing play equipment, improving ADA accessibility and restoring a small stream. The total project cost is $905,000. (Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program)

Linlo Governor Crossing, LLC (Derry Township) – $750,000
To improve access to the Governor Crossing development in Derry Township by widening Fishburn Road to allow for a left turn lane, as well as the relocation and signalization of Sandy Hill Road. The project will reduce congestion and stacking along Governor Road (Route 322). The total project cost is $2.8 million. (Multimodal Transportation Fund)

Highview Commercial WH1 LLC (West Hanover Township) – $353,315
To make improvements to the intersection of Route 22 and Clover Lane in West Hanover Township to support the development of a 7-Eleven gas station at the site. The project will include adding a deceleration lane, improving existing entrances and adding sidewalks. The total project cost is $504,736. (Multimodal Transportation Fund)

Hummelstown Borough – $450,000
To help pay for the creation of a safe sidewalk connection for pedestrians in Downtown Hummelstown, adding sidewalks along Poplar Avenue, Hanover Street, and Quarry Road. The total project cost is $1.4 million. (Multimodal Transportation Fund)

“This is an important undertaking to improve pedestrian safety in the area. I’m grateful the Commonwealth Financing Authority recognized how worthwhile this project is, and I commend the borough for seeking out the grant,” Rep. Tom Mehaffie (R-Dauphin) said regarding this project in his district.

Perry County
Bloomfield Borough – $200,000
To help pay for the paving of streets in the Lakeside Development, which have recently been taken over by the borough. The total project cost is $537,386. (Multimodal Transportation Fund)

The Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program funds projects that involve development, rehabilitation and improvements to public parks, recreation areas, greenways, trails and river conservation.

Multimodal Transportation Fund grants are used for transportation development, rehabilitation and enhancement projects, including work to improve streetscapes, lighting, sidewalks, pedestrian safety, transportation system connections and transit-oriented development.

The Commonwealth Financing Authority is an independent agency of the Department of Community and Economic Development that administers many of Pennsylvania’s economic development and community improvement programs.

CONTACT: Chuck Erdman cerdman@pasen.gov

Senate Approves Tax Reform Measure for Small Business Employers

HARRISBURG—Today the Senate approved legislation authored by Senator John DiSanto (Dauphin/Perry) to advance small business tax reform that will help move Pennsylvania out of a pandemic economy and create jobs for Pennsylvanians.

Senate Bill 347 eliminates a disadvantage faced by Pennsylvania small businesses when competing with those in other states. Under federal tax law, a “like-kind” exchange under the Internal Revenue Code allows for tax deferral when property is exchanged for similar property. This long-standing federal provision allows employers to invest in the job-creating assets businesses need to remain competitive. Every state but Pennsylvania provides for a similar deferral on the state level.

“My legislation levels the playing field for small businesses looking to expand or even relocate in our Commonwealth,” DiSanto said. “Like-kind exchange treatment can be a deciding factor for real estate transactions, and my bill will improve Pennsylvania’s business climate to encourage economic growth and job creation.”

The bill will now be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. It is part of a Small Business Tax Reform Package to help employers recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and mandated shutdowns. Small businesses create 65% of the jobs in the commonwealth.

The Senate previously passed Senate Bill 349 to bring state tax law governing expense deductions in line with federal law, eliminating the unequal treatment of small businesses in Pennsylvania. The increase in limits makes it easier for employers to buy equipment and to invest, which promotes job growth.

 

CONTACT: Chuck Erdman cerdman@pasen.gov (717) 787-6801

DiSanto Committee Votes to Urge Congress to Block Biden Plan to Access Private Bank Information

HARRISBURG— The state Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, chaired by Sen. John DiSanto (Dauphin/Perry), voted today to urge Congress to oppose a plan by the Biden Administration to gain access to the bank account information of citizens.

“This was a reckless idea from the beginning, and the Biden administration’s excuse that they wanted to look into the bank accounts of almost all Americans in order to target tax cheats was simply not believable,” DiSanto said. “This was a dangerous idea and remains so. Congress must stop it in its tracks.” 

The Biden administration originally planned to direct the IRS to collect additional data on every bank account that sees more than $600 in annual transactions. Following widespread criticism, the plan was altered to cover deposits and withdrawals from bank accounts with more than $10,000 in non-payroll income, but this still imposes an unprecedented invasion of privacy by the IRS as the average American has annual transactions of more than $60,000 per year.

The committee passed Senate Resolution 195 by a vote of 9-5 with all Democratic members voting against the resolution. The Biden proposal is currently included in a multi-trillion-dollar spending package Congress and the White House have been negotiating for months.

The committee also passed:

  • Senate Bill 676 increasing for the first time in 47 years the minimum amount of auto insurance required for drivers to $25,000 for bodily injury and $10,000 for property damage. The amended bill also reforms “stacking,” a confusing option motorists face when purchasing auto insurance.

“The current, default stacking of coverage is poorly understood by consumers, arbitrary and imprecise, with a waiver process that is fraught with uncertainty and litigation,” DiSanto said. “This legislation provides easily understandable policies and choices that fulfill the needs of consumers.”

  • House Bill 1588 allowing remote mortgage origination to continue. Under current law, mortgage brokers are required to work out of a licensed location. However, during the pandemic, emergency orders waived the requirement to work from a licensed location to conduct business.

The measures now go to the full Senate for consideration.

CONTACT: Chuck Erdman cerdman@pasen.gov 717-787-6801 

DiSanto Invites Veterans to Appreciation Breakfasts in November

Harrisburg – Senator John DiSanto (Dauphin/Perry) will host two 15th Senatorial District Veterans Appreciation Breakfasts in November. Veterans may choose to attend one of the following events, scheduled for 8:30 – 10:30 am:

Thursday, Nov 18 – Linglestown American Legion Post #272, 505 N Mountain Rd, Harrisburg

Friday, Nov 19 – New Bloomfield VFW Post #7463, 71 Soule Rd, New Bloomfield

In addition to breakfast, the program will consist of patriotic performances, the presentation of colors, an update on legislation regarding veterans’ benefits and resources, and a special keynote speaker from the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

 “In recognition of Veterans Day 2021, and after being unable to host an event last year because of COVID restrictions, I wanted to take an opportunity to show our appreciation for the many area military veterans who have sacrificed on behalf of their country,” Senator DiSanto said. “I look forward to thanking our veterans, providing an informative and enjoyable program, and ensuring they understand the benefits and resources available to them.”

All veterans who live in the 15th District are invited, along with one guest. Seating is limited, so early registration is encouraged.

For more information or to register, please contact Senator DiSanto’s New Bloomfield office at 717-582-2454 or Harrisburg office at 717-787-6801, email jdisanto@pasen.gov, or visit www.SenatorDiSanto.com.

 

CONTACT: Chuck Erdman cerdman@pasen.gov (717) 787-6801