Oct. 11, 2019 / Weekly Roundup

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Weekly Roundup
The latest news from the State Capitol
Nuclear vs. Gas and Government Intervention

Last month the 40-year-old nuclear power generation plant at Three Mile Island (TMI) closed its doors forever. Most of us remember the 1979 accident that hobbled the plant; ever since, it has only been able to generate power at one-half capacity. TMI is owned by the large energy conglomerate Exelon, and Exelon lobbied the state legislature hard for taxpayer subsidies to keep TMI going. The legislature declined, citing Exelon’s own lack of investment in TMI, despite Exelon’s record profits. Even if the state had given Exelon the subsidies it sought, Exelon only promised to keep the lights on at TMI for a few additional years.

Now, Exelon and other nuclear power companies are asking the state to declare nuclear power a “carbon free” electric generation source, making nuclear power eligible for the tax benefits and subsidies that the wind and solar industries receive. Nuclear power producers argue that their high operating costs make them uncompetitive with emergent natural gas. They also predict that overseas demand for gas will drive up the cost of gas. With aging nuclear power plants shuttered because they can’t compete and greater demand for gas, advocates for government subsidies assert the price of electricity for consumers will rise. Ok, and the problem is…?

For a nation that owes its dominant position in the world to the principles of capitalism, we often exhibit so little confidence in it. If the free market proves that nuclear technology from the middle of the last century cannot compete with today’s technology, why expend taxpayer money to support the losers in a battle of efficiency? If rising gas prices one day make the cost of electricity generated by gas too expensive, the free market will incentivize creative solutions.

Subsidies and credits disrupt the free market. When the government puts its fingers on the scale to favor one enterprise over another, it prevents the innovations and efficiencies which are the fruits of a free market system. If “central planning” government do-gooders don’t keep their mitts out of the marketplace, our energy production will increasingly resemble our healthcare system.
Navy Ship to be Named for Harrisburg

Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer on Thursday announced the next San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship will be named in honor of Harrisburg.

LPD 30 will be the second U.S. Navy vessel named after the City of Harrisburg. The first was a troopship acquired by the Navy during World War I that served in commission from May 29, 1918, to Sept. 25, 1919, according to a news release.

The Navy credited Harrisburg being the capital of Pennsylvania, along with the region being home to several Department of Defense facilities, including the Naval Support Activity Mechanicsburg.

USS Harrisburg will be 684 feet long and be capable of operating at speeds in excess of 22 knots.
REAL ID Deadline Less Than One Year Away

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is reminding customers that federal enforcement of the REAL ID Act will begin at airports and secure federal facilities nationwide starting on Oct. 1, 2020.

As of that date, you will have to have a federally accepted form of identification – such as a Pennsylvania REAL ID driver’s license or identification card, or a U.S. passport/passport card or military ID – to board a commercial flight (including domestic flights) or visit a secure federal building that requires ID at the door.

Since March 2019, when REAL ID first became available in the Commonwealth, more than 400,000 Pennsylvanians have chosen to get a REAL ID-compliant product. Based on data from other states with optional REAL ID programs, PennDOT anticipates that approximately 1.3 million of its customers will get a REAL ID before the federal enforcement deadline next year.

Federal regulations require that to be issued a REAL ID-compliant product, PennDOT must verify a variety of documents to prove a person’s identity, including documentation of name changes, as well as their Social Security number and place of residence.

For information about required documents, how to get them verified and other frequently asked questions about REAL ID, click here. 
Medicare Open Enrollment Starts Oct. 15

The state Department of Aging is reminding beneficiaries of the Medicare open enrollment period starting Tuesday, Oct. 15, and continuing through Saturday, Dec. 7. During this time, you may make changes to your current Medicare coverage, as well as join, switch or drop Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug Coverage plans.

Pennsylvania offers a free health insurance counseling program, APPRISE, through the local Area Agency on Aging. APPRISE counselors are specially trained staff and volunteers who can provide objective, easy-to-understand information at no cost to you. They can help you understand Medicare eligibility, enrollment, financial assistance programs and coverage options, among other Medicare-related topics.

For more information, contact the local Area Agency on Aging or call the toll-free APPRISE Helpline at 1-800-783-7067, which is available Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Information is also available here.  
Recognizing Domestic Violence Awareness Month

With approximately 95,000 victims seeking services through the Commonwealth’s domestic violence programs each year, the state House unanimously approved House Resolution 467 designating October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Pennsylvania.

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior used to establish power and control over an intimate partner, causing both physical and emotional harm. Victims may be subjected to abuse, harassment, threats, vandalism, trespassing, burglary, theft and stalking.

As one of the most chronically underreported crimes, domestic violence affects men and women in all racial, ethnic, religious, educational, social and economic backgrounds.

More information about domestic violence and services available to help victims is available here.
PennDOT Closures for Columbus Day Weekend

All PennDOT driver license and photo centers, including its full-service center in Harrisburg, will be closed Saturday, Oct. 12, through Monday, Oct. 14, in observance of Columbus Day.

Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services, including all forms, publications and driver-training manuals, online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov.
PennDOT’s Schedule for Oct. 14 to 18

  • Shoulder work on Yeakle Mill Road in Warren Township
  • Crack sealing on U.S. 11 (Molly Pitcher Highway) in Antrim Township
  • Crack sealing on Pen Mar and Country Club roads in Washington Township
  • Base repair on Roxbury Road in Lurgan Township
  • Pipe trench work on Old Scotland Road in Southampton and Greene townships
  • Pipe trench work on Rocky Mountain Road in Greene Township
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