Mar. 17, 2017

Legislative Report 
The latest news from the State Capitol
               
 
Cook Votes to Expand Educational Choice
         
On Monday, I had my first opportunity to vote in favor of the expansion of two popular tax credit programs that continue to allow thousands of families across Pennsylvania to choose the best education for their children.

House Bill 250 would increase the amount of tax credits available under both the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs. Funds available for EITC would increase by $50 million to a record $175 million and funds available for the OSTC would increase by $25 million to $75 million.

The EITC program provides businesses with tax credits in exchange for their voluntary contributions to organizations that fund various educational opportunities including scholarships and innovative programming. The OSTC program provides businesses with tax credits in exchange for their contributions to organizations that provide scholarships to students who live within the attendance boundary of a low-achieving public school.

The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration.

For the latest legislative updates, visit RepBudCook.com and Facebook.com/RepBudCook.
           
           
 
Giving Families Work Choices
            
I also participated in a House Human Services Committee hearing this week to clear up confusion and questions regarding an initial proposal by the Department of Human Services (DHS) that would force individuals with disabilities to spend time in the community, thereby reducing their ability to participate in day programs and sheltered workshops under the department’s Office of Developmental Programs.

At issue is the way in which DHS is changing its administration of its home- and community-based waivers. The initial proposal would have required individuals to spend 75 percent of their time in the community, rather than being at day programs or sheltered workshops. This requirement left the heads of those organizations wondering how they would continue to operate if individuals can only participate essentially one day out of five.

A compromise proposal between DHS and the General Assembly would make it possible for each person to participate in the community, but leave the decision with the individual. This proposal still awaits finalization.

To watch the hearing, visit this website and click on the March 13 date
                      
                
 
Love Your Dog? License Your Dog
                
With March designated as License Your Dog Month, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture reminds pet owners they must license their dogs ages 3 months and older. Failure can result in a maximum fine of $300 per violation, plus court costs.

An annual license is $8.50, and a lifetime license is $51.50. If the animal is spayed or neutered, the annual fee is $6.50, and lifetime fee is $31.50. Discounts are available to older adults and people with disabilities. Dog licenses are available from your local county treasurer and other licensing agents.

If your dog gets lost, a current license is the fastest way to get it back.

The small license fee helps the millions of dogs in the state by funding the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement.

For more information, click here to watch a short video or visit this website.
                   
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