Citizen-lobbyists descended on the Pennsylvania State Capitol to urge lawmakers to support proposals in the Senate and House of Representatives that would eliminate school property taxes, once and for all.

Hundreds of taxpayers from across the state met with lawmakers and staff to urge their support for the bipartisan proposal. More on this event can be found in my most recent e-newsletter.

This is the number one issue I hear about at any of my town hall meetings. I am encouraged by the progress of this legislation in the Senate and the House. We expect the Independent Fiscal Office to offer an updated analysis in the coming weeks to ensure this proposal crafted by over 80 grassroots taxpayer groups from across the state will adequately fund public education.

House proposal would shrink state legislature

Two proposals authored by House Speaker Sam Smith would shrink the state Senate and House of Representatives. I applaud this measure and have sponsored similar measures in years past.

On Tuesday, the House State Government Committee approved Smith's proposals that would cut the House of Representatives from 203 to 153, and cut the Senate to 38 from its current 50 members.

Over 100 bills have been tried in the past with some variation, including one offered by former State Senator Fred Hobbs, who served as the Senator for the 29th District from 1967-1976.

Senator Hobbs proposed that the legislature should shrink to 40 members in the Senate and 123 in the House of Representatives. You can read his bill from 1971 at http://j.mp/1bIT7L3 [1].

Legislative reduction was also a focal point of an extensive debate during the state's 1968 Constitutional Convention.

If we are going to be serious about government reform, cost savings and increasing efficiency, we need to get serious about this change. Estimates show savings for taxpayers over $10 million annually once fully implemented.

Senate approves CHIP reauthorization, extension

The Senate approved House Bill 108, legislation reauthorizing and extending the life of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through December 31, 2015 on Wednesday. The bill returns to the House of Representatives for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Pennsylvania's CHIP program is one of the Commonwealth's true success stories and has served as a model for similar programs across the country. Tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians lead healthy and productive lives because of the essential medical services they received as children through CHIP and thousands of young people are today benefiting from the program.

As part of his HealthyPA initiative, Governor Corbett has called on the Legislature to reauthorize the CHIP program and remove the current requirement for children to go six months without insurance before becoming eligible.

One of the highlights of the Governor's plan is that it places more doctors in rural areas. That is a very important issue in the communities that I represent.

Notary law update bill headed to Governor

The Senate approved House Bill 25 on Tuesday. The bill updates Pennsylvania's notary law to ensure notarizations and acknowledgments are taken reliably and professionally, help prevent fraudulent notarization practices and facilitate electronic commerce. HB 25 now goes to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law.

Aging and Youth Committee approves child protection measures

The Senate Aging and Youth Committee approved a series of bills to provide sweeping improvements to Pennsylvania's child protection Laws on Tuesday:

Senate Bill 20: updates the definition of "child abuse" and provides exclusions.

Senate Bill 21: clarifies who is a "mandatory reporter" of child abuse.

Senate Bill 22: increases penalties for failure to report child abuse.

Senate Bill 23: updates the definition of "perpetrator" and expands definition of "person responsible for a child's welfare."

Senate Bill 27: improves the exchange of information among medical practitioners and county agencies.

Senate Bill 30: establishes accountability and due process protections for individuals working with delinquent children in juvenile detention facilities and residential rehabilitative institutions.

Senate Bill 33: provides employee whistle-blower protection for child abuse reporting.

The bills are part of a bipartisan package of legislation introduced following the recommendations of the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection, created by the passage of Senate Resolution 250 in December 2011. The panel held a series of public meetings and released its report in November 2012.

The measures now go to the full Senate for consideration. More information and video from the hearing are available at the committee's website http://aging.pasenategop.com [2].