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Following an exciting first week back in the Capitol, I am eager to once again get back to work for the people of the Commonwealth. Last week, my colleagues and I addressed several key issues concerning the integrity of Pennsylvania’s Medical Assistance Program and the scourge of human trafficking in our state, just to name a few.

We have an exciting week ahead as we continue to address these problems head-on in the pursuit of a safer and more fiscally responsible Pennsylvania.

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Valerie Gaydos

In this edition:
  •   Combatting Human Trafficking in the Commonwealth
  •   House OKs Bill to Prevent Repeat DUI Offenses 
  •    Tackling Medicaid Fraud, Abuse
  •   PennDOT Offers Summer Maintenance Program to College Students
  •   Completing the Census is Easier Than Ever
Combatting Human Trafficking in the Commonwealth.

The Greater Pittsburgh region is ranked 10th in the nation for human trafficking. As such, I was proud to join my colleagues this this week, introducing and sponsoring legislation that would combat the scourge of human trafficking. The bills are expected to come before the full House for a vote next week.

Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. The International Labor Organization estimates human trafficking is a $150 billion industry, of which $99 billion belongs to sexual exploitation.

As part of this package, I am the sponsoring legislation that would expand the list of sexual offenses that require offenders to participate in a program of counseling and therapy designed for incarcerated sex offenders.

Listen to my remarks on the legislation here.

I spoke further on the topic in my weekly-wrap up comments, which you can watch here.

Other bills in the package aim to increase penalties or expand definitions of crimes related to human trafficking; prohibit defendants from introducing evidence of a human trafficking victim’s past sexual victimization; expand opportunities for expert testimony in human trafficking cases; and require courts to consider human trafficking convictions when considering child custody.

Finally, I am proud to report that the House Judiciary Committee approved a resolution to recognize the month of January 2020 as “National Human Trafficking Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania.

 Click here to learn more about this crime and our efforts to address it.
House OKs Bill to Prevent Repeat DUI Offenses

Working to improve public safety, the House has approved a measure to require courts to evaluate repeat DUI offenders for the suitability of a substance monitoring program as a condition of bail.

A substance monitoring program prohibits the individual from using alcohol, controlled substances or both while also being required to use or participate in any of the following for no less than 90 days as a condition of bail: a continuous alcohol monitoring device; a remote breath testing device or any other alcohol monitoring technology or device; or random drug testing or another controlled substance monitoring device.

Recidivism rates for repeat DUI offenders who wore a device for at least 90 days are 50% less than those who did not.

A repeat DUI offender is an individual who is pending adjudication for a DUI and has one or more prior DUI convictions within the past 10 years; or is pending adjudication for two or more DUIs.

House Bill 916 now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Tackling Medicaid Fraud, Abuse

To ensure taxpayer dollars are helping people truly in need and not being used fraudulently or misspent, I stood with a bipartisan group of lawmakers this week as we unveiled a comprehensive package of bills to stop fraud and abuse within the state’s Medicaid program.

I introduced legislation requiring state agencies to assess their program expenditures to determine how susceptible they are to improper payment.

I also supported and cosponsored legislation that would create a state version of the federal False Claims Act to recoup additional funds from false claims made against Medicaid; create a state-level Do Not Pay system to stop improper payments before they are made; establish requirements for contracts with Medicaid Managed Care Organizations; and increase penalties for fraudulent claims.

The package of bills is the direct result of a grand jury report on fraud in Pennsylvania’s Medical Assistance Program, also known as Medicaid, released by the Office of Attorney General and a report recently released by the House Government Oversight Committee.

Listen to me discuss this legislation here.
PennDOT Offers Summer Maintenance Program to College Students

This year, PennDOT will sponsor an extensive Summer Maintenance Program (SMP) for college students. The program runs May through August 2020 to supplement the department’s permanent workforce.

These students assist in completing summer maintenance work and sign upgrade services, provide maintenance and custodial services at roadside rest facilities, and perform laboring and flagging duties in maintenance organizations and highway worksites. To be eligible for consideration, candidates must be eighteen years of age, enrolled full-time in college for the next semester, and have a valid Pennsylvania Driver's License. The hourly payment rate is $13.97.

Interested students may to apply online to the PennDOT Summer Maintenance Program by clicking here.
Completing the Census is Easier Than Ever

Each decade, the federal government counts the number of people in each state to help determine how many seats the state gets in the U.S. Congress and how to distribute more than $675 billion in funding to states, counties, municipalities, school districts and social service programs and organizations.

Being counted in the Census helps to improve our communities, roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, fire and police departments, parks, playgrounds and more.

Beginning in March, Census letters will be mailed. For the first time, people can respond to the Census online. There will also be a toll-free number so residents can share their information verbally. The traditional method of filling out the paper questionnaire will also be an option.

People can be confident that the Census Bureau will not share their information with anyone, including federal, state or local authorities of any kind, including law enforcement, immigration or landlords. There are no exceptions to this law, which is enforceable with five years in jail and a fine of $250,000.

Learn more at www.pa.gov/census/.
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1009 Beaver Grade Road, Suite 220, Moon Township, PA 15108 | Phone: (412) 262-3780, Fax: (412) 262-3783
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Email: vgaydos@pahousegop.com