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The Latest News from Your State Representative
Please do not reply to this e-mail, as I am unable to respond to messages sent to this address. You can contact me directly at vgaydos@pahousegop.com or via RepGaydos.com.
My colleagues and I returned to Harrisburg with a short week, and along with the abbreviated session came a corresponding urgency to take action on the priorities for which we laid the groundwork last week. In two short days, we advanced legislation to crack down on human trafficking and took steps to offer affordable health insurance plans to small businesses, reform the state system of higher education and more.

Each time I step foot in the Capitol I am reminded of the great privilege it is to serve you. With each vote I cast and every bill I bring forward, my focus is solely on you: the folks of the 44th District. In that same vein, I hope you know that you can always reach out to me and my office with questions, comments or concerns about the work we are doing in the Legislature.

Finally, I want to remind you to opt-in to continue receiving my legislative updates via email through the 60-day blackout period that limits what I can send you before an election. Simply click here and enter your email to guarantee that you will keep receiving my weekly updates.

Valerie Gaydos

In this edition:
  •   House Advances Bills Combating Human Trafficking
  •   Advocating for Association Health Plans
  •   Reforms for State System Universities Proposed
  •   Recreation, Conservation Grants Available 
  •   Protecting Your Tax Identity
House Advances Bills Combating Human Trafficking


This week, the House approved more than a half dozen bills aimed at stopping the scourge of human trafficking in the Commonwealth, including my bill, House Bill 2177.

Human trafficking exists in big cities, small towns and everything in between. It is especially prevalent in communities near major transportation hubs, like the Pittsburgh Airport.

It is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or purchase of persons for the sole purpose of exploitation. Since 2007, more than 1,200 human trafficking cases have been reported in the Commonwealth. In addition, Pennsylvania is ranked 10th on Insider Monkey’s list of top human trafficking states. The International Labor Organization estimates human trafficking is a $150 billion industry, of which $99 billion is generated by sexual exploitation.

My legislation would expand the list of sexual offenses that require offenders to attend and participate in a Department of Corrections program of counseling and therapy designed for incarcerated sex offenders. The bill would require any offender that subjected a minor to sexual servitude to undergo treatment while in prison, thereby helping to reduce recidivism.

Among the other bills passed by the House are those that would increase penalties for anyone knowingly patronizing a victim of human trafficking and anyone connected to trafficking victims. Other bills would assist victims by increase resources and legal protections.

To further draw attention to the problem, the House also approved a resolution to recognize the month of January 2020 as “National Human Trafficking Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania. Click here to learn more.
Advocating for Association Health Plans

 Click here to view video.

This week, I testified before the House Insurance Committee in support of my legislation to offer affordable health insurance plans to small businesses through an Association Health Plan. House Bill 2200 would provide a mechanism for employers to join together to offer quality health insurance as a benefit for their employees, some for the first time.

This legislation is the result of several meetings that took place last summer when I brought my colleagues in the House Commerce Committee to tour 44th District, speaking directly with several small businesses.

We heard consistently that the key to their long-term success will be the attraction and retention of a talented workforce; and the key to doing that was to offer quality, affordable health insurance benefits.

House Bill 2200 would allow for small businesses to band together, spreading out the risk across the entire group, which would allow them to negotiate for discounted health insurance coverage the same way large businesses currently purchase health benefits on the group insurance market. This will provide a decrease in costs for small businesses and puts the employer in a competitive position to maintain and attract a talented workforce.

I am grateful for the opportunity to advocate for this legislation before the Insurance Committee and will continue to fight for small businesses in the 44th District and beyond.
Reforms for State System Universities Proposed

As a member of the House Education Committee, I see firsthand the importance of fiscal accountability and transparency in our higher education institutions.

Earlier this week, several of my fellow lawmakers joined officials with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) in calling for a series of reforms aimed at updating and improving operations within the system.

PASSHE is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth, overseeing the 14 state-owned universities. Since its formation in 1982, it has provided accessible, affordable and relevant undergraduate, graduate and career-development programs to the public. However, despite significant changes to the landscape of higher education, PASSHE’s enabling legislation, Act 188 of 1982, has not been significantly updated since its initial enactment.

Currently, PASSHE is facing considerable challenges that threaten the sustainability of its operations. In order to address these challenges, the organization is in the midst of a redesign, some of which requires enabling legislation.

Bills introduced in the House aim to reform the governance and accountability of PASSHE’s Board of Governors and the Councils of Trustees, make needed financial and legal reforms, streamline reporting, and clarify and update statutory language. The bills are pending consideration in the House Education Committee. Read more here.
Recreation, Conservation Grants Available

Public parks, recreation areas and green spaces are vital to our community. As an extension of this, local governments and recreation and conservation organizations are encouraged to apply for grants through the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).

Funded through DCNR’s Community Conservation Partnerships Program, grants benefit planning, acquisition and development of public parks, recreation areas, motorized and non-motorized trails, river conservation and access, stream buffers, open space conservation, and regional and statewide partnerships to better develop and manage resources.

The 2020 grant application round closes April 22. DCNR has scheduled two webinars to help potential applicants.

Conservation, Trail Grants Seminar   
Wednesday, Jan. 29
10-11:30 a.m.  
Statewide, Regional Partnership Seminar
Wednesday, Feb. 19
10-11:30 a.m.  
Click here for additional information.
Protect Your Tax Identity
With tax-related identity theft on the rise, next week, Jan. 27-31, is Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week in Pennsylvania.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, more than 300,000 American taxpayers had their tax return details stolen as a result of a 2015 security breach, and approximately $1.6 billion in fraudulent tax refunds were paid in 2016 related to identity theft.

Additionally, approximately 5,000 victims have paid more than $26.5 million to scammers who pose as IRS agents according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

If you believe you may be a victim of identity theft or discover a fraudulent state personal income tax return was filed using your identity, please contact the Fraud Detection and Analysis Unit within the state Department of Revenue at 717-772-9297 or RA-RVPITFRAUD@pa.gov for assistance.

For more information, click here to view the IRS Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft.
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District Office:
1009 Beaver Grade Road, Suite 220, Moon Township, PA 15108 | Phone: (412) 262-3780, Fax: (412) 262-3783
Capitol Office:
Room 428, Irvis Office Building, PO Box 202044, Harrisburg PA 17120-2044 | Phone: (717) 787-6651 |
Email: vgaydos@pahousegop.com