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Legislative roundup

Joe Khan endorsed by 22 current and former elected officials for attorney general; Republican legislators introducing bills to combat deadly 'Tranq' drug epidemic

Joe Khan. Submitted Photo

Endorsements for AG candidate Khan

Former Bucks County Solicitor Joe Khan has been endorsed by 22 current and former elected officials from across the Lehigh Valley in the Democratic primary for attorney general.

Among those endorsing Khan are Executives Phil Armstrong of Lehigh County and Lamont McClure of Northampton County and state Reps. Peter Schweyer and Josh Siegel.

“This campaign is about keeping Pennsylvanians safe from threats like violent crime, corruption and attacks on our rights,” Khan said. “I’m proud to have the support of these leaders who are champions for everyday Pennsylvanians. Our strong support in the Lehigh Valley exemplifies the diverse coalition that we are building across the state to win both the primary and the general elections next year.”

Khan lives in Doylestown with his two sons, Sam and Nathan. For 10 years, he served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He began his career in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, where he specialized in prosecuting cases of sexual assault, child abuse, hate crimes and domestic violence. He is a partner at Curtin and Heefner in Bucks County. ••

Grant for conservation

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-1st dist.) joined conservation leaders at Tyler State Park to announce a grant to the Delaware River Watershed Conservation Fund, totaling $14.9 million.

In addition to the announcement, Fitzpatrick was joined by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff on a tour of the Spring Garden Dam Removal project at Tyler State Park. The Dam Removal project was funded through the Delaware River Watershed Conservation Fund and is in its construction phase.

“The Delaware River is a critical resource for Pennsylvania and our surrounding neighbors,” said Fitzpatrick, co-chairman of the Congressional Delaware River Watershed Caucus.

Fitzpatrick, along with fellow co-chair Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester of the Congressional Delaware River Watershed Caucus, introduced H.R. 1395, the Delaware River Basin Conservation Reauthorization Act. If passed, the legislation would reauthorize the grant programs through FY2030. ••

Combating the ‘Tranq’ drug epidemic

Republican legislators are introducing a package of bills to combat the deadly “Tranq” drug epidemic. Tranq is an animal tranquilizer officially called Xylazine that is being laced into street narcotics like fentanyl.

“It is creating one of the deadliest drug threats our country has ever faced,” said Rep. Kristin Marcell. “This powerful sedative is decimating neighborhoods throughout the commonwealth, but especially in Philadelphia.”

The bill package is being introduced during Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week in Pennsylvania to draw attention to the crisis and the role awareness and education play in combating this problem.

Xylazine and fentanyl drug mixtures place users at a higher risk of suffering a fatal drug poisoning. People who inject drug mixtures containing xylazine also can develop severe wounds, including necrosis — the rotting of human tissue — that may lead to amputation.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is warning the American public of a sharp increase in the trafficking of fentanyl mixed with xylazine.

To combat the spread of the drug, Marcell and some of her Republican House colleagues will introduce bills to stem the drug’s usage and educate the public on the deadly epidemic.

Marcell plans to introduce legislation that would require the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to engage in a public awareness campaign to educate the public about the growing threat.

Roughly half of the state’s counties saw cases where illicit use of xylazine caused a death in 2021. Some 90% of the opioids sampled by the City of Philadelphia showed xylazine in 2021.

“Yet too few people are aware of this drug’s existence,” Marcell said. “Increased public awareness of the impact of the illicit use of xylazine can help the effort to protect our residents.”

Rep. Joe Hogan will sponsor legislation that would formally require the Department of Health to actively monitor the introduction and growth of new drugs on the street. Information would be gathered from all available sources, including federal partners, local departments of health, coroners and mortality review teams, and existing departmental advisory committees that include service providers who interact daily with those who are struggling with addiction.

Xylazine was scheduled as a controlled substance by the Secretary of Health in June, several years after Philadelphia began detecting it in large portions of samples of heroin and fentanyl.

“We need to restructure our commonwealth’s information-gathering apparatus to learn about new drugs entering the streets quickly,” Hogan said. “In the fight to help those with addictions, time lost results in lives lost.”

Marcell is also introducing a resolution to recognize the week of Sept. 18-24 as Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week in Pennsylvania.

If you or anyone you know needs assistance with substance use, call the Get Help Now Hotline at 800-662-4357 or visit pa.gov/guides/opioid-epidemic/. ••

Presentation on estate planning

Bucks County Register of Wills and Clerk of Orphans’ Court Linda Bobrin will be giving a presentation on Oct. 6 from 9:30 to 10 a.m., at Northampton Township James E. Kinney Center.

For more information, email Rachel Landsberg at ralandsberg@buckscounty.org. ••

Make Sept. 11 a holiday

Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick and Josh Gottheimer introduced the Patriot Day Act to designate Sept. 11 as a federal holiday.

“September 11, 2001 was a dark day in our nation’s history, but even in the face of a devastating attack on our homeland, the American spirit proved resilient,” Fitzpatrick said. “I am proud to lead bipartisan legislation to recognize those who lost their lives on that day. We must never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice.” ••

It’s College Savings Month

September is College Savings Month, and Treasurer Stacy Garrity celebrated by announcing that more than 1 million withdrawals have been made from PA 529 College and Career Savings Program accounts. Since the program was created more than 30 years ago, account holders have used more than $5.6 billion to help pay for education expenses.

“The fact that families have made more than a million withdrawals from PA 529 accounts is a dramatic demonstration of the impact this incredible program is having for Pennsylvania families,” Garrity said. “PA 529 has been helping Pennsylvania families save for education since it was enacted as the Tuition Account Program in 1992. The career landscape continues to change, but the dependability and flexibility of PA 529 remains the same – helping families save and pay for education expenses no matter what type of training or education their child seeks.”

PA 529 accounts are designed to help Pennsylvania families steadily and strategically save for a wide variety of qualifying educational expenses, including apprenticeships, technical schools, colleges and universities, and even some K-12 expenses. There are two PA 529 plans to choose from, the PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan and the PA 529 Investment Plan.

There are more than 287,000 PA 529 accounts, more than at any time in the program’s history, including more than 110,000 PA 529 GSP accounts and more than 176,000 PA 529 IP accounts. Families have nearly $6.8 billion saved for future education expenses.

The PA 529 GSP allows families to save at today’s tuition rates to meet tomorrow’s tuition costs. Account earnings are based on college tuition inflation rates. Families can choose the tuition credit rate they wish to save at from community colleges to Ivy League universities.

The PA 529 IP offers a variety of investment options, including target enrollment portfolios that automatically reallocate assets as a child approaches postsecondary education enrollment. The PA 529 IP has received three consecutive Morningstar Silver ratings – establishing it as a best-in-class 529 plan nationwide.

“Since becoming Treasurer, I’ve taken big steps to make sure the PA 529 program is as affordable and accessible for any Pennsylvanian who wants to save for education,” Garrity said. “We’ve reduced fees for the PA 529 IP several times – including twice this year. And we’ve waived PA 529 GSP fees for two consecutive years. In total, these changes are saving account owners more than $11 million.”

Both PA 529 plans have significant state and federal tax advantages, including tax-free growth and no taxes owed on qualified withdrawals. PA 529 accounts are not subject to state inheritance tax and do not affect eligibility for state financial aid.

The PA 529 College & Career Savings Program was created by Act 11 of 1992.

To learn more about saving with PA 529, visit pa529.com or call 800-440-4000. ••

Funding for pediatric cancer research

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick introduced the Fairness to Kids with Cancer Act of 2023 to adjust federal funding levels for pediatric cancer at a fairer percentage rate than the current system allows.

The bipartisan legislation would ensure federal funds for pediatric cancer research match the same percentage of the number of Americans younger than 18 years of age as part of the general population.

“More than 17,000 children in the United States are diagnosed with cancer each year,” said Fitzpatrick, co-chair of the Congressional Cancer Caucus. “No child should ever have to suffer through the pain of cancer, nor should any parent have to watch their child struggle and fight to survive. I am proud to introduce the bipartisan Fairness to Kids with Cancer Act, which will ensure pediatric cancer researchers have necessary funding to combat and defeat pediatric cancer.” ••

Farry office hours in Bensalem

State ​​Sen. Frank Farry (R-6th dist.) is offering satellite office hours the first Wednesday of every month, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Bensalem Township Municipal Building, 2400 Byberry Road, Bensalem.

Farry’s staff will be on site to assist with state government services; Property Tax/Rent Rebate applications, birth and death certificate applications, SEPTA Senior Key card registrations and renewals; and unemployment issues. ••

Lower South supervisor meeting schedule

The Lower Southampton Township Board of Supervisors will meet on Wednesday, Sept. 27, at 7:30 p.m., at the Township Building, 1500 Desire Ave., Feasterville.

Future meetings, all at the same time and location, are scheduled for Oct. 11 and 25, Nov. 8 and 20 and Dec. 13 and 20. ••

Fitzpatrick visits manufacturer

Teledyne Judson Technologies recently hosted Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick for an information session and tour of its facility in Montgomeryville.

All smiles: The Teledyne Judson Technologies staff and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick gathered for a group photo. Submitted Photo

The facility has been in Montgomeryville since 1969 and manufactures infrared focal plane arrays and photodiodes covering the spectrum from near infrared to very long wavelength infrared, and IR cameras that enable discovery and address today’s pressing challenges across the spectrum. Judson’s capabilities in infrared detection and semiconductor fabrication support advanced manufacturing, U.S. defense and national security, energy, health and transportation.

Fitzpatrick attended a briefing with Judson management about their products and importance in the semiconductor supply chain.

He said, “Semiconductors play an increasingly important role in American innovation, job creation, national security and our defense industrial base.”

The scale of Judson’s operations and importance to government, defense and the nation’s security was stressed as well as Judson’s infrared capabilities that provide enhanced vision for defense, climate monitoring, rail safety and more applications.

Also discussed was the topic of workforce development in the Montgomeryville area and how to utilize local community colleges as well as traditional college and university graduates to ensure that the company is prepared for growth.

In a company town hall conversation, the topic of the benefits, challenges and ethics of artificial intelligence was addressed.

“I am a big believer in America setting the standards worldwide, rather than falling behind,” Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick presented a U.S. flag that had been flown over the Capitol as well as a certificate showing that Teledyne Judson Technologies has been entered into the Congressional Record to Ravi Guntupalli, vice president and general manager. ••

Bensalem Council meeting schedule

Bensalem Township Council meetings are generally held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 7 p.m. in the Municipal Building at 2400 Byberry Road, Bensalem.

Meetings can be viewed live on Comcast Xfinity Channel 22 in Bensalem and on Verizon Fios Channel 34 throughout Bucks County. They can also be streamed live on the Bensalem Township YouTube channel.

The schedule is Oct. 16, Nov. 13 and 27 and Dec. 4 (budget meeting) and 11. ••

Bensalem school board meeting schedule

The Bensalem Township Board of School Directors holds meetings on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Dorothy D. Call Administrative Center, 3000 Donallen Drive, Bensalem.

Upcoming meetings will take place on Sept. 26, Oct. 24, Nov. 28 and Dec. 19 (third Tuesday).

The public is invited to attend.

The School Board annual reorganization meeting will be held on Monday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m. ••

Commissioners meeting Sept. 20

The Bucks County Commissioners will hold their next meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 20, at 10:30 a.m. at the Bucks County Administration Building, 55 E. Court St., in Doylestown.

The meeting will be broadcast on the county’s YouTube channel.

Future meetings will be on Oct. 4, Oct. 18, Nov. 1, Nov. 15, Dec. 6 and Dec. 20. ••

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