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Legislative roundup

A bill has been introduced to rename the Washington Crossing Post Office after Susan Barnhart, who lost her life in the flooding that devastated the Bucks County community in July

Susan Barnhart. Source: GoFundMe

Honoring flooding victim

Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick and Bonnie Watson Coleman introduced a bill to rename the Washington Crossing Post Office after Susan Barnhart, who lost her life in the flooding that devastated the Bucks County community in July.

“Susan Barnhart was beloved in Bucks County and made various contributions to our community,” Fitzpatrick said. “The flooding that devastated parts of Bucks County this past July tragically took several members of our community from us, including Susan. I am honored to remember Susan’s lasting legacy through this bipartisan legislation, and I thank Congresswoman Watson Coleman for joining me.”

Barnhart treasured the various outdoor activities that Bucks County has to offer, and worked in multiple capacities throughout the community, including at the Washington Crossing and Newtown U.S. Postal Service branches.

“My sister, Susan Barnhart, was very well known in the community. She was the first person to help anyone she could, in any way she could,” said Lynda Barnhart, Susan’s sister. “Susan has always done jobs working with people and was always very well liked and truly dedicated to her work.” ••

Free wills for veterans and first responders

Bucks County Register of Wills and Clerk of Orphans’ Court Linda Bobrin will be hosting her second free wills event through Wills for Heroes on Oct. 14, at 11 a.m. at the Bucks County Bar Association, 135 E. State St.

The event provides wills, living wills, health care and financial powers of attorney to military veterans and first responders and their spouses/partners.

Appointments will last about one hour per person and must be scheduled online at https://www.pabar.org/wfh/. The password is Bucks.

The Wills for Heroes program is available to Pennsylvania residents with estates under $750,000. Proof of affiliation or DD214 will be requested at the event.

Participating attorneys will receive refreshments and two CLE credits. Volunteer paralegals, law students, notaries and witnesses are also needed.

Interested volunteers can email Bobrin at lbobrin@buckscounty.org or Rachel Landsberg at ralandsberg@buckscounty.org.

For more information, call 215-348-6261. ••

Crime crackdown

Sen. Frank Farry and Reps. K.C. Tomlinson, Joe Hogan, Kristin Marcell and Shelby Labs joined local law enforcement officials at the Northampton Police Department to unveil legislation that addresses the rising and evolving crime in Pennsylvania, specifically around Philadelphia.

“As society evolves, so do the crimes happening in our communities,” Farry said. “We want to ensure that our law enforcement and prosecutors have the right tools to be able to properly charge these crimes and ultimately lead to the convictions of criminals who are causing chaos in our community, harming our residents and disrupting their daily lives.”

Joining Farry and his colleagues at the news conference were Dan Friel, chief of police in Warrington Township; Bill McVey, director of Public Safety, Bensalem Township Police Department; Fred Harran, sheriff of Bucks County; a representative from the State Troopers Association; and more than 20 local law enforcement leaders.

Friel shared that theft of catalytic converters in Warrington Township are up 85% since last year and firearm offenses up 133%, and these crimes are not typically committed by residents from the area.

The crime package consists of six pieces of legislation. The first bill introduced by Farry and Tomlinson would impose mandatory jail time for illegal possession of a firearm. For a first-offense, the criminal would receive mandatory jail time of under two years. For a second offense, a mandatory five-year jail sentence would apply and 15 years for their third offense.

Farry’s bill to crack down on porch pirating already passed the Senate and would implement specific penalties for theft of mail, which includes a package, bag or letter. The grading of the offense would increase if the person had prior convictions for theft of mail. Tomlinson and Marcell have a similar bill.

Part of the crime package includes legislation introduced by Farry and Hogan to increase penalties for gun store robberies. The bill would heighten the penalty for burglaries in which the intent of the actor is to commit a theft of a firearm and additional penalties if any of the stolen firearms are used for additional crime. It would also try juveniles as adults who commit the crime as well as increase penalties for those who conspire to commit the crime.

Recognizing vehicle meet-up rallies have become a recent problem, Farry, Hogan and Tomlinson introduced legislation that would increase the fine for street racing from $250 up to $2,000 per violation, with the driver’s vehicle being seized after the second violation. It would also add the offense of drifting, and steep fines for those who organized, financed or promoted the event.

Farry and Tomlinson also jointly introduced legislation to reduce the theft of catalytic converters. A person who intentionally possesses a detached catalytic converter that is not affiliated with a commercial account without proper justification commits a misdemeanor of the third degree.

The last piece of legislation, introduced by Farry, Labs and Marcell, would hold rioters and those involved accountable. Rioters assaulting or throwing projectiles at police, law enforcement and first responders would face felony charges. It would also make it a felony for out-of-state actors to cause or aid in rioting as well as a felony charge for Pennsylvania residents who knowingly assist, coordinate or recruit out-of-state actors to cause a riot. ••

Kudos to CB East

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick released the following statement after Central Bucks East High School received the 2023 National Blue Ribbon distinction for excellence in academics:

“I’m so proud of the hardworking students, educators, and staff members at CB East for earning this prestigious distinction. CB East has a long tradition of academic excellence, and this award is a direct result of all of their hard work. Congratulations to CB East!”

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program gives recognition to public and private elementary, middle and high schools for excellence in academics. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the program, and more than 10,000 awards have been given. ••

Dollars for Amtrak’s Morrisville operation

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick announced that the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) received a CRISI Grant from the Federal Railroad Administration for its Engineering Track Foremen Workforce Development Apprenticeship Training Program for their Morrisville operation.

Amtrak received a total of $8.8 million that will be used for its proposed project that involves workforce development activities to implement a pilot engineering Track Foremen/Inspectors workforce development apprenticeship training program to further develop the existing program and increase the overall knowledge base required to safely supervise field operations. The proposed project also involves other activities for an additional program that will help employees obtain full Track Foremen/Inspectors certification. Recognizing there may not be an adequate number of seasoned, highly skilled employees providing knowledge transfer and mentorship, the project will support the development of a comprehensive training requirement for new employees and help provide upward mobility for current employees.

“The services provided by Amtrak are so critical in our region and their operation has a direct impact on transportation, our economy and beyond,” Fitzpatrick said. “As the co-chair of the Bipartisan Building Trades Caucus and as a leading champion of the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, I am thrilled to see robust technical career training opportunities like this coming to Bucks County. These federal dollars will help Amtrak better serve the people across Bucks and Montgomery counties and provide good-paying jobs focused on maintaining and strengthening the Northeast Corridor’s rail infrastructure. I look forward to continuing to see IIJA projects and programs roll out and provide new opportunities for our community.”

The purpose of the CRISI program is to invest in a range of projects within the United States to improve railroad safety, efficiency and reliability; mitigate congestion at both intercity passenger and freight rail chokepoints to support the more efficient movement of both people and goods; enhance multimodal connections; and lead to new or substantially improved Intercity Passenger Rail Transportation corridors. ••

More coverage for mental health services

Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick and David Trone introduced the Opening Plans To Individuals and Offering New Services for Mental Health Act, legislation that will allow employers to provide families with first dollar coverage of mental health services up to $500 per family via Health Savings Accounts.

The bill has been marked up by the Ways and Means Committee.

“Our nation’s mental health crisis is devastating our communities, and we must do everything possible to increase access and affordability to critical mental health resources,” said Fitzpatrick, co-chairman of the Bipartisan Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Task Force. “The OPTIONS for Mental Health Act will empower families to use their Health Savings Accounts to utilize mental health services at a more affordable rate, which will improve outcomes and save lives.” ••

AI and U.S. national security

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick joined a group of members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on a trip to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The purpose of the trip was to meet with Professor Anantha P. Chandrakasan, Dean of MIT’s School of Engineering; Professor Daniel Huttenlocher, Dean of MIT’s Schwarzman College of Computing; and other MIT faculty members to learn more about artificial intelligence and technological innovation in the context of U.S. national security.

The members were able to speak with some of MIT’s leading professors and hear about cutting-edge technology and how it will impact the nation’s future.

“As our nation and the world adjust to the presence of artificial intelligence, it is crucial that we work with technology experts to guarantee that lawmakers are prepared to address the challenges, implications, opportunities that these innovations put before us,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m proud to stand with members of the committee on both sides of the aisle to protect national security and ensure the United States remains a top competitor with respect to technology and intelligence.” ••

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, Oct. 11, 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. 25, Nov. 8 and 20 and Dec. 13 and 20. ••

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 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 Oct. 18

The Bucks County Commissioners will hold their next meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 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 Nov. 1, Nov. 15, Dec. 6 and Dec. 20. ••

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