Three cheers for three pieces of legislation recently introduced or co-sponsored by local lawmakers.
---State Rep. Stan Saylor's Keystone Works bill would establish an apprentice program through which an out-of-work person would continue to collect unemployment benefits for two months while training with a prospective employer.
For employees, it means they can get the experience they need, while maintaining the safety net that puts food on the table until they are hired permanently. For employers, it means they won't have to pay to train a new employee.
Saylor, R-Windsor, said it will be less expensive for the state in the long run to fund unemployment for a couple of extra months after someone is technically on the job rather than force employers to pay for training. It can be a better, faster way to get a worker off unemployment, he said.
Still, the employer would not be obligated to keep the worker on staff after the training period is over if they feel it won't work out, just as the worker wouldn't be required to accept the job.
Keystone Works isn't a cure-all, Saylor acknowledged, but a similar program in Georgia helped more than 3,000 people get permanent jobs.
The bill passed the House unanimously and is now in the Senate. Gov. Tom Corbett already has voiced his support, Saylor said.
---Saylor also joined state Reps. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township; and Ron Miller, R-Jacobus, in co-sponsoring a bill to require the Department of Public Welfare and the Department of Community and Economic Development to verify income eligibility of recipients of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
It's simply amazing no one has been double-checking this information.
This bill isn't an attack on low-income people -- it's about ensuring as many as possible receive help with home heating bills by rooting out those who don't qualify for the program.
"We have a finite amount of money available to us for funding programs like this ... and (it) ends up we can't help someone because someone else who should not qualify for the program is getting assistance," Miller said.
The bill passed the House unanimously and is heading to the Senate.
---And Grove can take credit for adding to a Senate bill an amendment that includes coin auctions, or quarter auctions, to the Local Option Small Games of Chance Act.
This action comes two years after York County District Attorney Tom Kearney put local fire halls, churches and other nonprofits on notice that they faced prosecution for hosting the fundraisers.
At the auction, recipients bid on items by putting a quarter in one bucket and an identifying chip in a second bucket. A recipient wins when a vendor pulls his or her chip -- regardless of whether he or she was the highest bidder.
That makes it a game of chance -- and illegal, according to Kearney.
The games are illegal because they aren't among the approved activities in the state's small games of chance legislation, Grove said.
His amendment to add the auctions to the Senate's update of the Local Option Small Games of Chance Act was approved 183-15 in the House. The entire bill is expected to be before the House for a vote soon.
Kearney applauded Grove's effort.
"Let's face it. (Prosecuting charities) is not the highest priority on my list," he said. "I think it's excellent that Representative Grove did this, and if he needs me ... I'll go up and testify on the hill."