Rep. Mindy Fee has introduced her first bill in the PA house of representatives. The bill, H.B. 747, is aimed at improving school safety in Pennsylvania by school safety such as emergency procedures and placement of cameras to be discussed in an executive session of the school board.
Rep. Aument on Curriculum, Common Core State standards and Prevailing Wage at Hearing.
Rep. Scott Boyd discussed the final 2012-13 state budget and said, “I think it’s demonstrated that fiscal discipline can exist in state government”.
HARRISBURG – The House Health Committee today unanimously approved legislation authored by Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Peach Bottom), with the cooperation of Rep. Ron Waters (D-Delaware/Philadelphia), to require the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) and the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to verify the eligibility of recipients of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Weatherization Assistance Program.
“House Bill 1991 will deter fraud in the LIHEAP and weatherization programs, which are meant to assist the truly needy,” said Cutler. “This legislation has been a long time in the making, and I believe this year we can finally get this proposal to the governor’s desk. The measure is a bi-partisan effort to clean up these fraud-ridden programs, and the administration and auditor general are on board with this language.”
Along with the income eligibility verification provisions, House Bill 1991 also includes a fraud reporting requirement for DPW and DCED employees, recipients, applicants and contractors. Cases of suspected fraud would be reported directly to the Office of Inspector General (OIG).
As another safeguard for taxpayer dollars, the legislation directs the auditor general to conduct periodic performance audits of the programs. A 2007 audit by this office uncovered hundreds of cases of individuals collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits using the Social Security numbers of deceased individuals. The audit also led to the OIG and the City of Philadelphia collaborating to investigate, and eventually arrest, 16 government employees and two co-conspirators for fleecing LIHEAP of a half-million dollars.
“The disturbing case of Philadelphia LIHEAP employees creating a culture of fraud and abuse demonstrates the need for this reform,” said Cutler. “Government employees are expected to be good stewards of the taxpayer dollars they oversee. What was uncovered in Philadelphia was a systematic effort to defraud the taxpayers, with employees training each other to steal while others turned a blind eye to the deception. The reporting provisions included in my legislation would act as a safeguard against future cases of employee and applicant theft.”
Cutler began his crusade to reform the LIHEAP and weatherization programs in 2007, when he was first elected to office. As a co-leader for the House Majority Policy Committee Welfare Policy Team, he has been a champion for returning integrity to all public assistance programs, including helping to usher in a series of welfare reforms signed into law in 2011.
House Bill 1991 will now go before the full House for debate and consideration.