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Senator Pat Stefano

February 2015

Dear Friend,

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Pat Stefano

Senate Panel Approves Stefano Bill to Deny
Public Benefits to Illegal Immigrants in PA

The Senate State Government Committee approved legislation I sponsored to ensure illegal immigrants living in Pennsylvania do not receive public benefits, such as Medicaid, welfare, and unemployment.

To combat welfare fraud in Pennsylvania and ensure that state government is efficiently providing assistance to its most vulnerable citizens, we must ensure public benefits are going to those who are truly deserving of the assistance. Pennsylvania citizens, who are struggling to make ends meet, should not have their hard-earned dollars go towards benefits for illegal immigrants.

Federal law prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving state or local public benefits. However, Pennsylvania is simply too lenient in enforcing the federal provisions. According to a 2014 study conducted by the Pew Research Center, the number of illegal immigrants living in Pennsylvania grew from 140,000 to 170,000 between 2009 and 2012.

The Federation for Immigration Reform (FAIR) estimates the current local annual costs of illegal immigration amount to about $36 billion nationwide. In Pennsylvania, which has more than 100,000 illegal immigrants, the current estimated cost is $285 million. That cost is expected to grow to $812 million by the year 2020.

Last month, Pennsylvania agreed to pay the federal government $48.8 million to settle claims that it paid non-emergency Medicaid, family assistance and food stamp benefits to immigrants who did not qualify for them.

My bill, Senate Bill 9, would require anyone receiving public benefits in the Commonwealth to provide identification proving they are legal residents. In addition, individuals would be required to sign an affidavit stating they are a United States citizen, or an immigrant lawfully residing in this country.

Any illegal immigrant who falsely claims they are residing in the country legally, in order to obtain public benefits, will have committed a second degree misdemeanor and be subject to arrest.

The legislation would provide compassionate exceptions to its tough restrictions. Senate Bill 9 would only apply to residents 18 and older and would exempt seniors who are Medicare eligible as well as disabled Pennsylvanians who are receiving SSI or SSDI. The bill would also allow every person in Pennsylvania access to emergency medical care, necessary immunizations and disaster relief.

Senate Bill 9 now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

Stefano Joins Supporters to Announce
Reintroduction of Medical Cannabis Bill

I recently joined Senator Mike Folmer (R-48) and other supporters at a Harrisburg news conference to announce the reintroduction of legislation that will enable physicians to prescribe medical cannabis to patients in Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 3 would allow patients who have a recommendation from their doctor to purchase and use medical cannabis from centers licensed by a to-be-created State Board of Medical Cannabis Licensing. The non-smoked and non-hallucinogenic form of the medicine would be administered under strict state regulation and medical direction.

Senate Bill 3 was introduced last session by Senator Folmer and passed by the full Senate by a vote of 43-7. The measure has strong bipartisan support and needs to be passed and signed into law to help many patients, including children, receive life-saving treatment for various illnesses.  Currently, 21 states and the District of Columbia have similar laws.

I became involved in the effort to legalize medical cannabis after meeting Julie Michaels, a local teacher in my district whose daughter Sydney suffers from a debilitating disease that causes severe seizures. The Michaels family attended the news conference with me, and I was pleased to have them there to lend their personal story to the cause.

Senate Approves Stefano Legislation
to Correct Name of Connellsville Bridge

As one of my first official actions in the Senate, I pushed for legislation to officially rename the Officer McCray Robb Memorial Bridge in Connellsville.

Late last year, the former West Crawford Avenue Bridge was renamed in memory of a Connellsville police officer and Civil War veteran killed in the line of duty.

However, when legislation to rename the bridge the Officer McCray Robb Memorial Bridge was introduced and passed, the name was incorrect in the legislation and listed as the Robb McCray Memorial Bridge.

The Senate unanimously approved my bill to officially correct that mistake. Senate Bill 79 now awaits House action. New signs have already been installed with the correct name. Iím pleased we could make this correction so quickly to properly honor a local hero.

Stefano Named to Key Senate Committees

Senator Stefano

I was recently appointed Vice Chair of the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee and will serve on four other key committees for the 2015-2016 Legislative Session.

Iím especially pleased to serve as vice chair of a committee that will focus its efforts on job creation and economic development.

As a small-business owner, I am looking forward to using my real-world experience to develop policy and legislation to help bring new opportunities to communities throughout Pennsylvania and encourage companies to stay and grow here. Additionally, this committee has oversight over the gaming industry, which is important since we have a casino in my senatorial district.

I will also serve on the Transportation, Rules and Executive Nominations, State Government and Game and Fisheries committees.




Senate Box 203032
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Phone: 717-787-7175
Fax: 717-787-0195

171 West Crawford Ave
Suite 2
Connellsville, PA 15425
Phone: 724-626-1611
Fax: 724-626-1665

118 West Main Street
Suite 204
Somerset, PA 15501
Phone: 814-443-2053
Fax: 814-443-2057

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