New bills benefiting farmers and veterans signed into law today

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Harrisburg – Bills introduced by Sen. Michele Brooks to give northwestern Pennsylvania farmers a stronger voice in Harrisburg and to increase assistance to Pennsylvania veterans were signed into law today. 

Senate Bill 1171 modifies membership of the Nutrient Management Advisory Board by increasing the number of farmers from five to six and requiring that each of the Department of Environmental Protection’s six regions, including the northwest, is represented.

“When I was serving in the House of Representatives, I heard from a farmer who was fined for protecting his cornfield. From that day on, I’ve worked to give farmers a stronger voice in the process that impacts their lives and all of agriculture,” Senator Brooks said. 

“This is the first time in Commonwealth history that northwestern Pennsylvania farmers are guaranteed a vote on the Nutrient Management Advisory Board,” Senator Brooks said. “The decisions made by this board affect the daily lives of farmers in our region and local farmers should have more say. With enactment of this new law, they will.”

Also signed into law was Senate Bill 945, Senator Brooks’ bill to allow Pennsylvanians who are renewing their vehicle registration for a two-year period to double their contribution to the Veterans Trust Fund from the current $3 amount to $6. 

The VTF was established in 2012 and issues grants to statewide charitable organizations that assist veterans, veterans service organizations and county directors of veterans affairs, who then aid veterans in need of shelter, food, heat and other necessities of living.

Current law requires PennDOT to place the $3 Veterans Trust Fund donation check-off on the registration renewal coupon. The fund now faces a potential loss in donations if registrants opt for the two-year registration renewal and also opt to donate only once every two years instead of every year.

“PennDOT collected $1.1 million in VTF donations in 2015 and saw a 5.21 percent increase in 2016. We don’t want to see this trend reversed by the move to a two-year registration process,” Senator Brooks said. “By encouraging motorists to double their donation to $6 when they renew for a two-year process, we hope to keep this revenue stream for veterans in need growing.”

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