Weekend news briefs: Legislation and grants

Proposed legislation and grants for early childhood nutrition are among topics covered in this weekend’s state news roundup by The Center Square.

Legislation introduced to address health insurance coverage gap

The Pennsylvania Health Access Network, Pennie, and SEIU Healthcare PA partnered with Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny, to introduce legislation to help thousands of uninsured Pennsylvania’s enroll in health insurance coverage.

House Bill 1030 would create the Pennsylvania Easy Enrollment Program. The program would allow residents to check a box on their tax return to connect to Pennie, the state’s health insurance marketplace. There they can get a free evaluation to see if they qualify for a low-cost plan on the marketplace; the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or Medicaid.

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Grants aim to boost early childhood nutrition and agricultural awareness

Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding has approved close to $400,000 for Farm to School grants. The grants fund 39 projects to increase access to healthy, local food and agricultural awareness for pre-kindergarten-fifth grade children.

The Pennsylvania Farm Bill’s Farm to School Grant Program aims to educate children on healthy eating and food purchasing; it provides educational opportunities and connection with local farmers.

Each of the 39 projects has identified a local farmer who will supply fresh, in-season products or start a garden or school farm to produce hyperlocal products.

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Legislation to address opioid epidemic impact on infants

The House Children and Youth Committee unanimously approved legislation, sponsored by Rep. Clint Owlett, to help infants born to parents battling substance abuse.

House Bill 253 establishes a task force to focus on the impact of the opioid epidemic on children; and improving the safety, well-being, and of permanency of children affected by substance addicted parents.

The bill is before the full House for consideration.

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Legislation would give attorney general jurisdiction in environmental crimes

Senators Steve Santarsiero and Maria Collett recently introduced legislation giving the AG’s office authority to directly investigate people who pollute and damage land, waterways, and drinking water.

Under the Solid Waste Management Act and the Clean Streams Law and Safe Drinking Water Act, this package of three bills would give the attorney general concurrent jurisdiction in environmental criminal matters.

“Under this package of bills, citizens and others could report potential environmental crimes directly to the Attorney General’s office for investigation without having to go through other agencies first,” Santarsiero said in a news release.

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