On January 20, 2015, Governor Wolf signed an executive order banning his administration from accepting gifts.
The executive order, signed the day of Governor Wolf’s inauguration, bars all state workers under the governor’s jurisdiction from accepting or soliciting anything of value. Several independent state commissions, authorities, and other agencies have also imposed a gift ban on their employees.
On February 6, 2015, Governor Wolf’s public schedule was first published.
Going forward, Governor Wolf’s work calendar will be posted each Friday on www.governor.pa.gov, and his public schedule for the day will be posted each morning.
Cabinet Expense Reports
On April 30, 2015, expense reports for Governor Wolf’s cabinet secretaries were first published.
Every month, expenses incurred by members of Governor Wolf’s cabinet are posted online for public view.
OIG Report Summaries
On September 21, 2015, Office of Inspector General investigation summaries were first published.
Routine summaries of completed investigations will be published online for the first time in support of Governor Wolf’s call for agencies to provide more transparency and be more accountable to the citizens of Pennsylvania. The summaries can be found here on the Office of Inspector General’s improved website. The Office of Inspector General receives reports of waste, fraud, abuse, and employee misconduct in the Commonwealth’s executive agencies and programs.
Legal Contracting Reform
On January 20, 2015, Governor Wolf signed an executive order instituting a competitive process for the procurement of commonwealth legal services.
The executive order set forth that all contracts awarded for legal services by the Office of General Counsel or any Department are to be procured through competitive bids and that the results are to be made available online. Competitive procurement of legal services reforms what was an obscure process into a process that is efficient, ethical, and transparent in securing legal counsel.
Open Data Initiative
On August 22, 2016, Governor Wolf launched OpenDataPA to enhance access to valuable information by creating a central repository to share the commonwealth’s data with the general public.
By making data easily accessible, the Wolf Administration hopes to encourage citizens to become more familiar with how their government is performing, engage with the state’s developer community, and build tools and resources that ultimately make Pennsylvania an even better place to live and work.
Governor Wolf has utilized new media to communicate with the public, holding the first ever governor’s Twitter and Facebook town halls where he responded directly to people asking him questions.
Electronic Permit Application for Coal Mines
On March 10, 2017, Governor Wolf announced that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has launched an electronic mining permit application for surface coal mines that will make the permit review process faster for DEP and operators and provide more transparency to the public.
Medical Marijuana Legalization
On April 17, 2016, Governor Wolf signed Senate Bill 3, legalizing medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. The passage of this bill is a thrilling success for patients and families who will benefit from this treatment, as well as for advocates and members of the House and Senate who have fought tirelessly for this cause for years.
The term “medical marijuana” refers to using the whole unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat a disease or symptom. The marijuana plant contains chemicals that may help treat a range of illnesses or symptoms. Studies have shown that medical marijuana can assist patients suffering from serious medical conditions by alleviating pain and improving their quality of life.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health will begin the process of implementing the state’s Medical Marijuana Program. The implementation of the program is expected to take between 18 and 24 months and, when completed, will offer medical marijuana to patients who are under a physician’s care for the treatment of a serious medical condition. Patients with serious medical conditions will be able to access medical marijuana with a physician’s certification at designated state dispensaries.
Reduced the Uninsured Rate
Pennsylvania’s overall uninsured rate has dropped to 6.4 percent, according to data released data from the US Census Bureau – well below the national average of 9.1 percent and 15th lowest in the US. The commonwealth saw a large drop in adults ages 18 to 64, regardless of income, from 11.7 percent in 2014 down to 8.7 percent in 2015. Because of the expansion of Medicaid, hundreds of thousands of people have a brighter future and better potential health outcomes.
On February 9, 2015, Governor Wolf announced Pennsylvania’s transition to a simple traditional Medicaid expansion plan.
Complications under Healthy PA resulted in people not receiving important treatment, confusion among recipients, and special populations being placed into the wrong plans, which jeopardized coverage. Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania allows for eligible adults to be placed into one streamlined Adult package, increasing continuity of care and reducing unnecessary processes to make individuals eligible for uncomplicated health care coverage faster.
On February 02, 2017, just two years after the launch of expansion, Governor Wolf announced that more than 700,000 Pennsylvanians had enrolled in HealthChoices, Pennsylvania’s mandatory managed care Medicaid program. Pennsylvania also released a report affirming the first year of Medicaid expansion’s positive impact on Medicaid enrollment, uninsured rates, the commonwealth’s budget, and the overall economy from January 2015 to December 2015.
According to a report from the PA Department of Human Services, year one of Medicaid expansion had the following impact:
- Every county in the commonwealth experienced an increase in Medicaid enrollment that ranged from 14 percent to 28 percent.
- Health care providers received over $1.8 billion dollars in payments for serving newly eligible Medicaid expansion enrollees.
- Added an estimated 15,500 jobs in Pennsylvania.
- Increased economic outputs by $2.2 billion.
- Resulted in an additional estimated $53.4 million in state tax revenue.
Pennsylvania Achieving a Better Life Experience Act
On April 18, 2016, Governor Wolf signed into law the Pennsylvania Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (PA ABLE) that enables the creation of tax-exempt savings accounts specifically for people with qualified disabilities and their families.
Significantly, for many individuals with disabilities, ABLE savings are excluded from eligibility determinations for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits (savings up to $100,000), other means-tested federal programs, Medical Assistance, and other state means-tested disability and health benefits.
Pennsylvania Treasury has created a website with more information on the ABLE program and where those interested can sign up for updates and open an account when the program is available.
Protecting Maternity Care
On January 29, 2015, Governor Wolf announced that maternity care will be protected through the resolution of the maternity care issue between Highmark and UPMC.
Highmark will continue to cover pregnancy and related care at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC in 2015, despite it no longer being in their network of providers. Coverage for these services will be at in-network rates. The Pennsylvania Department of Insurance and the Pennsylvania Department of Health will work diligently to continue to enforce the consent decree between Highmark and UPMC.
CHIP Coverage Protected
On June 11, 2015, Governor Wolf announced all CHIP plans will provide enhanced benefits to meet Affordable Care Act requirements.
This guarantees families in this program will not face tax penalties for 2015. Additionally, these families will see no premium increases during the current policy year. CHIP provides health insurance to children under age 19 who don’t qualify for Medical Assistance. Currently, more than 168,000 Pennsylvania children are enrolled in the program.
Participant-Directed Home Care Services
On February 27, 2015, Governor Wolf announced an initiative to improve home- and community-based care services for seniors in Pennsylvania.
This initiative is comprised of a combination of budget, legislative and executive actions that will: expand services for older Pennsylvanians and reduce long-term care costs, phase in Medicaid managed long-term care, improve long-term living waiver enrollment and the service plan development process, enhance home modifications through selective contracting, implement online homecare registry, and ensure seniors have choices about where to age.
Coverage for Seniors Guaranteed
Prior to the start of the Wolf Administration, UPMC and Highmark reached a “comprehensive transition agreement” that would protect vulnerable populations. This agreement was memorialized in a consent decree signed off on by both institutions. However, issues persisted, and the delivery of quality care took a backseat to bickering. This all came to a tipping-point back in February 2015, when the Medicare Advantage contract between UPMC and Highmark was threatened to be terminated. This would have been extremely disruptive for 180,000 seniors, forcing many of them to find a new doctor or insurer.
Immediately, Governor Wolf made very clear that the decision to cancel Medicare Advantage for over 180,000 seniors was wrong, and he vowed to fight that decision by any means necessary, including through legal action. The Wolf Administration swiftly took this issue to Commonwealth Court, and also asked that all other disputes, including defining “continuity of care,” and solving reimbursement issues, were addressed.
Following these actions, both UPMC and Highmark, through binding arbitration mandated by the court, finalized a compromise on every issue before these two world-class health care systems except for the canceling of the Medicare Advantage contract. Then, on November 30, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that the Medicare Advantage contract had to remain in place, resulting in a huge victory for seniors across western Pennsylvania.
Investing in Senior Communities
On February 22, 2017, Governor Tom Wolf announced a total of $2 million in grants from the Pennsylvania Lottery that would be distributed to 38 centers throughout the commonwealth.
3D Mammograms Covered
On October 5, 2015, Governor and First Lady Wolf announced 3D mammograms must be available to women at no extra cost.
The Pennsylvania Insurance Department heard from many consumers that when given the choice of a 2D or 3D mammogram, the 3D option came with an additional charge – typically between $50 and $60 – whereas the 2D mammogram was free. This announcement establishes that insurers must treat 3D mammograms the same as traditional two-dimensional mammograms when determining healthcare coverage.
Unpaid Claims Covered
In June, Governor Wolf announced that Highmark has agreed to pay all outstanding medical claims filed by UPMC providers and facilities since January 1, 2015.
Highmark has agreed to consider these claims as in-network and will pay the approximate 30,000 outstanding claims. This action ensures consumers will not be balance billed for their medical care.
Food Security Partnership
On September 29, 2015, Governor Wolf signed an executive order to address the serious problem of hunger and inadequate nutrition in the commonwealth by coordinating Pennsylvania’s food and nutrition programs.
According to the order, the governor will appoint an advisor to lead a newly-formed ‘Governor’s Food Security Partnership.’ The executive order directs that the advisor to the governor be responsible for, among many things: the coordination of interdepartmental efforts to reduce hunger and improve nutrition; review and evaluate operations and policies of all state and federal food and nutrition programs administered by the commonwealth; organize private and public sector efforts to improve the commonwealth’s response to the needs of citizens; work with state and federal officials, as well as local providers, to increase the effectiveness and accessibility of federal and state programs; convene meetings and oversee activities of the new partnership; and present findings and recommendations of the partnership to the governor, associated state agencies, and the legislature.
Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness
On September 22, 2015, Governor Wolf, along with officials from the Pennsylvania Departments of Military and Veterans Affairs, Labor and Industry, Community and Economic Development, and Human Services, challenged all commonwealth agencies and communities to reduce veteran homelessness by 40 percent in the last 100 days of 2015.
As of December 2015, 481 homeless veterans in Pennsylvania were reported placed in permanent housing between Sept. 23 and Nov. 30, 2015.
On March 3, 2016, Governor Wolf announced that Pennsylvania exceeded its 100-day goal with 629 homeless veterans placed in permanent housing between Sept. 23 and Dec. 31, 2015.
As of December 2, 2016, more than 2,500 homeless veterans were placed in permanent housing in 2016.
Exempting Active Duty Pay from the Earned Income Tax
On February 23, 2016, Governor Wolf signed a bill into law that exempts all active duty military pay from the Earned Income Tax.
House Bill 561, sponsored by Rep. Rob Kauffman, amends the Local Tax Enabling Act by exempting all active duty military pay, regardless of where it is earned, from the Earned Income Tax.
First Responders Bill
On May 13, 2015, Governor Wolf signed a bill into law that extends the application period for survivors of fallen law enforcement officers to apply for death benefits.
House Bill 152 amends the Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel Death Benefits Act to extend the application period for survivors to apply for death benefits from 90 days to four years. The bill is retroactive in that it applies to deaths where an application for benefits was not made within 90 days of death but four years have not passed since the death occurred. The bill also adds survivors of campus police officers who die in the performance of their duties to the list of those eligible for the death benefits.
Child Care for Working Families Extended
On January 5, 2016, Governor Wolf announced that Pennsylvania is one of the first states in the country to implement a change in its Child Care Works program to help families who experience a temporary disruption in employment continue to access quality child care.
This change means that Pennsylvania families that experience a temporary job loss, are seasonally employed, or fall victim to an extended illness can count on child care that will help them continue to provide for their children. The Wolf Administration is committed to protecting Pennsylvania’s children, and making it easier for working families to access care is an important step toward achieving this goal.
Supporting Victims of Spousal Abuse
On April 21, 2016, Governor Wolf signed HB12 which breaks down barriers for victims of spousal abuse by empowering victims to take control of their divorce proceedings.
Currently in Pennsylvania, even in the case of spousal abuse, if one party does not consent to a divorce, the marriage can be drawn out for two years and requires up to three face-to-face counseling sessions before a divorce is finalized. The bill, which passed unanimously in both chambers, does two things:
It allows a victim to file for divorce and the law will presume the consent of the other party if they have been convicted of committing a personal injury crime against their spouse.
It also allows the victim to object to court mandated divorce counseling if they have a protection from abuse order, were a victim of a personal injury crime, which the other party has been convicted or is in an accelerated rehabilitation disposition program because of their behavior.
Simplified SNAP Application for Older Adults
On June 21, 2016, the Department of Human Services announced a new system called the Elderly/Disabled Simplified Application Process (ESAP) that simplifies the SNAP application and recertification process for older Pennsylvanians and individuals with a disability who have no earned income.
Making critical reforms to Unemployment Insurance
The governor and lawmakers from both parties also came together to pass a necessary and critical reform bill that will provide nearly 50,000 additional people with access to unemployment insurance.
This agreement brought together both Republicans and Democrats, as well as advocates in the business community and organized labor, to ensure that we help the unemployed while they try to find work. This was also accomplished in a fiscally responsible manner ensuring we are good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
Expanding Family Planning Services
On November 21, 2016, The Wolf Administration announced changes in family planning services in the commonwealth surrounding long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), which include the intrauterine device (IUD) and the birth control implant.
Beginning December 1, 2016, Pennsylvania’s Medicaid fee-for-service program will make payment for LARC devices to incentivize hospitals to stock and store them and eliminate the hurdle of high up-front costs of long-acting contraceptives. This policy change, and the increased accessibility of LARC that will follow, should help to increase usage by six percent and help to prevent unintended pregnancies – saving millions in taxpayer dollars.
Investing in Rural Health Systems
On January 12, 2017, Governor Wolf announce that the federal government awarded Pennsylvania a $25 million grant to enact a initiative to transform rural health.
The Pennsylvania Rural Health Transformation Initiative would improve population health and quality of care that is delivered locally and enable rural hospitals to move toward greater financial sustainability through an all-payer global budget model.
Streamlining Services Through the New Department of Health and Human Services
On January 30, 2017, Governor Wolf announced his plan to create a Department of Health and Human Services in order to promote more effective collaboration and service delivery, enhance program effectiveness, and eliminate duplicative processes. The creation of a new, unified Department of Health and Human Services will dramatically improve the ability to deliver services to Pennsylvanians by combining the resources of Departments of Aging (PDA), Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), Health (DOH), and Human Services (DHS).
Combating Human Trafficking
On March 7, 2017, Governor Wolf announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation would train its front line Driver License Center staff to notice signs of a potential trafficking situation.
The training, developed by PennDOT in partnership with the Villanova Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation, and Truckers against Trafficking, defines trafficking and how victims are forced and coerced into it. The training also instructs employees how to call the appropriate authorities and what information to collect if they see potential trafficking.
Preventing Drunk Driving with Ignition Interlock Program
On May 25, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 290 into law to prevent drunk driving.
Senate Bill 290, sponsored by Sen. Rafferty, makes the ignition interlock program mandatory for first-time DUI offenders with high blood alcohol levels while at the same time reducing suspension requirements in certain cases.
On May 24, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation that strengthened Pennsylvania school districts’ ability to crack down on hazing, and required school boards to adopt an anti-hazing policy.
House Bill 1574, sponsored by Rep. Ron Marsico, amended the Anti-Hazing Law of 1986 to take several steps to address hazing issues in schools.
Criminal History Sealing Expansion Bill
On February 16, 2016, Governor Wolf signed a bill into law that expands criminal record sealing in Pennsylvania in order to reduce recidivism, relieve the pardon system, and provide ex-offenders greater opportunity to join the workforce.
Senate Bill 166, sponsored by Senator Stewart Greenleaf, amends Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) to allow individuals who have served their punishment and remained free of arrest or prosecution for seven to ten years, for nonviolent misdemeanors, to petition the court for their record to be sealed from public view.
Decreasing Pennsylvania’s Prison Population
On January 19, 2016, Governor Wolf announced that Pennsylvania’s state inmate population decreased by nearly 850 inmates in 2015, which represents the greatest one-year decline in population over the last 40 years.
The Department of Corrections, under Governor Wolf’s leadership, has made smart population and recidivism reduction as well as creating efficiencies to save taxpayer dollars even greater priorities. It costs about $41,000 to incarcerate an offender per year in the state prison system — money that could be used for education or job creation, which will both ultimately keep more people out of prison.
Tackling Drivers of Cost, Incarceration, and Recidivism
On February 18, 2016, Governor Wolf joined with leaders from both political parties and all three branches of government to launch an extensive review of the state’s criminal justice system as part of a new Justice Reinvestment Initiative.
Pennsylvania currently has the highest incarceration rate among all states in the Northeast, despite reducing its prison population in recent years. This initiative is designed to reduce ineffective corrections spending and invest those savings in proven public safety strategies.
It’s On Us PA
On January 29, 2016, Governor Wolf announced the launch of It’s On Us PA – the first statewide campaign to address the crisis of sexual assault in schools and on college campuses.
It’s On Us PA is a statewide campaign that invites everyone to play a role in ending sexual assault. Building off the momentum of the national It’s On Us movement, It’s On Us PA brings together college and university presidents, superintendents, administrators, teachers, students, families, and community members to reframe the conversation around sexual violence and pledge to be part of the solution.
On November 29, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf announced nearly $1 million dollars in grants to 36 Pennsylvania postsecondary institutions – including community colleges, and independent and public 2- year and 4-year colleges and universities – to implement strategies on their campuses to address goals of the Governor’s It’s On Us PA campaign.
National Night Out
On July 30, 2015, the Governor’s Residence hosted its first-ever National Night Out event.
Pennsylvania State Police and the Capitol Police Department were on hand to greet visitors and speak with families and members of the community. National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community relationships in order to build safer, better neighborhoods.
Regional 9-1-1 Funding Bill
On June 29, 2015, Governor Wolf signed a bill into law that would generate additional needed revenue to support local and regional 9-1-1 systems.
Act 12 – HB 911, introduced by Representative Stephen Barrar, amends Title 35 (Health & Safety) to further provide for emergency telephone service and that establishes the 911 Fund.
Removing Exemptions for Labor Disputes
On November 5, 2015, Governor Wolf signed House Bill 874, sponsored by Representative Ron Marisco (R-Dauphin), into law.
The legislation, now Act 59 of 2015, removes exceptions to the offenses of stalking, harassment and threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction from those involved in labor disputes.
REAL ID Extension
On January 19, 2017, Governor Wolf announced that, through a bipartisan effort, Pennsylvania had been granted an extension until June 5, 2017 from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to fix state law to allow for federal REAL ID.
Methane Emissions Reduction
On January 19, 2016, Governor Wolf announced a nation-leading strategy to reduce emissions of methane.
The plan is designed to protect the environment and public health, reduce climate change, and help businesses reduce the waste of a valuable product by reducing methane leaks and emissions from natural gas well sites, processing facilities, compressor stations and along pipelines. With federal estimates that the natural gas and oil industries account for a quarter of U.S. methane emissions, reducing methane leaks from the oil and gas sector is one of the essential steps needed for government to work with industry to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the impacts of climate change.
State Park Drilling Moratorium
On January 29, 2015, Governor Wolf signed an executive order placing a moratorium on additional leasing for drilling in state parks and forests.
Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has concluded that additional leasing jeopardizes the agency’s ability to sustain the commonwealth’s gold-standard forest certification, which is vital the economic and environmental well-being of the state’s parks and forests. The executive order states that effective immediately, DCNR is directed to protect the lands of the commonwealth that are held in trust for its citizens and for future generations.
Expanding State Forests
Under Governor Wolf, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources added 26,000 acres of state forest land, including the Clermont Property Acquisition that added 17,000 acres of working forestland in southern McKean County to Elk State Forest, the largest addition to the state forest system in 65 years.
Protecting Public Health and the Environment
Under the Wolf Administration, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection updated the performance standards for surface activities at conventional and unconventional oil and gas well sites to ensure additional protections to the environment, public health, and safety.
This rulemaking represents the first update to rules governing surface activities associated with the development of oil and gas wells since 2001 and implements provisions of the 2012 Oil and Gas Act.
Funding for Rural Wildfire Defense
On March 13, 2017, Governor Tom Wolf announced federal grants applications to help Pennsylvania’s rural communities better guard against the threat of fires in forested, undeveloped, and unprotected areas.
$571,202 was awarded to 142 volunteer fire companies serving rural areas and communities where forest and brush fires are common. The grant program is offered through the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and paid through federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.
Expanding Non-Discrimination Protections
On April 7, 2016, Governor Wolf signed two executive orders that expand protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender expression or identity for state employees and, for the first time, employees of contractors doing business with the commonwealth.
The purpose of these executive orders is to establish policy, procedures and responsibilities for the prohibition of discrimination and affirmation of equal employment opportunity in the commonwealth. Agencies under the Governor’s jurisdiction, employees and applicants for employment in those agencies, and vendors are affected by these Executive Orders.
Diversity in Procurement
On September 23, 2015, Governor Wolf signed an executive order solidifying his administration’s commitment to improving diverse and small business participation in state government contracting.
Executive Order 2015-11 (“Diversity, Inclusion, and Small Business Opportunities in State Contracting and Pennsylvania’s Economy”) directs a consistent and coordinated effort to ensure diversity and inclusion in all contracting opportunities for small and diverse businesses throughout agencies under the governor’s jurisdiction and promotes the creation of programs to better prepare those businesses to compete and succeed in Pennsylvania’s economy.
On June 17, 2016, the Wolf Administration released a redesigned PA.gov. The new pilot site was designed to incorporate three key principles:
- Design that Works: build to be compatible with the devices Pennsylvanians regularly use to access online government resources.
- Navigation that Works: organized to meet the various ways Pennsylvanians search for information online.
- Data that Works: Using analytics to guide content decisions to meet Pennsylvanians where they are.
Plow Truck Tracking
On January 11, 2016, Governor Wolf announced that the public can now view hundreds of plow trucks on interstates and expressways this winter at www.511PA.com.
The announcement is part of the Automated Vehicle Location (AVL) system pilot first announced by the governor in October, which improves PennDOT’s information on vehicle movement and usage of winter materials. The pilot is expected to realize a cost savings of $1.4 million over the next four to six years based on a combination of reduced salt usage and better use of department equipment.
Online Voter Registration
On August 27, 2015, Pennsylvania became the 23rd state to offer online voter registration.
The online registration application, hosted by the Department of State, is now available for use by eligible citizens at register.votesPA.com. The new site, available in English or Spanish, also allows currently registered voters to more easily make updates to their voter record, such as a change of name, address or party affiliation. Additionally, registered voters may use the new site to request assistance at the polling place. In December, the Department of State received the 2015 Pennsylvania Excellence in Technology Award for the Online Voter Registration application.
On September 19, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf announced that a half million eligible Pennsylvania citizens have used the state’s online voter registration application to register to vote since its launch in August 2015.
On October 12, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of State Pedro A. Cortés celebrated the success of Pennsylvania’s online voter registration after the system recorded nearly 900,000 total applications submitted by the midnight registration deadline.
Construction Project Tracking
Under the Wolf Administration, PennDOT launched a new website this year showing where investments are being made across the state in order to increase transparency and proactive communication with the public and stakeholders is critical.
The website – Projects.PennDOT.gov – features statewide and county updates on:
- Construction projects that are underway or will be bid or begin this year
- Projects that are completed, underway, planned or in development because of Act 89’s historic investment
- Projects included in the department’s Four and Twelve Year Plans.
Election Results Website
Under the Wolf Administration, the Department of State launched a revamped election-results website just prior to the May 2016 primary election.
The website allows users to view results on mobile devices, customize searches, and receive timely updates and provides a location-based service.
Improving DMV Customer Services
On August 26, 2016, Governor Wolf and Secretary of Transportation Leslie S. Richards celebrated new innovations in customer service and experience coming to driver’s license centers across the state aimed at reducing wait times and collecting customer feedback.
Redesigned CHIP Website
On August 25, 2016, the Department of Human Services has launched a new-and-improved website for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
The new site was designed to make it easier for families looking for health coverage for their children, CHIP recipients, and providers to access important information.
Launched 511PAConnect to Keep Stranded Motorists Safe
On December 22, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf announced the launch of 511PAConnect, an initiative to provide information updates to motorists in the event of a long-term road closure due to accidents on the Pennsylvania Turnpike or other state roadways. Motorists who receive the alert have the option of registering for automatic text messages or phone call updates.
Oil Train Safety
On August 17, 2015, Governor Wolf released a report written by Dr. Allan Zarembski focused on the safety of Pennsylvanians and protecting people from the potential of Bakken crude oil train derailments.
In the report, Assessment of Crude by Rail Safety Issues in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Dr. Zarembski presents 27 recommendations. Dr. Zarembski, who was hired by the governor in late-April and started in mid-May, is an internationally recognized expert in the area of railway track and structures, vehicle-track dynamics, failure and risk analysis, safety, railway operations, and maintenance.
Read more about Governor Wolf’s oil train safety efforts:
- Governor Wolf Sends Letter to Oil Train Companies Urging Additional Safety Steps
- Governor Wolf Sends Letter to President Obama Asking For Federal Action to Help Prevent Oil Train Accidents
Local Impact Projects
Governor Wolf has prioritized investing in Pennsylvania’s roads, bridges, railways and other infrastructure to set the stage for economic growth.
Read more about infrastructure investments across the commonwealth made under Governor Wolf’s administration.
Expanded Housing Funding
On November 5, 2015, Governor Wolf signed House Bill 792 into law, expanding funding opportunities for housing to every Pennsylvania county.
House Bill 792, now Act 58, amends the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency Law and directs any additional money, up to $25 million, raised by the Real Estate Transfer Tax over the amount raised in 2014, to the Housing Affordability Rehabilitation and Enhancement Fund.
Improving Harrisburg Transportation Center
On January 21, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf announced plans to invest $15 million in federal and state funds to improve the Harrisburg Transportation Center and its surrounding areas. Future plans call for $50 million to $60 million in federal and state funds to improve the station, serving more than 1.6 million riders per year, and the surrounding area.
Investments in Pennsylvania Airports
On August 22, 2017, Governor Tom Wolf announced $8.8 million in state investments for safety upgrades and expanding operation opportunities in twenty-three Pennsylvania airports.
On February 23, 2017, Governor Tom Wolf announced that four airports will make facility upgrades as well as promote services and establish new educational opportunities with the assistance of $5.8 million in state investments.
Introducing $2 Billion through the Road Maintenance and Preservation (Road MaP) program
On February 28, 2017, Governor Wolf announced plans for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to invest more than $2 billion in roadway maintenance and highway and bridge capital projects over the next 10 years through the Road Maintenance and Preservation (Road MaP) program.
The investments are being made possible due to legislative action in 2016 which caps the expenditures from the Motor License Fund going toward the State Police budget beginning with the 2018-19 budget and concluding with the 2027-28 budget.
The program will see an additional estimated $63 million in the 2017-18 state fiscal year through Governor Wolf’s budget proposal of a $25 per capita fee for municipalities with exclusive State Police enforcement coverage.
Reforming Pennsylvania’s Liquor System
On June 8, 2016, Governor Wolf was joined by legislators to sign a historic liquor reform bill that enhanced the customer experience by providing greater convenience and satisfaction.
This liquor reform bill: removed Sunday restrictions and state-mandated holidays; enhanced customer loyalty programs and opened up coupons at state stores; provided options for flexible pricing that allowed state stores to offer special discounts and sales; allowed restaurants and hotels to sell up to four bottles of wine for take-out; allowed grocery stores that sold beer to sell up to four bottles of wine; allowed for direct shipments of wine to people’s homes; and made permanent gas stations’ able to sell 6 packs.
During the 2016 fall session, the governor worked with lawmakers to approve the sale of six-packs of beer at distributors throughout the commonwealth. This legislation further enhances the customer experience by providing greater convenience and satisfaction to the residents of Pennsylvania.
On November 15, 2016, Governor Wolf signed a bipartisan bill which allow six-packs to be sold at beer distributors to further “free the six-pack” and improve customer convenience.
Raising the Minimum Wage for State Employees
On March 7, 2016, Governor Wolf signed an executive order that ensures employees under the governor’s jurisdiction will be paid no less than $10.15 an hour. The executive order also covers employees of organizations that negotiate state contracts or that lease property to the commonwealth.
The inflation-adjusted hourly earnings of the bottom fifth of Pennsylvania workers are lower today than they were in 1979 and the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour has 18 percent less purchasing power than the minimum wage had in 1979.
In addition to signing the executive order, Governor Wolf also called upon legislators to pass a minimum wage increase for all Pennsylvania workers.
Governor Tom Wolf has always made “jobs that pay” a top priority — since taking office, his administration has secured over $2 billion in private sector investments here in the commonwealth and commitments for the creation and retention of over 200,000 full-time jobs.
In 2015, the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) approved more than $1.3 billion in low-interest loans, tax credits, and grants for projects across the commonwealth and secured private sector commitments for the creation and retention of more than 135,000 full-time jobs.
Through the work of the Governor’s Action Team (GAT), an experienced group of economic development professionals who report directly to the governor, the administration is working with businesses that are considering locating to or expanding in Pennsylvania. In 2015, GAT completed 58 such relocation and expansion projects, which in turn created over 4,500 new jobs and helped retain over 11,000 positions.
In 2016, Governor Wolf approved more than $219 million in Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program funding to assist with projects aimed at revitalizing communities across Pennsylvania by assisting shovel-ready projects that will help create jobs and attract new residents. Some of these projects include:
- Innovation Squared in Wilkes Barre that will retain and create 200 jobs and establish an innovation district in the region;
- Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia at former Gallery site that will create 2,300 direct and indirect permanent jobs;
- University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown’s new chemical engineering program aimed at ensuring career-ready candidates for emerging industries in the region.
Read more about new jobs across the commonwealth created under Governor Wolf’s administration.
On December 6, 2016, Governor Wolf announced the approval of 94 projects totaling $55,068,228 in funding investments to statewide economic development, infrastructure efforts, and job creation through the Commonwealth Financing Authority.
On January 24, 2017, Governor Wolf announced approvals through the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) totaling more than $4 million in funding that will lead to the creation and retention of more than 560 jobs. The approved funding would support the installation of a three-mile pipeline in Johnsonburg Borough and also one Business in Our Sites project in Cambria County.
Increasing Employment Opportunities among People with Disabilities
On March 10, 2016, Governor Wolf signed an executive order to increase integrated employment opportunities among people with disabilities in Pennsylvania.
Governor Wolf’s executive order is designed to increase employment among people with disabilities, and his administration will explore ways to reduce barriers to employment, as well as conduct a thorough review of programs and policies with a goal of increasing the overall number of people with disabilities who are employed in competitive-integrated jobs. The plan will also work to align funding, policy, data collection, and practices.
On May 17, 2016, Governor Wolf signed into law House Bill 400, known as the Work Experience for High School Students with Disabilities Act, which will help students with disabilities gain competitive employment. Through the Act, the Department of Labor & Industry’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) were tasked with facilitating job and career development between schools and employers in an effort to help students with disabilities get jobs that pay.
Pennsylvania Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
On March 10, 2016, Governor Wolf announced his administration has begun the submission process of the Pennsylvania Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act four-year combined state plan to the United States Department of Labor.
This plan will allow Pennsylvania to coordinate workforce training and funding to ensure Pennsylvania workers of all ages have the skills to compete in the 21st century and employers have a skilled workforce that aligns with emerging needs.
New federal legislation requires each state to submit a four-year unified or combined state plan outlining the state’s workforce development strategy. Pennsylvania used the opportunity to work with the private sector and many agencies including the departments of Labor & Industry, Aging, Agriculture, Community and Economic Development, Corrections, Education, Human Services, and Military and Veterans Affairs to create a plan that strengthen workforce development in Pennsylvania while leveraging federal efforts.
Ending Capital Stock and Foreign Franchise Tax
In early 2016, Governor Tom Wolf announced the successful January 1 phase-out of Pennsylvania’s Capital Stock and Foreign Franchise tax, calling it “an unfair tax on business” that he was committed to eliminating. The Capital Stock and Foreign Franchise tax dates to 1844. Its phase-out that had been scheduled by Governor Tom Ridge for elimination in 2008 was delayed by subsequent administrations.
The Wolf administration and the Department of Labor and Industry directed $3.5 million for summer jobs demonstration programs in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
In Philadelphia, $2.4 million was directed for a pilot program through WorkReady Philadelphia, targeting youth ages 12-24 in relatively low-income, high-poverty neighborhoods, resulting in more than 1,400 new summer positions. In Pittsburgh, $1.1 million was directed to fund approximately 200 summer jobs for low-income and at-risk high school students in a variety of STEM-related pilot internship programs, including Digital Manufacturing, Website Production, and Big Data Analytics.
Workers’ Comp Insurance Rate Cut
On March 27, 2015, Governor Wolf announced Pennsylvania businesses will see a significant cut in workers’ compensation insurance rates while benefit levels for injured workers will be maintained.
Workers’ comp insurance rates will drop 5.99 percent, effective April 1, reducing a key expense for many companies and saving Pennsylvania businesses an estimated $140 million this year. This is the fourth consecutive workers’ compensation insurance cut in as many years, and brings the cumulative savings to $550 million for the past four years. Workers’ compensation insurance covers the cost of medical care and rehabilitation for injured workers, lost wages and death benefits for the dependents of those killed in work-related accidents.
For FY15-16, L&I awarded 15 partnerships $100,000 each, for a total of $1,500,000 in IP awards. Due to the budget impasse, FY15-16 Industry Partnership funds were not awarded until May 2016. A waiver was applied for and granted to extend Industry Partnership funds until June 30, 2017. As such, FY15-16 and FY16-17 funding will run simultaneously.
For FY16-17, the commonwealth received 33 Industry Partnership applications for $5,213,372. L&I awarded 28 partnership a total of $4,638,772. Partnerships plan to train upwards of 5,300 utilizing FY16-17 Industry Partnership funds.
Port of Philadelphia
On November 4, 2015, Governor Wolf announced his strategic plan for sustained management, maintenance, and development of the Port of Philadelphia. The governor emphasized his key priorities of investing in infrastructure, creating jobs, and keeping Pennsylvania economically competitive
On November 22, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf announced a comprehensive Capital Investment Program that will invest more than $300 million in the Port’s infrastructure, warehousing, and equipment.
The program is ranked among the largest investments by a state on the East Coast, will boost three of the busiest sectors of the Port of Philadelphia, including the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal, the Port’s automobile-handling operation, and the Tioga Marine Terminal.
Shell Cracker Plant in Western Pennsylvania
On June 07, 2016, Governor Wolf announced that Shell Chemical would proceed with building a ‘cracker’ plant in Western Pennsylvania. The new Shell Cracker Plant in Beaver County will have a $6 billion economic impact in the region, create 6,000 full-time construction jobs at peak, and employ 600 full-time permanent positions when complete.
Terminating Act 47 in Three Municipalities
In 2015, Governor Wolf and the Department of Community and Economic Development celebrated the termination of Act 47 status in two municipalities: Nanticoke, Luzerne County and Clairton, Allegheny County.
On May 3, 2016, Plymouth Township’s status as a distressed municipality, under Act 47, was terminated. Plymouth Township was the third municipality to exit Act 47 under the Wolf administration.
These achievements mark the first three cities ever to exit the program. The Municipalities Financial Recovery Act, Act 47 of 1987, was enacted to provide a broad-based program of fiscal management oversight, technical assistance, planning and financial aid to municipalities experiencing severe fiscal distress.
Allocating Gaming Fund Investments to Economic Development Programs
These funds support community improvement, economic development, and public interest projects to help build a stronger workforce and spur job creation in these regions.
Legalizing ride-sharing across the Commonwealth
Governor Wolf worked with both parties in the legislature to finally pass a long-term solution for ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft to operate everywhere in Pennsylvania.
This legislation not only permanently legalizes ride-sharing, but it will also send two-thirds of the revenue derived from ride sharing in the city of Philadelphia to the Philadelphia School District to help the district continue to strengthen its financial footing. This funding is on top of the additional $97 million Governor Wolf worked to secure in his first two budgets.
Funding Community Investments
On December 23, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf announced the approval of more than $17.8 million in tax credits to support 114 community investments through the Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP). NAP provides tax credits to encourage businesses and community organizations to invest in projects that serve distressed areas or support conservation efforts.
Welcoming Military Veteran Businesses
On January 12, 2017, Governor Tom advised military veterans and reservists they are now exempt from certain fees for business start-ups and professional licensure.
The business fee exemption, which became effective January 2, eliminated the requirement for fees to start or open a new small business if the business is veteran- or reservist-owned.
Stimulating Public-Private Developments
On February 16, 2017, Governor Wolf announced the approval of more than $1.4 million in funding through the Keystone Communities program to support nine community revitalization projects across the commonwealth.
Administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), the Keystone Communities program is designed to encourage the creation of partnerships between the public and private sectors in the community that jointly support local initiatives.
On March 17, 2017, Governor Tom Wolf announced $3.6 million in new state investments designed to spur economic development and support revitalization throughout the City of Erie. This announcement follows the nearly $10 million in recent commitments from administration to support growth and development in Erie.
Historic Increases to Education Funding
Governor Wolf has fought for more education funding since day one and he has made investment in our schools and our children his top priority. Working with the legislature, the governor has secured historic increases in his first two years:
- $415 million in basic education funding.
- $60 million for early childhood education.
- $50 million in special education funding.
- $14.6 million for early intervention
- $81.4 million for PASSHE and state-related schools.
- $16.4 million for Community Colleges.
Fair Funding Formula
On June 2, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf signed House Bill 1552 into law, which established a fair funding formula and provided emergency funds for two of the commonwealth’s financially distressed school districts.
House Bill 1552, now Act 35, establishes a fair, equitable formula for allocating new state funds to Pennsylvania schools. The Basic Education Funding Formula accounts for district-based factors including the wealth of the district, the district’s current tax effort, and the ability of the district to raise revenue.
Chester Upland School District Recovery Plan
In October 2015, the Wolf Administration created an amended recovery plan for the struggling Chester Upland School District to put the district on sound financial footing so parents and students no longer have to worry each year that the doors of the school may not open. The plan eliminates the district’s annual structural deficit by modifying the special education tuition rate and securing a permanent increase to the district’s basic education funding base, eliminates the district’s negative fund balance, and plans and funds capital improvements to district schools.
York City and Harrisburg School Districts Chief Recovery Officers
In April and July of 2015, the Wolf Administration named new chief recovery officers for the York City and Harrisburg School Districts to put schools in those districts on a path back to stability. In addition to overseeing the fiscal recovery of the districts, the chief recovery officers will also assist district leaders in leveraging resources to support student academic achievement.
Military Higher Education Bill
On June 29, 2015, Governor Wolf signed a bill into law that would enhance eligibility for military personnel and their families to attend state-related and state-owned institutions of higher learning and community colleges.
Act 11 – HB 131, introduced by Representative Stephen Barrar, amends the act of December 15, 1982, entitled, as amended, “an act conferring limited residency status on military personnel, their dependents and civilian personnel assigned to an active duty station in Pennsylvania,” further provides for attendance at State-related and State-owned institutions of higher learning and community colleges; and provides for applicability and eligibility.
Safe Schools Response Plan
On November 17, 2016, the Wolf Administration responded to several incidents involving racism and religious intolerance at Pennsylvania schools by announcing a response plan that includes outreach from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Safe Schools office and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC). The goal is to ensure students have the right to equity in schools and an education free from illegal discrimination.
Preparing Future Principals
On January 17, 2017, Governor Wolf announced $3 million in federal grant funding for LaSalle University, Shippensburg University, and Temple University to help prepare future principals and provide them an increased focus on early learning for students.
Funding Public Libraries
On March 15, 2017, Governor Wolf announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Education has awarded Keystone Grants to 27 Pennsylvania libraries, providing more than $5.9 million in funding for libraries from the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund.
Centers of Excellence
Governor Wolf worked with the legislature to secure $20.4 million in the 2016-17 budget to combat Pennsylvania’s heroin crisis by expanding treatment options for Pennsylvanians struggling with opioid use disorder.
The Wolf Administration has announced 45 Centers of Excellence locations throughout the state. These centers have navigators to assist people with opioid-related substance use disorders though the medical system, and to ensure they receive behavioral and physical health care, as well as any evidence-based medication-assisted treatment needed.
Redesigned Prescription Drug Monitoring Program
On August 25, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf announced that Pennsylvania’s redesigned Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) was fully operational and would serve as an important tool to help curb the prescription opioid and heroin public health crisis in the commonwealth.
The PDMP online database allows prescribers and dispensers of controlled substances to monitor who is obtaining opioids, who prescriptions are being obtained from, and how often they are prescribed. This critical online tool will support clinicians in identifying patients who may be struggling from the disease of addiction and help connect them with treatment services. Governor Wolf also signed a bill that would strengthen the PDMP by requiring prescribers to check the ABC-MAP every time they prescribe an opioid or benzodiazepine and require dispensers to input prescription data into the system within 24 hours of dispensing.
Safer Opioid Prescribing Guidelines
On July 19, 2016, Governor Wolf was joined by members of his administration to announce new prescribing guideline recommendations for the safe and effective use of opioids.
In addition, under Governor Wolf’s leadership, the Department of Health and the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs convened the Safe and Effective Prescribing Practices Task Force to develop and adopt guidelines for six medical specialties on the safe and effective use of opioids in the treatment of pain.
Overdoses Reversed by Police with Naloxone
On June 13, 2016, Governor Wolf announced that since municipal police departments, the Pennsylvania State Police, and individual police officers were equipped with naloxone over one year ago, more than 2,000 opioid overdoses have been reversed.
With nearly 2,500 overdose deaths in Pennsylvania in 2014 and estimates that the 2015 total will be higher, police are instrumental in saving the lives of anyone who overdoses on prescription pain medication or heroin. According to a Center for Rural Pennsylvania survey of police departments, police are first on the scene of an overdose approximately 70 percent of the time.
State Police and Capitol Police Equipped With Naloxone
On April 7, 2015, Governor Wolf announced the Pennsylvania State Police will carry naloxone, the life-saving opioid overdose reversal antidote.
Naloxone, also known by the brand name “Narcan” is a prescription medicine that rapidly reverses heroin and other opioid overdoses. With a combination of grants donated by Aetna, Geisinger Health, Health Partner Plans, and Highmark, every state patrol car in Pennsylvania will be equipped with two naloxone doses.
On December 2, 2015, Governor Wolf announced that the Pennsylvania Capitol Police are now trained to administer and will carry the life-saving opioid overdose reversal antidote known as naloxone. This will allow officers to continue to protect the well-being and safety of those who visit, work and live in the areas of the Pennsylvania Capitol Police jurisdiction and the surrounding areas.
As of December 07, 2016, more than 2,000 opioid overdoses have been reversed by state and local police officers since November of 2014.
On January 31, 2017, Governor Wolf announced a proposal to include $10 million to provide Naloxone to first responders and law enforcement across the state through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
Naloxone in Schools
On September 18, 2015, Governor Wolf, together with Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera, Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy, and Secretary of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Gary Tennis, announced support for the use of the life-saving drug antidote naloxone at schools across the commonwealth.
Naloxone is administered to individuals suffering from an opioid overdose, such as heroin, and reverses the effects of the ingested drug.
Naloxone Standing Order
On October 28, 2015, Governor Wolf stood with Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine as Dr. Levine signed a standing order making it possible for all Pennsylvanians to access naloxone, a medication that can reverse an overdose that is caused by an opioid drug.
Through the signing of this standing order, Dr. Levine has signed a prescription for naloxone to all Pennsylvanians. For more information about naloxone and how to administer it, please visit the Department of Drug and Alcohol Program’s page on overdose reversal.
Received Grant to Fight Opioid Addiction in Rural Areas
On July 15, 2016, the Department of Human Services announced it received a nearly $3 million federal grant to double the number of primary care physicians delivering high-quality medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in rural Pennsylvania.
The grant funds help educate and train primary care providers to deliver high-quality Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) treatment, focus on the details of implementation within primary care, facilitate coordination among the broader health system and community-based resources, provide access to clinical specialists, and link participating practices with hubs who can guide them towards a sustainable MAT program.
Limited Opioid Prescriptions to Emergency Room Patients and Minors
Governor Wolf signed legislation that limits the number of opioids a patient can receive at emergency rooms to a seven day supply with no refills. He also put the same restriction in place for minors no matter where they get a prescription. This does not make it harder for physicians to prescribe opioids for legitimate pain. Those suffering from crippling pain need relief, and we must be careful to protect the ability of sufferers of long-term pain or victims of trauma to receive appropriate medication.
Improved and Increased Education on Prescribing Opioids
We must prepare doctors and physicians for prescribing opioids and pain management by improving medical school and continuing education curricula on opioids. Governor Wolf signed legislation that developed a safe opioid prescribing curriculum in medical colleges and other medical training facilities offering or desiring to offer medical training. He also signed a bill that requires continuing education in pain management, addiction and dispensing for prescribers and dispensers.
Increased Access for Pennsylvanians to Dispose of Unwanted or Expired Prescription Drugs
Pennsylvania’s Prescription Drug Take-Back Program is helping communities properly dispose of unused and unwanted prescriptions. To date, there are nearly 515 take-back boxes located at police stations across Pennsylvania. Since 2015, more than 100,000 pounds of prescription drugs were taken back and destroyed.
Governor Wolf also signed a bill that ensured all federal, state and local law enforcement entities, hospitals, assisted living facilities, home health care agencies, long-term care nursing facilities, hospice, and commonwealth licensed pharmacies could serve as drop-off locations for any extra, unwanted, or expired prescription drug or over-the-counter pharmaceutical products.
Provided Guidance On Insurance Coverage of Substance Use Disorder Treatment
The Pennsylvania Insurance Department issued a notice outlining how health insurance companies are expected to apply parity laws for mental health and substance use disorder coverage. This notice was announced alongside a consumer guide to mental health and substance use disorder treatment designed to help Pennsylvanians understand their rights and the benefits to which they are entitled. The guide details what is required to be covered by different types of insurance and where help can be found, if necessary. The full guide is available at PID’s website here.
Increased Law Enforcement’s Ability to Hold Opioid Dealers Accountable
Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy issued a notice of intent to temporarily schedule the substance carfentanil, a narcotic substance, as a Schedule II controlled substance under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act in order to allow law enforcement to take appropriate action against those in possession of this extremely dangerous drug.
Reducing Opioid Addiction, Recidivism for Inmates
On December 15, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf announced $1.5 million in grants awarded to human services agencies serving 13 counties to provide Medication Assisted Treatment to offenders for substance abuse disorder.
The grants are aimed at reducing relapse, recidivism, and overdoses by providing Vivitrol, a long-acting injectable form of naltrexone that blocks certain receptors to prevent a ‘high” and removes the craving for drugs or alcohol.
Provided Warm Handoff Guidance to Emergency Room Doctors and Healthcare Professionals
On December 21, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf released guidance developed by the Department of Health and the Department of Drug and Alcohol programs in conjunction with the American College of Emergency Physicians to help emergency room doctors and healthcare professionals identify individuals with substance use disorder, including those who have been saved by naloxone, and get them into treatment – a process known as a warm handoff.
Tightening Medicaid Opioid Prescription Rules
On March 6, 2017, Governor Wolf announced several additional steps the commonwealth is taking to help tighten the rules under which medication, such as buprenorphine, can be prescribed under the Medicaid program:
- Require all ordering, prescribing or referring providers who are identified on claims be enrolled in the Medicaid program.
- Work with the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) to cease allowing providers to accept cash payments from Medicaid recipients;
- Audit and potentially un-enroll providers who prescribe medication such as buprenorphine without an office visit;
- Encourage Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) to terminate poor providers that do not meet certain quality metrics;
- Implement standardized prior authorization guidelines similar to those most recently implemented for the Medicaid Fee-For-Service Program; and
- Refer high-volume providers with poor quality records to DHS Bureau of Program Integrity for review and action.
Prescription Guidelines for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
On March 16, 2017, Governor Tom Wolf and former Pittsburgh Steeler Franco Harris, joined state and local leaders at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Montefiore to announce prescribing guideline recommendations for the safe and effective use of opioids in orthopedics and sports medicine.
The Safe Prescribing of Opioids in Orthopedics and Sports Medicine guidelines address the use of opioid pain medication in orthopedics and sports medicine. They are intended to help health care providers improve patient outcomes and to supplement, but not replace, the individual provider’s clinical judgment.
On February 5, 2015, Governor Wolf signed an executive order establishing the Governor’s Office of Transformation, Innovation, Management, and Efficiency (GO-TIME).
GO-TIME will leverage inter-agency coordination and collaboration to maximize efficiency, modernize state government operations, and provide the highest quality services. During the 2015-16 fiscal year, state agencies saved over $156 million. With his first savings goal of $150 million exceeded, Governor Wolf is now challenging GO-TIME to build upon this success by achieving $500 million in savings by 2020.
On November 17, 2016, Governor Wolf announced the GO-TIME Continuous Process Improvement (GO-CPI) initiative based on “Lean” practices. This initiative would partner with state agencies to implement continuous process improvement programs to streamline work and deliver better services by providing training to key agency staff to ultimately train others.
Waived Background Checks Fees
On June 10, 2015, Governor Wolf announced fee waivers for volunteers seeking background checks.
Fees for child abuse clearances and criminal background checks required by the Child Protective Services Law will be waived for volunteers working with children. Additionally, the Department of Human Services and the Pennsylvania State Police will be reducing the cost of both the child abuse and criminal history record checks from $10 to $8 for all other applicants, effective July 25, 2015.
SNAP Asset Test Eliminated
On April 21, 2015, Governor Wolf eliminated the wasteful SNAP asset test.
The anticipated state savings from eliminating the asset test are $3.5 million annually. This will also remove unnecessary administrative burdens and costs to the commonwealth, as well as increased errors that could potentially result in federal sanctions for the state. SNAP, previously known as food stamps, is a federal program that provides monthly benefits to approximately 1.83 million low-income Pennsylvanians in need of nutrition assistance.
SNAP Error Rate Reduced
On January 20, 2016, Governor Wolf joined the Department of Human Services (DHS) to announce a significant reduction in the error rate of the administration of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
This reduction represents the largest percentage decrease in the SNAP error rate in a single year in the 29 years that these records have been kept. The change in error rate is estimated to equal a cost avoidance of nearly $35 million.
Consumer Financial Protection Initiative
On November 12, 2015, Governor Wolf announced a consumer financial protection initiative at the opening of the Ann B. Barshinger Financial Empowerment Center in Lancaster. The initiative has four goals: protecting consumers from illegal, “easy money” types of lending from out-of-state companies; helping health care and legal professionals identify signs of elder financial abuse and preventing this crime; working to find new ways to help working adults save for their retirements; and working to establish a state government interagency financial education exchange for consumers.
Rescinding Outdated Executive Orders
On December 06, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf announced that he will rescind 46 outdated and unnecessary executive orders by previous administrations – some dating back 30 years – to continue his efforts to clean-up state government. Outdated orders include those from seven previous Governors starting with Gov. Milton Shapp.
Apply for Benefits Using Your Phone
On December 12, 2016, Governor Wolf’s Office of Transformation, Innovation, Management and Efficiency (GO-TIME) and the Department of Human Services (DHS) launched a mobile app for Pennsylvanians who have applied for or receive assistance benefits called myCOMPASS PA.
myCOMPASS PA will allow individuals to take photos of necessary documents and upload them directly to their case files through a secure, safe digital process that would save an average of $3.2 million per year by reducing mail processing time, manual information entry, call center calls, postage, and printing.
On March 24, 2017, Governor Tom Wolf announced the second release of myCOMPASS PA that will include additional key features:
- Users will be able to report changes to household information such as wage changes, new job, pregnancy, etc. on the case.
- Individuals can start and complete the SAR process on the app.
- The application will provide the ability to view notices.
The mobile application is available use on iPhones and Android smartphones.
Making it Easier to Start a Business
On December 16, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf and Revenue Secretary Eileen McNulty announced the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue’s launch of a Tax Registration Office to improve how businesses register and update information with the department.
The Tax Registration Office combines the business registration functions previously managed separately by the Bureau of Business Trust Fund Taxes and the Bureau of Corporation Taxes.
Enhancing Consumer Protection Technology
On January 6, 2017, Governor Tom Wolf announced that within the next year the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture would increase the number of field staff with access to 4G wireless technology.
Department field staff provide a broad array of consumer protection services, including inspections of food and feed production facilities, farms, amusement rides, fuel pumps, scales of all sizes, commercial dog breeding kennels, restaurants, and food banks.
More than 130 staff will soon receive leased laptops with this secured, 4G wireless technology built directly into the laptops they use on the field. Since the devices are now leased and no longer purchased, the initiative has so far saved more than $520,000 and is expected to save more than $10 million during the project’s first five years.
On January 12, 2017, Governor Tom Wolf announced the transfer and consolidation of three investment funds worth approximately $2.3 billion combined to eliminate private managers and achieve savings of $5.6 million annually.
Updating Food Management Systems at Correctional Facilities
On February 15, 2017, the Department of General Services and the Department of Corrections announced another GO-TIME success with the award of a Food Procurement Services and Food Management Software System that will save the commonwealth $16.6 million over the three year-term of the contract.
Using Apps to Make Oil and Gas Inspections, Documentation More Efficient
On March 3, 2017, Governor Wolf’s administration announced another GO-TIME success with the launch of an iPad app for electronic field inspections at oil and gas production sites.
On March 21, 2017, Governor Wolf announced that the Department of Environmental Protection launched the e-submissions public review tool to make documents submitted electronically by unconventional oil and gas operators more quickly available to the public.
The app would make the inspection process more accurate and efficient, thanks to improved data quality, easier photo documentation, elimination of duplicate entry, electronic supervisor approval and other features.
Supporting Energy-Efficiency and Pollution-Prevention Projects
On May 28, 2015, Governor Wolf announced that nearly 140 businesses across Pennsylvania will soon install energy-efficiency or pollution-prevention projects by using Small Business Advantage Grants provided by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
This year, DEP awarded more than $980,000 to 139 small businesses. Pennsylvania’s Small Business Advantage Grant Program, funded through the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act, helps businesses with 100 or fewer employees.
On May 27, 2015, Governor Wolf announced the formation of a task force to help Commonwealth agencies, the natural gas industry, and communities across the state collaborate more effectively as thousands of miles of pipelines are being proposed to transport natural gas and related byproducts to markets from gas wells throughout the Commonwealth.
In Pennsylvania, natural gas drilling has outpaced the development of the infrastructure needed to get gas to market. Governor Wolf created the Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force in an effort to promote unprecedented collaboration of stakeholders to facilitate the development of a world-class pipeline infrastructure system.
Reopening of Solar Energy Program
On November, 16, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf announced the reopening of the Solar Energy Program (SEP), offering more than $30 million in loan funds to promote the use of solar energy in Pennsylvania. For solar equipment manufacturing projects, SEP will offer loans of up to $40,000 for every new job created within three years. For energy generation or distribution projects, SEP will offer loans up to $5 million or $3 per watt, whichever is less.