In this Update:
Student Government Seminar
On Thursday, students from 13 high schools across the 41st Senatorial District took part in my annual Student Government Seminar. This “Senator for a Day” event was held at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
The day offered students the opportunity to gain a glimpse of how government functions and how it reacts to public policy issues. We held a presentation and two sessions during the day that allowed students to interact with each other, as well as members of the General Assembly, legislative staff, special interest groups and the media. Students took the roles of lawmakers, discussing bills, advocating for or against legislation and drafting laws which they then considered as a legislative body.
The seminar gave all the students who participated a chance to learn what it takes to get a law passed or defeated. Instead of reading about the process, they were part of it, helping to shape the policies and laws that affect their lives! I want to thank all who attended and helped to organize the event and wish all those who participated in the seminar continued success in their future endeavors.
Town Hall Meeting
Thank you to all who participated in my recent Town Hall meeting in Allegheny Township, Westmoreland County.
I greatly value hearing your concerns and thoughts on various issues that are impacting our local communities and state. The opportunity to have discussions offers an important perspective as we work together to strengthen Pennsylvania.
A special thanks to Allegheny Township for their hospitality and use of their community meeting room.
I appreciated state Rep. Abby Major (R-60) and local officials from Allegheny Township, East Vandergrift, Hyde Park, Vandergrift and West Leechburg Borough for taking the time to attend as well.
Freeport Girls Volleyball Team Recognized by the Senate
The Yellowjackets became State PIAA 2A Volleyball Champions last November. This is their second state championship in the last six years. It is clear they have a bench for next year and strong guidance with Head Coach Thomas Phillips and JV Coach Claire Crytzer.
Congratulations to these outstanding young athletes!
Groundbreaking Ceremony in Armstrong County
This past week, we celebrated the groundbreaking for the Regional Industrial Development Corporation (RIDC) and Armstrong County Industrial Development Council’s (ACIDC) tech flex building at RIDC Armstrong Innovation Park (formerly Northpointe Industrial Park).
While I was unable to attend, I was happy to send my Deputy Chief of Staff, Jeremy Dias, on my behalf.
This park symbolizes partnership. It also symbolizes how important it is to adapt and evolve as times change. The partnership that has been established between Armstrong County and the RIDC is a perfect example of how such evolution must occur if our region is to remain competitive in retaining and attracting jobs that pay family sustaining wages.
That’s why this groundbreaking is so important and I am proud to have partnered with my colleague, state Rep. Abby Major (R-60), in bringing $2 million of state assistance to the construction of this facility. This is an important investment that will add to the flexibility of the RIDC Armstrong Innovation Park to move quickly in attracting new family sustaining jobs.
The support of the ACIDC and its board members, the Armstrong County Commissioners, South Buffalo Township supervisors and the Freeport School district – past and present – is critical to the success of this park. Their continued support in the years ahead will be critical to the future opportunities that will be made available to those we are proud to represent.
I look forward to focusing on the next chapter of RIDC Armstrong Innovation Park and especially the ribbon cutting on this new facility which will hopefully include tenants ready to bring jobs and economic activity to Armstrong County.
Senate Passes Bill to Protect Newborns
The Senate unanimously passed legislation to protect babies whose parents are unable to care for them. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 267 would expand Pennsylvania’s Safe Haven Law to allow parents to surrender their unharmed baby at participating urgent care centers. The urgent care centers will ensure the newborn is transported to a hospital and placed in the care of a health care provider.
Currently, people may bring their newborn (up to 28 days old) to any Pennsylvania hospital, to a police officer at a police station or to an emergency services provider at an EMS station. The Department of Health estimates that 50 babies have been saved by Pennsylvania’s Safe Haven Law since 2003.
Increasing Accountability and Disaster Response Capability
Legislation requiring Senate confirmation of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) director was approved by a bipartisan Senate vote. Senate Bill 433 would increase accountability and ensure the agency is prepared to deal with emergencies efficiently and effectively.
PEMA is the lead emergency coordination agency in the commonwealth tasked with guaranteeing the safety of 13 million residents. This includes oversight of 911 centers and the Emergency Alert System, as well as hazardous materials and incidents involving five nuclear power plants.
Five state agencies with fewer employees than PEMA require Senate confirmation. The bill is before the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Votes to Protect Seniors from Financial Exploitation
The Senate approved a bill to help protect Pennsylvania senior citizens from financial exploitation scams using information that is already available within state government.
Under Senate Bill 137, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General would notify the Department of Aging about any investigations or enforcement actions involving someone age 65 or older and related to the Pennsylvania Telemarketer Registration Act.
The improved information sharing would enable the Department of Aging to deliver warnings to local area agencies on aging in counties across the commonwealth while ensuring strict adherence to confidentiality rules.
Senate Bill 137 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Broadband Grant Program Opens May 10
The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority recently approved the Pennsylvania Broadband Infrastructure Program which will provide $200 million in funding to businesses, nonprofits, local governments and economic development organizations.
This program will fund line extension and development projects, as well as large-scale regional infrastructure projects. Upon completion, projects must deliver service that meets or exceeds symmetrical download and upload speeds of 100 Megabits per second, with prioritization being given to fiber-optic deployment.
The application period will begin May 10 and will close July 10. View program guidelines here.
Register to Vote by May 1
The deadline to register to vote in Pennsylvania’s May 16 primary election is Monday, May 1. Your county election board must receive your application for a mail-in or absentee ballot by Tuesday, May 9.
To legally register, individuals must be a citizen of the United States, reside in their local voting precincts at least 30 days prior to the election and be at least age 18 on Election Day, Tuesday, May 16. Once registered to vote, you are not required to register again unless you change your residence, name or political party affiliation.
Voter registration forms, mail-in ballot applications and absentee ballot applications are available here or from your local county’s Board of Elections. You can also use the site to check your registration status.
Free Tick Testing for All Pennsylvanians
Pennsylvania leads the nation in the number of Lyme disease cases. As we continue to fight Lyme and other tick-borne diseases in the commonwealth, East Stroudsburg University offers a valuable resource for all Pennsylvanians.
The university has a tick lab, which provides free testing on ticks for harmful diseases including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and more. Send a tick sample to the lab and receive the test results that are often necessary evidence for doctors to treat you and increase your chance of staying healthy.
This week, the Senate passed a bill to require school officials to notify a student’s parents or guardian if a tick is removed from them at school and inform them of the symptoms of Lyme disease. The bill also calls for schools to provide the tick to parents or guardians if they would like to send it to the lab for testing.
To remove a tick, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp it as close to the skin’s surface as possible and then pull upward with a steady, even pressure. Avoid twisting or jerking as this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
For more information about tick-borne diseases or how to submit a tick for testing here.