In this Update:
Purchase Line Class of 2023 Commencement Ceremony
It was my distinct honor to serve as the keynote speaker for Purchase Line School District’s commencement ceremony.
I take great pride in being an alumnus of the Purchase Line Class of 1995 and I am grateful for the great education and wonderful experiences I had during my time there.
I am deeply humbled and grateful for being awarded the Purchase Line Red Dragon Foundation Distinguished Alumni Award by Diane Fenton, RDF vice-president.
Thank you for having me and best wishes to the Class of 2023!
Westmoreland Constituent Group Welcomed at the Capitol
They were able to visit both the Senate and House chambers, and take an official tour of our beautiful Capitol building during their time in Harrisburg.
Thank you all for making the trip to Harrisburg!
Honoring Local Heroes
Burrell School District‘s National Honor Society (NHS) honored three local fallen heroes from community police departments during a moving presentation last week.
The NHS designed a bench for each of the fallen officers as their service project this year. The officers honored are Officer Derek Kotecki of the Lower Burrell Police Department, Officer Brian Shaw of the New Kensington Police Department and Chief Justin McIntire of the Brackenridge Police Department.
Each bench has an inscription with the respective end of watch dates and a quote from each officer. The benches will be placed at each of the local police departments.
A heartfelt thank you to Burrell High School NHS executive board member seniors Britta Lindgren, Maddie Gerthoffer, Ava Rusiewicz, Lily Dombroski and Cam Seidel, along with their advisors Mrs. Kim Abel and Mr. Anthony Facemyre, for a thoughtful and meaningful remembrance!
State Would Automatically Return Unclaimed Property Under Bill Approved by Senate
The Senate unanimously approved legislation authorizing the state to return unclaimed property without the need for rightful owners to search for it. It now advances to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 24 would authorize the Pennsylvania Treasury Department to automatically return single-owner property for living individuals valued up to $5,000 after a thorough identification and verification process. The legislation streamlines the return of unclaimed money and property by eliminating the need for citizens to search and file a claim. For larger and more complex claims, owners would still be required to complete a claim form and provide additional information to confirm their identity and rightful ownership.
This commonsense initiative, which exemplifies how government should work to better serve its citizens, would return more money to hardworking Pennsylvanians who may be unaware of their unclaimed property. Search Treasury’s unclaimed property database here.
Looking to Change Agency’s Culture, Senate Approves Bill to Rename DEP
All branches and departments of government must work to serve the needs of the public, which is why earlier this week the Senate passed legislation to change the name of the ‘Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’ to the ‘Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Services’.
Senate Bill 691 was introduced by my colleague Senator Gene Yaw. The word “protection” currently in the department’s name carries a law enforcement or security connotation rather than that of an environmental resource and partner to the citizens of Pennsylvania. Emphasizing the department is focused on services will be a major step forward in instituting a needed culture transformation. I believe this change is substantive and will play an important role in cutting through red tape, to help government work more efficiently. You can watch the video of my Senate Floor remarks on this bill by clicking here.
Protecting Pennsylvanians from Unauthorized Tracking Devices
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed legislation to protect Pennsylvanians from the unauthorized use of electronic tracking devices. The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
While tracking devices have been used for decades, the release of the Apple AirTag has resulted in a low-cost proliferation of such technology. Rather than using them to locate commonly misplaced items, some people place them in people’s purses or on their vehicles when unaware. Current law is vague on criminal culpability.
Senate Bill 159 would make it a misdemeanor of the second degree to use such devices to track another person without consent. Exceptions include law enforcement agencies conducting investigations and parents keeping tabs on their children.
Simplifying Government, Ensuring Adequate Funding for Roads and Bridges
Legislation sponsored to replace Pennsylvania’s Alternative Fuels Tax on electric vehicle owners with a flat fee was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee. It would simplify the process for electric vehicle owners and ensure all drivers are contributing toward the maintenance of roads and bridges.
Currently, owners of electric vehicles are required to file monthly statements with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and remit the alternative fuel tax on how much electricity their vehicle uses. However, most electric vehicle owners do not do this, or are inconsistent at doing so, due to the cumbersome process or simply being unaware.
Senate Bill 656 would exempt electric vehicle owners from the tax and replace it with a flat annual fee of $290. The fee was calculated based on the average annual gas taxes paid by owners of gas-powered vehicles. Like the gas tax, the revenue from the flat fee will be deposited into the Motor License Fund for highway maintenance and construction.
Measure Connecting Individuals in Recovery to Occupations Approved by Committee
To combat Pennsylvania’s heroin and opioid epidemic, the Senate Labor and Industry Committee passed a bill to connect individuals in recovery with jobs. It now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
Senate Bill 69 would establish the Recovery to Work Pilot Program, pairing those in recovery with occupations through local workforce development boards. As local workforce development boards would lead the implementation, the strategies will be locally focused to meet the needs of local employers and the local treatment and recovery community.
Additionally, the legislation would provide incentives for businesses and training providers to participate in the program.
Bill Ensuring Educational Opportunities for Military Children Receives Committee Support
Legislation to reduce the educational challenges faced by children of PA National Guard and Reserve members was approved by the Senate Education Committee and is before the full Senate for consideration.
Military families face frequent reassignments, posing educational challenges for children transitioning between schools in different states.
Senate Bill 209 would give children of National Guard and Reserve members the same help provided to those of active-duty military families through the Military Interstate Children’s Compact. The compact provides a consistent set of policies that make getting started in a new school, joining extracurricular activities and meeting graduation requirements as easy as possible for military children.
Free Junior Game Warden Camps Offered Across PA
The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) offers free Junior Game Warden Camps in each of PGC’s six regions in June and July for youth ages 12-15.
Campers will learn about wildlife crime forensics and how wardens catch poachers and solve wildlife-related crimes. Additional instruction will include woodland tracking skills, outdoor survival skills and wildlife capture techniques for nuisance complaints and research purposes.
Registration, available here, is limited to those who have not attended a camp previously.
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