Senator Pittman E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Meeting with The Arc of Indiana County
  • “Grow PA” Bills to Support Affordable Pathways to Higher Ed, Career Prep Passes Senate
  • Indiana County Bridge Renamed in Honor of Military Service Member
  • Speaking at the 2024 PA Health Care Association Legislative Conference
  • Senate Approves Legislation Combatting AI “Deepfake” Images of Minors
  • Education Empowerment in Pennsylvania
  • Bill to Protect Property Owners from Squatters Receives Senate Support
  • Bill to Extend Grant Program for Fire, EMS and Rescue Organizations Passes Senate
  • Free Webinars Provide Helpful Financial Aid Info
  • Happy Father’s Day

Meeting with The Arc of Indiana County

It was a pleasure to meet with Michelle Jordan, executive director of The Arc of Indiana County, this week.

Michelle was in Harrisburg for the Arc of Pennsylvania’s Advocacy and Policy Day at the Capitol to advocate for the intellectual disability community.

The Arc of Indiana County has been dedicated to supporting and empowering individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families for 50 years.

Advocacy is important, and I appreciated the opportunity to discuss the budget, funding a direct staff professional rate increase and home-based community services, along with several other issues of concern.

Thank you for taking the time to visit!

“Grow PA” Bills to Support Affordable Pathways to Higher Ed, Career Prep Passes Senate

Tens of thousands of students would have more opportunities to pursue affordable post-secondary education and career preparations programs under a package of bills approved with bipartisan support in the Senate.

The Grow PA initiative would create and expand programs to connect students to high-demand careers in Pennsylvania. The bills would not only make education and career training more affordable, but also provide strong incentives for students to stay and work in the state after completing their degrees and certifications.

Grow PA Scholarships would be established for in-state students who attend college in Pennsylvania, pursue a degree in a high-demand industry, and agree to live and work in that industry in Pennsylvania after graduation.

Grow PA Merit Scholarships would be created to allow high-performing, out-of-state students pursuing in-demand occupations to pay lower, in-state tuition at Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) schools.

Ready to Succeed Scholarships would be expanded to help as many as 24,000 additional students cover post-secondary education costs.

Fostering Independence Tuition Waivers would be expanded to nonresident students, waiving PASSHE tuition and fees for children in the foster care system and children who were adopted.

Performance-based metrics would be added to funding for state-related universities, including the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State University and Temple University to provide added accountability to taxpayers.

A Higher Education Task Force would be created to improve higher education and career preparation programs.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion would be required for high school seniors, ensuring families have access to vital information on higher education aid, career and technical education, certificate programs and more.

The Grow PA plan also includes historic investments in career and technical education and dual enrollment.

Indiana County Bridge Renamed to Honor Military Service Member

U.S. Army Captain Robert M. Young was honored last weekend with a memorial bridge designation in his name for the bridge identified as Bridge Key 47515, which carries State Route 286 over Blacklegs Creek in Conemaugh Township, Indiana County.

Capt. Young graduated from Saltsburg High School and attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania where he was commissioned through the Army ROTC on May 28, 1967. While serving as a prisoner of war in Cambodia, Capt. Young made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedoms on Sept. 17, 1972. We are forever indebted to him and his family for his service and sacrifice for our great country.

I was pleased to have worked with state Rep. Jim Struzzi and local leaders to honor Capt. Young. Legislation approved by the General Assembly and signed into law as Act 17 of 2023 contains this bridge dedication.

Speaking at the 2024 PA Health Care Association Legislative Conference

Thank you to the PA Health Care Association for inviting me to speak at their 2024 Legislative Conference.

The Senate recently advanced two bipartisan bills to update training procedures and remove employment barriers so more people can join the long-term care workforce. In addition, the 2023-24 state budget enacted last year included critical support for emergency medical services, hospitals and nursing homes. As our work continues on the 2024-25 state budget, support for Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable older residents will remain an area of focus.

Thank you to the advocates who came to Harrisburg to share the importance of long-term care across the commonwealth. Pennsylvania’s fastest-growing demographic is adults aged 80 and older and by working together we can help to increase that population’s access to quality care throughout our communities!

Bill to Protect Property Owners from Squatters Receives Senate Support

The Senate approved legislation to establish more certainty for homeowners, landlords and law enforcement who encounter squatters. It respects the rights of all parties involved, ensuring legitimate tenants are protected while closing the door to those who exploit our system to occupy homes illegally.

Under current Pennsylvania law, squatters are considered trespassers after the property owner warns them they are not welcome and instructs them to vacate the property. Should the squatters remain where they are not licensed or privileged to be, they commit the offense of defiant trespass. However, reclaiming property from squatters requires a “notice to quit” be issued to individuals who have no legal right to the property. It imposes financial burdens and significant emotional strain on property owners.

Given the inconsistencies and lack of clarity in how states address squatter concerns, Pennsylvania must establish clear, uniform guidelines. Senate Bill 1236 defines what constitutes a “tenant,” simplifies the reclamation process – by eliminating the need for a “notice to quit” to be provided to a non-tenant – and offers a practical solution to a deeply distressing problem.

Senate Approves Legislation Combatting AI “Deepfake” Images of Minors

Legislation to combat “deepfake” images of minors and child sexual abuse materials generated by artificial intelligence (AI) was approved by the Senate. The bill will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The unauthorized dissemination of an intimate image is against the law in Pennsylvania. However, the law does not specifically address the use of AI deepfake technology to create and disseminate an intimate image of a non-consenting person. Some websites have published realistic AI-generated sexual images of non-consenting adults, as well as children. The images may be artificial but are created by using data and images from real individuals and children.

Senate Bill 1213 would make it clear that the use of AI deepfake technology to create pornographic images of an individual without his or her consent is prohibited. It would also prohibit the use of deepfake technology to create child sexual abuse materials. 

Education Empowerment in Pennsylvania

It was great to sit down with my colleague Sen. Judy Ward to discuss our ongoing efforts to empower parents here in the commonwealth.

Every single child in Pennsylvania deserves access to a quality education. Accountability, reforms and implementing ways to further empower parents in the education of their children must be key components of Pennsylvania’s education system moving forward.

Parents have the ultimate responsibility for their children’s education, and that necessitates them being able to make choices and decisions that best fit the needs of their children.

Bill to Extend Grant Program for Fire, EMS and Rescue Organizations Passes Senate

The Senate approved Senate Bill 1099 to extend the state Fire Company and Emergency Medical Services Grant Program for an additional five years. The program is scheduled to expire June 30.

Grants are provided through the program to help volunteer and professional fire companies, emergency medical services (EMS) organizations and volunteer rescue squads construct or renovate facilities, purchase or repair equipment, reduce debt and provide training.

The grant program allocates up to $30 million, with fire companies eligible for grants of up to $20,000 and EMS companies eligible for grants of up to $15,000.

Free Webinars Provide Helpful Financial Aid Info

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is holding free webinars to assist college-bound students and their families with navigating the financial aid process.

On Tuesday, June 25, at noon, speakers will discuss how to cover the gap between awarded loans and the actual amount due. On Thursday, June 27, at 6:30 p.m., speakers will focus on how to compare financial aid offers to choose the right loan for the borrower.

Register to attend the one-hour webinars.

Happy Father’s Day

Father’s Day is a time to reflect on the amazing men in our lives and let them know how much their dedication means to us. They show their love and guidance in so many ways, big and small, that make our lives better. Wishing all of the dads a wonderful day with their families!


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