Senator Joe Pittman E-Newsletter

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In this update:

  • Proposed Constitutional Amendments One Step Closer to Voter Input  
  • Proposed Constitutional Amendment on Abortion
  • Crime Victims will Receive More Support Under New Law
  • Sewage System Extension Groundbreaking in White Township
  • Punxsutawney Visit, Tour of IUP Punxsutawney Campus Culinary Academy
  • New IRMC Rural Family Medicine Residency Program
  • New Laws Aim to Improve Information Sharing and Health Outcomes
  • Call 988 for Suicide Prevention and Crisis Support
  • National Guard Needs Mentors for At-Risk Teens

Proposed Constitutional Amendments One Step Closer to Voter Input

To ensure that citizens are heard, the General Assembly approved a measure that would put five proposed amendments to the state constitution on the ballot for voters to decide. The measure must be approved again in the 2023-24 legislative session to go before the voters.

The proposed amendments would:

  • Require proof of valid IDs for in-person and mail voting.
  • Require the Auditor General to conduct audits of the administration of elections and election results.
  • Require nominees for governor to select a candidate for lieutenant governor, rather than having lieutenant governor candidates run separately.
  • Allow the General Assembly to reject burdensome proposed regulations without the approval of the governor.
  • State that the Pennsylvania Constitution does not grant the right to taxpayer-funded abortion or any other right relating to abortion.

The process of amending the constitution is lengthy and deliberative, and will give citizens across the commonwealth the appropriate time to weigh the merits of the proposals and have their voices heard.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment on Abortion

One of the constitutional amendments approved by the General Assembly would clarify the state does not guarantee any right to abortion or public funding of abortion.

It would ensure that abortion policy in Pennsylvania comes from the people’s elected representatives. It does not ban, criminalize or otherwise prohibit a woman from seeking an abortion in Pennsylvania.

Federal courts have long held that the federal constitution does not require taxpayer funding of abortion. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held in 1985 that the state constitution also does not require such taxpayer funding.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade doesn’t mean abortion is banned nationwide. It means abortion laws will return to the purview of the individual states. The proposed amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution is simply the state legislature, and ultimately voters, determining if public money should fund abortions.

The measure must be approved by the General Assembly again in the next legislative session before the proposed amendment can go before the voters.

Crime Victims will Receive More Support Under New Law

Legislation passed by the Senate and signed into law this month gives crime victims legal standing in court, updates crime victim compensation, provides notice of events in the judicial process and enhances victim confidentiality for domestic and sexual violence crimes.

Act 77 of 2022 ensures victims can now stand in court and assert their own rights and it gives them recourse when their rights are ignored.

Giving victims standing was part of Marsy’s Law, a constitutional amendment to guarantee crime victims’ rights.  More than 1.7 million Pennsylvanians voted in favor of the amendment in 2019. However, the outcome was set aside by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court due to a technicality with the ballot question.

Sewage System Extension Groundbreaking in White Township

I was pleased to attend a ceremonial groundbreaking for a sewage service extension project in White Township, Indiana County this week. 

The nearly $4 million project is located at the State Route 286 and 119 interchange near the Jimmy Stewart Airport. A portion of the project funding comes from a $250,000 grant through the H20 PA Water Supply, Sewer and Stormwater grant program. 

The project will extend sanitary sewage collection service to approximately 3 dozen homes and businesses in the area while providing valuable infrastructure for future development and growth.

Kudos to White Township and all involved in getting this project moving forward!

Punxsutawney Visit, Tour of IUP Punxsutawney Campus Culinary Academy

As a result of the latest Pennsylvania redistricting, Punxsutawney will soon be a part of the 41st Senatorial District and I’ll have the honor of representing the area.

Prior to the redistricting, I represented an area including the entirety of Indiana and Armstrong counties, and parts of Butler and Westmoreland counties since 2019.

I recently visited Punxsutawney and sat down for an interview with The Punxsutawney Spirit.

I also got a chance to tour Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Campus and met with culinary academy students. 

I enjoyed the conversations and the delicious lunch prepared. 

Thank you all for the hospitality and best wishes for continued success in your culinary journey!

New IRMC Rural Family Medicine Residency Program

Last week I was honored to attend Indiana Regional Medical Center’s announcement of the Rural Family Medicine Residency Program which officially started on July 1.

When this initiative came forward, state Rep. Jim Struzzi (R-62) and I worked together to get $1 million in funding allocated for the program.

We were pleased to replicate another $1 million in this year’s budget for this wonderful program.

The mission of the program is to provide excellent, comprehensive, family medicine training in order that our graduates might fill healthcare disparities in rural Pennsylvania communities.

For us, this is about our economy, this is about the future of our community and it’s also about quality health care in rural communities. 

Congratulations and best wishes to the six new family medicine residents accepted into the program and program director, Dr. Amanda Vaglia.

New Laws Aim to Improve Information Sharing and Health Outcomes

Bipartisan legislation designed to improve the ability of health care providers to treat the overall health of patients is now law.

Act 32 and Act 33  of 2022 amend the Mental Health Procedures Act and the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Control Act to allow for sharing of patient information among providers, facilities and insurers. The changes would also meet existing Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements to ensure patient confidentiality.

Under current law, mental health and physical health information cannot be fully shared among providers in Pennsylvania. The proposed changes would bring Pennsylvania in line with the majority of states that already share this information and are seeing improved patient outcomes.

Call 988 for Suicide Prevention and Crisis Support

Pennsylvanians now have an easier way to connect to behavioral or mental health crisis services. Dialing 988 will connect callers directly to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The Lifeline’s trained crisis response professionals support individuals considering suicide, self-harm, or any behavioral or mental health need for themselves or people looking for help for a loved one. Lifeline services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at no cost to the caller.

988 counselors located at 13 crisis call centers around Pennsylvania can immediately provide phone-based support and connections to local resources.

National Guard Needs Mentors for At-Risk Teens

The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs needs adult mentors to work with at-risk teens in the Keystone State ChalleNGe Academy (KSCA) at Ft. Indiantown Gap.

The program provides Pennsylvania teens who are struggling an opportunity to achieve the discipline and skills necessary to succeed as productive and responsible citizens through an engaging and structured residential experience. Cadets will be guided to improve their academic standing and increase their potential for future employment or further education.

Each mentor will be counted on to meet with a cadet on a routine basis to ensure they are progressing in residency and then achieving their post-residency goals. Mentors will participate in training sessions during the residential phase to ensure they are fully prepared for their critical role. All mentors will be required to pass state and federal level background checks as a condition of volunteering. You can read more about the program and volunteer here.

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