In this Update:
Town Hall Meeting on Sept. 27
Awarded Grants to Benefit Recreation, Prevent Flooding in 41st Senatorial District
Grant funding totaling more than $391,000 was awarded earlier this week by the Commonwealth Financing Authority for recreation, community improvement and flood mitigation projects in Armstrong and Indiana counties.
In Indiana County, the Homer-Center Parks and Recreation Board will receive a more than $104,000 Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program (GTRP) grant for removal and replacement of the liner at the Homer City Pool.
White Township, Indiana County, is also receiving a $100,000 GTRP grant to help fund construction of an amphitheater for its recreation complex, which township supervisors have been seeking to further develop.
These facilities offer numerous outdoor recreation opportunities, and the grants will help them expand those options. This product, funded by the fees paid by natural gas producers, will generate economic benefit for not only these communities, but the county as well.
Cowanshannock Township, Armstrong County, will receive a $50,843 GTRP grant to renovate Sagamore Playground, which is 23 years old and in need of substantial safety improvements. The work will include the removal and replacement of the existing modular playground unit and four-place swing set, installation of safety surfacing and renovation of the existing picnic pavilion.
Outdoor activity has become even more vital since the COVID-19 pandemic, so ensuring there are opportunities in every community is important. The rehabilitation work will ensure the playground that has served residents of Cowanshannock Township for the past two decades will do so for another twenty years.
A $39,418 GTRP grant will be used by Armstrong County’s Rural Valley Borough to install in the town center a three-tier wall made from a local landmark, a cement platform for a new flagpole with lighting and the planting of trees.
Fort Run Park in Manor Township, Armstrong County, will get a new ADA-compliant walkway from its baseball field dugout areas to an ADA parking area as part of a project that received a $50,000 GTRP grant. The rehabilitation work will also include replacing the park’s deteriorating chain-link fence with new fencing that has gates with adequate width.
Lastly, needed maintenance and repairs to a portion of the Allegheny River floodwall in Armstrong County’s Kittanning Borough will receive a $47,000 Flood Mitigation Program (FMP) grant. The project will focus on flap valves, storm pipe and the removal of invasive vegetation and trees on the eastern bank of the Allegheny River at North Water Street, from Allegheny River Lock to Ewing Street.
The floodwall was originally built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in 1941, and it stands to reason it will have deteriorated after several decades. A recent inspection by the USACE Pittsburgh District rated the floodwall’s condition as ‘unacceptable. This funding will help the borough provide the necessary maintenance and repairs to the items identified by the USACE.
Act 13 of 2012 established the Marcellus Legacy Fund from which funds are allocated to the Commonwealth Financing Authority for various programs including the GTRP and the FMP.
Cody’s Law Wins Senate Judiciary Committee Approval
Earlier this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee reported to the full Senate legislation, sponsored by my good friend Rep. Jim Struzzi (R-63), that would increase the penalty for anyone who causes bodily injury to an individual with a physical or intellectual disability.
House Bill 185, referred to as “Cody’s Law,” would elevate the act of intentionally causing bodily injury to a person with a physical or intellectual disability eligible to a second-degree felony of aggravated assault. The law presently dictates that “serious bodily injury” is necessary for charges to be elevated beyond misdemeanor simple assault.
The bill is named after Cody Overdorff, a victim of William’s Syndrome, who was assaulted by four individuals in August of 2019 on the Hoodlebug Trail near Floodway Park in Indiana County.
This bill is needed to ensure those who would act out against vulnerable members of our communities are properly punished by our judicial system.
Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Fentanyl Test Strips Bill
In addition to Cody’s Law, the Senate Judiciary Committee this past week advanced to the full Senate a bill, also sponsored by Rep. Struzzi, that looks to improve our efforts at reducing drug overdoses.
House Bill 1393 seeks to help prevent deadly overdoses by removing fentanyl test strips from the definition of “drug paraphernalia” which are prohibited and carry serious penalties.
Fentanyl is one of the leading causes of overdose deaths, as it is being added – often without the knowledge of those who use it – to heroin to increase its potency, but the added drug can also be lethal. Many other states have already made this policy change and it is helping to reduce overdose deaths.
Allowing those who are in the grip of addiction to possess and use test strips on the drugs they are using to avoid a Fentanyl overdose will help save lives.
Senate Expands Right to Know Law to State-Related Universities
Seeking to shine light on costs driving college tuition increases, the Senate approved legislation to expand Pennsylvania’s Right to Know Law to provide greater access to public records at state-related universities.
Senate Bill 488 would create an online searchable database that details information about budgets and contracts approved by Penn State University, Temple University, the University of Pittsburgh and Lincoln University. The legislation also increases the amount of university personnel salary information subject to public disclosure.
State-related universities receive more than $600 million in taxpayer dollars.
Under Pennsylvania’s Right to Know Law, the Office of Open Records processes requests for documents from public agencies, such as the governor’s administration, legislative and judicial agencies and local organizations. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Among other measures passed by the Senate this week was Senate Bill 1203, which prevents companies from receiving state contracts, grants or tax credits if they are owned, controlled by, or acting on behalf of the Russian government.
2022 PA March for Life at the State Capitol
Earlier this week, I was pleased to welcome to the state Capitol a great group of folks from the Diocese of Greensburg as they attended the 2nd Annual PA March for Life! My thanks to all who made the trip to Harrisburg to support the unborn.
Hearing Highlights Ideas to Combat Lyme Disease in PA
Pennsylvania leads the nation in Lyme disease cases, with children making up the largest demographic affected.
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee held a public hearing to increase understanding of tick-borne diseases, tick testing and mitigation, testing options for physicians and patients, and guidelines for treatment options.
The panel heard testimony from Physician General and Acting Health Secretary Denise Johnson, as well as the director of the Tick Research Lab of Pennsylvania at East Stroudsburg University, an infectious disease physician, and the president of the PA Lyme Resource Network.
Promise of Carbon Capture Technology in Pennsylvania Explored by Committee
The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held an informational briefing Tuesday on Pennsylvania’s potential as a carbon capture, utilization and storage hub.
Wolf administration officials and the carbon capture and storage business opportunity manager for Shell USA, Inc. took part to discuss the region’s promise as a premier hub for both carbon capture and clean hydrogen.
The Great Plains Institute, using data from a 2009 Department of Conservation and Natural Resources report, estimates the state could store about 2.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide underground. This is equivalent to the level of greenhouse gases emitted from 517 million gas-powered passenger vehicles annually, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
September is Suicide Prevention Month
Approximately 1.2 million adults attempt suicide annually in the United States, with more than 85% reporting having made a suicide plan prior to their attempt. In 2020, the most recent year that data is available, approximately 1,700 people died by suicide in Pennsylvania.
Suicide Prevention Month provides an opportunity to remind Pennsylvanians that help is always available. This summer, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline officially launched nationwide, streamlining call and text access to the national lifeline that provides no-cost crisis response support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
In addition to 988, many other resources also remain available to Pennsylvanians in need of support, including:
Rosh Hashanah Begins Sunday
Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown on Sunday and ends at nightfall Tuesday evening. For all who observe this Jewish holiday, I wish you a wonderful new year.
Collecting Items for Area Food Banks Continues
Throughout Hunger Action Month, my district offices (addresses are listed below) are collecting non-perishable items to be given to food banks in our communities.
Neighbors helping neighbors is the best form of charity and it’s one of the many traditions that make our country great. Please consider making a donation to help a family in need.