Senator Pittman E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Energy Independence and New Hydrogen Hubs
  • Local Hospital Partnership Announcement Will Benefit Region
  • Countdown to Groundhog Day Reception
  • White Township, Indiana County Road Renaming
  • Winchester Industries – 40th Anniversary
  • Senate Passes Bills Empowering Parents
  • Senate Votes to Extend and Improve Program to Protect Students
  • Grants Available for Organizations Helping Veterans
  • Apply to Vote by Mail by Oct. 31 for the November Election
  • Recognizing Pennsylvania’s First Responders

Energy Independence and New Hydrogen Hubs

I was pleased to join several of my colleagues, along with representatives of labor and industry, to discuss what the future hydrogen economy means for Pennsylvania jobs, energy and the environment.

Beyond the economic benefit we all embrace, we have to also recognize and understand the national security benefit of energy independence. Whenever it comes to national security, all we have to do is look at what’s happening right now in Eastern Europe and in the Middle East to understand the vital importance of national security.

The United States is the lamp of liberty for the rest of the world. Energy independence allows us to be that lamp and, frankly, we need that lamp to burn more brightly now than ever before. The Senate Republican Caucus is committed to energy independence because we recognize energy independence is national security.

Local Hospital Partnership Announcement Will Benefit Region

ACMH Hospital this week announced they intend to join Indiana Regional Medical Center and Punxsutawney Area Hospital as part of the Pennsylvania Mountains Care Network.

This is a great step forward for ensuring the continued delivery of quality health care throughout our area.

These facilities are a force within the region and their partnership is something we should all embrace. The collaboration between the three hospitals will allow them to maintain community-based care, while benefiting from a close relationship to help them with long-term stability.

As the state senator representing the district encompassing each of these hospitals, I am committed to doing my part to help this partnership become formalized and prosper both now, and in the years ahead. This is an exciting development to protect the health and well-being of our local residents, as well as a significant economic opportunity which will benefit our region.

Countdown to Groundhog Day Reception

Groundhog day brings people together each year from across the Commonwealth and across the nation. It was great to join the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club to mark 100 days until Groundhog Day 2024! Thank you to Governor Shapiro and First Lady Mrs. Shapiro for opening the Pennsylvania Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg on Wednesday night, to welcome my most famous constituent – Punxsutawney Phil!

White Township, Indiana County Road Renaming

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the unveiling of ‘Gilbert Zilner Boulevard’ in White Township. 

The renaming of Kolter Drive as Gilbert Zilner Boulevard is in memory of the Diamond Pharmacy Services co-founder.  Mr. Zilner and his wife, Joan, purchased Diamond Drug Store on Philadelphia Street in downtown Indiana in 1970. 

We are very fortunate to have Diamond Drugs & Medical Supply in the community along with the economic benefits it continues to bring to our region and beyond. This is a well-deserved honor and tribute to the entire Zilner family!

Winchester Industries – 40th Anniversary

Winchester Industries recently celebrated their 40th Anniversary. Founded in 1983 by Robert Weis and George Yuhasz with a unique vision to develop triple pane replacement windows – ahead of their time with energy efficiency!

Located in southern Indiana County, they have become an industry leader producing over 2.5 million windows, patio and steel doors. I was honored to be able to congratulate Winchester Industries President, Mike Sugrue, and the nearly 100 employees in attendance for their commitment and dedication to excellence – well done!

Senate Passes Bills Empowering Parents

The Senate approved legislation that would empower parents to protect their own child from accessing sexually explicit content at school, without impacting the books available to other students. Senate Bill 7 would require schools to:

  • Identify sexually explicit content in school curriculum, materials and books.
  • Create an opt-in policy that would:
    • Notify parents of the sexually explicit content by including a list of the book titles on the form.
    • Give parents the opportunity to review the materials.
    • Require parents to give direct consent for their children to be provided or have access to sexually explicit content.
  • Provide children with non-explicit alternatives if their parents do not opt in.

Senate Bill 7 was crafted after a non-partisan, thorough two-year process – including conversations with parents, school administrators, teachers and librarians. It would not ban any books from Pennsylvania school curriculum or libraries, but rather empower parents to control only what their own children have access to in school. 

The Senate also approved legislation requiring schools to make public curriculum information available online, including a link or title for every textbook and course syllabus used for classes. Other measures passed this week would require schools to display the United States Constitution and display the Pennsylvania Constitution. Empowering parents and families is a priority of Pennsylvania Senate Republicans.

Senate Votes to Extend and Improve Program to Protect Students

Building on recent legislation to improve school bus safety, the Senate approved legislation extending and improving the school bus stop-arm automated enforcement program. The measure is set for enactment into law.

The program was first authorized in 2018 and includes nearly 40 participating school districts that equipped 2,500 school buses with cameras to record vehicles that don’t stop for school buses. More than 4,000 violations have been recorded.

The program was set to expire this week. Senate Bill 851 makes the program permanent, improves interaction with law enforcement and streamlines the appeals process. If a driver illegally passes a stopped school bus, the school district will send the car owner a police-vetted violation in the mail. The owner must pay the $300 fine or make an appeal for a virtual or in-person hearing overseen by a PennDOT official. The driver may petition a magisterial district judge after PennDOT’s decision.

Grants Available for Organizations Helping Veterans

The Veterans’ Trust Fund is accepting grant applications for programs and services benefiting Pennsylvania veterans. Nonprofit organizations, veteran service organizations and county directors of veteran affairs may apply by Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 2 p.m.

Find more information about the grant opportunity and how to apply here.

The trust fund is supported by Pennsylvanians who donate when applying for or renewing their driver’s licenses, photo IDs or motor vehicle registrations; purchase veteran-specific license plates; or make private donations. Tax-deductible donations can be made online.

Apply to Vote by Mail by Oct. 31 for the November Election

The deadline is approaching for anyone who would like to vote by mail for the Nov. 7 election. Your county election board must receive your application for a mail-in or absentee ballot no later than Tuesday, Oct. 31, at 5 p.m.

Any registered voter may request a mail-in ballot. Absentee ballots can be requested by voters with disabilities or an illness that prevents them from going to their polling place on Election Day, or those who will be absent from their municipality on Election Day.

You can apply for a mail-in ballot online, by mail or in person at your county election board’s office or other designated locations. Learn more here.

Recognizing Pennsylvania’s First Responders

Saturday, Oct. 28, is National First Responders Day. Police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians care for us during some of life’s worst moments. They are true heroes, and I am proud to honor their brave and selfless efforts.

My Senate colleagues and I have passed legislation to address the serious shortage of volunteer firefighters in the commonwealth. The number dropped from about 300,000 in the 1980s to less than 38,000 today, so they need our support. Without enough volunteers, communities across Pennsylvania face longer wait times when minutes make the difference between life and death.

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