Effort to forever remember 9/11 in schools approved by Senate Education Committee

Listen

HARRISBURG – The Senate Education Committee unanimously approved a measure that would require the Pennsylvania Department of Education to develop model curriculum that schools could use to teach students about the events of Sept. 11, 2001, according to Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York).

“High school seniors did not witness the tragic events of that fateful morning more than 20 years ago, however, the impact of Sept. 11 is felt to this day,” Phillips-Hill said. “I am grateful for my colleagues on the Senate Education Committee for approving this measure that would give schools an optional resource to incorporate curriculum of the events on and after 9/11.”

Senate Bill 210, sponsored by Phillips-Hill, was amended into another measure offered during the committee meeting. Under the amendment, school districts would be able to utilize model curriculum developed and shared by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The department would also be required to share teaching resources on its website for school districts to utilize as each district deems necessary.

“This is not an unfunded mandate, but instead an available resource to help school districts that want to teach about the significant events of 9/11,” she added.

The underlying bill, Senate Bill 139, would establish a moment of silence in schools on the anniversary of Sept. 11.

The bill, as amended, advances to the full Senate for its consideration.

Phillips-Hill: $250,000 grant awarded to improve Dallastown Community Park

DALLASTOWN – A $250,000 grant was awarded to Dallastown Borough to assist with improvements to the Dallastown Community Park, according to Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York).

The funding will be used to address issues with storm water, safety, and accessibility, including adding handicapped parking at two locations and constructing an accessible path from the spaces to the recreational fields. It will also install new fencing around the baseball field.

“I am thankful to have played a part in securing this grant funding, which will help to preserve the park so many more children can use it. Playing sports is a wonderful form of exercise and a way to develop character. We do not want to lose a great park by not giving it the care it needs to remain a viable resource for the community,” Phillips-Hill said.

The 11-acre park is used by local sports organizations and is also home to several events that are held in the summer, leading to its regional draw.

The grant was awarded by the Commonwealth Financing Authority under its Greenways, Trails, and Recreation Program. The program is funded through the state’s Impact Fee, which is paid by the state’s unconventional natural gas producers.

Senate advances bill to assist retirees with state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate program

 

HARRISBURG – The Senate of Pennsylvania unanimously advanced a measure today that closes a loophole that made many senior citizens ineligible for the state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate program, according to the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York).

Phillips-Hill said she noticed the problem when senior citizens who applied were deemed ineligible for the state’s popular program aimed at reducing school property taxes and rental costs despite meeting the qualifications.

The problem arose when senior citizens transferred retirement funds into other retirement accounts, which would show up as available income on an application and make the individual ineligible. Phillips-Hill’s legislation would allow retirees to transfer those retirement account investments between accounts within 60 days without counting toward income when applying for property tax or rent relief. If those funds are not invested into another qualified retirement plan within 60 days, the funds will be considered income.

“With extreme market volatility, we need to provide as many protections as possible for senior citizens on a fixed income to best protect their hard-earned retirement accounts. This legislation closes a loophole that unfortunately made Pennsylvania seniors ineligible for property tax and rent reductions,” Phillips-Hill said.

The bill moves to the House of Representatives for its consideration.

Listen

Contact:

Jon Hopcraft

717.787.7085

Phillips-Hill, Grove announce $4.2 million in grant to address community wellness needs

SPRING GROVE – Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) and Rep. Seth Grove (R-York) announced that a $4.2 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant was awarded to the YMCA of York and York County to benefit the Roth’s Church Road Community Partnership.

This project will establish a multi-generational community hub by repurposing a former school building by repairing the roof and outfitting the facility for members of the Roth’s Church Road Partnership, including renovation and breaking out bathrooms, a community space, fire suppression system and utilities.

“I am honored to join Rep. Grove in advocating for this project, which will help to address Spring Grove Area’s wellness needs and provide important resources to the community under one roof. By working across all age groups through intergenerational programming, the community will see long-term, positive impacts,” Phillips-Hill said. “This project could be a model for regions throughout the Commonwealth by providing a one-stop-shop for these popular community programs.”

“This is a great way to prolong the life of a former school building, which has since served the community as a senior center, by ensuring it continues to be an asset to the public,” Grove said. “I commend the organization for its foresight and long-term vision to aid our community with what is essentially a one-stop-shop for resources.”  

RACP is a Commonwealth grant program administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects. RACP projects are state-funded and cannot obtain primary funding under other state programs.

 

Contacts:

Jon Hopcraft (Phillips-Hill)

717.787.7085

 

Greg Gross (Grove)

717.260.6374

Senate Votes to Ban Unsecured Ballot Drop Boxes and Private Funding of Election Operations

HARRISBURG – In a strong step forward to safeguard the integrity of Pennsylvania’s elections, the Senate approved two bills today that would prevent the future use of unsecured ballot drop boxes and ban private money to fund election operations.

Senate Bill 1200 – sponsored by Senators Cris Dush (R-Jefferson), Ryan P. Aument (R-Lancaster), Jake Corman (R-Centre) and Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) – would require mail-in ballots that are not returned in the mail to be returned only to the County Board of Elections office, effectively eliminating drop boxes in Pennsylvania. 

Drop boxes were permitted by a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling in 2020, despite the fact that they were never authorized or intended by the General Assembly through the legislative process. Since that time, numerous examples of drop boxes being misused have been discovered throughout the state, including:

    • Video evidence from Lehigh County showing ballot harvesting in the 2021 General Election.
    • Video evidence from Lackawanna County showing a man allegedly harvesting multiple ballots into a drop box during the 2021 Primary Election.
    • Video evidence from Montgomery County showing ballot harvesting in the 2021 General Election.
    • Memorandum from Lehigh County explaining how detectives reviewed video from four different drop boxes in the county and determined there were overvotes at each of the locations.
    • Testimony from a Luzerne County Judge of Elections indicating an individual admitting to repeatedly harvesting ballots at a drop box, not realizing it was even illegal.

“Drop boxes are the least secure way to vote in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – period,” said Dush. “Because drop boxes were written into law by the courts, the Senate is now taking steps to mitigate the negative effects of that action and restore the integrity of our elections.”

With many other, more secure ways available for Pennsylvanians to vote, the elimination of these unsecured ballot drop boxes will not negatively impact voter access. There are over 10,000 publicly available locations across the Commonwealth that voters can use to return their ballots, the Senators said.

“Eliminating drop boxes that evidence shows are breeding grounds for suspicious activity will go a long way toward restoring the public’s confidence in our elections and results,” said Aument. “Our bill will require all ballots be returned to a single central location in each county to streamline the process, prevent tampering, and preserve a strict chain of custody.”

“We have a Constitutional duty to safeguard our election process so every voter knows the results are fair and accurate. When voters don’t believe the process is impartial, then the entire system breaks down,” Senate President Pro Tempore Corman said. “Getting private money out of our elections and eliminating the least secure method of voting should give all voters more faith in our election system.”

“The Pennsylvania Senate took two significant steps this week towards helping to restore election integrity in our Commonwealth’s voting system by eliminating the use of drop boxes and preventing third party funding from influencing elections in Pennsylvania. While other states may use drop boxes, Pennsylvania’s drop boxes have no statutory parameters as they were established by our Commonwealth’s Supreme Court without legislative approval,” said Senate Majority Leader Ward. “It was never the intent of the legislature to establish rogue voting facilities on public street corners with pop-up tents, or in cars, trucks, and vans and without Board of Elections oversight while funded by third parties. The passage of these bills in the House and signature from the governor making them law is a start towards restoring faith in free and fair elections in Pennsylvania.”

Senate Bill 982 – sponsored by Senators Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) and Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) – would ban any state employee or county from accepting money from outside groups to pay for the administration of elections in Pennsylvania. The bill was approved by a 37-12 margin with bipartisan support.

The legislation was created in response to the use of grant money from the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) during the 2020 Election. Correspondence between CTCL officials, the Wolf Administration and county officials demonstrates that funding was intentionally directed predominantly to counties that favor Democrats.

Democrat-leaning counties were selectively invited to apply for the grants before Republican-leaning counties were even made aware of the funding. Philadelphia and its surrounding counties received more than $18 million from CTCL in the 2020 Election, while other counties received significantly less.

For example, Philadelphia received $8.83 per voter in CTCL funding in 2020.  On the other side of the state, Venango County, with a Republican voter registration advantage, received only $.64 per voter in CTCL funding in 2020.

“Our legislation offers a direct, straight-forward clarification to the Pennsylvania Election Code,” Baker said.  “Senate Bill 982 simply states what all of us understood to be fact – government should pay for elections.  Voters, taxpayers and citizens alike deserve the most fair and equitable election system.  It should be uniform from one county to the next regardless of size, demographics, or wealth.”

“After witnessing an incredible investment from a group whose donors are not 100% known in a recent election, we must reaffirm that our election system is above reproach,” Phillips-Hill said. “Every voter should have trust in the system, and the administration of our election system should be free of partisan influence from dark money groups.”

Both bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate committee votes to reaffirm that taxpayers, not dark money groups, pay for carrying out elections in PA

HARRISBURG – Legislation that would ban any county or Commonwealth employee from accepting outside money to pay for the administration of elections in Pennsylvania was approved by the Senate State Government Committee today, according to prime sponsors Sens. Lisa Baker (R-20) and Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-28).

Senate Bill 982 was introduced to ensure fairness in our election process, after several counties received an infusion of funding from the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) during the 2020 Election. The senators called into question the integrity of using outside funding to pay for a core function of government.

Further review of email correspondence between the Wolf Administration and officials with CTCL shed light on the fact that certain counties were steered towards this funding before other counties in the Commonwealth were made aware that any such monies would be available.

Baker, who was a member of the Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity, raised concerns at a public hearing last year, that Philadelphia City Commissioners were unable to provide information regarding who funded the nonprofit grant. Philadelphia and its surrounding counties received more than $18 million from CTCL in the 2020 Election. Counties across the state received more than $22 million.

Baker emphasized that if the practice is not ended, it could set a very dangerous precedent for elections moving forward.

“Our legislation offers a direct, straight-forward clarification to the Pennsylvania Election Code,” Baker said.  “Senate Bill 982 simply states what all of us understood to be fact – government should pay for elections.  Voters, taxpayers and citizens alike deserve the most fair and equitable election system.  It should be uniform from one county to the next regardless of size, demographics, or wealth.”

Phillips-Hill argued that the constitution calls for uniformity in our elections process. However, additional funding from outside groups to pay for elections operations has the ability to cast doubt on a constitutional right guaranteed to all voters of Pennsylvania.

“Our elections process is the bedrock of our Republic,” Phillips-Hill said. “Allowing funding from outside groups to pay for the administration of elections sets a very dangerous precedent. Evidence shows that government put its finger on the scale to drive these dollars to certain counties. The administration of our elections should be fair, equitable and above reproach. The only way to make that happen is to ban this dark money from funding our elections process and passing Senate Bill 982.”

Senate Bill 982 and its House companion legislation, House Bill 2044, advance to the full Senate for its consideration.