In this update:
Preview the PA Farm Show!
The 108th Pennsylvania Farm Show kicks off tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 6! I was able to sit down with Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Lisa Graybeal, to get an exclusive preview of the nation’s largest indoor agricultural expo.
With nearly 6,000 animals, over 10,000 exhibits, and a multitude of competitions, educational sessions, and entertaining events, the Farm Show promises an unforgettable experience. Don’t forget to explore the renowned Food Court, offering delectable treats like Farm Show milkshakes and fried cheese. Admission is free, and parking is available at $15 per car. Enhance your visit by checking out the visitor’s guide.
Agriculture in Pennsylvania employs nearly half a million people and contributes $132.5 billion to the state’s economy annually. Discover more about the Farm Show here.
Be sure to note Wednesday, Jan. 10, on your calendar, as I’ll be wandering through the Farm Show alongside PA Farm Bureau Board Director, Julie Schrum. We’ll be discussing ongoing issues within the farming community. Don’t hesitate to stop and say hello if you come across us!
Giving Students the Tools to Succeed
The passage of the 2023-24 state budget reflects important Senate Republican priorities, including helping students by dedicating an additional $567 million to Basic Education and an additional $150 million for education tax credits to provide scholarships to students so they can learn in an education environment that best suits their needs.
We also ensured greater collaboration in keeping children safe in the classroom by consolidating school safety programs and operations under the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. The commission already manages the highly successful School Safety and Security Grant Program created by the Senate in 2018.
As I mentioned earlier, we also approved legislation to require a course on financial literacy as a prerequisite for high school graduation. Soon, I will sit down with the sponsor of that measure, Sen. Chris Gebhard, to discuss this new law on my podcast.
Helping Pennsylvanians at the Pump
After automatically rising last year due to inflation, the 2024 Pennsylvania gas tax will return to 2022 levels.
Last year, the average wholesale price of gasoline exceeded $2.99 per gallon, which triggered an automatic increase in the gas tax. Knowing how Pennsylvanians were already struggling with skyrocketing inflation, the Senate passed and sent to House of Representatives legislation last January to end these inflation-based, automatic gas tax hikes.
Had the House acted in a timely fashion, Pennsylvanians would have saved more than $200 million in the gas tax. We continue to encourage our counterparts to work cooperatively with us to benefit commonwealth residents as we were elected to do.
Recognizing Law Enforcement in Our Communities
Tuesday, Jan. 9, is Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. Protecting our communities is a dangerous and demanding job, but men and women across the state answered the call to public service. They leave their families not knowing if they’ll need to give their lives to keep us safe.
I appreciate their selflessness and commitment to others and was proud to vote for legislation to help them.
Act 60 of 2023 expands the list of law enforcement entities covered under the Heart and Lung Act, which provides for salary and medical expenses to be paid when an officer or firefighter is injured on the job. Another new law passed by the Senate allows municipal police to conduct fingerprint-based criminal history checks on police applicants.
Officiating Opportunities Available Throughout PA
If you would like to help your community more this year, there are lots of opportunities to make a huge difference in the lives of student-athletes.
There’s a shortage of referees, umpires and other high school officials in almost every sport. High school officials protect the integrity of the games our kids love to play by demonstrating qualities like honesty, objectivity, consistency and courage.
Hours are flexible, and it’s a great way to stay in good physical condition. Find out how to become an official.
Wrightsville Elementary Visits State Capitol
Thank you to the wonderful students and teachers from Wrightsville Elementary for touring the Pennsylvania State Capitol this Thursday! I am sure Rep. Joe D’Orsie agrees your visit added extra inspiration to the day!
My Report to You: 2023 Recap
As we navigate through this session, there’s still much work on our plate, but let’s take a moment to reflect on some key moments from 2023.
I am honored to have been elected by my colleagues at the beginning of this session to serve as the PA Senate Republicans’ Caucus Chair, stepping into the shoes of my late predecessor, Sen. Mike Waugh.
My team and I have engaged in 9,432 meaningful discussions on legislation, with the most significant focus this year rallying support for Sen. Wayne Langerholc’s bill to eliminate unnecessary and costly mandated annual emissions testing on vehicles five years or newer. I’m proud to share that the Senate approved this bill, and I was able to share YOUR feedback in Harrisburg.
I had nine bills passed by the Senate, with two being signed into law.
I opted out of the typical job perks: I returned the automatic COLA to the General Fund, chose not to take the pension and health care, and declined mileage reimbursement for travel to and from Harrisburg, as well as within the district. I believe if we are going to call to reform state government, I need to walk the talk first.
My team and I resolved over 2,400 individual cases with state agencies, addressing concerns ranging from professional licensure delays and unemployment compensation to property tax rent rebates and unclaimed property.
I may have expressed it last week but allow me to emphasize once more: Here’s to a joyful, healthy, and prosperous 2024!
Upcoming PennDOT Maintenance Projects
You can view PennDOT’s list of scheduled maintenance projects for next week below.