In this update:
2021 Year In Review
Thank you for taking two minutes to watch my recap of 2021!
Mt. Rose Interchange drags into the new year – how do we fix this debacle?
The Mt. Rose Interchange along Interstate 83 has officially been delayed longer than the original project was anticipated to be completed. The initial three-year timeline provided by PennDOT and its contractor was supposed to be completed before I was elected to the Senate.
Meanwhile, motorists on Interstate 83 only need to travel south 14 miles from the Mt. Rose Interchange to see how a Pennsylvania-based contractor can complete a project on time and on budget.
My legislation that was approved by the Senate State Government Committee late last year will require PennDOT (and any state agency) to review any bidder’s history in other states. The contractor’s parent company performing the work at the Mt. Rose Interchange has a publicly documented track record of similar performance on other public works projects.
I sat down with Michael Gorsegner of CBS 21 to review my frustration as someone who travels this part of I-83 almost daily and how my bill will ensure that we do not have another Mt. Rose Interchange debacle again.
Dept. of Labor and Industry fails unemployment compensation claimants – my bill would proactively put best practices in place
Earlier this week, the Dept. of Labor and Industry announced that many unemployment compensation (UC) claimants were being defrauded because of a lack of security measures put in place with the updated UC system.
Seth Kaplan of ABC27 summarized the security breach as a simple standard that should have been added:
“Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) conceded for the first time Wednesday that hackers are diverting Pennsylvanians’ unemployment compensation checks to fraudulent accounts and that the state’s new unemployment compensation system doesn’t use a common security measure, which cybersecurity experts have called a ‘minimum standard,’ to prevent the attacks.”
That minimum standard is two-factor authentication. I spoke with Seth about the massive error on the part of the Dept. of Labor and Industry and how legislation I put forward this session will require the state to adopt best practices across all agencies and departments when it comes to cybersecurity and data security.
Take my latest survey on several proposed constitutional amendments, ranging from voter ID to executive powers
Legislation was recently approved by the House of Representatives and pending further consideration in the Senate of Pennsylvania proposes several amendments to YOUR state constitution. Proposed constitutional amendments in Senate Bill 106 include voter identification requirements, requiring annual audits by the Auditor General of the state’s election results, allowing gubernatorial nominees to pick their running mate, and more.
If you have an opinion on this legislation, please let me know by taking my survey here. A link to the bill, as well as an explanation of the proposed changes can be found on the survey website.
I look forward to sharing the results with you later this month.
Farm Show kicks off tomorrow (Saturday, January 8)
After a hiatus last year, the 106th Pennsylvania Farm Show kicks off this Saturday, January 8, in Harrisburg, and will feature nearly 6,000 animals, 12,000 competitive events and exhibits, 300 commercial exhibits and hundreds of educational and entertaining events.
Visitors to the Farm Show Complex will not be required to wear a mask, but the Department of Agriculture is encouraging people to wear masks and practice social distancing at the event. Entrance is free, but parking costs $15 per car at all Farm Show complex lots.
The Pennsylvania agricultural sector supports 593,000 Pennsylvania jobs and annually contributes $132.5 billion to the state economy.
Senate accomplishments: Health care
In its ongoing effort to improve access to quality health care, the Senate rounded out 2021 by passing new laws to preserve and expand prescription drug assistance for Pennsylvania senior citizens.
Passed by the Senate and signed into law last month was legislation that extends the Social Security cost-of-living-adjustment moratorium for individuals enrolled in PACE and PACENET to preserve access to these senior citizen prescription drug programs.
The Senate also passed a new law that expands income eligibility for PACENET, allowing an additional 24,000 Pennsylvania seniors to receive help with prescription drug costs.
Other new health care laws passed by the Senate boosted donations to fight breast cancer, created the Living Donor Protection Act, encouraged more physician assistants to stay and practice in the Commonwealth, reduced nursing home labor shortages, continued to confront the opioid crisis, and more.
The latest on proposed reapportionment plans
Public hearings kicked off yesterday by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission to gather feedback from Pennsylvania citizens regarding the preliminary legislative reapportionment plans for state Senate and House of Representatives.
The hearings are being held in Hearing Room 1 of the Capitol’s North Office Building and will use Zoom to allow virtual participation. You can view the hearings live by tuning into the livestream here.
The submission of written testimony prior to the hearing is requested but not required. Written testimony can be submitted on the Commission’s public website portal.
Stay connected with me in 2022
As we turn our calendars to a new year, I want to remind you can stay up to date on YOUR state government by connecting with me on the following platforms:
What can my team and I assist you with? Here are a few items:
Local job openings
PA CareerLink shared with me its latest list of local job openings, which you can view below. You can also find job postings shared with the York County Economic Alliance here.