In this update:
Re-appointed to Chair Senate Communications and Technology Committee
Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman reappointed me to serve as the Chair of the Senate Communications and Technology Committee for the 2021-2022 legislative session.
As chair, I will continue the committee’s deliberative approach to the issue of broadband expansion, similar to last session in which several hearings were held prior to votes on broadband issues. The committee’s work led to the enactment of Act 132 of 2020, which created the Unserved High-Speed Broadband Funding Program to improve access to high-speed broadband internet in rural areas. The committee also led the effort to approve legislation, now law, to remove outdated regulatory roadblocks to further deploy high-speed internet. These bills were the result of four public hearings that led to a report that provided us a roadmap to address how state policy can play a role in closing the digital divide.
We have several other critical issues to address with this committee in addition to broadband, which you can read about here.
Committee assignments to provide 28th District with major say on budget, property taxes, agriculture issues
Earlier today, I was appointed to serve as the Vice Chair of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, as well as a member of the following committees: Senate Appropriations Committee, Banking and Insurance Committee, Finance Committee and the State Government Committee.
These committees will be very active in addressing challenges facing our state’s largest industry (Agriculture and Rural Affairs), our state budgetary challenges (Appropriations), affordable healthcare (Banking and Insurance), school property tax elimination (Finance) and election reforms (State Government).
I look forward to receiving your feedback and input on important matters before each of these committees.
Trail Towns Phase II kick off during FestiveICE
Earlier this week, we celebrated FestiveICE (now in their 7th season) and formally announced the expansion of the York County Trail Towns program along the York Heritage Rail Trail.
The pilot Trail Towns program includes five inaugural communities: York City, Seven Valleys, Glen Rock, Railroad and New Freedom. I was able to meet with many small business owners and leaders within those communities. I really appreciate the feedback and enthusiasm for this program that will benefit our entire county. Learn more about Trail Towns here.
You can see more photos on my Instagram here.
If you are looking for a family-friendly activity to do this weekend, please stop out and see the beautiful sculptures from our talented local artists through January 19 (or until they melt).
Federal stimulus bill boosts unemployment payments
The federal stimulus bill approved by Congress last month extended the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Program to include an additional $300 in weekly unemployment payments. The additional payments are now being paid out to Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits claimants and will be added for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claimants soon.
The FPUC payments are automatically added to each claimant’s payment and are retroactive to the week ending January 2. The program is scheduled to run through March 13.
Paycheck protection program reopens
Small employers impacted by the pandemic can apply now for loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, which reopened on Monday. The program was originally created to offer loans to cover payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent and utility costs for employers affected by coronavirus mitigation. Eligible expenses were recently expanded to include operations expenditures, property damage costs, supplier costs and worker protection expenditures.
The program is open to new borrowers, as well as existing borrowers who meet certain eligibility criteria. New guidelines are available for both new borrowers and existing borrowers; applicants should contact their local lender for additional information.
York County Sheriff’s Office providing online firearms licensing process
Firearms licensing through the York County Sheriff’s Office is now able to be completed online.
Please know that if your license is expired use the “New” License to Carry Application option.
Once your application is approved, you will be contacted to complete the process.
To learn more, click here.
Welcoming new optometry practice to Southern York County
I recently had the great honor of participating in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the first practice location of Medical Optometry America.
Leslie O’Dell, OD, FAAO always had a dream to run her own practice and serve patients in Southern York County. She and her team are eager to serve patients in the community at 781 Far Hills Drive, Unit 100 in Shrewsbury. You can learn more here.
Financial assistance programs available for utility customers
The COVID-19 pandemic has created financial challenges for hundreds of thousands of families in Pennsylvania, including problems in paying energy bills. It is important for consumers who are affected by unexpected job losses, business closures and other financial difficulties to contact their utility providers to find out whether assistance is available. A list of utility providers is available from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission at the links below.
In addition to programs offered directly through service providers, Dollar Energy Fund works with more than a dozen electricity, water, natural gas and other utility companies to offer financial relief to customers in need. A list of participating providers is available here.
Senate offices working remotely January 19-20
Our Senate offices will be conducting all business remotely on Tuesday, January 19 and Wednesday, January 20. Our team be available by phone and email during this time, so community residents who have questions or need help still receive assistance.
Should you call our offices, please leave a detailed voicemail and our team will be in touch.
Honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
On Monday, the nation will pause in remembrance of one of our nation’s greatest civil rights leaders –Martin Luther King, Jr. As a result of the critical role he played in the struggle for justice in the 1960s, he became the first modern private citizen to be honored with a federal holiday.
On Sunday, I look forward to volunteering and handing out meals during the 9th Annual MLK Sunday Supper and Zoom Community Conversation at the Lincoln Charter School. They are also collecting hygiene products for the homeless.
On Monday, I will be participating in the 39th Annual MLK Day of Service through Crispus Attucks. This year’s event has gone virtual, which you can read more about here.
Dr. King’s writings, advocacy and peaceful activism continues to inspire Americans today, more than 50 years after his assassination in 1968.
Our offices will be closed on Monday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Upcoming PennDOT projects
PennDOT shared with me the upcoming maintenance project list for next week. You can view that below.