In this update:
Making state agencies transparent and accountable
During the pandemic, a bright light was shined on the inadequacies of Pennsylvania’s status quo of permitting. Even now, we continue to see major investments leave this state due to the slow, inconsistent, and ineffective permitting review processes.
To combat this, I am working with Sen. Greg Rothman on legislation that would cut the bureaucratic red tape and hold YOUR state government accountable.
The legislation would require every state agency to post all permits issued on its publicly accessible website. State agencies would also be required to create an accessible tracking system for applicants to check the status of their applications.
If you are interested, you can find out more about this initiative here.
Report tracks college savings accounts in rural and urban counties
A new report from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Treasury Department evaluated trends in post-secondary education savings accounts, also known as PA 529 accounts.
PA Treasury offers two PA 529 plans: the PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP), which allows families to save at today’s tuition rates to meet tomorrow’s tuition costs, and the PA 529 Investment Plan (IP), which offers a variety of investment options.
The report examined differences between rural and urban Pennsylvania beneficiaries in the amount of savings, consistency of contributions and types of accounts opened. Key findings:
The Treasury Department is increasing rural outreach to promote college savings. You can watch a discussion of the findings here.
Congratulations to Susquehannock High School marching band
This week, I attended Susquehannock High School’s winter concert. I presented the marching band with a congratulatory citation on behalf of the Senate of Pennsylvania commemorating its victory at the 2022 Cavalcade of bands.
This championship marked the school’s fifth victory in six years.
Once again, a big congratulations to all the talented young musicians on the first-place finish!
How to file PA income tax returns online
Tax-filing season has opened, and the state Department of Revenue reminds taxpayers of the free online option to file their Pennsylvania personal income tax returns: mypath.pa.gov.
Taxpayers do not need to create a username or password to perform many functions in myPATH. That includes filing the Pennsylvania Personal Income Tax Return (PA-40), making a payment, responding to department requests for information and checking the status of a refund.
The deadline to submit 2022 personal income tax returns is April 18. Personal income tax assistance is also available through the department’s Online Customer Service Center and by calling 717-787-8201 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Taxpayers may also visit a Department of Revenue district office for state personal income tax filing assistance.
Red Sand project with YWCA Hanover
I am grateful to have participated in the Red Sand Project event with the YWCA Hanover last week. The Red Sand Project is a growing movement to raise awareness for Human Trafficking Victims and Survivors who “fall through the cracks of our social, economic, and political systems, or those of our personal consciousness.”
I was able to join more than one million participants all over the world in remembrance for victims and survivors of human trafficking in our community and around the world.
Protecting whistleblowers and reporting abuse of taxpayer dollars
Earlier this week my colleague, Sen. Lindsey Williams, and I announced our bipartisan plan to reintroduce the Commonwealth Fraud Prevention Act for Taxpayer Accountability this session. The bipartisan proposal will protect whistleblowers against retaliation for reporting waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars.
According to a 2022 report, about 42% of fraud is detected by tip and more than 50% of tips come straight from employees. Protecting these whistleblower employees from retaliation is crucial to safeguarding Pennsylvania’s taxpayer dollars.
You can find out more about this initiative here.
Educational gratuity program helps children of fallen military members
We owe a debt of gratitude to Pennsylvanians who served in the military, especially those disabled or killed during conflict. Part of paying that debt is helping to care for the impacted families.
The Educational Gratuity Program provides education financial assistance for children of honorably discharged veterans with service-connected disabilities who served during war or armed conflict, or children of veterans who died during war or armed conflict.
Children of eligible veterans must be between the ages of 16 and 23, living in Pennsylvania five years prior to application and attend a school within the commonwealth. You can read more about eligibility and applying here.
Entries accepted for statewide “Art of the State” exhibition
Artists and craftspeople are invited to submit applications to show their work in the 56th annual “Art of the State” exhibition.
“Art of the State” is a juried exhibition open to Pennsylvania residents at least 18 years of age. Artists will compete in five categories: painting, work on paper, sculpture, craft, and photography and digital media. Entries must be submitted online. Additional information and the link to enter are available at statemuseumpa.org/artofthestate. The application deadline is May 5.
More than $4,000 in cash awards will be presented. “Art of the State” is scheduled to open to the public at The State Museum on Sept. 10.
Watch PA wildlife anytime from home
You can watch black bears, eagles and snow geese this winter through the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s round-the-clock livestreams.
A new 24-7 livestream from a black bear den in Pike County brings to four the number of livestreams the Game Commission plans to run into the spring of 2023.
Locally at Codorus State Park, you can watch from the Hanover, Pa. Eagle Livestream. Also showing is the Farm Country Eagle Livestream, which provides a bird’s-eye view into a long-established nest in a giant sycamore overlooking scenic farmland and the agency’s Snow Goose Livestream capturing the migratory action at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area.
Pennsylvania’s black bears usually are born in January and begin walking in about eight weeks. They leave the den when three months old. Bald eagles typically lay eggs in mid-February and the eggs hatch in mid- to late March. Snow goose migration typically peaks at Middle Creek from mid-February to March.
Commemorating Four Chaplains Day
Today marks the anniversary of the death of the Four Chaplains, who sacrificed their lives so that others would live when the troop ship Dorchester was torpedoed and sank on Feb. 3, 1943.
The Four Chaplains were Methodist minister Reverend George L. Fox, Reformed Church in America minister Reverence Clark V. Poling, Roman Catholic priest Father John P. Washington, and Rabbi Alexander D. Goode who left the pulpit at Temple Beth Israel in York to enlist in the United States military.
The York County Four Chaplains Memorial commemorates the anniversary in the spring with an annual breakfast. You can find more information on this event here.
The story of the Four Chaplains continues to be an inspiration of brotherhood and self- sacrifice for our nation.
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