In this update:
Budget hearings begin on Monday
Three weeks of budget hearings held by the Senate Appropriations Committee will kick off on Monday, March 20.
As a member of the committee, I will be participating in these budget hearings that have appearances by the Department of Revenue, Independent Fiscal Office, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, State Treasurer, Department of Environmental Protection, Auditor General and Office of Attorney General.
The hearings will be used to review Gov. Josh Shapiro’s spending plan and ask administration officials about the need for any proposed expenses.
The governor’s $45.8 billion plan seeks to boost state spending by more than $1.3 billion above the current year’s budget and would almost completely deplete the state’s Rainy Day Fund by 2028.
A budget that more appropriately reflects the needs of taxpayers can be developed before the constitutional deadline of June 30.
You can find livestreams of the hearings and daily recaps here, and I will share updates on this important process each week.
Examining government cloud-based cybersecurity
This week, I was able to participate in a Senate Communications and Technology Committee public hearing that brought together information technology experts about securing cloud-based data held by state and local governments.
With cloud storage, digital data is stored on servers in off-site locations. The servers are maintained by a third-party provider responsible for hosting, managing and securing data. This data includes personally identifiable information such as tax records, unemployment claims, social security numbers, driver’s licenses and more.
Testifiers said the threat to cybersecurity is constant. Pennsylvania’s acting Chief Information Security Officer Christopher Dressler testified that, in a recent month, there were approximately 38 billion unauthorized attempts to connect to the state network. He said cloud computing presents cybersecurity benefits for the commonwealth, such as intrusion prevention, malware protection, identity and access controls and encryption.
Assuring the security of Pennsylvanians’ data has been and continues to be a top priority of this committee.
You can view video and written testimony from the hearing here.
You can find additional photos from the hearing here.
PennDOT invites public feedback on transportation
Pennsylvanians are encouraged to submit their feedback using this transportation survey or by emailing comments to RA-PennDOTSTC@pa.gov. Public feedback and survey results will help identify needs and prioritize transportation projects across the state.
PennDOT will also host an online public forum on Wednesday, April 12, from 6:30-8 p.m. Pennsylvanians can ask transportation-related questions to PennDOT leadership and members of the State Transportation Commission during the forum.
The feedback provided will be used to inform Pennsylvania’s 12-Year Program, which is updated every two years. It is the first step in the state’s transportation program planning process and helps to evaluate the system’s performance and opportunities for progress.
Learn more about how transportation projects are planned and funded.
Strengthening guardianship laws, preventing elder abuse
The Senate Judiciary Committee held a joint public hearing with the Senate Aging and Youth Committee on strengthening guardianship laws and preventing elder abuse in Pennsylvania.
When an adult of any age is deemed incapacitated by a court, a professional or family guardian may be appointed to become responsible for making certain decisions on their behalf, including financial, medical and personal matters.
During the hearing, testimony was given by professionals in the elder and disability law fields to provide input on the flaws in Pennsylvania’s guardianship process. Guardianship issues discussed included the lengthy time to receive mandatory legal counsel and costs, necessary training of guardians, abuse, rights to counsel and more.
ICYMI: Last call for all farmers
I sent out an exciting event announcement for those who signed up for my email updates geared specifically for those in our agriculture community.
As a reminder, please RSVP by Monday, March 20, or call my office at 717-787-7085.
Touring Hanover School District
Thank you to Hanover Public School District and the Hanover Chamber of Commerce for hosting me at Hanover High School on Monday. I met with Superintendent Dr. John Scola, Principal Marc Abels, and members of the faculty to better learn how Hanover High School is preparing their students for both academic and vocational success.
I enjoyed speaking with students as they explained how the district’s alternative vocational education opportunities better prepares them for life after graduation.
March MilitaryShare: Roots for Boots
It was a great opportunity to check out Roots for Boots and their March MilitaryShare distribution. What an incredible operation, 169 veterans attended!
MilitaryShare is a partnership with Central Pennsylvania Food Bank that serves veterans and their families in the Hanover area.
Read Across America with Ms. Barnett’s 1st grade class
A big thank you to Mrs. Barnett and her first-grade class for inviting me to read “Giraffes Can’t Dance” and having a dance party with the class!
It was an honor to help PA Virtual Charter School celebrate Read Across America.
Beware of the secret shopper scam
In a current scam, Pennsylvanians are getting text messages, emails and letters inviting them to participate in a research project as a secret shopper without the need for an interview.
A recruiter typically sends a check worth more than the items you buy, so you get to keep the rest as a bonus. They instruct you to deposit the check right away, buy gift cards and provide the scammer with the number and pin on the gift cards. Unfortunately, the check they send is fraudulent and will take a few days to clear. In the meantime, you’ve made the purchases out of your account and sent them off to the scammer.
Read more about the warning signs of this scam.
Consumers with any questions or feel they have been victimized by this scam or any similar scams may submit a complaint with the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection by visiting the website here, emailing email@example.com or calling 1-800-441-2555.
Hanover Rotary club
Thank you to Brandon Gething, for the invitation to attend the Rotary Club of Hanover this week!
They had a great presentation by Edie Staub and Jake, the therapy dog, about the Alliance for Therapy Dogs and how you and your dog can become a certified therapy team.
Participating in Sen. Hutchinson’s student government seminar
Last week I headed out to PennWest Clarion at the request of my colleague, Sen. Scott Hutchinson, who asked me to participate at his annual Senator for a Day event.
Along with PA Treasurer Stacy Garrity, PA State Rep. Parke Wentling, former Sen. Mary Jo White and other government relations professionals, we assisted the student “senators” while they debated bills in the Communications and Technology Committee.
The students had great, thoughtful discussions during their committee meetings and mock general session. Thank you to Sen. Hutchinson for the invitation and all that participated who made the day a success!
You can find more photos from this event here.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
What began as a religious holiday for the Irish is now celebrated on March 17 annually by people all across the world.
Saint Patrick, who lived in the fifth century, was credited with bringing Christianity to the people of Ireland.
“May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow, and may trouble avoid you wherever you go.” – Irish blessing
Local job postings
Upcoming PennDOT maintenance projects
You can view PennDOT’s list of scheduled maintenance projects for next week below.