Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill E-Newsletter

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In this update:

  • Thanking our Vietnam War Veterans
  • Drop box ballot harvesting reviewed during public hearing
  • Senate acts to extend pandemic waivers of government regulations
  • Welcoming Shadow for a Day, Kaylee Gorsegner, to the Senate of Pennsylvania
  • Patriot Program at Southern York County School District
  • Celebrating women leaders and the York County Trail Towns initiative
  • Congratulations to Anthony Newberry, latest Eagle Scout from York County
  • Meeting with York County agriculture leaders
  • Independent analysis concludes RGGI carbon tax could increase Pennsylvania electricity costs by $781 million
  • “Purple Star Schools” to support military families approved by Senate
  • Assistance available for COVID-related funeral expenses
  • Upcoming PennDOT scheduled maintenance
  • On deck

Thanking our Vietnam War Veterans

 

This week, I had the fortune of speaking with so many Vietnam War veterans and their families during the York County Vietnam Veterans Chapter 1032’s annual event on National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

It was humbling to speak to so many local heroes at this annual event.

I reminded attendees that sadly, 3,147 Pennsylvanians perished in the Vietnam conflict.

Whether you were drafted or volunteered, you answered your country’s call and did your duty. Whether you were fully supportive of the war’s stated purpose and its execution or not, you did your duty.

And whether you served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard, or any of our other government agencies during the Vietnam War, you did your duty.

Thank you, and welcome home! You can view more pictures from the event here.

Drop box ballot harvesting reviewed during public hearing 

The Senate State Government Committee received testimony from True the Vote, OpSec Group and the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania about the controversial guidance that allowed ballot drop boxes to be used in the days leading up to the 2020 Election.

During the hearing, I asked about the involvement of our current Acting Secretary of State, Leigh Chapman, with the group “Deliver My Vote” in 2020. You can watch my question below.

3/29/22 - State Government Committee; SB878

Drop boxes were never authorized under the state’s election code (the law that governs our elections). The drop boxes were authorized for use under a last-minute order by the state Supreme Court leading up to the 2020 General Election.

The hearing showed video evidence of individuals who were placing more than one ballot in drop boxes in several areas across the Commonwealth. This practice, also known as ballot harvesting, is illegal as every voter is required to submit his or her vote on his or her own behalf.

Next week, this committee will review legislation I am sponsoring with Sen. Lisa Baker that would prohibit any nonprofit from funding our elections process. In 2020, a nonprofit funded largely by Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg, pumped $22 million into specific counties for the election.

If you are interested in learning more about this issue, I sat down with Rep. Eric Nelson, who is sponsoring the legislation in the House of Representatives, to further discuss the matter. You can listen to our conversation here.

Senate acts to extend pandemic waivers of government regulations

 

The Senate this week voted to extend waivers of several regulatory statutes, rules and regulations to aid in Pennsylvania’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Senate Bill 1019 was signed into law as Act 14 of 2022.

The waivers affecting health and human services, as well as consumers, workers and veterans, were due to expire Thursday. Act 14 extends the waivers until June 30, 2022.

The waivers were initially implemented as part of the COVID-19 emergency declaration in 2020. In response to overreach by Gov. Tom Wolf, voters in 2021 stripped him of the authority he claimed to extend emergency declarations without approval of the General Assembly. Wednesday’s vote marks the third time the legislature has extended waivers.

Some of the waivers extended through June 2022 allow for:

  • Quicker access to home health care and home care services.
  • Access to behavioral, mental, physical, and drug and alcohol treatment services through telehealth and ensures Medicaid providers are paid for them.
  • Utilizing pharmacists, health care professionals, and alternative care sites to lessen the burden on our hospitals and acute care providers.
  • Flexibilities in scheduling hearings and telephone testimony for unemployment compensation and for work permits to be issued without in-person meetings.
  • PA National Guard members to operate commonwealth-owned or leased vehicles.
  • Alternative and temporary locations in banking for better access.

The new law also requires commonwealth agencies to issue a report to the public and the General Assembly identifying regulatory statutes, rules or regulations that were temporarily suspended that the agency believes should be considered for a permanent suspension.

As a proponent of removing as many unnecessary regulations on small business owners, educators and health care professionals, I am hopeful this effort started during the pandemic can lead to bipartisan success on many of the bills I already introduced to:

Welcoming Shadow for a Day, Kaylee Gorsegner, to the Senate of Pennsylvania

 

This week, I had the opportunity to host a guest student shadow for the day on a very busy session day in Harrisburg.

Kaylee Gorsegner, a junior at the Central York School District, shadowed me all day Wednesday, starting at the YCEA Economics Club breakfast in York and ending with meetings at the Capitol.

She is interested in majoring in political science after she graduates high school.

She participated in several meetings throughout her day with me, including a discussion with local farmers, broadband stakeholders, Penn State York students, voter reform advocates and individuals I am working with to shut down inhumane puppy mills in Pennsylvania.

She also watched Senate session and committee meetings as we approved legislation extending certain health care waivers.

During session, I introduced Kaylee to my colleagues, which you can watch below.

3/30/22 - Introduction of Guest Shadow Kaylee Gorsegner

She has a very bright future ahead and I will not be surprised if we see her in a career in public service down the road.

Patriot Program at Southern York County School District

This week, I had the opportunity to present pins (not paid for using your taxpayer dollars – I paid this out of my personal bank account) to fifth and sixth grade students at South Eastern Intermediate School as part of their Patriot Program.

This program is designed to promote knowledge and pride in American history, as well as encourage responsible citizenship.

This is a fantastic program put on by the school every year to reaffirm our love for our nation. It was an honor to present nearly 200 young men and women with pins for completing the Patriot Program!

You can view more photos here.

Celebrating women leaders and the York County Trail Towns initiative

 

This week, I moderated a York County Economic Alliance’s Economics Club Breakfast panel featuring: Rachelle Lazzaro of the Creek House, Amanda Poulin of The Jackson House Bed and Breakfast, and Lauren Imgrund, who serves as a Deputy Secretary at the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, about the importance of our York County Trail Towns initiative.

The York County Economic Alliance invited these female leaders to share their stories on how our booming tourism industry can take advantage of the latest trends.

Trail usage, for example, increased 227% throughout the pandemic. Improving this nationally renowned Heritage Rail Trail by tying in our locally owned small businesses will not only boost our local economy, but greatly enhances experiences for trail users.

You can view more photos here.

Congratulations to Anthony Newberry, latest Eagle Scout from York County

Congratulations to Anthony Newberry of Troop 90 in Shrewsbury on achieving the rank of Eagle Scout! It was an honor to present him with a citation from the Senate of Pennsylvania last week in the district office.

Anthony, the son of Jack and Cheryl Newberry, built a Santa sleigh for the Shrewsbury Volunteer Fire Company to use during the holidays for his Eagle Scout project.

Well done, Anthony!

Meeting with York County agriculture leaders

 

The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau held its annual “day on the Hill” to meet in the Capitol with legislators to review their priorities for the state budget, as well as other legislative initiatives they support.

It was great to spend time meeting with Delores Krick, Barron Shaw, Julie Yahnke-Schrum, and Tom Taylor to review their priorities to benefit our York County farms.

York County has the second greatest number of farms in Pennsylvania, only behind Lancaster County. We discussed the need to put whole milk back in schools, the state budget proposal, avian influenza, stormwater management and support for our conservation districts.

It is always a pleasure speaking with these agricultural leaders in Harrisburg and in the district! 

Independent analysis concludes RGGI carbon tax could increase Pennsylvania electricity costs by $781 million

 

Impartial analysis from the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) projects the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) could nearly quadruple new electricity costs for consumers.

The nonpartisan IFO reviewed the Wolf administration’s outdated RGGI modeling and presented its findings to a joint hearing of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and the Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee on Tuesday.

IFO Director Matthew Knittel said Pennsylvania could spend upwards of $781 million annually on emissions credits at the RGGI auctions – nearly four times the amount anticipated by the administration’s taxpayer-funded 2020 analysis used to justify Pennsylvania’s participation in RGGI. The IFO also warned members that “those costs would be pushed through to final customers.”

The IFO analysis also concluded that emissions reductions between 2008 and 2020 for the 10 RGGI states were comparable to non-participating states.

The administration’s effort to force Pennsylvania into RGGI is being challenged in court and could face additional legislative action.

03.18.22 Podcast Sample w/ Sen. Gene Yaw

You can listen to my discussion with the Chairman of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, Sen. Gene Yaw, here.

“Purple Star Schools” to support military families approved by Senate

 

The Senate approved legislation to have Pennsylvania join 28 other states in establishing a Purple Star School Program for students from military families. The measure was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The program is a state-sponsored recognition designed to acknowledge a public, private or charter school that has committed to supporting the unique educational and social-emotional needs of military-connected students. A Purple Star School designation means better ease and consistency in transferring schools so children experience fewer educational gaps and obtain meaningful support when frequently moving to new towns and schools as a military child.

Senate Bill 1028 would provide “Purple Star” recognition to schools that: maintain a website with resources for military-connected students and their families, designate a staff point of contact for these students, provide training to school staff to best equip them to support these families, establish a partnership with a military installation, and take other steps.

Assistance available for COVID-related funeral expenses

 

Pennsylvanians who incurred funeral expenses for a COVID-19-related death can apply for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) COVID-19 funeral assistance program to help ease the financial burden brought on by the pandemic.

The program will provide reimbursement for expenses incurred for funeral services, including but not limited to transportation to identify the deceased individual, the transfer of remains, a burial plot or cremation niche, a marker or headstone, clergy or officiant services, the use of funeral home equipment or staff, and cremation or interment costs.

Eligible applicants can apply for the funeral assistance program by calling FEMA’s COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline at 1-844-684-6333 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday to begin the application process.

Upcoming PennDOT scheduled maintenance 

PennDOT shared with me the upcoming maintenance project list for next week. You can view that below.  

On deck

 

The Senate of Pennsylvania reconvenes for voting on Monday, April 4, at 1 p.m. You can watch session live and review our agenda at SenatorKristin.com/session.

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