In this update:
Why are we losing Pennsylvanians and Pennsylvania-based jobs? Conversation with key business leader
Earlier this month, the state’s Independent Fiscal office released a report that highlights every wage-earning group in Pennsylvania is fleeing for a handful of pro-business states.
I sat down and talked with the president and chief executive officer of Pennsylvania’s Chamber of Business and Industry, Luke Bernstein, about this exact issue in my latest podcast episode.
We talked about what is happening in the state that is driving residents and businesses away and possible solutions to allow Pennsylvania’s economy to thrive.
Fixing regulatory burdens on taxpayers and job creators
Continuing the conversation I had with Luke above, we are losing Pennsylvanians and businesses to other states because they are hitting dead ends within their own state government.
To combat this, the Senate approved a legislative package I spearheaded to reduce the burden of unchecked government regulations on taxpayers and job creators.
Senate Bill 350 requires state agencies to create an accessible website for permit applicants to check their application status. In addition, all the permits issued must be publicly accessible and if rejected, it must state the legal authority the agency relies on to reject the permit application. It also requires that a permit, license or certification is deemed approved by the state if the agency reviewing the application misses its statutory deadline.
I am proud to have championed this legislation alongside my colleague, Sen. Greg Rothman, to get this key measure approved by the Senate. You can find more information on this effort here and you can find my remarks on the Senate floor below.
The Senate also passed two additional measures below to combat these issues.
Senate Bill 188 requires regulations with an economic impact on taxpayers and employers exceeding $1 million to go before the General Assembly for approval before taking effect. The Independent Fiscal Office, rather than the regulating agency, would be tasked with calculating the economic impact.
Senate Bill 190 requires an automatic review after three years of all regulations with an economic impact on taxpayers and employers exceeding $1 million. The regulating agency must report to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission on the effectiveness of the regulation, whether current state laws require the regulation’s repeal or amendment, and more.
All three bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Basic Education Funding Commission begins its work
The Basic Education Funding Commission met this week as a bipartisan group tasked with developing and recommending a new formula for distributing state money for education to Pennsylvanian school districts.
I am humbled to be appointed co-chair to the committee alongside a colleague across the river, Rep. Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster). Earlier this year, Commonwealth Court President Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer ruled that the current education funding system does not meet its constitutional requirements.
With my experience serving on a school board and time on the Senate Appropriations Committee, I understand first-hand the funding issues in both the school districts and General Assembly. The heart of the order by Judge Jubelirer emphasizes the inequities of public education created by the school property tax – a tax my constituents despise.
I am hopeful we can make headway to address this centuries’ old issue.
You can find more information on this commission here.
Senate approves measure to improve personal financial literacy
To teach high school students the financial basics, the Senate approved legislation that will enable them to make better decisions that lead to a lifetime of success and financial independence. Senate Bill 647 moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Recent estimates show there are more than 350 million American-owned credit card accounts, and credit card owners average about four cards apiece. Families in the United States are approaching approximately $1 trillion in credit card debt and more than $15 trillion in debt overall.
The bill would give high school students the information they need on topics like credit and credit scores; savings and investments; college, home and auto loans; and planning for postsecondary education and retirement.
Measure boosting support for PA veterans approved by Senate
The Senate passed bills to help veterans start or expand a business, access programs and services available to them, and make it easier for disabled veterans to obtain a free lifetime fishing license. All three bills now head to the state House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 248 would create the Veteran-owned Business Loan Guarantee Program, which would be funded with $5 million of existing dollars from another program run by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. The bill defines a veteran-owned business as one in which 51% or more of the organization is owned or controlled by one or more veterans. Veteran-owned businesses in America employ nearly four million workers and generate more than $175 billion in annual payroll.
Senate Bill 447 would establish in law the PA VETConnect program, which is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and helps the commonwealth’s more than 700,000 veterans access programs and services tailored to their needs. The database of resources enables local veteran advocates – including staff at county veterans affairs offices – to point veterans to information, resources, programs and services in their area and across the commonwealth.
Senate Bill 411 would make it possible for disabled veterans with a 100% disability determination to obtain a free, lifetime fishing license. Free lifetime fishing licenses currently are available only to disabled veterans with a 100% permanent disability determination, and they must apply for a new free fishing license every year.
Monthly, I send out an e-newsletter geared specifically for veterans to let them know of local, state and federal updates, just like this! You can sign up to receive those here.
Legislation expanding access to breast cancer screenings signed into law
Congratulations to my friend and colleague, Sen. Kim Ward, on championing Senate Bill 8 into law. This will make a major impact on the lives of women across Pennsylvania.
Act 1 of 2023 is a first-of-its-kind breast cancer screening measure that will save Pennsylvanians’ lives.
It eliminates all costs associated with genetic testing and counseling as well as breast MRI and ultrasounds for Pennsylvanians with high-risk conditions like dense breast tissue, a personal history of breast cancer, a family history, a genetic predisposition or prior radiation therapy.
Approximately one of every eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer, but this law will ensure that high-risk individuals have affordable access to early detection.
I applaud Sen. Ward for her leadership and tenacity to get this legislation across the finish line!
Ensuring accountability and transparency in Constitutional Amendment process
With unanimous support, the Constitutional Amendment Accountability Act was approved by the Senate State Government Committee this week. This measure will ensure that every Pennsylvanian can track – from start to finish – the process as consequential as a proposed constitutional amendment.
Authored in response to the last administration’s failure to advertise a proposed constitutional amendment, I look forward to continuing the work on this important issue as it heads to the full Senate for consideration.
You can find out more information about this measure here.
Recognizing police officers’ Memorial Day
In recognition of Police Officers’ Memorial Day in Pennsylvania, as designated by Senate Resolution 111, the Fraternal Order of Police joined Senate Republicans to honor the brave law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty last year. The five officers were:
Like so many other members of law enforcement, these officers served and protected their fellow citizens – despite knowing the sacrifices they and their families would have to make. Thank you to each brave man and woman who defend the safety of our communities.
Capitol tour with Southern Elementary School
I was fortunate to start my session week off right with students from Southern Elementary School who were touring the state Capitol as part of their field trip to Harrisburg.
Thanks so much for spending time with Rep. Kate Klunk and me during your visit! It was an honor to show you around the Capitol and show you the Senate chamber.
You can find more photos from the visit on my Instagram.
Happy Mother’s Day
To all the women who put their family first, thank you for being such a source of strength and support in our communities. Happy Mother’s Day!
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