In this update:
General Assembly sends Gov. Wolf bill banning COVID-19 vaccine passports in PA
The General Assembly sent Governor Wolf a proposal that would block the state, as well as any county, municipality, school district, colleges and universities, from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
Through the process, the measure was amended to prohibit the Secretary of Health from unilaterally restricting travel of Pennsylvanians, as well as issuing stay-at-home orders and ordering masking mandates. This was a major frustration I heard from our neighbors who sought clarification on traveling to Maryland to purchase groceries or attend religious services, despite the travel ban issued by former Secretary Levine. I sought clarification from the department, but never heard back.
Furthermore, this bill will ensure the Department of Health does not continue its data creep by developing and using more taxpayer resources for another technology through a vaccine passport program. As students head back to school – K-12 and college – this fall, we have seen several schools requiring students to prove their COVID-19 vaccination status. This bill would ban that intrusion into public health records.
The governor has 10 days to sign, veto or allow the bill to become law without his signature.
You can learn more here.
Let the voters decide! Senate approves proposed constitutional amendment on voter ID
The Senate of Pennsylvania approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would let every Pennsylvania voter weigh in on voter identification requirements through a ballot question.
Recent public polling has shown the issue has strong support across the state. A recent poll by Franklin & Marshall College found 74% of Pennsylvanians who responded favored requirements that all voters show a photo ID
Based on the feedback I’ve received via meetings, phone calls and emails since January 1, 2021, 86% of local residents who have contacted me support this issue.
Currently, voters are required to show identification the first time they vote at a polling place. Senate Bill 735 asks voters to decide if some form of verification should be required every time a ballot is cast, including when voting by mail. The bill also proposes amending the voting age in the Pennsylvania Constitution from 21 to 18, making it consistent the U.S. Constitution.
The language must be passed in two consecutive legislative sessions by both the Senate and the House of Representatives before it can be placed on the ballot. The earliest this proposed amendment could reach voters for consideration is May 2023.
Committee advances bill to help health care patients, reform prior authorization process
The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee unanimously approved my legislation that would streamline and standardize the process for prior authorization of medical services in Pennsylvania.
Prior authorization refers to any process by which physicians and other health care providers must obtain advance approval from a health plan before a specific procedure or service is delivered to the patient to qualify for payment coverage.
Patients all across Pennsylvania find themselves subject to significant delays in receiving much-needed treatments because of our current laws and an existing patchwork approach. This bill makes it clear that if a patient receives permission from an insurer by getting their procedure or treatment preauthorized, then payment should be made to the health care provider.
Recognizing contributions and advocacy of YMCA during Senate session
Our Commonwealth has over 700,000 YMCA members with more than 180,000 individuals participating in programs and services offered by our local YMCAs for children, youth, families and older adults.
The YMCA promotes youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. As a charitable, nonprofit organization, they are committed to ensuring that no person is denied services for inability to pay.
These YMCAs are pillars of many of the communities we are honored to serve. This summer, we will see a return to normal as the 2021 Summer Olympics go on. I look forward to cheering on Spring Grove native Hali Flickinger as she swims on Team USA. Hali is also a YMCA alum, as well.
In York County, we are grateful to have strong local leadership for our respective YMCAs led by Larry Richardson and his entire team. That’s why I am honored to recognize YMCA Advocacy Month in Pennsylvania for all of the contributions of our local Ys make to our communities.
Addressing learning gaps in public education
Parents would have the option to allow their children to repeat a grade level due to learning disruptions caused by COVID-19 under a bill approved by the Senate and sent to the governor this week.
Senate Bill 664 would give parents the power to make the decision on whether their child should advance to the next grade level by July 15.
In current practice, the decision on whether to hold a student back is made solely by the child’s school and teacher. The bill would only apply to the 2021-22 school year to address learning gaps related to the pandemic.
Senate Bill 664 would also allow parents the option to extend enrollment in special education programs for an extra year due to COVID-19. This provision would prevent students with special needs from aging out of the system at age 21 after missing out on much of the specialized attention they need due to COVID-19 disruptions.
You can learn more here.
Local religious leaders serve as guest chaplains of PA Senate
This week, I was honored to host three local pastors to serve as the Senate of Pennsylvania’s Guest Chaplain.
On Monday, I hosted Reverend Grant Ambrose of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in York. He was joined by his wife, Martha, and daughter, Alice. You can watch his opening prayer below.
On Tuesday, I hosted Calvary Baptist Church of York’s Senior Pastor Greg Wahlberg and his wife, Debra, as well as the Assistant Pastor, Pastor Rich Hall, and his wife, Dale. Pastor Wahlberg served as the guest chaplain of the Senate of Pennsylvania. You can watch his prayer below.
On Wednesday, I hosted Pastor Jesse North and Clara of Wrightsville Presbyterian Church. Pastor North served as the guest chaplain of the Senate of Pennsylvania during Wednesday’s session. You can watch the opening prayer below.
Celebrating UTZ’s 100th anniversary
York County is known as the Snack Food Capital of the World thanks to the longevity of household brands we have come to know and love.
On Wednesday, Rep. Kate Klunk hosted the Utz Snack team at the state Capitol to formally recognize this business based in Hanover. Started in 1921 by Bill and Salie Utz, the brand has grown to be a staple for our snack drawers and backyard barbeques over the last 100 years.
The celebration included state and local officials, as well as some delicious snacks following the event.
Congratulations to the entire Utz team on this monumental achievement. You can read more here about the celebration.
Tune in to CBS 21’s Face the State on Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m.
I will join Ryan Eldredge for Face the State on WHP’s CBS-21 on Sunday, June 27, at 8:30 a.m. to discuss the latest happenings in YOUR state government.
We will discuss vaccine passports, voter identification, the state budget and other important matters.
I hope you can tune in!
Local jobs from PA CareerLink
PA CareerLink shared with me its latest list of local job openings, which you can view below. You can also find job postings shared with the York County Economic Alliance here.
Upcoming PennDOT projects
PennDOT shared its list with me of upcoming scheduled maintenance projects. You can view the schedule for next week below.
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