In this update:
Have a happy and SAFE Fourth of July – DUI checkpoints and firework safety
As we celebrate America’s birthday with friends, family and neighbors today and tonight, I want to give you a few quick updates about how we can celebrate safely and responsibly. Above all else, I want to see our friends and neighbors throughout the region enjoy the holiday without facing any unnecessary dangers that could turn a celebration into a tragedy.
Fireworks are a staple of many Fourth of July celebrations. A law passed in 2017 expanded the kinds of fireworks that are legal in Pennsylvania, providing a much wider variety of products to state residents. While I voted against this law, I believe it is critical for anyone using fireworks to understand the risks involved and take the proper safety precautions to avoid an accident.
Please remember that the new law prohibits aerial fireworks from being set off within 150 feet of a home or business.
More details about fireworks safety are available from the National Safety Council here.
Drunk driving is another serious threat during the Independence Day holiday. In fact, some estimates indicate that more beer is sold on the Fourth of July than any other holiday. In order to ensure a safe holiday, I strongly encourage community residents to avoid getting behind the wheel while under the influence. The consequences of drunk driving can be catastrophic.
Local residents could see more DUI checkpoints going forward thanks to a new state law that allows officers from multiple jurisdictions to work together to enforce existing impaired driving laws. Fox43 recently ran a story about the new law, which you can view here.
Governor signs Phillips-Hill’s bill into law creating optional tool for schools
Act 64 of 2019 will allow school districts, both public and private, charter schools, career and technical schools and intermediate units to apply with the Pennsylvania Department of Education to have the option to use up to five flexible instructional days per school year in the event of a closure. Schools would need to reapply every three years.
Schools may use technology to ensure the continuity of learning during a flexible instructional day. Students who lack internet access at home will also have special accommodations. The Department of Education recently conducted a three-year pilot program with a dozen schools, including three in York County.
Flexible instructional days have been very popular for Central York, Red Lion and Southern York County School Districts and I’m pleased to see the governor acknowledge the merits of this helpful tool for schools to address unplanned closures.
Act 64 will allow each school district to work with its students, parents, faculty and school board to see if flexible instructional days should be implemented. I have heard positive reviews from local parents whose children attend schools involved in the pilot program. Opening this option to the entire state makes sense to ensure there is a continuity in learning when extenuating circumstances close school buildings.
You can learn about this new law here. You can listen to my comments here.
Famous Delta BBQ festival brings community together
Congratulations to the residents of Delta Borough and to the organizers of the York County BBQ Festival for another successful, family-friendly, nationally sanctioned BBQ contest and festival! The event took place last Saturday.
It was a pleasure to join Congressman Lloyd Smucker, Mayor Joannie Jones, Harford County Councilman Chad Shrodes and York County Commissioner Doug Hoke to celebrate and commend all those who have exponentially grown this annual event that celebrates our agricultural heritage and attracts people from far and wide to Explore York PA!
I was pleased to present the organizers with a certificate from the Senate of Pennsylvania commemorating the occasion.
Discussing state-related concerns with area senior citizens
On Monday and Tuesday, I joined Representatives Seth Grove, Dawn Keefer, Kate Klunk, and Mike Jones to spend time with local area senior citizens to discuss their state related concerns and the benefits of the recently enacted state budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
I met with seniors at two local senior centers to outline how the state budget provides $26.2 million to serve 1,860 older Pennsylvanians through the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Aging Waiver. The budget also provides a two percent increase for home care workers and personal care assistants, and another $8 million to assist high Medicaid populated nursing homes. The budget also includes $800,000 for stronger oversight of nursing homes to ensure our loved ones are receiving the best care possible.
Here is a quick video of how this budget is #FundingWhatWorks:
We also had fun playing shuffleboard and even bowled a few frames on Wii Bowling. Thank you for the hospitality!
Pennsylvania Farm Bill will help York County’s number one industry
York County and Pennsylvania’s number one industry is agriculture. Our Commonwealth is home to nearly 60,000 farm families with more than 7.7 million acres of farmland. The agriculture industry generates more than $7.5 billion in cash receipts each year.
The state budget package that was approved by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Wolf included significant tools and investments for our local farmers.
The budget restored $4 million in proposed budget cuts by the governor. The package also included: new programs to support our next generation of family farmers, as well as improve disaster responsiveness, provide low-interest loans for the implementation of agricultural and conservation best management practices, boost livestock and consumer health, assist with agribusiness development and succession plans, among many other critical reforms.
Last week, I joined colleagues on both sides of the aisle to celebrate the passage of the Pennsylvania Farm Bill with a famous Farm Show milkshake.
Appointment to PHEAA’s Board of Directors
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency plays a critical role for students to achieve the American dream of earning a college degree and pursuing a career.
I was recently appointed to serve on PHEAA’s Board of Directors. I am honored to have been chosen to support the mission of this agency and look forward to exploring new ways to meet the needs of students and families, both here in York County and throughout Pennsylvania.
College affordability is a great concern for many students and their families, and I am grateful for the opportunity to work to find creative ways to address this problem.
PHEAA is responsible for servicing loans for the federal student loan program and administrating state grants and other state-funded student financial aid programs. In this capacity, PHEAA manages more than $100 million in funding for student aid programs in Pennsylvania.
You can learn more about my appointment here. You can listen to my comments here.
Bipartisan efforts to end human trafficking starting a legislative trend?
Over the last several months, I have worked with Representatives Seth Grove and Wendi Thomas on bicameral and bipartisan legislation aimed at putting an end to human trafficking. Living along the Interstate 83 corridor, we know from law enforcement this is a main thoroughfare for criminals to shuttle trafficked victims throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states.
The York Dispatch recently published an editorial detailing the bipartisan support this legislation has and hints that this may be a trend to work together as Republicans and Democrats on important issues, like human trafficking.
You can read the editorial here.
Supporting Victoria’s Law to stop puppy mills in Pennsylvania
Last week, I joined several of my colleagues from the Senate and House to support Victoria’s Law.
Victoria’s Law will seek to put an end to the inhumane practice of puppy mills in Pennsylvania, which leads to thousands of dogs being euthanized each year, according to the Pennsylvania Humane Society.
Fish for Free today! (July 4)
As a friendly reminder, first-time and budding anglers may enjoy this year’s final “Fish for Free” day, hosted by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, on July 4.
All other normal fishing regulations still apply. More information is available here.
Office hours reminder
Please be advised that on Thursday, July 4 and Friday, July 5, my Senate offices will be closed in observance of the Independence Day holiday.
We will resume normal operating hours on Monday, July 8, at 9 a.m.
Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!
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