In this update:
Senate hearing dives into contact tracing data breach, emergency procurement process
On Wednesday, I chaired a public hearing regarding the COVID-19 contact tracing program that led to a massive data breach impacting 72,000 Pennsylvanians due to a third-party vendor’s failure to secure personal health records.
The Department of Health used an emergency procurement process last year that resulted in the selection of this Georgia-based vendor. I have discussed this issue with you in the past, including my latest podcast featuring state in which Rep. Jason Ortitay gets into more details about this issue. If you’re interested, you can listen to my latest episode here.
The hearing uncovered many issues surrounding how the department goes through the emergency procurement process, as well as the lack of collaboration by the executive branch when it comes to awarding these contracts, that are often inked within 7 days.
You can watch the hearing in its entirety, as well as read Acting Secretary Alison Beam’s testimony here. Watch my comments and questions from the hearing here.
Throughout the hearing, I asked questions about the effectiveness of this program, the impact of taxpayer dollars and the lack of oversight when it comes to securing very sensitive personal health care data that was posted to publicly accessible websites. You can watch the questions I asked during the hearing here.
Here is my quick reaction following Wednesday’s public hearing:
New law addresses barriers to deploying high-speed wireless technology
Newly enacted legislation will increase access to 5G technology by providing uniform regulation of small wireless facilities, which could be as small as a backpack and attach to existing utility poles.
Act 50 of 2021 accelerates high-speed deployment while protecting local rights-of-way. We have seen millions of your hard-earned tax dollars poured into private sector projects all across the state with limited success rates. This is extremely frustrating to me and many of the residents I represent.
Here is the good news: this newly signed law does not spend a dime of your hard-earned tax dollars AND, according to the Allentown Morning call, a Boston Consulting Group estimates that this new technology will add 126,500 jobs and more than $45 billion in GDP growth in the Commonwealth over the next decade.
You can learn more here.
The Senate also approved legislation I authored that modernizes regulation of landline telephone companies to facilitate the deployment of broadband services in rural Pennsylvania, and directs all revenue generated from leasing state-owned assets to various carriers to expanding access to high-speed broadband. These measures await action in the House of Representatives.
Celebrating 25th anniversary of White Rose Settlement Services
Congratulations to White Rose Settlement Services, Inc. on their 25th Anniversary!
It was an honor to join Andy Brown, Shonna Stock Cardello, their employees, customers, colleagues, family and friends to celebrate this momentous occasion with a Senate of Pennsylvania citation and extend best wishes for their continued success.
White Rose Settlement Services is a full-service settlement company that performs searches and settlements throughout Pennsylvania and Maryland. They have helped so many, right here in York County, achieve the dream of homeownership.
Update on proposed integration of state universities
The Senate Education Committee and Senate Appropriations Committee held a joint public hearing Tuesday on the integration of six state universities in the face of enrollment decline and other factors.
The hearing followed a unanimous vote last week by the governing board of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education to integrate six of the 14 state-owned universities. No state universities will be closed.
You can watch the hearing and view the updated plans and more material here.
Philly Inquirer: “Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf says he’s no longer opposed to new voter ID rules”
This past week brought a bit of a surprise when Governor Wolf, who recently vetoed House Bill 1300 (read more here) shifted his position on key components of a comprehensive election reform proposal.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, “[…] Wolf now says he’s open to some stricter ID rules, including requiring ID for mail voting. The reason he previously drew a red line, he said, is because he didn’t trust that Republicans would negotiate in good faith and believed they were only interested in voter suppression.” Read the full story here.
Rep. Grove circulated a cosponsorship memo to colleagues in the House of Representatives seeking support for a plan he’s calling Pennsylvania Voting Rights Protection Act 2.0. Rep. Grove states in the memo, “The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Gov. Tom Wolf is now open to enhancing voter ID requirements in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. While this revelation would have been more welcomed a month ago as the General Assembly was moving HB 1300 of 2021 through the legislative process, it is a productive development.” You can read more about this here.
The latest headline on the governor’s stance now reads: “Election reform in Pennsylvania: Why Wolf says he hasn’t changed his stance on voter ID.”
Stay tuned as the governor’s stance continues to evolve on this issue.
However, regardless of the governor’s position, Senate Bill 735 proposes a constitutional amendment to require voter identification. The bill is now pending in the House State Government Committee. Since it is a proposed constitutional amendment, the bill must be passed by the legislature in two consecutive sessions then head to the voters for a final vote. The governor cannot veto this measure. The earliest this proposed constitutional amendment could be considered is the Primary Election in 2023.
Congratulations, Michael Rutter!
Congratulations and thank you to Mike Rutter for his 36 years of distinguished service to the York County Agricultural Society and the York State Fair.
Mr. Rutter became a member of the Board in 1988. He served as President of the Society from 1994 until 2010. In 2016, he was re-elected as President of the York County Agricultural Society, the position from which he is retiring.
During his tenure, Mr. Rutter was instrumental in building the East Wing addition to Memorial Hall and the multi-purpose arena facility. He also established the animal birthing center at the York State Fair and developed a full-time maintenance team.
It was an honor to join Mike’s family, friends, and fellow Society members to celebrate his service and present him with a Senate of Pennsylvania citation to commemorate the occasion.
Meeting local residents at the Stewartstown Carnival
The Stewartstown Carnival is back in full swing this summer! Our office has a booth with Representative Mike Jones to share information about state services our offices can assist our neighbors with and ways we can cut the red tape of YOUR state government.
I will be working the pizza stand tonight, so if you are in the area, I hope you can stop by and say hello!
You can learn more about the Stewartstown Carnival by following them on their Facebook Page.
FINAL (!!) pave at Exit 4 Interchange (Shrewsbury)
No, it’s not the Mt. Rose Interchange final pave that we were promised back in May… That project looks like it will now be completed in October. Legislation I’ve authored that requires the state to look at misdeeds in other states by vendors was formally introduced this week. You can learn more about my legislation here.
My thought is if a vendor or contractor has a horrible track record elsewhere, why should the Commonwealth hire them? The contractor in charge of the Mt. Rose Interchange debacle has a well-documented history in other states.
However, the good news is that a Pennsylvania-based contractor is set to perform final paving this weekend at the Exit 4 (Shrewsbury) interchange.
Per PennDOT: “At 9 pm Friday, July 23, the contractor will close the southbound I-83 ramps to Route 851 and the Route 851 ramps to southbound I-83. Southbound I-83 traffic wishing to access Route 851 should take Glen Rock/Exit 8 to Route 216 west to Susquehanna Trail (Route 3001) south to Route 851. Route 851 traffic wishing to travel south on I-83 should travel north on I-83 to Glen Rock/Exit 8, then take southbound I-83. At 9 PM Saturday, July 24, Route 851 will be closed under the I-83 bridge for paving. This work will be completed by 5 AM Monday July 26.”
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 will post its list of upcoming scheduled maintenance projects to its website. You can view the schedule for next week here.
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