In this update:
Senate to Reconvene to Work on Finalizing State Budget
Next week, the Senate will return to session to work toward finalizing the 2023-24 state budget. Since the budget bill itself has been passed, the focus will be on legislation necessary to implement the budget.
As I shared with you prior, passing the budget provided funding to 75% of programs, including schools and counties. The remaining 25% still needs some form of legislation to authorize their expenditures.
I hope the House of Representatives will also reconvene before its scheduled return on Sept. 26.
Decisions we make now will have a big financial impact for years to come, so we are committed to taking the responsible long-term approach. Doing so will provide certainty for Pennsylvanians in uncertain times.
Watch session live here on Wednesday, Aug. 30, at 1 p.m.
Celebrating 100 Years of the Hanover Chamber
Congratulations Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce, PA! It was truly a pleasure to be part of the Chamber’s celebration of their 100 years of service to the community!
Since 1923, the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce has been working on behalf of its business members and the community to create an environment that is conducive to business growth and development to enhance the economic vitality and overall quality of life for the area.
It was an honor to present them with a Senate of Pennsylvania citation to commemorate this momentous achievement and join with the US Chamber of Commerce, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce and other state, federal, county and business leaders as well as community members to offer best wishes for many more years of exceptional service to the greater Hanover community!
New Website Reports Cost and Quality of Hospital Care
Pennsylvanians have a new tool to research the cost and quality of health care in their area.
The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, an independent state government agency, redesigned its website to better showcase its quality-related reports. It offers data to help people compare hospitals by procedure, condition, specialty and cost.
View the free public reports and browse the data here.
Lancaster Conservancy Tour along Susquehanna River
Thank you to the team with the Lancaster Conservancy for the tour and for sharing your vision to grow our recreational opportunities and preserve important local natural resources with local legislators.
We visited several sites along the Susquehanna River in York County on Tuesday. We capped off our day with a discussion at the Zimmerman Center for Heritage, part of the Susquehanna National Heritage Area (SNHA), about ways we can work together to support these incredible natural resources. We also discussed the challenges presented by a proposed pump storage facility that would take 1,000 acres of preserved farmland and recreational areas along the Susquehanna River in Chanceford Township.
If you are interested in learning more about the Susquehanna National Heritage Area, please subscribe to my podcast on your preferred platform: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify. Mark Platts, President of the SNHA, and I discuss all of the upcoming fall activities and more!
Outdoor recreation accounts for a $14 billion impact to our state’s economy, something that only continues to grow after the pandemic. It was also nice to see Secretary Cindy Dunn of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources at Wizard Ranch, who touted the collaboration between our region’s rich history and tourism with these recreational spots.
You can find more photos from the Conservancy here.
Free Hunter-Trapper Education Course Available
All first-time hunters and trappers, regardless of age, must successfully complete hunter-trapper education training before they can buy a Pennsylvania hunting or trapping license.
A free in-person hunter-trapper education course is available to anyone 11 years and older. It covers responsible hunting behavior, firearms basics and safety, basic shooting, wildlife conservation and management, outdoor safety and survival, hunting techniques, trapping and fur taking basics, and hunting safety.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission also has three online hunter-trapper education courses: online hunter education for $34.95, NRA free online hunter education course and interactive online hunter education for $50. Learn more and register for a course here.
What Do Pizzas and Permits Have in Common?
This week, I joined my Democratic colleague, Sen. Lisa Boscola, and leadership from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry to advocate for commonsense and bipartisan permitting reform.
Luke Bernstein, President of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, noted that you should be able to track a permit, a professional license, or certificate through a portal much like you can track a pizza order.
The Senate approved a bill I sponsored with Sen. Greg Rothman earlier this year and is awaiting further consideration in the House of Representatives. Our event was to call on the state representatives to approve this measure to get it to Gov. Shapiro’s desk. As I noted, we have a rare and unique opportunity to get this done as Gov. Shapiro has shown a willingness to fix systemic issues with our permitting and professional licensure systems.
Below are some of the highlights from our event:
Talking Trail Towns at Rotary Club of York
I joined Silas Chamberlin, chief strategy officer with the York County Economic Alliance, at the Rotary Club of York this week to talk about the York County Trail Towns initiative!
The success of this program is due to the communities along the Heritage Rail Trail, including New Freedom, Railroad, Glen Rock and Seven Valleys that have embraced this program. The future is very bright for these trail towns with more of our neighbors, businesses, and local leaders embracing it to improve the quality of life in Southern York County!
EMS Community Appreciation Day
Thank you Jacobus Lions Ambulance Club for bringing together all of the emergency services departments in the Jacobus area for the first Community Appreciation Day this past Sunday!
It was a pleasure to spend time with all the departments and seeing so many community members enjoying the event and interacting with their first responders!
Special shout out to the Jacobus Lions Club and local elected officials for volunteering to make the event a success. Most importantly, thank you to all our first responders who are here for us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You are greatly appreciated!
You can find more photos from this event on my Instagram.
Recognizing International Overdose Awareness Day
Sadly, the opioid epidemic still impacts communities all across our state. It affects people regardless of age, race, socioeconomic status and gender – threatening our families and the safe communities we all want to enjoy. As International Overdose Awareness Day approaches on Aug. 31, Senate Republicans remain committed to fighting the epidemic.
The Senate unanimously passed my legislation allowing EMS providers to leave life-saving naloxone, or Narcan, with the on-scene caregiver of a patient who overdosed on opioids but was revived. You can read more on that initiative here.
Senate Republicans also passed a bill banning official “injection sites,” which do not help to overcome addiction and instead encourage the continued use of illegal and often deadly drugs. Injection sites normalize drug use and send a powerful, dangerous and incorrect message from government that illegal drugs can be used safely.
PA 529 Fees Waived Again
In addition to the usual state and federal tax advantages, people who use PA 529 plans to save to attend a technical school, community college or four-year college – or enter an apprenticeship – will also enjoy reduced fees for the second year in a row.
Asset-based fees will again be waived for PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP) owners. Fee waivers will be funded by PA 529 GSP surplus earnings.
State fees will decrease by 0.5 basis points effective Sept. 1 for PA 529 Investment Plan (IP) account owners. This reduction and one announced last month will result in a savings of more than $800,000 for account holders throughout this fiscal year.
New CDL Skills Test Intended to Attract More School Bus Drivers
Beginning Monday, Aug. 28, a modernized commercial driver’s license (CDL) skills test will be implemented at all Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) driver license centers that offer CDL skills tests and at all third party CDL driving skill testers.
Applicants who will take the test after Aug. 28 are encouraged to review updated materials here.
As some schools are already back in session and others are scheduled to start soon, there is a pressing need to ensure the availability of school bus drivers. According to PennDOT, these measures will streamline the school bus endorsement process and hopefully attract new drivers – alleviating Pennsylvania’s school bus driver shortage.
Tour of York Learning Center’s Preschool Academy
Thank you to the York Learning Center for inviting me to tour your Preschool Academy! It was a pleasure to see the safe and welcoming environment they provide while assisting students to reach their full potential.
York Leaning Center is within the LIU 12 footprint, designed to provide highly structured environments for students with unique learning, behavioral, and medical challenges that prevent them from participating in a typical school setting or larger educational environment. Specifically, the Preschool Academy is aimed at early detection of learning challenges to create better outcomes as the child progresses through elementary and secondary school.
Sign Petition to Support Students in Failing Schools
Senate Republicans and Democrat Gov. Josh Shapiro compromised on a state budget agreement for the 2023-24 fiscal year. That agreement included an increase of more than half a billion dollars to fund public education in Pennsylvania.
In addition to the substantial public education funding, the budget deal also reflected the reality that many students are trapped in failing public schools. It included $100 million for the Pennsylvania Award for Student Success (PASS) Program, which would give thousands of students increased educational opportunities.
Unfortunately, after House Democrats pushed back against this bipartisan plan, the governor abandoned his own priority and the agreement he pledged to support.
If you have not signed my petition, please do so here.
Upcoming PennDOT maintenance projects
You can view PennDOT’s list of scheduled maintenance projects for next week below. If you have trouble viewing the schedule, please click here.
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