In this update:
Overwhelming feedback on latest survey shows major opposition to Gov. Wolf’s commission’s plan to tax every mile you drive, plus very helpful suggestions
Nearly 900 of our neighbors participated in my latest legislative survey, which is the most popular survey I have conducted to date.
Please know that these surveys are free ways for our community to provide feedback on critical matters impacting YOUR state government. If you took a few minutes to weigh in on this issue: THANK YOU!
This survey focused on a recently released report by Governor Tom Wolf’s Transportation Revenue Options Commission (TROC).
TROC’s report recommended:
Here was the feedback I received:
I wrote a lengthy reply to those who took the survey spelling out the suggestions and recommendations from our neighbors, including the desire to see parity between fees and taxes paid between electric vehicles and gas vehicles. (Gas vehicle owners pay more than five times the taxes electric vehicle owners pay.) The next story reviews possible alternatives and how several legislators are working to block new fees and taxes on beleaguered taxpayers.
Latest podcast features discussion on transportation funding future in Pennsylvania
My latest podcast episode features Senator Wayne Langerholc, who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, to discuss the TROC report as well as Governor Wolf’s efforts to toll nine bridges across the state. (Both issues were subject to legislative surveys I conducted.)
Since my election to the General Assembly, I continue to hear frustrations over the state’s sky-high gas tax, and rightfully so. Drivers only have to cross the Mason-Dixon Line to see the disparity in gas taxes between the Commonwealth and Maryland.
However, what is also clear is that the plan offered by Governor Wolf’s Transportation Revenue Options Commission is not the right path forward, either. This podcast episode focuses on some of the most egregious parts of the commission’s plan and what another alternative may look like.
Senator Langerholc unveiled the “DRIVE SMART Act,” which stands for “Delivering Reforms and Investments for Vehicle Efficiency and Supporting Motor carriers, Airports, Rails & trails and Transit agencies,” in the wake of the governor’s decision to implement bridge tolling on nine bridges across the state.
You can listen to our conversation, which runs about 35 minutes, here.
Help push the York County Food Bank over the finish line in nationwide competition for $25k grant!
The York County Food Bank (YCFB) is a nationwide competition for a $25,000 grant through the State Farm Neighborhood Assist program.
YCFB is one of 200 charities competing to be selected nationwide for this program!
Can you help push our local food bank over the top? The 40 charities with the MOST VOTES will EACH receive a $25,000 grant.
Individuals 18 years of age or older with a valid email address can vote up to 10 votes. Please consider helping our friends at the food bank get in the top 40! Voting ends tonight (Friday).
Series of hearings will look at controversies with Dept. of State
The Senate State Government Committee held the first in a series of hearings reviewing controversial actions recently undertaken by the Department of State.
The first hearing discussed post-election audits undertaken by the Department of State after the 2020 election with Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid. The panel heard from the acting secretary, Deputy Secretary of Elections and Commissions Jonathan Marks and members of the department’s Risk Limiting Audit Work Group.
You can watch my Q&A during that hearing below.
The State Government Committee will hold five additional hearings prior to the confirmation hearings for Acting Secretary Degraffenreid, covering the following:
I will stream each hearing LIVE on my Facebook page.
Gov. Wolf asks lawmakers to return to impose a mask mandate in schools, childcare centers. Lawmakers respond
On Wednesday, Governor Tom Wolf sent a letter to the Senate President Pro Tempore and Speaker of the House of Representatives calling on the legislature to return to session immediately to pass legislation to impose a statewide mask mandate for schools and childcare facilities.
On Thursday, legislative leaders responded to the governor’s request in the letter below. I have received many emails and phone calls with concerned citizens about a statewide mandate. The legislature will NOT be returning to impose a blanket mandate on every school district. These decisions have already been made by locally ELECTED officials.
Legislative Review: Combatting human trafficking
The General Assembly enacted several measures in recent years to combat human trafficking. That effort has continued in 2021 with the passage of measures to prevent this hideous practice and help victims.
As you may know, I was the sponsor of Act 1 of 2020, known as the Buyer Beware Act, a landmark law to curb the demand for victims of human trafficking by punishing those who solicit the services of these victims. This legislation was championed by Representative Seth Grove, District Attorney Dave Sunday and Jan Wilson of Sparrow Place, among many other advocates across the state.
The Senate took action on other anti-human trafficking initiatives this year, including:
Act 32 of 2021 prohibits defendants from introducing evidence of a human trafficking victim’s past sexual victimization in any human trafficking prosecution.
Act 38 of 2021 requires that a court consider whether a party or member of that party’s household has been convicted of human trafficking prior to awarding child custody.
Act 45 of 2021 requires any offender that subjected a minor to sexual servitude (human trafficking) to undergo treatment while in prison, helping to reduce recidivism.
Act 52 of 2021 permits expert witnesses in cases of domestic violence and human trafficking.
You can find a full list of bills of note passed by the Senate in 2021 here.
Welcome K-9 Tango
Please welcome York Area Regional Police Department’s newest officer, K-9 Officer Tango!
K-9 Tango is part of the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force and helps identify and arrest individuals involved in the criminal exploitation of children and human trafficking using his keen K-9 senses to find hidden or undetected computers, cell phones, tablets, or other electronic devices for evidence of crimes against children.
Supporting our Second Amendment rights
Thank you to Jefferson Firearms, LLC for hosting Representative Seth Grove and me during your customer appreciation event this past weekend.
Jefferson Firearms invited Rep. Grove and me during their customer appreciation event to discuss our ongoing efforts to defend YOUR Second Amendment rights in Harrisburg. I noted how not only are we supporting legislation to address these issues, we are also opposing efforts that would infringe on YOUR Second Amendment rights, including a bill to repeal the Stand your Ground Law, a proposal to add waiting times for lawful gun owners to purchase firearms, and a new identification requirement to buy ammunition.
Preserving services for seniors & adults with disabilities
The Senate Aging & Youth Committee and the Senate Health & Human Services Committee held a joint public hearing with the House Human Services Committee and House Aging & Older Adult Services Committee this week on an issue affecting Pennsylvania seniors and adults with disabilities.
The hearing focused on the intent of the Department of Human Services (DHS) to contract with the firm Maximus US Services as its independent enrollment broker as part of the commonwealth’s Medicaid enrollment process. Members discussed the impact it will have on seniors and adults with disabilities. DHS was unable to testify due to ongoing litigation.
The panels heard about the problems caused by shifting the process from local contacts to an out-of-state vendor. You can view hearing video and testimony here.
Reducing the impact of invasive species
Reducing the impact of invasive species on Pennsylvania’s economy, agriculture and natural resources was the topic of a hearing by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania this week.
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is a bipartisan legislative agency made up of Senate and House members, and others, that serves as a resource for rural policy within the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
In 2019, the negative economic impact of the spotted lanternfly was estimated to be $13.1 million. Other invasive species include the gypsy moth, emerald ash borer, hydrilla and reed canarygrass.
The panel heard from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center and other experts. You can watch the hearing here.
REMINDER OF THE LAW: School buses are back on the roads
Children are returning to school, which means school buses are back on the roads.
Motorists must stop at least 10 feet away from school buses that have their red lights flashing and stop arm extended. PennDOT has a breakdown of the state School Bus Stopping Law, as well as tips for parents and students for getting to and from school safely.
Local job openings and Sept. job fair
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.
Also, mark your calendar for a job fair next month. Details below.
Federal unemployment compensation benefit of $300 extra per week ending next week
I am sending out a final friendly reminder that federal unemployment benefit programs, including Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), will end September 4.
This includes the additional $300 per week provided by the federal program.
The state’s regular unemployment compensation program and those receiving benefits from it are unaffected.
Upcoming PennDOT projects
PennDOT shared its list of upcoming scheduled maintenance projects, which you can view below.