In this update:
Tuesday’s public hearing to focus on forthcoming Department of Health contact tracing app, data collection, security and privacy
The Senate Communications and Technology Committee, which I chair, will hold a hearing to publicly vet a forthcoming Department of Health contact tracing smartphone app and concerns surrounding contact tracing and data privacy.
I am very concerned that a state-funded phone app is going to be put out to the masses that could have a major impact on data collection of the public and not account for privacy. Data collection is big business.
Eventually we will be in a post COVID-19 world.
What happens to that data after this pandemic is over, and does the public know what data this app will collect, where that data is stored, how this data is used and where the data goes after the pandemic?
These are the questions I hope to answer on Tuesday, September 8 at 10 a.m. at our public hearing.
You can learn more about this hearing here.
Celebrating upgrades at the Southern Branch YMCA
On Thursday, I joined state, county and local officials to cut the ribbon for the grand opening of the expansion at the Southern Branch YMCA in Shrewsbury.
This expansion will offer local residents more state-of-the-art facilities to use for many, many years. As someone who obtained their first Y membership at the age of four and later as a Y swim mom watching my children swim competitively, I know how important the Y is for our community.
The expansion includes a new pool and gymnasium for our neighbors to use and enjoy.
Election reforms under consideration for potential vote next week
Ensuring a fair and accurate election in November is one of the most critical issues the Senate is expected to tackle as early as next week.
The House of Representatives advanced a measure this week with bipartisan support, which mirrors legislation introduced earlier by Senate leaders, to address issues that were raised in the Department of State’s report on the 2020 primary election.
The bill would protect the integrity of elections by requiring counties to check signatures on mail-in and absentee ballots to ensure they match with the signatures on file. Counties would be required to contact a voter to affirm their ballot if the signatures do not match. The legislation would also move the application deadline for mail-in and absentee ballots to 15 days prior to the election and provide additional time for counties to canvass the results to avoid a delay in reporting the outcome.
Other provisions of the bill would help address a potential shortage of poll watchers and poll workers, provide voters with ballots earlier, and provide for new secure return locations for ballots.
The reforms were developed with input from county commissioners and local elections officials.
The Senate may consider this legislation when we reconvene next week.
Congratulations, Bobby Simpson!
York County District Attorney Dave Sunday and I were honored to present Bobby Simpson with a congratulatory citation for his tireless work on behalf of the residents of the City of York. Bobby serves as the CEO of Crispus Attucks and has had a profound impact over four decades on the next generation in the greater York community.
Last month, local activists were successful in renaming a city block in Bobby’s honor. It is a privilege to call Bobby a friend and we are forever grateful for his impact and lasting legacy he has had on our community.
Well done, Bobby!
New guidance will allow spectators at fall high school sporting events
Two weeks ago, the PIAA voted to allow fall high school sports to resume with proper precautions in place to protect the health of student-athletes. This week, updated guidance was released that will allow a limited number of spectators to also attend these events.
Although the new guidance allows for spectators, the Wolf Administration’s limitations on gatherings (25 or fewer people indoors, 250 or fewer outdoors) will remain in effect. Spectators must also wear a mask and practice social distancing.
Next week, the Senate will take up bipartisan House legislation to address this issue to ensure any athletic-related limitations are approved by each school district.
YCEA to discuss YoCo Restart Grants at our district office on Sept. 9 from 2 – 5 p.m.
The York County Economic Alliance (YCEA) will be holding office hours to discuss the YoCo Restart Fund at our district office on Wednesday, September 9 from 2-5 p.m. at 6872 Susquehanna Trail South in Springfield Township.
The YCEA is administering the grant program to help small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program went live last Friday (August 28). This program is not on a first-come, first-served basis. If you have questions or would like to apply, please drop by the office!
No appointment is needed.
Learn more about this program here.
Dairy relief grants still available
Many Pennsylvania farms were forced to dispose of milk during the COVID-19 pandemic due to severe disruptions in supply lines. Farmers who dumped milk during the crisis can apply to receive a share of $15 million in relief payments offered through the Dairy Indemnity Program.
The program, which was funded through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, provides relief payments of at least $1,500 for dairy farms that experienced a loss due to discarded or displaced milk during the pandemic. Farmers can also apply for a prorated portion of any remaining funds.
Farmers must apply by September 30 in order to receive funding. So far, $13.5 million of the $15 million dedicated to the program is still available for farmers to claim.
Travel bloggers visit York County for a weekend
I want to share a nice writeup our community received. Two travel bloggers documented their fun weekend spent exploring all York County has to offer. Please take a few minutes to read about their impression of the place we call home.
House fails to override governor’s veto that would have reestablished coequal branches of state government
The House of Representatives voted this week on whether to override Governor Wolf’s veto of House Resolution 836. This resolution would have terminated the governor’s COVID-19 emergency declaration in an attempt to restore coequal branches of your state government. Unfortunately, the House did not reach the two-thirds majority necessary to override the veto.
As I have said before, the governor continues to act unilaterally and hand out mandates that lack clarity or transparency. I have fielded hundreds of calls and continue to receive many emails from our neighbors seeking answers to serious questions raised by the governor’s orders.
I do my best to personally respond to each inquiry. Unfortunately, since March, the governor’s staff has been working remotely and has not been as accessible.
Ending the declaration would have required the governor to work with the General Assembly so we can save lives and restore livelihoods.
In order for the Senate to consider the override to this veto, the House needs to override the veto first (since it is a House Resolution).
Hallam’s Wayne Bushey earns Eagle Scout
Wayne, the son of Eddie and Leah Bushey, planned and organized the refurbishing of benches and tables in Glen Rock Park for his Eagle Scout project.
Well done, Wayne!
Addressing teacher shortage amid pandemic
Representative Barb Gleim and I are working on bicameral legislation to ease restrictions to get more substitute teachers into the classroom as schools grapple with COVID-19.
I was interviewed by Lyndsay Barna of Fox43 to talk about our efforts and why it’s important to give school districts more options to address possible teacher shortages and challenges.
You can watch my interview here.
CDL and commercial learner’s permits extended through September 30
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recently extended the expiration dates for commercial driver licenses (CDL) and commercial learner’s permits through September 30. Previous deadlines that were extended for non-commercial driver licenses, photo ID cards and camera cards during the COVID-19 pandemic expired on August 31.
A list of driver license and photo licenses centers is available at www.dmv.pa.gov.
Virtual consumer protection events scheduled for September
The Department of Banking will host several virtual events in September to help senior citizens, veterans, service providers and other members of the public learn more about consumer protection tools that are available to Pennsylvanians. The events will cover topics including how to avoid scams and identity theft, cybersecurity, retirement planning and much more.
Check out the full schedule of events for more information.
Symposium scheduled on VA benefits
The Veterans Benefit Administration will host a virtual town hall meeting on September 24 for community groups, non-profits and faith-based organizations that are interested in helping to connect veterans in their area with the benefits they have earned through their service to our country.
Upcoming PennDOT projects
PennDOT shared with me the upcoming maintenance project list for next week. You can view that below.
The Senate of Pennsylvania will convene on Tuesday, September 8 at 3 p.m.
You can watch session live and review our agenda at SenatorKristin.com/session.
Office closed in observance of Labor Day
Please be advised that my District and Capitol offices will be closed on Monday, September 7 in observance of Labor Day. We will reopen on Tuesday, September 8. You can always visit my online office 24/7/365 at www.SenatorKristin.com.
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