In this update:
Senate approves legislation to establish 9/11 model curriculum
The Senate unanimously approved legislation on Wednesday that would require the Pennsylvania Department of Education to establish model curriculum on the events of September 11 to be made available to school entities across the state.
Today’s high school students were not alive on that tragic day. Even young men and women who are recruits of our country’s Armed Services, who are possibly going to fight in battles as a result of the terrorist attacks 19 years ago, do not fully know what transpired on September 11, 2001. This legislation will provide our schools with a valuable option to educate students on the heinous events of that fateful Tuesday morning and the ripple effects it had on our nation’s history.
We must never forget the tragic events of 9/11.
Video of my statement on the Senate floor is below:
Senate Communications and Technology Committee examines forthcoming contact tracing app, approves two bills
The Senate Communications and Technology Committee, which I chair, convened twice this week at the state Capitol to hold a public hearing on the Department of Health’s forthcoming contact tracing smartphone app on Tuesday, and advance two measures aimed at broadband deployment and strengthening standards during a data breach of personal information on Wednesday.
At the hearing, I raised significant concerns over the state contracting with a firm based overseas to create a smartphone app aimed at tracking individuals in the Commonwealth. The department testified that the data collected may not be deleted for up to two years.
You can watch the hearing in its entirety below.
On Wednesday, the committee unanimously approved House Bill 2348, sponsored by Representative Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter), that would create the Unserved High-Speed Broadband Funding Grant program and re-appropriates an existing tax credit of $5 million to the fund per year, which will be managed by the Commonwealth Financing Authority.
This legislation is similar to Senate Bill 835, sponsored by Senator Wayne Langerholc (R-Bedford/Cambria/Clearfield), which was approved by the committee on August 26 and by the full Senate on September 8.
You can watch the committee meeting in its entirety below.
Learn more about the committee’s action from this past week here.
Measure with strong bipartisan support to allow school districts to make local decision on sporting event spectator limits headed for Wolf’s veto pen
The Senate gave final approval to a bill this week that would ensure school districts could make the final decision on whether to allow school sports, extracurricular activities and spectators during the 2020-21 school year. The bill would remove the uncertainty that has been created by the Wolf Administration’s unclear and constantly shifting guidance for schools.
The bill would allow school districts to develop their own health and safety plans that reflect the realities facing schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. The health and safety plans would be required to be posted online and submitted to the Department of Education.
Under the bill, any individual who has COVID-19 in a transmissible stage would be prohibited from participating in any sporting event or extracurricular activity.
The governor has threatened to veto this much-needed legislation. As Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre/Huntingdon/Mifflin/Juniata) indicated, the votes for the bill exceed the votes needed to override the governor’s veto. You can read his comments about a planned veto override in the Senate here.
More empty words by Governor Wolf in visit to York County to pitch working with the legislature, supporting small businesses
I joined with state legislative Republicans in York and Adams Counties this week in a statement expressing our dismay at the governor’s demands of the General Assembly during a photo op in York County. No Republican lawmakers were invited to the event.
We noted that the governor’s policies have benefited corporate-owned big box stores that have operated with very few restrictions over the last six months, all while our locally owned businesses, including our family-owned bars, restaurants and taverns, continue to face barriers not backed by any publicly accessible data.
You can read our full statement here.
Senate hearing next Friday to review limited constitutional convention proposal
It has been over five decades since the state last held a Constitutional Convention. Representative Frank Ryan (R-Lebanon) and I are proposing a constitutional amendment calling for a limited constitutional convention every 20 years to review some of the major good-government reforms I support.
Over the last several months, the people of Pennsylvania have grown increasingly frustrated with their government at all levels. Prior to the pandemic, I introduced a measure to give people the opportunity to address the many good-government reforms the legislature and governor have not been able to accomplish for decades. This public hearing is a much-needed starting point to address these systemic reforms.
You can learn more here. I hope you can tune in next Friday (September 18) at 1 p.m.
Senate advances measure to help restaurants, bars, taverns same day as Wolf Administration rolls back restaurant occupancy restrictions
The Wolf Administration announced updated guidance this week that will allow restaurants to open at 50 percent capacity. The announcement came on the same day that the Senate Law and Justice Committee unanimously passed a bill that would have removed the governor’s 25-percent cap on occupancy and allowed restaurants to operate at 50 percent capacity until the current COVID-19 emergency declaration ends.
Under the new guidance, restaurants may open at 50 percent of normal capacity beginning on September 21. Restaurant owners that expand to 50 percent occupancy will be required by the Wolf Administration to certify by October 5 that they have read and agreed to follow COVID-19 mitigation plans.
Although the new guidelines will help some establishments, the Wolf Administration’s new prohibition on alcohol sales after 10 p.m. will be extremely difficult for other businesses to manage.
I am supportive of the legislation mentioned above, which, in addition to raising the minimum capacity limit at 50 percent, would remove the prohibition on requiring a meal in order to purchase alcohol, as well as end the prohibition of bar room seating.
Applications available now for additional unemployment payments
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry is accepting applications now for President Trump’s Lost Wages Assistance program to provide an additional $300 per week in unemployment payments for many residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The department began taking applications on Sunday.
More details about eligibility and applications are available here. As always, feel free to contact either the District or Capitol office with any questions (contact information listed at bottom of this email).
Bill moves forward to protect young victims of sexual assault
The Senate approved a bill this week that would protect young victims of sexual assault against the possibility of having to attend school with their attackers. The legislation would require schools to remove any student convicted or adjudicated delinquent of sexual assault against another student enrolled at the same school.
Upcoming PennDOT projects
PennDOT shared with me their upcoming planned maintenance projects for next week across York County. You can view their scheduled projects below.
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