In this update:
Learn how Sgt. Harold Redding of Spring Grove is serving his fellow veterans through legislation on the governor’s desk
Rep. Seth Grove and I introduced a measure that would designate March 6 as Persian Gulf War Veterans Day and Oct. 7 as Global War on Terrorism Veterans Day in the Commonwealth. This week, the House of Representatives unanimously approved the measure and sent it to the governor’s desk for his signature.
The legislation was suggested by Harold E. Redding, who served in the U.S. Army for 22 years. Redding, who was a first sergeant in the Vietnam War, has been a proponent of honoring veterans who serve in various conflicts.
Redding was successful in his efforts to have U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey shepherd legislation through to formally recognize March 29 as National Vietnam War Veterans Day.
Sgt. Redding’s steadfast support and commitment to honoring his fellow veterans is commendable. This measure, should it be signed into law, will ensure that the veterans of these conflicts are never forgotten in our Commonwealth.
Rep. Grove, who sponsored the House version of the bill, said this about Sgt. Redding:
“A veteran of the Vietnam War, he knows how a simple thank you and acknowledgment for service goes a long way.”
Sgt. Redding traveled to Harrisburg this week to advocate for a legislative package under consideration that would recognize veterans in the Commonwealth.
View more photos from the event here.
You can learn more about Sgt. Redding’s legislation here.
Bill to address Mt. Rose Interchange debacle gets unanimous support
The never-ending Mt. Rose Interchange project is three years late and subject to many cost overruns, yet I am not going to wait for the project to be completed in order to address a major issue with our state’s procurement process.
A simple Google search reveals that the winning bidder for the Mt. Rose Interchange project on Interstate 83 has a public track record of change-order scheming in other states.
The state’s procurement code requires state agencies to award bids to the lowest responsible bidder. However, the law provides stipulations for suspension or debarment of contractors based on work performed in Pennsylvania.
My bill would expand the review into a bidder’s performance in other states, including the ability to meet deadlines and unbalanced bids.
I am grateful the Senate State Government Committee unanimously approved my legislation earlier this week.
The committee’s Democrat Chair, Sen. Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia), said he has seen change-order scheming in other public works projects lead to many frustrations from his constituents.
You can learn more here.
House committee supports greater transparency with constitutional amendment process
The House State Government Committee unanimously approved a measure I authored that would require the Department of State to post every step of the state constitutional amendment process to a publicly accessible website.
The website will include real-time updates on proposed constitutional amendment going through the legislative process. The bill, known as the Constitutional Amendment Accountability Act, was introduced after the Wolf Administration and former Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar failed to properly advertise a proposed constitutional amendment that would retroactively extend the timeline for victims to file litigation against their abusers.
The fallout led to a 68-page report by the state’s Inspector General, who noted that “internal systemic failures” and lacking “consistent communication” led to the demise of the proposed constitutional amendment that was poised to be before voters during the 2021 Election.
The Constitutional Amendment Accountability Act is a major step in the right direction to bring accountability to an administration that failed victims through a major oversight. This measure, should the governor sign it, will allow every Pennsylvanian to track the process of every proposed constitutional amendment working its way through the legislative process.
You can learn more about my legislation here.
Watch the CBS-21 story on the legislation here.
Please take my survey on whether schools should post curriculum online
House Bill 1332 would require school districts to post their curriculum to a publicly accessible website as I’ve started to receive emails from individuals with concerns over this proposal.
If you have an opinion on the matter, please take a moment to let me know your thoughts on this issue by taking my survey here.
You can always contact me on any bill pending in your state legislature. These surveys are helpful to me to gauge interest in issues before the General Assembly. You can always call, email or send a letter to me to convey your opinion.
Commonwealth Court strikes down school mask mandate, Wolf Admin. appeals
The Commonwealth Court, in a 4-1 decision, sided with parents who filed a lawsuit stating that the Acting Secretary of Health overstepped her legal authority in mandating masks in schools.
In the court’s decision, Judge Christine Fizzano Cannon wrote, “In the absence of a declared emergency, and where such orders are not otherwise authorized by statute or regulation, the Governor and the executive agencies of the Commonwealth must follow the prescribed procedures for rulemaking.”
The Wolf Administration appealed this ruling, which means the mandate remains in place until the Supreme Court rules on the appeal.
The people of Pennsylvania showed this past May that collaboration is better than a unilateral one-size-fits-all approach to how we move forward throughout this pandemic. The court reaffirmed the will of the people and returned the masking decision to where it rightfully belongs – in the hands of our local communities and not left up to an unconfirmed Acting Secretary of Health.
You can read my entire statement here.
Senate of PA to U.S. Congress: No IRS bank account snooping
The Senate of Pennsylvania voted on a resolution this week that I sponsored alongside Sen. Camera Bartolotta that calls on the United States Congress to oppose any effort by the Biden Administration to review any private financial accounts and transactions.
The U.S. Dept. of the Treasury released a comprehensive list (see page 88) of revenue proposals for the federal government to consider for the 2022 fiscal year. Included in that proposal that the Biden Administration supported is a plan that “would create a comprehensive financial account information reporting regime,” according to the Treasury.
The original measure would allow the federal government to monitor all financial account withdraws and deposits exceeding $600. The Biden Administration has since increased the threshold to $10,000. However, the average American has inflows and outflows exceeding $60,000 annually. This includes fund transfers into savings accounts, rent or mortgage payments, utilities, and other household bills.
The Biden Administration’s proposal also states, “The Secretary would be given broad authority to issue regulations necessary to implement this proposal.”
I have personally received many calls and emails from our neighbors who are concerned by this broad overreach by the federal government in order to fund a multi-trillion-dollar spending package.
To give the Treasury and the IRS massive amounts of new personal information to spy on individual financial transactions sets our nation and our taxation system on a very dangerous path moving forward.
I am pleased the majority of my colleagues said yes to Senate Resolution 195 so we can say no to this IRS intrusion into our personal bank accounts.
You can learn more about this resolution here.
Supporting our Second Amendment rights
The Senate of Pennsylvania approved two measures with bipartisan support to address our Second Amendment rights in the Commonwealth.
Senate Bill 448 allows for an individual or member organization to sue a county or municipality that implements a local firearms ordinance in violation of existing state law; allows for individuals adversely affected by local action to seek relief and damages; puts the burden on the municipality to defend its actions instead of placing the burden on the individual; and makes it clear the General Assembly is the only elected body that is responsible for passing legislation related to the right to bear arms.
The legislation seeks to maintain uniformity in gun laws across the state and level the playing field for gun owners by allowing recovery of legal fees and damages if the municipality is found in violation of the state’s preemption law.
Senate Bill 565, sponsored by Sen. Cris Dush, merely decriminalizes the carrying of guns without a license. Use of firearms, whether criminal or for self-defense, is still controlled by other Pennsylvania statutes that remain unchanged.
As of early September, there are 21 states that allow permit-less carry of firearms: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota (only available for state residents regarding concealed carry), Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.
In October, a bystander carrying a legal, concealed handgun stopped a shooting situation in Lancaster’s Park City Mall.
The District Attorney for Lancaster County, Heather Adams, said this about the actions of the bystander: “Absent him being there it could have been a very different situation.”
Both bills advance to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
Job shadow Caleb Eyler of New Park visits state Capitol
Junior Caleb Eyler shadowed me on Tuesday this week to learn about my role as his state senator. Caleb participated in stakeholder meetings where we negotiated legislation with the Wolf Administration, sat through Senate State Government Committee and Senate Appropriations Committee meetings, as well as watched Senate session.
I was grateful to have Caleb join me on a busy day at the state Capitol. It allowed him to gain first-hand experience on how his state legislature works. You can watch my introduction of him to my colleagues during Senate session below.
Thank you to Rev. Dorr and Rev. Tietje for serving as guest senate chaplains this week
This week, I was fortunate to host two guest chaplains for the Senate of Pennsylvania.
Rev. John Dorr leads the Bethlehem Steltz Reformed Church in Glen Rock. He served as the guest chaplain of the Senate on Monday. He was joined by his wife Kathy for the day.
Rev. David Tietje served as the guest chaplain of the Senate on Tuesday. Rev. Tietje leads the congregation at St. John’s United Church of Christ in Red Lion.
Public hearing focuses on rural broadband challenges
The committee I chair, the Senate Communications and Technology Committee, held a joint public hearing with the House Consumer Affairs Committee to review the challenges of connecting more Pennsylvanians in rural communities to high-speed internet. This continues to be a pressing challenge for the legislature to address. We heard from stakeholders ranging from the state’s Farm Bureau to internet providers.
You can read all testimony provided at the hearing here.
Christmastime in Loganville & District Office Open House on Sat., Nov. 20
You’re invited to an upcoming open house at our district office, located at 6872 Susquehanna Trail South in Springfield Township. Our office will be open from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20.
Our open house is part of Christmastime in Loganville. Learn more here.
Panel discussion on homelessness in York County on Thurs., Dec. 9
Mark your calendars for an important upcoming conversation with the community regarding homelessness in York County. All information can be found below.
Local job openings
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 here. You can also view next week’s projects below.