In this update:
Take a virtual visit of the PA Treasury vault
Recently, State Treasurer Stacy Garrity graciously hosted me for a tour of the Treasury’s vault located in Harrisburg.
Being the largest operational vault in the nation, it comes as no surprise that the 400-ton steel vault was designed and built by York Safe & Lock Company!
During our tour, Treasurer Garrity highlighted the efforts she and her team have made to streamline the unclaimed property system. She also emphasized one of her signature achievements has been to return military decorations to the veterans who earned them or their families.
As we approach the holiday season, I would like to remind everyone that one in 10 Pennsylvanians has property waiting to be claimed.
You can check for unclaimed property here.
Veterans and their families can check for military decorations here.
As always, if you have any questions about your unclaimed property, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Bills passes in 2021-22 to improve education
Looking back on notable legislation we passed in the 2021-22 legislative session, some of the more important pieces were those that got students back into the classroom after the pandemic, expanded educational opportunity and better prepared students for success.
The General Assembly allocated $500 million in federal funds to help ensure schools safely reopened as soon as possible and addressed student needs resulting from the pandemic, and acted to help more students access tax credit scholarships by loosening the threshold for schools to be considered “economically disadvantaged.”
To get more teachers into the classroom, we passed legislation making permanent a temporary program that gave schools the option to use qualified individuals training to be teachers as substitute teachers, and helped ease Pennsylvania’s day-to-day substitute teacher shortage by providing schools with more hiring flexibility.
We also voted to improve workforce development initiatives and better prepare Pennsylvania students for jobs that will be in demand after they graduate. You can find a complete list of key education bills passed here.
New Law Targets Repeat DUI Offenders
December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, a good time to note that legislation we passed earlier this year has taken effect that increases penalties on repeat DUI offenders and hopefully reduces tragic deaths.
Under the new law, an individual charged with DUI with a BAC of .16 or higher or a DUI involving controlled substances, and already has the following number of prior offenses, commits:
It also requires consecutive sentencing for certain repeat DUI offenders and imposes an 18-month driving privilege suspension for a second-degree DUI conviction.
The measure is named in honor of Deana DeRosa Eckman of Delaware County, who was killed in a 2019 head-on collision involving a truck operated by someone previously convicted of five DUIs.
Pennsylvania Capitol Christmas Tree unveiled
Earlier this week, the governor unveiled the 2022 Capitol Christmas tree during a ceremony in the Main Rotunda.
The tree is a 20-foot Douglas fir from Crystal Springs Tree Farm in Lehighton, Carbon County.
If you are in or around Harrisburg, please let me know and I would be happy to set you and your family up on a Capitol tour. Your state Capitol is beautifully decorated for the holiday season!
You can view more photos of this year’s Capitol Christmas tree here.
Enforcement of REAL ID Delayed Until 2025
The deadline to obtain a REAL ID has been extended by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to May 7, 2025. The extension means you will continue to be able to board a domestic flight or enter a secure federal building with a standard driver’s license until that date.
REAL ID is a federal law that dictates how states issue driver’s licenses and ID cards if they are going to be acceptable for federal purposes.
REAL ID is optional for Pennsylvania residents. You will be able to get either a REAL ID driver’s license/identification card, or a standard driver’s license or identification card. If you do not get a REAL ID, you must have an alternate form of federally acceptable identification (valid passport, military ID, etc.) to board domestic commercial flights and enter certain federal facilities after May 7, 2025. You can find comprehensive information at PennDOT’s REAL ID page. (NOTE: The page has not been updated to reflect the new May 7, 2025 deadline.)
Fishing licenses and permits for 2023 available now
Pennsylvania fishing licenses, permits and gift vouchers for 2023 are available now. Licenses are valid immediately and are good for 13 months.
They can be purchased through the HuntFishPA online portal on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website, on your smartphone using the mobile app or by visiting a retail license issuing agent, which you can find here.
In addition to licenses and permits, such as the trout or Lake Erie permits, you can purchase vouchers that can be given as gifts and redeemed by recipients.
You can help honor those who gave all
Every year at this time, Wreaths Across America helps communities remember the fallen, honor those who served in the military and teach children about their country by laying wreaths on the graves of heroes.
These acts of remembrance take place at Arlington National Cemetery, and more than 3,400 locations in all 50 states, at sea and abroad.
Ceremonies take place Dec. 17, and you can help by sponsoring a veterans’ wreath at a cemetery near you, volunteering or donating to a local sponsorship group. You can search for the nearest participating cemetery here.
Trees for Troops weekend
Last weekend, my team joined Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Russell Secretary Redding and Strathmeyer Christmas Trees to kick off Trees for Troops weekend in York.
The Trees for Troops program provides free, farm-grown Christmas trees to members of the military and their families through donations, sponsorships, grants and the work of many volunteers. Strathmeyer Christmas Trees will be going to USCG Base Portsmouth MWR and Fort Riley.
Thank you to all involved in this program who bring that familiar pine scent to those who cannot be home this holiday.
You can find out more about this program here.
Are you a Veteran? Sign up for my monthly Veteran Email Updates
Every month, I send out an email update for those of our neighbors who served in our Armed Forces. If you or someone you know would like to receive these updates containing information about state and federal programs, as well as local events and resources for veterans, please sign up here.
Virtual visit with Mrs. Barnett’s first grade class
Thank you to the Mrs. Barnett’s first grade class for inviting me to read “Beatrice Doesn’t Want to” by Laura Numeroff.
It was great to chat with these students from PA Virtual Charter School online and even join them for a “good idea” dance party!
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