In this update:
Senate Finalizes 2023-24 State Budget
The Senate on Wednesday finalized the 2023-24 state budget by approving two major bipartisan budget implementation bills, which have now been enacted into law.
A large portion of the 2023-24 state budget was completed in August with enactment of the General Appropriations Act. However, several important components still required additional budget implementation language to be passed by both the Senate and House and signed by the governor.
House Bill 301 will make major investments in the future of Pennsylvania and achieve many of the principles and priorities identified by Senate Republicans as a focus in March.
House Bill 301 includes many provisions to expand education empowerment and access as well as increase school safety. Read more.
Bill Ensuring Children Get Victim Services Needed is Approved by Legislature
In 2021 alone, 315 human trafficking victims – including 42 minors – were identified in Pennsylvania through the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Pennsylvania had the eighth highest number of signals sent to the hotline in the nation that year.
The PA Legislature approved legislation to ensure these most vulnerable victims, children, can access essential support services. Under current state law, any minor who is exploited for commercial sex must identify their third-party perpetrator to be considered a victim of human trafficking. The senators’ bipartisan package of legislation, once signed by the governor, would change that.
I am proud to work alongside Sens. Cris Dush and Maria Collett on these key issues. Sen. Dush’s bill amends the Pennsylvania crimes code to ensure third-party control is never a consideration for access to victim services. The bill passed the PA Senate on Wednesday night and now heads to the governor’s office for signature.
Sen. Collett’s bill eliminates the third-party control requirement to access victim services under the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Notification Act (Act 197 of 2012). The bill awaits a final vote in the Pennsylvania House.
As a proud co-sponsor of this bill package, I am grateful Sen. Dush’s bill is heading to the governor’s desk for his signature and await the House of Representatives to vote on Sen. Collett’s bill. The legislature continues to make strides and passing this bipartisan legislation builds on the foundation we – as Republicans and Democrats – have built to fight human trafficking in every corner of the state.
House Committee Advances TikTok Ban
This week, amid honoring Taylor Swift at its meeting, the House State Government Committee approved my legislation that would prohibit state government agencies from downloading and using TikTok. Under this legislation, agencies, departments, commissions, and all government agencies must remove the application from state networks and implement measures to prevent installation of the application.
The cybersecurity risk that TikTok poses to Pennsylvanians and their private information is not a Republican or Democratic issue – it is a Pennsylvania issue. Our state government must take action against nefarious foreign actors that imperil the safety and security of our data and networks.
Wreaths Across America This Saturday
National Wreaths Across America Day will be held this Saturday, Dec. 16. This is a day across America that we are to remember the fallen, honor those who serve, and teach the next generation the value of our freedoms.
Earlier in the week, the Senate came together in bipartisan fashion for a Wreaths Across America ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda. Thank you to all who have served our great nation. You can find more photos from this event here.
Join the more than two million volunteers and supporters who will gather to remember, honor and teach at more than 4,000 participating locations in all 50 states, at sea and abroad. Wreaths Across America Susquehanna Memorial Gardens will host its annual event on Saturday. Find out more information here.
Senate Votes to Preserve Prescription Benefits for Seniors
Legislation to preserve senior citizens’ access to the state’s PACE and PACENET prescription drug benefit plans passed the Senate and is set for enactment.
Senate Bill 607 would continue a law set to expire this year through Dec. 31, 2025 that prevents Social Security cost-of-living increases from making seniors ineligible for PACE and PACENET.
Current income eligibility levels for PACE are set at less than $14,500 for a single person and less than $17,700 for a couple. PACENET, which covers those individuals with incomes exceeding PACE maximums, is open to individuals earning between $14,500 and $33,500 and couples with incomes between $17,700 and $41,500. The minimum age to participate in the programs is 65, and they are funded from proceeds of the Pennsylvania Lottery.
Bill to Safeguard Transit Operators Passes Senate
The Senate passed legislation to safeguard transit operators against assault.
Senate Bill 977 would make it a felony of the third degree to interfere with and cause bodily injury to an operator of any public transit vehicle. The offense would be steepened to a felony of the first degree if the intrusion causes serious bodily injury or death.
Community Hanukkah Celebration
It was an honor to help light the Hanukkah menorah at the York JCC last week celebrating the miracle of the Festival of Lights!
Kicking Off the Holiday Season with the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce
It was a pleasure to join Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce for its holiday luncheon last Friday! A big congratulations to the team at Schmuck Lumber for being recognized for 100 years of membership (and one of the founding members of the chamber) at the luncheon.
The company has been in business for more than 171 years, serving customers in the Hanover and Gettysburg areas.
It has been a great honor representing the Hanover area for the past year in the Senate of Pennsylvania and I am already looking forward to 2024! Hanover Borough, West Manheim, and Penn townships were added to the 28th Senatorial District as part of the decennial reapportionment process.
Don’t Get Scammed This Holiday Season
Sadly, just as the holiday season is often a charitable time, there are people hoping to take advantage by scamming others.
From email and text phishing to delivery stealing to credit card skimming and more, there are so many ways to fall prey. Learn more about the common scams criminals use.
Protect yourself and your family by setting up alerts with your credit card company so you know when purchases are made and avoid paying with a prepaid gift card, CashApp or Venmo to buy a gift online. Never use Alexa to find a customer support number and dial for you or click on a hyperlink in an email, social media ad or text message to make a purchase. Instead, go directly to the store’s website.
2024 Fishing Licenses, Permits for Sale Now
Fishing licenses, permits, and vouchers for 2024 purchased now are valid immediately through Dec. 31, 2024. The price of an annual resident fishing license is $27.97. Multi-year options are also available in increments of three years, five years, or 10 years.
They can be purchased through the HuntFishPA online portal on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website, via smartphone by using the FishBoatPA mobile app or by visiting a retail license issuing agent.
Vouchers that can be given as gifts and are redeemable by recipients are also available.
Two Local Elementary Schools Visit the Capitol
Thank you to the wonderful students and staff who visited the state Capitol this week. North Hills Elementary, part of the Central York School District, and Ore Valley Elementary, part of the Dallastown Area School District both visited to learn more about their state government.
Thank you to Rep. Joe D’Orsie for meeting North Hills Elementary while I was in session Wednesday afternoon!
You can find more photos from Ore Valley Elementary’s visit here.
Last Mobile Office Hours of the Year!
Next Thursday, Dec. 21, is the last day my staff will be offering state-related services at the Penn Township Municipal building for 2023!
If you are interested in attending, please call the district office at 717-741-4648 or email me. My staff is able to answer questions relating to state issues, including pending legislation, PennDOT, birth and death certificates, Property Tax Rent Rebates, unclaimed property, and more.
Stay tuned to see how my team is expanding our accessibility to better serve YOU in 2024!
Celebrating Bill of Rights Day
Today is Bill of Rights Day – a day when we recognize how the first 10 amendments to the Constitution give us rights that are uniquely American. For 232 years, these amendments have given us the right to speak our mind, defend our families and worship as we see fit.
We hold those liberties – and the others that make up the Bill of Rights – dear and cherish how they impact our daily life as the true framework of our society.
Bill of Rights Day was first observed on the document’s 150th anniversary when former President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a proclamation dedicating Dec. 15 as the day to recognize our God-given rights.
Tune in to Face the State this Sunday on CBS-21
If you are up on Sunday, Dec. 17, at 8:30 a.m., you can watch my interview with Joel D. Smith on Face the State, which airs on CBS-21.
I will be looking back at 2023 and how the year went for lawmakers, challenges with the House of Representatives’ long recess to meet timed resignations and how we move forward in 2024. I hope you can tune in (or record it if you are looking to get a few extra zzzs!)