In this update:
What’s at stake on Tuesday, May 18
If you are going to watch one video in the email update, I humbly ask that you watch the video above, which is only seven minutes long. I explain what is at stake on Tuesday, May 18.
If you need any additional information about the proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot, please visit this website that explains the ballot questions.
More questions, no answers as Department of Health backs out of public hearing on data breach impacting 72,000 Pennsylvanians and their personal health records
As the chair of the Senate Communications and Technology Committee, I scheduled an oversight hearing to get to the bottom of the data breach impacting more than 72,000 Pennsylvanians who were contacted by the third-party vendor tasked with running the state’s contact tracing program.
Last week, we confirmed the attendance of representatives from the Department of Health. On Friday, May 8, at 6 p.m., the department notified me that its representatives would no longer testify.
I still felt it was critical to put the questions that I and many of my colleagues have on the record during the public hearing, which you can watch in its entirety (only eight minutes) below.
My key questions:
You can watch my reaction to the hearing below.
A news outlet out of Pittsburgh first broke the story about how the state’s third-party vendor conducting contact tracing for the state on a $22 million contract exposed personal health data, including email addresses, phone numbers, gender, age, sexual orientation, COVID-19 exposure status and diagnosis.
You can learn more here.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced he will be investigating the data breach.
Stay tuned for when the Senate returns the week of May 24. As the committee chair, I will address this problem.
Despite sworn testimony last month stating Mt. Rose Interchange would be completed May 11, the project still not done. Here’s my plan.
Last month, during a Senate Appropriations Committee public hearing, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Committee Secretary Yassmin Gramian testified that the Mt. Rose Interchange would be completed this past Tuesday, May 11. Watch here.
If you’ve driven up or down Interstate 83, you’ll see yet another deadline was missed.
This project was scheduled to be completed in 2018, after starting in 2015.
To address this issue and the contractor that is in charge of this project, I circulated a memo to my Senate colleagues soliciting support for a bill that will not allow another Mt. Rose Interchange debacle to happen again. The bill would require the state agency in charge of the procurement to take into consideration well-documented instances of “change order scheming” from out-of-state companies.
You can watch my comments about my forthcoming legislation below.
You can learn more here.
York County Community Foundation provides Bloom Grants to locally owned businesses that will boost Trail Towns communities
Congratulations to the York County Economic Alliance Bloom Grant award recipients that received funding as part of the York County Trail Towns initiative this week.
These grants will assist small businesses along the York Heritage Rail Trail in the Trail Town communities. Specifically, these grants will go toward exterior enhancements at these businesses, including bike racks for trail users to use so they can patronize locally-owned businesses while maximizing their time on the trail.
Thank you to the York County Community Foundation for recognizing the need and providing the funding to make this grant program happen. Learn more about the grant award recipients here.
Congratulations to all involved in this exciting initiative!
Senate approves plan to offer additional year of education due to COVID-19
Parents would have the option to allow their children to repeat a grade level due to the learning disruptions created by COVID-19 under a bill approved by the Senate this week.
In current practice, the decision on whether to hold a student back is made solely by the child’s school and teachers. Senate Bill 664 would give parents the option to make that decision for the 2021-22 school year since they are in the best position to gauge their child’s development and educational needs after students have spent much of the past year learning at home.
It would also allow parents to extend enrollment in special education programs for an extra year, preventing students with special needs from aging out of the system at age 21.
Due diligence in how Pennsylvania evaluates 5G expansion
On Monday, the Senate Communications and Technology Committee held its second public hearing on the issue of 5G wireless expansion in Pennsylvania. The committee received testimony from labor groups, as well as representatives from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
You can watch the hearing in its entirety below.
Learn more here.
Four Chaplains Breakfast honors local award recipients
The 29th annual Four Chaplains Prayer Breakfast was held on Wednesday, where Reverend Patrick Rooney and Susan Krebs were the recipients of the Legion of Honor Awards and Maria Cruz and Donasia Ruffin were the recipients of the Four Chaplains Scholarships.
This year’s keynote speaker was Retired Vice Admiral DeWolfe Miller III, who grew up in York.
This breakfast is held each year and first started on the 50th anniversary of the death of the Four Chaplains, who sacrificed their lives so that others would live when the troop ship Dorchester was torpedoed and sank on February 3, 1943.
I spoke about the importance and history of the Four Chaplains back in February. You can watch my remarks below.
Congratulations to Reverend Rooney and Susan Krebs on your hard work and dedication to the ideals of the Four Chaplains and receiving the 2021 Legion of Honor award!
Raising breast cancer awareness and supporting efforts boost cancer research
The Senate approved legislation that would allow individuals renewing vehicle registrations or driver’s licenses to include an optional $5 donation to the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition.
An estimated 2,000 women in Pennsylvania and 42,170 women nationwide will die from breast cancer this year, and one in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.
The Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition has been leading the fight against breast cancer since 1993. Throughout the years, PBCC has spent more than 1,500 hours on patient advocacy and contributed more than $4.5 million to breast cancer researchers in Pennsylvania.
I joined fellow legislators from both sides of the aisle to raise awareness of breast cancer, and lift up Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, who publicly announced her breast cancer diagnosis earlier this week.
New promotional video highlighting offerings of York County Trail Towns
In addition to the York County Bloom Grants that I wrote about earlier in this email update, Railroad Borough resident Brian Lazzaro created the promotional video (below) highlighting so many of the wonderful aspects the York County Trail Towns program.
You can watch the video here.
Listen to my radio interview on banning vaccine passports and getting answers for the people of Pennsylvania
Earlier this week, I was interviewed by Dom Giordano on 1210 WPHT about the latest on a bill I am sponsoring alongside Senators Judy Ward and Michele Brooks to ban vaccine passports in Pennsylvania.
I also gave an update about the hearing I chaired earlier this week on the data breach within the Department of Health’s COVID-19 contact tracing program.
You can listen to our discussion here.
Holding a virtual town hall meeting with students from Eastern York High School
Thank you to the Eastern York High School American Government students who invited me to join in their virtual town hall meeting earlier this week. Special thanks to Mr. Roth and Mr. Brubaker who facilitated this discussion.
I’ve invited all school districts in the 28th District to hold similar town hall meetings with students.
Local jobs from PA CareerLink
PA CareerLink shared with me their 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 shared with me their list of upcoming scheduled maintenance projects, which you can view below.
Office hours next week
On Tuesday, May 18, our Capitol and District offices will be closed.
Our offices will be open on Monday, May 17, and we will reopen on Wednesday, May 19, at 9 a.m.
You can always access my online office at SenatorKristin.com.
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