In this update:
Hearing reviews student data privacy
The Senate Communications and Technology Committee, which I chair, held a joint public hearing with the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday to review student data privacy protections.
The hearing was held due to the increasing amount of student-related data being generated, collected and stored within our schools.
At the same time, these advances have increased the risks to students and their parents of inappropriate access to, and disclosure of, a student’s personal information.
I have legislation that would address this issue and our bipartisan hearing was helpful to hear from experts on the ground (in our schools) dealing with this issue. I am grateful for the testifiers who shared their perspectives with the committees as we work to address this growing challenge facing students, parents and schools all across the state.
You can learn more, watch the hearing and read testimony here.
Plan would put parents, not government, in driver’s seat
The Senate State Government Committee held a public hearing Tuesday on legislation to establish by state statute the rights of parents over the upbringing of their children.
The hearing featured testimony from Pennsylvania parents and parental rights advocacy groups. Testifiers discussed the importance of the parent-child bond, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on learning and the inability of parents to remove inappropriate material from Pennsylvania schools.
Senate Bill 996 would make clear in statute that the state, counties, local governments and school districts may not infringe on the fundamental rights of parents to direct the upbringing, education, health care and mental health of their children without demonstrating that such action is reasonable and necessary to achieve a compelling state interest — narrowly tailored – and not otherwise achieved by less restrictive means.
The legislation would also ensure a parent’s right to access and review all school records related to their child, a right to review all instructional materials used throughout the school year and the right to opt out their child from certain curriculum that the parent finds to be objectionable or harmful.
Earlier this year, the Senate approved legislation to require school districts to identify sexually explicit content in school curriculum and materials and notify parents that their child’s coursework includes such content, and prohibit classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation for pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students.
I am a cosponsor of these measures because I believe the parents should always be in the driver’s seat.
Giving schools tools to teach 9/11
Legislation I authored that was inserted into another bill was unanimously approved by my colleagues on Monday. This measure will help every school district across the state have the necessary material to teach our students about the events leading up to, during and after Sept. 11, 2001, that had a major impact on our nation’s history.
You can learn more about my legislation here.
Senate approves measures to help women at high risk of breast cancer
The Senate this week passed two bills to help women at high risk for breast cancer, ensuring coverage for MRIs, ultrasounds and genetic testing with no out-of-pocket costs.
Breast cancer is the second-most common cancer in women in the United States after skin cancers, and early detection is the key to saving lives. The Senate approved the following bills:
Senate Bill 1225 eliminates out-of-pocket costs for breast MRI and ultrasound for women with high-risk conditions such as dense breast tissue, a family history of breast cancer, personal history of breast cancer, genetic predisposition or prior radiation therapy.
Senate Bill 1330 removes costs associated with genetic testing and counseling for Pennsylvanians with a family history of breast and ovarian cancers. Genetic testing for heredity cancers provides the opportunity for earlier screenings and preventive treatments and procedures.
At a news conference celebrating passage of the bills, PA Breast Cancer Coalition President Pat Halpin-Murphy said: “Senate Bill 1225 and Senate Bill 1330 will arm the women of Pennsylvania with the best tools possible to find breast cancer at its earliest, most treatable stage.”
I was grateful to support these measures every step of the way – in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, the Senate Appropriations Committee and when the Senate voted on it this week.
As a reminder, today (Friday, Oct. 21) is Mammography Day – please take a moment and schedule your mammogram!
State Grange hosts meeting in York
It was a great pleasure to welcome the Pennsylvania State Grange to York for its 150th Convention! The Grange is a fraternal family organization dedicated to the betterment of rural communities.
I am thankful that they chose to meet in York County and for their passionate advocacy on issues of great importance to so many people in the 28th District!
Update on prior authorization and step therapy reform measures
I was honored to give an update to the Pennsylvania Orthopaedic Society during its annual meeting. I shared an update on bipartisan legislation I am sponsoring that will streamline and strengthen prior authorization process for medical services in Pennsylvania.
I am hopeful we can get this measure to the governor’s desk next week.
You can learn more here.
Other bills passed by the Senate this week
In addition to bills forever remembering the events of Sept. 11, 2001, in our classrooms, and expanding coverage for breast cancer prevention, the Senate approved the following measures this week:
Senate Bill 1243 improves personal financial literacy by requiring completion of a half-credit economics and personal finance course as a high school graduation requirement.
Senate Bill 1265 creates an online registry of fire courses for firefighters similar to what is maintained for medical responders, EMTs and paramedics.
Senate Bill 1282 grants land banks the same environmental protections other economic development agencies receive when dealing with brownfields.
You can find a list of all bills that received votes in the Senate this week here.
Upcoming podcast episode focuses on future of manufacturing
Subscribe to my podcast – Kristin’s Corner – to hear the latest from Bruce Newell, President and CEO of MANTEC. Bruce is one of the state’s leading voices for the advancement of our Commonwealth’s robust and cutting-edge manufacturing sector. Earlier this month, we celebrated Manufacturing Week.
Bruce will give an update on the current status and future of manufacturing in our Commonwealth.
This industry is responsible for nearly one in every five jobs in our state.
I hope you can tune in to our discussion. Please subscribe to my podcast on your favorite platforms:
Domestic Violence Awareness Month
No one should have to tolerate domestic violence, and help is available for anyone experiencing it.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
The Guide to Victim’s Assistance features resources available to victims after abuse, neglect, financial exploitation or other crimes such as domestic violence, sexual assault, simple and aggravated assault, harassment, theft and homicide.
Local job postings
The Senate of Pennsylvania reconvenes on Monday, Oct. 24, at 1 p.m. You can watch all of the Senate votes and view our agenda here.