In this update:
Ensuring state grants are not abused or misused
This week concluded the second of four weeks of state budget hearings conducted by the Senate Appropriations Committee. This offered me the opportunity to ask questions that I have heard from many of our neighbors.
During the hearing with the Department of Community and Economic Development, I asked about the need to have greater protections in place regarding taxpayer dollars that are used for state grants.
Watch my discussion with Acting Secretary Weaver of the Department of Community & Economic Development below.
The Russian invasion could impact Pennsylvania more than you think – my Q&A on this with Department of Agriculture
One of the challenges that could be on the horizon for local farmers is the impact of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. In fact, our new-found reliance on foreign energy could directly affect farmers who rely heavily on natural gas for a myriad of uses. Watch my discussion with Secretary Redding of the Department of Agriculture here.
Pennsylvania acts to support Ukraine – here’s how:
Pennsylvania has the second-largest population of Ukrainian Americans in the nation, with more than 122,000. Pennsylvania government is planning several responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in order to deny funds to Russia and show solidarity with Ukrainians.
Treasurer Stacy Garrity said the Treasury had started to divest its holdings in Russian-based companies. The Pennsylvania School Employees’ Retirement System is gathering details about its exposure to Russian-related investments and could divest in a few weeks.
In addition, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is reviewing its inventory and stopped selling and purchasing Russian-made vodka.
To keep Russia in check in the long term, we must reassert America’s energy independence. Increasing domestic energy production and exports to European countries will go a long way toward reducing Russian influence and denying the regime the funds it needs to make war, which I discussed earlier.
You can track anything in today’s age – why can’t we track state permits in your state government?
From start to finish, you can track virtually anything – your Amazon order, a food order. I asked why we cannot devise a similar program to track permits pending in YOUR state government during the budget hearing with the Department of Environmental Protection.
Ribbon cutting in Spring Grove shows off historic building with new life
Last Friday, I was honored to participate with state, county, and local officials to officially open the completely renovated property at 50 N. East Street in Spring Grove.
This major historic building restoration project by Predix Property Management provides new housing opportunities with state-of-the-art apartments, as well as space for groups, like Extravadance, to meet.
Congratulations to Seth Predix and his entire team, as well as the local officials, for their commitment to this project that breathes new life into our historic properties.
You can view more photos from the celebration here.
Outdated regulation impacting ability to deploy broadband through rural Pennsylvania
During a discussion with Secretary Dunn of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, I asked about a two-decades old regulation that prohibits cell towers from going on state parks and forests. Our two-part discussion looked at this and I also implored that she work with the private sector entities that are already deploying high-speed internet all across our Commonwealth.
Assistance for home septic repairs, sewer hook-ups
Low-interest loans are available to eligible Pennsylvania homeowners who need to repair or replace their on-lot septic system or connect to a public sewer.
The assistance can help homeowners avoid or respond to municipal citations and improve the environmental health of their property. Loan terms are up to 20 years (up to 15 years for manufactured homes). There is no prepayment penalty if the loan is paid off early. The maximum loan amount is $25,000.
The program is administered by the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. You can find more information and terms here.
Were students booted from college for not getting vaccinated? I asked about it
During a round of Q&A with the leaders of our state-related universities, including Penn State University, Temple University, University of Pittsburgh and Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, I asked about headlines I have seen over the last several weeks with regard to students and faculty who were disenrolled for refusing to be vaccinated or take a regular COVID-19 test.
We also discussed the need for broadband at our institutions of higher learning.
Attorney General targets Uber data breach including 13,000 adult victims but provides little insight on data breach impacting 72,000 victims, including children
During the Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearing with the Attorney General, I asked about a lawsuit and subsequent settlement the state’s top law enforcement officer had with Uber, when 13,000 victims were impacted by a data breach. I wanted to know why the General lacked urgency to address a data breach within state government that impacted 72,000 individuals, including many children.
You can watch our discussion below.
I also asked the General about his budget request, which seeks a 12.5% increase in funding for the upcoming fiscal year, as we have seen a drastic drop off in the number of lawsuits he has filed against the federal government during the Biden Administration compared to the Trump Administration.
New law helping agritourism receiving “a lot of good feedback,” per Agriculture Secretary
“All of it is good feedback,” according to Secretary Redding of the Department of Agriculture regarding the newly passed law that provides liability protections to our farmers engaged in agritourism activities.
I am pleased to hear the positive marks this new law I sponsored in the Senate has received from our state’s agriculture community. As you may recall, I met with several local farmers to discuss this matter last summer. (Watch my interviews with our local farmers here.)
Are you a veteran? Sign up for my special email updates geared toward our local veterans!
In an effort to connect our neighbors who have served in our nation’s Armed Forces to state and local resources, I am unveiling a new VETERANS EMAIL UPDATE. These updates will be used to share pertinent information on programs that can help our local veterans, updates on legislation that is of interest to our veterans, as well as local events.
If you or someone you know is interested in receiving these veteran-specific updates directly in their inbox, please sign up here.
ICYMI: My latest podcast features an update from the Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman
In Case You Missed It: My latest podcast episode features a quick conversation with Sen. Pat Browne, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Sen. Browne provided a brief overview of Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal and what it will mean for the hardworking taxpayers across Pennsylvania. This latest episode of my podcast runs 7 minutes and can be found on your favorite podcast platform.
Upcoming PennDOT scheduled maintenance
PennDOT shared with me the upcoming maintenance project list for next week. You can view that below.
Below is a schedule of next week’s public hearings on YOUR state budget. You can always tune in live on my Facebook Page.
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