In this Update:
Helping Working Families with the Cost of Child Care
As part of the state budget, Senate Republicans voted to reduce the tax burden for working families by expanding the Pennsylvania Child and Dependent Care Enhancement Tax Credit Program. Now, it mirrors the limits and deductions applicable to the federal child and dependent care tax credit in effect.
This expansion will better address a barrier to employment for working families by giving parents the additional support they need to continue to seek and maintain employment.
2023 Review: Empowering Parents with Their Children’s Education
Just as Senate Republicans led efforts to help students, we also focused on increasing parents’ involvement in the education of their children. After all, the people who know their child best and love them most should not be barred from playing an active role in their lives in any environment.
We passed a bill to empower parents to protect their own child from accessing sexually explicit content at school, without impacting the books available to other students. Schools should not have the ability to show our children content adults are barred from viewing at their jobs if their parents don’t support it. Another bill would expand parents’ access to what students are learning.
A new law makes it easier for parents to enroll their children in school when they move because of the family’s involvement in the military. It would help students avoid delays that can require them to take summer classes or graduate later than expected.
Survey Results are In!
Thank you to everyone who participated in my literacy survey. I always appreciate learning about your perspective as it guides my focus in Harrisburg.
Nearly 71% of respondents said they would support a bill to improve early literacy in Pennsylvania, and I agree – ensuring kids can read by third grade is critical. I have a plan to make that happen.
Legislation I’m sponsoring would bolster reading instruction with evidence-based curricula, identify struggling readers through a universal screening within the first 30 days of school, and consider screening data to design and implement intervention plans to prevent children from falling behind.
Learn more about this proposal and why it’s so necessary for Pennsylvania here.
Legislation to Fund Emergency Services Now Law
The Senate passed legislation that is now law to preserve the availability of life-saving services for Pennsylvanians. It supports the 911 emergency communications service by reauthorizing a fee assessed to wireless lines.
Costs for equipment, operations, and new technology continue to rise, threatening the availability of these critical services. The reauthorization helps to offset operation and maintenance costs associated with the state’s emergency response infrastructure.
The law has been extended until Jan. 31, 2029.
2023 Review: Supporting Pennsylvania Veterans
Our military members and veterans made the selfless decision to serve our country and preserve the American way of life we hold so dear. The Senate passed several measures in 2023 to support military families and veterans.
Act 13 of 2023 ensures Pennsylvanians entering military service can retain professional licenses and certifications. Previously, veterans had a much more challenging transition from military life to civilian life because certain skills they obtained during the service were not recognized. Now, veterans don’t have to waste time duplicating the training they already received.
Senate Resolution 46 establishes the Task Force on Women Veterans’ Health Care, which will study the unique health care and access issues facing female veterans and make recommendations to the governor and General Assembly for action.
Other measures we passed exempt disabled veterans’ benefit payments from income eligibility calculations for government programs, provide educational support for children of National Guard and Reserves members, establish the Veteran-Owned Business Loan Guarantee Program and more.
PA Youth: Become a Litter Hawk
Kids in grades kindergarten through sixth grade who want clean places to live and play are invited to become litter hawks to help people see how litter and trash hurt the environment through art, words or video.
Individuals, school classrooms, homeschoolers, scout groups, clubs and other organized groups are all welcome to participate. Prizes will be awarded to two entries per grade. Categories are poster (K-4), essay (5) and video (6). Apply online by Jan. 31, and winners will be announced in May.
Helping First Responders Access Federal Dollars
Federal assistance grants are available to support firefighter and emergency medical service organizations, but only a fraction of the first responders who apply do so successfully.
Giving organizations the information they need to access this critical funding for vehicles, gear and more will help local governments avoid raising taxes to cover the costs associated with keeping our communities safe.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers free webinars about how to apply for funding under the Assistance to Firefighters grant program and workshops covering the Assistance to Firefighters grant program, Fire Prevention and Safety grant program and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grants. Learn more.
Congratulations to Donegal High School Marching Band
Congrats to the Donegal High School Marching Band for its first place win in the Independence A Class during the 2023 Cavalcade of Bands! The band members further distinguished themselves by winning the High Visual Performance, High Music Performance, High Overall Effect, Best Color Guard, and Best Percussion awards during their program titled “Primary Emotions.”
For more photos of my citation presentation to the band, check out my Instagram page here.
Happy Birthday to Two Local Centenarians
I visited Masonic Village to wish Ruth Barkley a joyous 100th birthday. She was married to Dale Barkley for 70 years prior to his passing. Ms. Barkley is the proud mother of five children and has been blessed with 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Sen. Scott Martin and I congratulated Dr. William McIlwaine on his 100th birthday. Dr. McIIwaine, a U.S. Army veteran, served this country during World War II as a member of the 80th Infantry Division, 317th Headquarters Company. Dr. McIlwaine participated in the Battle of the Bulge and received several commendations, including the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. He also earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from Boston University. Dr. McIIwaine held academic positions at colleges and universities until he retired in 1991.
Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a time for reflection on his peaceful contributions to the civil rights movement. Many people also spend time honoring Dr. King’s legacy by participating in community service to better their neighborhoods. No matter how we spend the day, let us remember his desire to unify our country as he shared in his historic speech in Washington, D.C. more than 60 years ago.
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