Thank you for subscribing to my E-newsletter. I am honored to serve the 36th Senatorial District and look forward to working with you toward building a stronger Pennsylvania. This E-newsletter serves to keep you updated on what is happening throughout Lancaster County and what I am doing as your State Senator in Harrisburg – I hope that you find it helpful! Should you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please DO NOT reply to this email; instead, please feel free to contact me here.
In this Update:
Attracting and Retaining the Best Teachers
As Senate Republicans work to ensure all students have the opportunity to receive a quality education that sets them up for future success, one focus is attracting and retaining great teachers.
In addition to a high rate of teachers retiring or switching professions, fewer students are training to become teachers. To fight that concerning trend, we passed a bill I sponsored with my Democratic colleague Sen. Vince Hughes that will create a teacher stipend program.
Through the program, a $10,000 stipend is available for individuals to complete their student teaching requirement. Students may claim an additional $5,000 stipend if they complete their student teaching in schools that don’t traditionally have student teachers and schools with high teacher vacancies.
Another new law reduces barriers for teachers moving to Pennsylvania by entering the state into the Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact. Teachers with eligible certification in other compact states would not be required to complete additional materials, exams, or coursework when applying for certification in Pennsylvania. They would still be required to complete background checks and other security clearances.
Proposed Education Funding Formula Supports Schools While Respecting Taxpayers
Republican members of the Basic Education Funding Commission shared a report updating the commonwealth’s funding formula for K-12 education as required by law.
The plan would provide greater budget stability for school districts, ensure students will receive at least the same amount as the current year’s historic budget allocations, and seek to institute increased accountability for hard-earned tax dollars paying for public education.
To create a plan that benefits students while respecting the taxpayers who foot the bill, the members of the commission gathered testimony from more than 90 individuals at 14 public hearings and received more than 1,000 comments through the public website. Learn more.
Dedicating Funding to Preserve PA’s Food Supply
Lancaster County residents are well aware of the impact the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza has on our community. Of course, it’s not just farmers who feel the pain when there’s an outbreak. You’ve likely noticed the price of eggs has risen as a result of millions of chickens having to be exterminated to prevent further spread that would hurt our food supply even more.
To protect our farmers – who work so hard to give us a reliable food supply – and ensure we have food available to meet demands, my colleagues and I dedicated state funding as part of the 2023-24 budget bills we passed:
Throughout my time in the General Assembly, I’ve been proud to consistently support allocating funds to ensure our farmers have the resources they need to raise healthy livestock and grow nutritious food for Pennsylvanians.
Taking Action Against Human Trafficking in PA
In recognition of January as Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the Senate Majority Policy Committee recently held a hearing to help raise awareness about the complexities of human trafficking crime and to discuss strategies for prevention, victim support, and the prosecution of traffickers. Law enforcement, policymakers, and people on the front lines of raising awareness about and helping victims of human trafficking joined the conversation.
By way of force, fraud, and coercion, human traffickers push their victims into sexual exploitation and domestic servitude. In 2021, 315 victims were identified in Pennsylvania. If you suspect human trafficking, please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or the ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313.
The Senate also passed legislation to ensure sexually exploited children who are human trafficking victims have full access to appropriate services and support. Act 39 of 2023 would ensure that third-party control is never a consideration for access to services, and Senate Bill 45 would eliminate the third-party control requirement to access victim services under the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Notification Act.
2023 Accomplishments: Healthy and Safe Communities
Families, not government, are the heart of our commonwealth. To empower families, we must provide healthy and safe communities.
In 2023, Senate Republicans passed a key health care measure that eliminated out-of-pocket costs for genetic testing of hereditary cancer syndromes and supplemental screenings for women at high risk of developing breast cancer. We also addressed crucial public health needs for emergency medical services, hospitals, and nursing homes and ensured Pennsylvanians continue to receive access to needed health care services.
Other new laws provide critical nourishment for medically fragile babies and increase access to licensed addiction treatment programs for people facing substance use disorder.
Let Me Help You
I continue to work toward making your experience dealing with your government as positive as possible, whether you prefer to interact online or in person.
My office is available to help you with all sorts of state-related topics, including status reports on legislation, applications for Pennsylvania birth and death certificates, unemployment compensation, state tax forms, PACE/PACENET applications, voter registration forms, and more.
Find a list of constituent services and request my help here.
Congratulations to Retiring Manheim Borough Police Chief
I went to Lititz to congratulate outgoing Manheim Borough Police Department Chief Joe Stauffer for his 28 years of service in law enforcement. He dedicated 25 of those years to serving Manheim Borough PD, and he was promoted to chief in 2010.
Throughout his career, he served in many capacities, including drug enforcement, DUI intervention, and firearms instruction. He was honored as the officer of the year by the Lancaster County Chiefs of Police Association in 2001.
Next up for Chief Stauffer is serving as a magisterial district judge!
Check out Manheim Borough Police Department’s congratulatory post for Chief Stauffer and photos from his career here.
Celebrating the Success of Local Wheelchair Athletes
Sen. Chris Gebhard and I were privileged to honor two outstanding young ladies who are wheelchair track athletes: Dakota Nesbitt and Alexa Landers. They have been best friends for many years and are both in third grade.
Dakota won five gold medals at the Move United Para-Nationals (held in July in Alabama). She is a student in the Manheim Township School District.
Alexa won three gold medals at the Move United Para-Nationals. She is a student in the Cocalico School District.
They travel to Baltimore to play/compete in adaptive sports, most recently as part of the Bennett Blazers. Dakota and Alexa were thrilled to have their friends and mentors from the F&M Women’s Basketball team join us for the presentation.
For more photos of Dakota, Alexa, and their mentors, check out my Instagram post from our time together here.
Denied a Health Care Claim? Request a Review
Because of legislation passed late in 2022, Pennsylvanians who believe their insurer has wrongly denied a health insurance claim can now request a review of the decision to be completed by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department.
The denial can be for a service, treatment or item. An independent group of experienced doctors and health care professionals will review the case. If the review determines the request should have been covered, your health plan must do so. Independent review decisions are final and binding.
Act 46 of 2022 also streamlined the prior authorization – when physicians and other health care providers must obtain advance approval from a health plan before services and treatment are rendered – and step therapy processes for medical treatment.
Fishing and Boating Grants Available Now
Organizations that provide hands-on education for the recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) of anglers and boaters in Pennsylvania have until March 1 to apply for grants.
Education programs play a role in R3 by providing experiences that increase fishing and boating knowledge and skills, facilitate social support, and provide information on fishing and boating opportunities close to home.
The funding must be used for eligible expenses for projects running approximately July 1 through June 30, 2025. Grants require at least a 25% match of total project costs.
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