Senator Aument E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Legislation Proposed to Limit Student Access to Phones & Social Media During School
  • Senate Acts to Meet PA’s Power Needs
  • Grow PA Bills Move Forward to Boost Post-Secondary Education and Career Preparation 
  • Bill to Improve Safety, Combat Illegal Street Racing Passes Senate
  • Senate Approves Bill to Get Pennsylvanians Off UC and Back to Work
  • Register Now for My Coffee & Conversation Event on May 20
  • Congratulations to Championship High School Bowling Team
  • Celebrating Historic Breast Cancer Screening Law
  • Local Nonprofit Celebrates Groundbreaking
  • Welcoming Elizabethtown College Student to PA Capitol
  • Visiting with Constituents at Garden Spot Village’s Business Expo
  • Grants Available to Capitalize on Tourism
  • Beware of Ticks and Lyme Disease

Legislation Proposed to Limit Student Access to Phones & Social Media During School

In response to the declining mental health and academic performance of Pennsylvania youth, I’m proposing legislation to limit students’ use of cellphones in schools through secure, lockable phone bags in which students would deposit their mobile devices until the end of the school day.

There has been a steep decline in mental health in children since the early 2010s, with the suicide rate for girls age 10-14 rising 131% from 2010 to 2019. Not coincidentally, the percent of United States teens with smartphones rose from 23% to 73% from 2010 to 2015, with a quarter admitting to being online “almost constantly.” Now, teens spend an average of nearly eight hours on screens per day.

While it’s great that the commonwealth dedicated an additional funding last year to schools to care for students’ mental health, that money won’t go very far unless we get at the root cause of the problem. Because we know widespread access to smartphones and social media apps increases depression, anxiety, feelings of isolation, and even suicidal thoughts in teens and children, my bill is a commonsense approach to improve student mental health and academic performance alike.

Learn more about the legislation, the intent behind it, and the research supporting it on my website here. Read the full press release announcing the legislation here.

Senate Acts to Meet PA’s Power Needs

Acting to establish a sweeping, new energy framework for Pennsylvania, the Senate approved legislation this week creating the Independent Energy Office (IEO) and Pennsylvania’s Opportunity with Energy Reliability (POWER) Board.

Under Senate Bill 832, the IEO will provide non-partisan, data-driven analysis and ensure lawmakers have the reliable information necessary to review and implement current energy strategies as well as be on the forefront of new innovative technologies. The POWER Board will be a public clearinghouse for energy development in Pennsylvania and allow residents to see public accountability on decisions that impact energy prices in Pennsylvania.

The federal government has passed legislation to provide funding for states to grow solar, wind, hydro, and nuclear capacities. Pennsylvania must apply for these funds and provide a framework to distribute funding throughout the state. The General Assembly has not yet established this framework, and statutory authority is needed.

Learn more here.

Grow PA Bills Move Forward to Boost Post-Secondary Education and Career Preparation

Last month, my colleagues and I introduced the Grow PA plan to improve the way Pennsylvania manages post-secondary education and career preparation. This week, the Senate Education Committee held a hearing on and approved these bills, clearing the way for them to potentially be considered by the full Senate.

The bills would help reverse decades of economic and demographic decline in Pennsylvania, as too many young people are leaving to pursue education and job opportunities in other states. Our plan provides strong incentives for young people to prepare for in-demand careers in our communities and live and work in Pennsylvania after they graduate.

More details about the bills are available here.

Bill to Improve Safety, Combat Illegal Street Racing Passes Senate

To address how the erratic driving of illegal street racers endangers the safety of other motorists and pedestrians, the Senate passed legislation that would increase street racing fines for first offenses to $500 and all additional infractions to $2,000. Senate Bill 998 also calls for impoundment orders for vehicles used in the offense and would hold event organizers accountable using fines, suspension of driving privileges, classification as habitual offenders, impoundment of vehicles, and imprisonment.

Additionally, the bill would impose penalties for drifting on highways or trafficways and for organizing street racing or drifting events. Drifting is a driving technique that involves steering a car to make a controlled skid sideways through a turn.

Senate Bill 998 is part of the Senate Republican effort to improve community safety across Pennsylvania. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Approves Bill to Get Pennsylvanians Off UC and Back to Work

Unemployed Pennsylvanians who engage in job dodging by sabotaging their own efforts to get hired would jeopardize their Unemployment Compensation benefits under a bill approved by the Senate this week with bipartisan support.

Job dodging is the process used by some Unemployment Compensation recipients to avoid obtaining a job and to continue to collect benefits. Job dodgers may skip a job interview or refuse employment or a referral for employment to continue receiving Unemployment Compensation benefits.

Senate Bill 1109 is intended to prevent Unemployment Compensation recipients who apply for a job from unreasonably discouraging their own hiring. It would require the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to create or update forms enabling employers to report Unemployment Compensation claimants who discourage their own hiring through job dodging. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Register Now for My Coffee & Conversation Event on May 20

My next Coffee and Conversation event is just weeks away on Monday, May 20, from 9-10:30 a.m. at Columbia Market House, 15 S. Third St., Columbia.

This is a great opportunity for residents of the 36th Senatorial District to discuss issues with me that are important to Lancaster County communities. There will be light refreshments, and people are welcome to drop in whenever best suits their schedule.

Please click here to RSVP to attend the event.

Congratulations to Championship High School Bowling Team

Congratulations to the Elizabethtown Area High School bowling team for its first Pennsylvania State High School Boys Bowling Championship title! We honored the team and coaches for their impressive win, teamwork, and overall excellence in the Pennsylvania House and Senate.

Watch my full introduction of the team on the Senate floor here.

Celebrating Historic Breast Cancer Screening Law

One year ago, a first-of-its-kind in the nation comprehensive breast cancer screening bill was signed into law as Act 1 of 2023. Senate Republicans supported the bill that eliminated out-of-pocket costs associated with BRCA-related genetic testing and counseling as well as supplemental screening such as breast MRI and ultrasound for women at high risk.

High-risk conditions covered by the law include dense breast tissue, personal history of breast cancer, family history of breast cancer, genetic predisposition and prior radiation therapy.

Act 1 covers individuals whose insurance is state-regulated, including plans purchased through the Pennie marketplace or employer-provided insurance. The law takes effect for many plans between 2024 and 2025. All state-regulated plans must be in place before the end of 2025. Learn more.

Local Nonprofit Celebrates Groundbreaking

Congratulations to Woodcrest Retreat on its recent groundbreaking for new recreational and outdoor educational areas, like sand volleyball courts, new patio equipment for the pool area, and additional safety lighting. These improvements will help provide additional outdoor activities and education for more than 2,000 summer campers who attend Woodcrest.

Woodcrest Retreat is a nonprofit organization based out of Ephrata. It serves Lancaster County by offering 110 acres of secluded woodlands and recreational activities to children, adults, families, and community groups. Summer programs enable children from low-income families to enjoy the wonder of nature.

Welcoming Elizabethtown College Student to PA Capitol

It was my pleasure to host Elizabethtown College student, Kylie Holl, as a shadow for the day at the Pennsylvania State Capitol. Kylie is slated to graduate in May 2026 with a Bachelor of Arts Individualized Major in Environmental Law. She has a strong history as a Girl Scout and is still involved as a co-leader for a Brownie troop. Kylie also gives back through her involvement with Circle K.

Watch my full introduction of Kylie on the Senate floor here.

Visiting with Constituents at Garden Spot Village’s Business Expo

I enjoyed visiting with residents at the annual Garden Spot Village Business Expo in New Holland recently during its 22nd Annual Expo for residents and future residents. Nearly 90 local businesses and organizations who can help residents attended, and my staff was happy to provide state-related materials and information to attendees.

Grants Available to Capitalize on Tourism

To draw sporting events and the associated tourism to Pennsylvania, grants are available to municipalities, local authorities, nonprofit organizations and legal entities that meet specific criteria. Learn more and apply by June 30 using the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Electronic Single Application.

The Sports Marketing and Tourism Program was created to attract high-quality, amateur and professional sporting and e-sports events to Pennsylvania. Hosting a major event increases sales to small and large businesses in the area, which boosts the local economy.

The last round of grants benefited Philadelphia Soccer for the 2026 World Cup in Philadelphia, the United States Golf Association for the 2025 United States Men’s Open in Oakmont and the 2024 United States Women’s Open in Lancaster.

Beware of Ticks and Lyme Disease

Pennsylvania leads the nation with the number of Lyme disease cases. While we are lucky to have access to the many outdoor recreational opportunities in the commonwealth, they come with the risks of tickborne diseases.

National Lyme Disease Awareness Month is an opportunity to learn how to protect your family and pets against Lyme. Use insect repellent when spending time outdoors, treat your clothing and gear with permethrin and conduct a tick check when you come inside.

There are three stages of Lyme disease with distinct signs and symptoms occurring in each stage, including a bullseye rash, headaches, nerve pain, heart palpitations and fever. If you discover a tick, safely remove it, put it in a plastic bag and mail it to the Pennsylvania Tick Research Lab for free testing. Within three business days, you will know if the tick carried Lyme disease and other diseases – valuable information for you and your health care provider.

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