In this Update:
Voters Approve Constitutional Amendments to Improve Emergency Response
In Tuesday’s primary election, Pennsylvania voters approved four ballot questions, including two constitutional amendments that will improve the way the state responds to emergencies.
This is a powerful statement by the people of Pennsylvania. Approving these amendments signals to the Administration that voters in this Commonwealth reject the status quo – they want their government to collaborate during emergencies, not exercise indefinite, unchecked unilateral power. These amendments will help to restore the necessary checks and balances that are foundational to our form of democracy, clearing the way for true collaboration to occur.
You can read my full statement on the passage of these constitutional amendments here.
Also on Tuesday, voters elected small business owner Chris Gebhard to represent the 48th Senatorial District, which includes all of Lebanon County and parts of Dauphin and York counties.
With the addition of Senator-elect Gebhard, voters have given Senate Republicans a 28-21 majority in the State Senate, with one independent member who caucuses with Senate Republicans.
Citizens can Comment on PennDOT Plan to Toll Highway Bridges
Residents can use an upcoming telephone town hall to voice their opinion on PennDOT plans to toll bridges on Pennsylvania interstate highways.
PennDOT will hold a telephone town hall on the plan Tuesday, May 25, beginning at 6 p.m. To join the town hall, register here to receive a phone call to join at the start of the meeting or call (855) 756-7520, Entry Code Extension 73539#.
In addition to the telephone town hall, citizens can comment:
If you have a comment or question about a specific bridge tolling project, you can access each project’s comment form by visiting the project websites here.
On February 18, PennDOT unveiled a plan to toll nine bridges:
Last month, the Senate approved Senate Bill 382, which would reform the Public-Private Transportation Partnership (P3) statute and to void the PennDOT Pathways Major Bridge P3 Initiative. It is now before the House Transportation Committee.
Warwick High School Wins $6,000 for Welding Program
Congratulations to Warwick High School for their award of over $6,000 for their “Welders for Warwick” welding program! The funds for the award come from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Ag & Youth Grant Program.
The Ag & Youth Grant Program provides direct and matching grants to help fund eligible projects, programs and equipment purchases conducted or made by organizations composed mainly of youth and organized to promote development in agriculture, community leadership, vocational training, and peer fellowship. According to the Department, the program aims to address the looming 75,000 workforce deficit the industry is expected to face in the next decade.
You can learn more about the Ag & Youth Grant Program here.
Lancaster County Farmer Advocates for Agricultural Conservation Bill
Chris Landis of Worth the Wait Farms in Stevens, Pennsylvania was recently featured in a statewide advocacy video as part of a campaign to help Pennsylvania farmers sponsored by the Choose Clean Water Coalition. In the video, Landis advocates on behalf of Senate Bill 465, legislation introduced by my colleague Senator Gene Yaw that would provide for local conservation districts throughout the Commonwealth to directly receive and manage funding for agricultural conservation projects determined by local officials to significantly improve local water quality.
As a proud cosponsor of this legislation, I firmly believe that it is imperative that we develop creative policy solutions that will allow us to protect Pennsylvania streams and waterways without placing significant burdens on our already struggling agriculture industry. With the Agriculture Conservation Assistance Program, supporting our farmers and ensuring clean waterways for generations to come would not be mutually exclusive goals.
Learn more about Senate Bill 465 here.
Senate Holds Two Public Hearings on 5G Deployment in Pennsylvania
The Senate Communications and Technology Committee recently held two public hearings to review the deployment of 5G wireless technology in Pennsylvania.
5G is the fifth-generation technology successor to 4G broadband cellular networks, which provide connectivity to most current cellphones. Cellular phone companies began deploying 5G worldwide in 2019.
The first hearing featured wireless providers and local government representatives. The second hearing heard from state agencies and labor unions involved in wireless infrastructure. You can view hearing video, agendas and testimony at the links.
Capitol Hunger Garden Breaks Ground on 11th Season
The Capitol Hunger Garden, which grows produce for food banks and draws attention to the need for food donations statewide, recently broke ground for its 11th season.
The garden, which is overseen by the bipartisan legislative Hunger Caucus and tended to by the Penn State Master Gardeners, is located on a 1,000 square-foot plot adjacent to the State Capitol Building.
Since its inception, the garden has annually produced between 700 and 800 pounds of vegetables that are donated to food banks, pantries and local soup kitchens.
Observing National EMS Week
Over the past year, we witnessed how Emergency Medical Services personnel are ready to serve their communities and patients, even when facing an unprecedented global pandemic, and despite the risks to their personal health and safety.
EMTs, paramedics and other EMS practitioners serve as healthcare professionals, social workers, crisis counselors, consolers and caregivers. For this national EMS Week, we honor the many roles of EMS professionals and the people behind the scenes who support them.