Senator Aument E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • “Grow PA” Bills to Support Affordable Pathways to Higher Ed, Career Prep Passes Senate
  • Bill to Protect Property Owners from Squatters Receives Senate Support
  • Senate Approves Legislation Combatting AI “Deepfake” Images of Minors
  • Sign My Petition Supporting Smartphone-Free Schools
  • Bill to Extend Grant Program for Fire, EMS and Rescue Organizations Passes Senate
  • Eating at Griddles Malt Shoppe in Columbia
  • Welcoming Mike Rowe to the State Capitol
  • Hosting Pastor Tim Boal of Lititz
  • Free Webinars Provide Helpful Financial Aid Info
  • Happy Father’s Day

“Grow PA” Bills to Support Affordable Pathways to Higher Ed, Career Prep Passes Senate

Watch Sen. Aument’s full remarks in favor of the Grow PA legislative package at the link above

Tens of thousands of students would have more opportunities to pursue affordable post-secondary education and career preparations programs under a package of bills approved with bipartisan support in the Senate.

The Grow PA initiative would create and expand programs to connect students to high-demand careers in Pennsylvania. The bills would not only make education and career training more affordable, but also provide strong incentives for students to stay and work in the state after completing their degrees and certifications. These incentives will boost our economy and help reverse our population loss crisis.

Grow PA Scholarships would be established for in-state students who attend college in Pennsylvania, pursue a degree in a high-demand industry, and agree to live and work in that industry in Pennsylvania after graduation.

Grow PA Merit Scholarships would be created to allow high-performing, out-of-state students pursuing in-demand occupations to pay lower, in-state tuition at Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) schools.

Ready to Succeed Scholarships would be expanded to help as many as 24,000 additional students cover post-secondary education costs.

Fostering Independence Tuition Waivers would be expanded to nonresident students, waiving PASSHE tuition and fees for children in the foster care system and children who were adopted.

Performance-based metrics would be added to funding for state-related universities, including the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State University and Temple University to provide added accountability to taxpayers.

A Higher Education Task Force would be created to improve higher education and career preparation programs.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion would be required for high school seniors, ensuring families have access to vital information on higher education aid, career and technical education, certificate programs and more.

The Grow PA plan also includes historic investments in career and technical education and dual enrollment. Learn more about the package here.

Bill to Protect Property Owners from Squatters Receives Senate Support

The Senate approved legislation to establish more certainty for homeowners, landlords, and law enforcement who encounter squatters. It respects the rights of all parties involved, ensuring legitimate tenants are protected while closing the door to those who exploit our system to occupy homes illegally.

Under current Pennsylvania law, squatters are considered trespassers after the property owner warns them they are not welcome and instructs them to vacate the property. Should the squatters remain where they are not licensed or privileged to be, they commit the offense of defiant trespass. However, reclaiming property from squatters requires a “notice to quit” be issued to individuals who have no legal right to the property. It imposes financial burdens and significant emotional strain on property owners.

Given the inconsistencies and lack of clarity in how states address squatter concerns, Pennsylvania must establish clear, uniform guidelines. Senate Bill 1236 defines what constitutes a “tenant,” simplifies the reclamation process – by eliminating the need for a “notice to quit” to be provided to a non-tenant – and offers a practical solution to a deeply distressing problem.

Senate Approves Legislation Combatting AI “Deepfake” Images of Minors

Legislation to combat “deepfake” images of minors and child sexual abuse materials generated by artificial intelligence (AI) was approved by the Senate.

The unauthorized dissemination of an intimate image is against the law in Pennsylvania. However, the law does not specifically address the use of AI deepfake technology to create and disseminate an intimate image of a non-consenting person. Some websites have published realistic AI-generated sexual images of non-consenting adults, as well as children. The images may be artificial but are created by using data and images from real individuals and children.

Senate Bill 1213 would make it clear that the use of AI deepfake technology to create pornographic images of an individual without his or her consent is prohibited. It would also prohibit the use of deepfake technology to create child sexual abuse materials. 

The bill will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Sign My Petition Supporting Smartphone-Free Schools

Since the early 2010s, there has been a steep decline in mental health in children. Their academic performance is also suffering, and there are more instances of cyberbullying and other behavioral issues during school hours.

These negative consequences are the direct result of the rise of smartphones and social media apps. Many parents and teachers see the devastating impact these devices have on our children and are asking for help.

If you feel students deserve to learn without a constant distraction in their pockets, please sign my petition to show your support for creating smartphone-free schools in Pennsylvania. Together, we can get our kids back on track! Learn more here.

Bill to Extend Grant Program for Fire, EMS and Rescue Organizations Passes Senate

The Senate approved Senate Bill 1099 to extend the state Fire Company and Emergency Medical Services Grant Program for an additional five years. The program is scheduled to expire June 30.

Grants are provided through the program to help volunteer and professional fire companies, emergency medical services (EMS) organizations, and volunteer rescue squads construct or renovate facilities, purchase or repair equipment, reduce debt, and provide training.

The grant program allocates up to $30 million, with fire companies eligible for grants of up to $20,000 and EMS companies eligible for grants of up to $15,000.

Eating at Griddles Malt Shoppe in Columbia

My entire staff and I recently enjoyed a delicious lunch together at Griddles Malt Shoppe in Columbia. This quaint throwback diner in the heart of Columbia serves breakfast, lunch, malts, and more, and even features some retro local memorabilia as décor!

Welcoming Mike Rowe to the State Capitol

It was my pleasure to host Executive Director of Masonic Villages in Elizabethtown, Mike Rowe, as my guest in the Pennsylvania Senate. Mike helped lead the team at Masonic Villages to raise their five-star rating up from two stars in just two years. For more than 30 years, he has focused on enhancing patient experiences, reducing costs, and improving staff satisfaction at communities in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, and Tennessee.

Watch my full introduction of Mike on the Senate Floor here.

Hosting Pastor Tim Boal of Lititz

It was an honor to host Dr. Tim Boal of Lititz at the Pennsylvania Senate where he served as guest chaplain for the day and opened session with prayer. For more than 40 years, Pastor Boal has served his community as a spiritual leader in multiple congregations, and he considers it a privilege to share the message of faith and guide believers on their spiritual growth journey as a pastor.

Watch Pastor Boal’s opening prayer and my full introduction of Pastor Boal here.

Free Webinars Provide Helpful Financial Aid Info

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is holding free webinars to assist college-bound students and their families with navigating the financial aid process.

On Tuesday, June 25, at noon, speakers will discuss how to cover the gap between awarded loans and the actual amount due. On Thursday, June 27, at 6:30 p.m., speakers will focus on how to compare financial aid offers to choose the right loan for the borrower.

Register to attend the one-hour webinars.

Happy Father’s Day

Father’s Day is a time to reflect on the amazing men in our lives and let them know how much their dedication means to us. They show their love and guidance in so many ways, big and small, that make our lives better. Wishing all of the dads a wonderful day with their families!


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