Senator Ryan Aument E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Gov Wolf Vetoes Election Security, Voter ID Bill
  • Parents have until July 15 to Choose Additional Year of Education for their Child Following Pandemic Disruptions
  • Gov Wolf Vetoes Bill Banning Vaccine Passports
  • 2021-22 State Budget in Detail
  • Decreasing the CNI Tax Rate Would Increase Home Values in PA
  • Bills of Note Passed by the Senate in 2021
  • Tour the PA Senate Library’s Exhibit – We Remember: Service to the State and Nation 2021
  • Reminder: Unemployment Compensation Work Search Requirements Restart Next Week
  • Bipartisan Task Force Recommends Steps to Improve Juvenile Justice System
  • Legislation Preserving Nursing Home Visits During a Pandemic Approved By General Assembly
  • PA CareerLink Lancaster County is Now OPEN for In-Person Meetings
  • Avoiding Tick Bites and Lyme Disease

Gov Wolf Vetoes Election Security, Voter ID Bill

Pennsylvanians have made it clear that they want election reforms; they want increased election security and expanded integrity measures; and they want to have confidence in our election system and the results. The Voting Rights Protection Act checked all of these boxes – it was the culmination of a months-long process with 10 bipartisan hearings and extensive expert testimony.

The bill would have protected voting access by:

  • Establishing an early voting period to begin in 2025;
  • Allowing voters with disabilities to move to the front of the line at polling places;
  • Providing for and securing election drop boxes; and
  • Setting standards for counting all votes including allowing non-fatal defects on mail-in ballots, such as unsigned or undated ballots to be corrected.

The bill would have expanded election security by:

  • Ensuring voter verification through an updated county-provided voter registration card;
  • Creating an election fraud hotline;
  • Banning private donations to counties for election administration; and
  • Doubling penalties for Election Code violations.

It is extremely disappointing that Governor Wolf – instead of joining his Democratic colleagues at the negotiation table – has vetoed this commonsense legislation.

I intend to continue working to strengthen election security, eliminate election errors, and restore confidence in our election system – the people of this Commonwealth have demanded it.

Parents have until July 15 to Choose Additional Year of Education for their Child Following Pandemic Disruptions

Parents have until July 15 to take advantage of a new state law empowering them to decide whether their children should advance to the next grade level or be held back a year due to learning disruptions created during COVID-19.

Parents who wish to pursue the additional optional year of education for their children must complete and return a standardized form to their school district by the July 15 deadline. This allows school districts enough time to plan for changes in class sizes for the upcoming school year.

The form is available on the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s website, which also features a Frequently Asked Questions page about the new law.

The additional optional year of education was provided by the newly enacted Act 66 of 2021. The option would only apply to the 2021-22 school year to help manage learning loss caused by the pandemic.

Gov Wolf Vetoes Bill Banning Vaccine Passports

Last month, I voted in favor of Senate Bill 618, legislation that would:

  • Prohibit the Secretary of Health from mandating those who have not been exposed or in close contact with the exposed to wear a mask, stay at home or be socially distant,
  • Prevent the Secretary from forcing business closures,
  • Prohibit the state, as well as counties, municipalities, school districts and colleges that are subsidized by state taxpayers from requiring proof of vaccination, and
  • Prohibit colleges and universities that receive subsidies from the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency from requiring students to show proof of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Unfortunately, Gov Wolf has vetoed this bill and we do not have enough votes in the General Assembly to override his veto. I will continue to work with my colleagues to protect the rights of Pennsylvania citizens.

2021-22 State Budget in Detail

Last week, I reported that the Senate approved a 2021-22 state budget that holds the line on taxes, supports Pennsylvania’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and provides a financial safety net for the future.

This year’s budget was unlike almost any other given the amount of pandemic recovery federal funding involved. The goal was to drive state and federal funds to where they are most needed, while holding back money to balance next year’s budget responsibly. You can take a closer look at the spending plan here.

Decreasing the CNI Tax Rate Would Increase Home Values in PA

Pennsylvania consistently ranks amongst the worst states for business, claiming one of the highest Corporate Net Income (CNI) tax rates in the country, second only to New Jersey. With Pennsylvania’s current rate of 9.99%, we’re at a great competitive disadvantage compared to most of our neighboring states who boast rates of around 6 to 6.5%.

We must take action to incentivize working professionals and families to move here and stay here, and create economic opportunity for our residents – the first step to achieving those goals is to make the state’s CNI tax rate competitive with that of neighboring states.

Lowering a state’s CNI rate is associated with increased growth in home values. For the period between 2010-2020, data analysis shows that the 23 states with the lowest CNI rates experienced significant growth in typical home value compared to the 23 states with the highest CNI rates.

For this and many other reasons, I have proposed Senate Bill 771 which would gradually reduce the state’s CNI tax rate to attract new employers and promote economic growth in the Commonwealth.

It is my hope that making Pennsylvania more economically competitive by lowering our CNI rate will benefit working class families, reverse our stagnant population growth, and ensure that Pennsylvania is an attractive place to live, work, and raise a family for generations to come. 

Bills of Note Passed by the Senate in 2021

Legislation giving citizens a voice in disaster response and protecting the vulnerable during the pandemic received the most attention this year, but the Senate tackled many more issues in the first six months of the two-year legislative session.

From strengthening schools, to reducing regulatory burdens, improving health care and more, here’s a roundup of notable bills passed by the Senate in 2021.

Tour the PA Senate Library’s Exhibit – We Remember: Service to the State and Nation 2021

The Pennsylvania Senate Library is showing its annual exhibition dedicated to sharing the stories of Senate members who served our nation both in their official capacity and valiantly during wartime. The Senate Library is the legislative reference library and caretaker of the Senate past.

Almost all the major conflicts throughout our nation’s past involved Pennsylvania State Senators and Librarians, from the French and Indian War in 1754 to the Global War on Terrorism. Their service and sacrifice are honored in the latest display with original military decorations, uniforms and archival papers, spanning the history of our nation and of our State Senate.

Visitors are welcome to view “We Remember: Service to the State and Nation 2021” at no charge during exhibition hours in the Senate Library, Room 157 of the Main Capitol Building, weekdays, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

More information about the Senate Library’s current or past exhibitions can be found at www.library.pasen.gov.

Photograph of Senator Ryan P. Aument taken during his service in Iraq as he smiles for the camera from atop a tank. Senator Aument served as a Captain in the United States Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom, briefly commanding an infantry company of 150 soldiers after his company commander was wounded in action. He also served on battalion staff as a civil affairs officer. During his military career, Senator Aument earned several awards, including the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal and Army Parachutist Badge.

Reminder: Unemployment Compensation Work Search Requirements Restart Next Week

The Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) has announced that work search requirements for individuals receiving unemployment benefits will restart with the week ending July 17th.

Beginning July 18, individuals receiving benefits through any unemployment program in Pennsylvania (including Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) will need to certify each week that during the previous week they fulfilled the work search requirement by applying for two jobs and participating in one work search activity each week.

Eligible work search activities are:

  • Attending a job fair
  • Searching positions posted on the PA CareerLink® system or Internet job banks
  • Creating or posting a résumé in the PA CareerLink® system or posting a résumé in other résumé-posting services
  • Contacting colleagues, former co-workers or other individuals in similar professions or occupations to make known your availability for employment or obtain information about available positions, prospective employers or other employment opportunities
  • Utilizing an employment agency, employment registry or school placement service
  • Taking a civil service test or other pre-employment test
  • Participating in a program or activity offered through the PA CareerLink® system. If you live outside of Pennsylvania, you may participate in these types of activities offered by your state employment service.

Unemployment program benefit recipients are also required to accept an offer of suitable work. Individuals are also required to keep a log of their work search activities, which is subject to audit. A form to log work search activities can be found on L&I’s website here. Additionally, filers can find FAQ’s concerning work search requirements here. Please familiarize yourself with this process as L&I can request proof of work search for up to 4 years after you file.  

More information about work search, including answers to frequently asked questions, can be found on L&I’s website.

Bipartisan Task Force Recommends Steps to Improve Juvenile Justice System

The bipartisan Pennsylvania Juvenile Justice Task Force recently released a comprehensive final report with policy recommendations that protect public safety, increase accountability, achieve savings for reinvestment, and improve outcomes for youth, families and communities.

The 30-member task force assessed the state juvenile justice system and reviewed data from court and state agencies and examined how practices can better align with what research says works to improve outcomes for youth and families. The task force received input from more than 500 stakeholders.

If adopted, the policy recommendations are expected to safely reduce the population of young people in out-of-home facilities by 39% by 2026, freeing up nearly $81 million for reinvestment.

Executive Summary
Full Report

Legislation Preserving Nursing Home Visits During a Pandemic Approved By General Assembly

Legislation to allow family members to safely visit long-term care facilities as essential caregivers for Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens was approved by the Senate and signed into law.

During the pandemic, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities were closed to visits from friends and family. The prolonged separation negatively impacted the overall health and well-being of facility residents.

The measure will allow a designated essential family caregiver to be named for each resident of a licensed long-term care facility. Protocols will be put in place to screen the essential caregivers and require additional steps to gain access to the facilities.

PA CareerLink Lancaster County is Now OPEN for In-Person Meetings

PA CareerLink® in Lancaster County is now OPEN for in-person meetings from 9:00am – 4:00pm Monday – Friday for limited services, including:

  • Appointments
  • Use of computers
  • Speaking with a Career Specialist

Additionally, new in-person workshops will begin on July 12th, including:

  • Computer Basics: Intro to Microsoft Word (every Monday 10:30am-12:30pm)
  • Resume Writing Tips (every Wednesday 11:00am-12:30pm)
  • Resume Editing Lab (every Wednesday 1:00pm-3:00pm)

To register for a workshop, visit www.pacareerlink.pa.gov and sign-in or register to view the Calendar of Events. If you have any questions, please call 717-509-5613. More information can be found at https://www.jobs4lancaster.com/.

Avoiding Tick Bites and Lyme Disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s latest statistics (2019), Pennsylvania leads the nation in the number of confirmed Lyme disease cases.

The best way to avoid it is to avoid tick bites. Some tips:

  • Know where to expect ticks. Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, or even on animals. Many people get ticks in their own yard.
  • Use bug repellent.
  • Check yourself, children, clothing, gear and pets for ticks after returning indoors.

You can read more about how to avoid tick bites, as well as how to spot Lyme disease symptoms and other related topics, here.

 

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