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:
Senate Sends Budget Bill to Governor’s Desk
The Senate reconvened this week to send the 2023-24 General Appropriations bill to Gov. Josh Shapiro’s desk to be signed into law. This action maintains our commitment to moving Pennsylvania forward and will prevent disruptions to the many critical services Pennsylvanians rely on every day. Advancing this legislation ensures funding can be released to schools, counties, and nonprofits without interruption as the final components of the budget are negotiated and completed.
The $45.55 billion budget spends approximately $400 million less than what Gov. Shapiro proposed in March. This budget holds the line on taxes, promotes job growth, continues historic support for schools, and sets aside money to prevent future tax hikes.
It is important to note this step does not complete the budget process, as certain programs require implementation language before funding can be released. These include key priorities like mental health grants for schools, emergency relief for hospitals, and increases to EMS reimbursement rates. We are continuing our work to negotiate these items to ensure a full budget is put in place to help all Pennsylvanians.
The Senate also signed and sent to Gov. Shapiro’s desk a bill that would expand eligibility and rebate amounts available through the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program, providing more assistance to low-income seniors and Pennsylvanians with disabilities.
With the recent resignation of a member of the House, their chamber now stands deadlocked, with an even number of Republicans and Democrats. Having a chamber with a 101 to 101 split makes it very hard to see how some of these important pieces of legislation can be advanced until the vacancy in the House is filled again. The Senate stands ready to return to session and complete the steps necessary to bring this year’s budget to a close as soon as possible.
Primary Runoff Elections Offer Better Candidate Choices
No matter what political party you support, chances are you have been disappointed by the candidate choices you have at the polls. Sadly, not being excited about the options available is often a reason people choose not to vote in elections.
But, there’s a way we can do better. Primary runoff elections give voters better choices on the ballot and more opportunity to have their voice heard.
Learn more about my bill to implement primary runoff elections in PA here.
Register Now for My Free Ice Cream Social
If you are looking for something to do on the evening of Aug. 29, please consider coming out to my ice cream social for constituents for light discussion about important issues and sweet frozen treats.
The ice cream social will be held from 6:30-8:15 p.m. at Roland Memorial Park, 221 N. 11th St., Akron. Free ice cream will be served beginning at 6 p.m. Sign up here.
Ephrata Cloister Receives $488,000 Grant for Preservation
The National Park Service awarded more than $488,000 for the rehabilitation of Ephrata Cloister. The funds will be used for the repair, replacement, and protective finish of hand-hewn wood siding and side-lap shingle roofs. Grant funds will also support updates to the National Historic Landmark documentation for the property.
German immigrants fleeing religious persecution in Europe founded the community of Ephrata Cloister in 1732 where they practiced a lifestyle of discipline and self-deprivation. The monastic settlement served as a hospital for nearly 260 American soldiers during the Revolutionary War.
The grant for Ephrata Cloister is one of 20 grants across 14 states totaling $10 million awarded in the second round of funding from the Semiquincentennial Grant Program commemorating the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States. Created by Congress in 2020, the program is funded through the Historic Preservation Fund.
Share Your Opinion about Broadband in Pennsylvania
Rather than a luxury, high-speed internet is a necessity to participate in today’s economy. Access to high-speed internet helps to ensure public safety, benefits employers and Pennsylvania’s workforce, and provides an equal opportunity for students.
Pennsylvania has been awarded $1.16 billion in federal funding to expand internet access across the commonwealth. Community members – including residents, businesses and organizations – are invited to comment on the draft five-year implementation plan via an online survey available through Aug. 8.
Happy 100th Birthday to Ephrata Resident
Happy 100th birthday to Ephrata resident Elsie Kauffman! A talented quilter, she has been active in her community as a member of a local church sewing circle, and she volunteered her time at the ReUzit on State thrift store in Ephrata.
She was the beloved wife of Sylvan Kauffman for more than 19 years prior to his passing. She is the proud mother of seven children and has been blessed with 39 grandchildren and 93 great-grandchildren. Best wishes to Elsie!
Report Abuse of Adults Living with a Disability
Sadly, adults living with a disability are more likely to face abuse, neglect, exploitation and abandonment.
Common signs of abuse include bruises or broken bones, weight loss, memory loss, personality changes, social isolation and changes in banking habits.
If you suspect abuse, report it by calling the Protective Services Hotline at 1-800-490-8505. A report can be made on behalf of the adult whether they live in their home or in a care facility such as a nursing facility, group home or hospital. Reporters can remain anonymous and have legal protection from retaliation, discrimination, and civil and criminal prosecution.
Recognizing National Farmers Market Week
Aug. 6-12 is National Farmers Market Week, and there are so many places to celebrate in Pennsylvania. With agriculture as the state’s top industry, farmers markets can be found all across the commonwealth.
Farmers markets offer more than the freshest produce. You can also find delicious baked goods, cheeses and craft coffees. Some even offer how-to classes and the opportunity to pick your own produce.
Find a farmers market to enjoy here.
Free Tool to Relate Military Experience to Civilian Job Requirements
The Department of State has an innovative tool to help veterans and service members translate their military experience into civilian career opportunities. The military occupational crosswalk is a series of charts for each occupation licensed by the department that compare licensing requirements with typical duties, training, qualifications and related credentials with military occupations.
Created after Act 35 of 2022 received unanimous support from the General Assembly, the crosswalk defines a military applicant as a service member, veteran or military spouse; provides initial licensure fee waivers for military spouses who must relocate because of a service member’s military orders; allows service members to reactivate an expired professional or occupational license without penalty if the reactivation coincides with a deployment and is completed within one month of returning from the deployment; and more.
Read more here about professional and occupational licensing in the commonwealth.
Improved Dashboard Better Tracks PA Homeowner Assistance Fund
The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) launched an updated program dashboard to track the status of the Pennsylvania Homeowner Assistance Fund, a pandemic-relief program that provides financial assistance to qualified homeowners for mortgage and housing-related expenses.
The new dashboard, which will be updated at least monthly, includes:
The initial dashboard presents the data in a static image format, but in the coming weeks, PHFA will introduce additional interactive capabilities including the ability to see more detailed information by county and details by the various assistance types. The changes will provide increased accountability and transparency in the program’s operations.
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