In this Update:
Aument Calls for Hearing to Review PA’s Expanded Fireworks Law
This week, I sent a letter to the Chairman of the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee, Senator Elder Vogel (R-47), requesting that he convene a hearing for the purpose of reviewing the 2017 expansion of the sale of fireworks and potential ways to address the issues created by it.
In 2017, Pennsylvania’s fireworks law was amended to expand access for Pennsylvanians to purchase certain consumer-grade options which were previously not permitted. I voted against this expansion of the fireworks law.
Since the expansion, my office has fielded dozens of calls and emails with complaints about the current law, with most coming from areas where it is still illegal to set off fireworks due to the proximity to homes and buildings.
My constituents are rightfully frustrated that their local police departments do not have the manpower, resources, or statutory flexibility to investigate their complaints or prevent the misuse of these fireworks in the first place. And I agree with them – we should not continue to expect our law enforcement and firefighters to fix and clean up the issues created through this law while simultaneously providing them no support to protect their communities. A legislative change is necessary.
Read more here.
Latest from the Legislative Reapportionment Commission
On July 29, the commission held a public hearing featuring presentations from representatives of National Conference of State Legislatures, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, and the Legislative Data Processing Center. You can view the hearing and access written testimony here.
On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, the panel heard feedback from PA citizens regarding the reapportionment process as a whole and specific issues that may exist in their districts. You can see what citizens had to say here and here.
While the Legislative Reapportionment Commission draws new lines for the state House of Representatives and Senate following the census, congressional maps are drawn by the General Assembly. On Wednesday, the Senate State Government Committee held a public hearing on congressional redistricting. You can find testimony and hearing video here.
Legislative Review: Strengthening Health Care
The pandemic underscored how fragile good health can be, and how important access to high-quality care is for Pennsylvania communities. The Senate passed several measures aimed at strengthening health care, including:
Act 11 of 2021 creating the Living Donor Protection Act.
Act 23 of 2021 giving individuals renewing either their vehicle registration or driver’s license an option to donate to the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition.
Act 56 of 2021 dedicating additional Medicaid funding for ventilator and tracheostomy services.
Act 60 of 2021 recognizing Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists under Pennsylvania statute to prevent them from leaving Pennsylvania because of designation issues.
Act 68 of 2021 authorizing Pennsylvania to join the Nurse Licensure Compact recognizing mutual agreement in the requirements for nurse licensing and providing easier transfer of licenses.
Senate Bill 74 allowing companies to apply for a tax credit after donating to a Pennsylvania pediatric cancer research hospital.
Senate Bill 323 extending the moratorium on increases in income due to a Social Security COLA for PACE and PACENET enrollees for two additional years until Dec. 31, 2023, benefitting 17,800 seniors.
Senate Bill 397 & Senate Bill 398 modernizing state law to encourage more physician assistants to stay and practice in the Commonwealth, resulting in a wider range of medical professionals across the health care delivery system.
You can find a full list of bills of note passed by the Senate in 2021 here.
Senator Aument Supports the Vaccine AND Your Right to Refuse It
I’ve received some questions about my reasoning for signing on to a letter from Governor Wolf encouraging legislators to urge their constituents to get vaccinated. Here’s why I signed on:
COVID-19 Vaccines Coming to the County Fair
Residents heading to the county fairs for corn dogs, funnel cakes and fried pickles can now add the COVID-19 vaccine and educational resources to their list of things to find at the fair. The state Department of Health is partnering with the Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs to offer free, walk-up vaccinations and educational materials.
Every Pennsylvania resident age 12 and older is eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Use Vaccine Finder to find a COVID-19 vaccine provider near you.
Aument Speaks on Education & Economic Competitiveness at Mid-Atlantic Association of Career Schools’ Conference
I appreciated the opportunity to speak to the Mid-Atlantic Association of Career Schools’ Conference last week about expanding educational opportunities and advancing pro-growth economic policies in Pennsylvania.
In my view, the two are inextricably linked – we must implement policies to better prepare our students to meet the demands of the current and future job market, while also creating opportunities for those students to fill job openings here in Pennsylvania. In other words, we must also incentivize employers offering high-quality, well-paying careers to establish themselves in our state while simultaneously preparing our children to fill those jobs.
This is how we make Pennsylvania more economically competitive, not just nationally, but internationally as well. My focus in Harrisburg has been on doing just that – creating a legislative agenda to increase Pennsylvania’s economic competitiveness.
I specifically highlighted legislative actions that I have taken and legislation that I have introduced to:
Through these policies, I hope that we can build a stronger Pennsylvania where entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic opportunity can thrive – a Pennsylvania where each and every resident has the opportunity to experience earned success and upward economic mobility.
August is ABLE to Save Month
Thanks to the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014 and the Pennsylvania ABLE Act of 2016, Pennsylvanians with disabilities and their families now have the tools they need to save for the future without losing critical benefits they rely on like Supplemental Security Income or medical assistance.
PA ABLE offers various savings options including an interest-bearing checking account with an accompanying debit card. All of the options come with generous tax benefits including no federal or state income tax on savings growth or withdrawals for qualified expenses, state income tax deductions for contributions up to $15,000, and exemption from state inheritance tax.
Pennsylvanians with disabilities and their families have opened more than 5,000 accounts and saved nearly $60 million since the program opened in 2017. Pennsylvanians with disabilities can save for costly expenses such as assistive technology or modified vehicles – or for necessary day-to-day needs like groceries and housing. Families can also use PA ABLE to save for their loved one’s future care.
For more information about eligibility for PA ABLE, qualified expenses and savings options, visit paable.gov or call 855-529-2253.
Join Senator Aument for a Town Hall Event this September
In order to stay connected with the people of the 36th Senatorial District, I host regular outreach events to discuss the issues that are most important to Lancaster County communities. I encourage your attendance and participation at this informal session, and I look forward to meeting you and getting your input on local and state issues. If interested in attending, please contact my office at (717) 627 – 0036.
Constitutional Amendment Providing for Voter ID Will Allow Pennsylvanians to Have the Final Say
Pennsylvania implemented voter ID in 2012, but the provision was later struck down by the courts on a technicality. In June, the Pennsylvania Senate passed voter ID as a constitutional amendment (Senate Bill 735) which will ultimately allow the people of Pennsylvania to have the final say on whether or not we require voter ID in this state.
All amendments to the Pennsylvania constitution must first pass both chambers of the General Assembly in two consecutive legislative sessions and then be approved by Pennsylvania voters in a ballot referendum.
Senate Bill 735 was passed by the Senate in June 2021 and would need to be passed by the House before the expiration of the current legislative session in December 2022. Next, it would need to pass both chambers again in the 2023-24 legislative session before it could finally be considered by Pennsylvania voters as early as 2023.
I voted in favor of Voter ID in 2012 and again this past June; I have consistently supported voter ID and I support allowing Pennsylvanians to have the final say on this important issue.