In this Update:
Remembering 9/11 on the 20th Anniversary
It was 20 years ago this week that terrorists carried out a coordinated attack on the United States, killing nearly 3,000 Americans. It was an atrocity that would shake the nation’s confidence and test its resolve.
I remember hearing the news while on a gunnery training range at Fort Carson, Colorado and listening in disbelief to the horrific events unfold over the radio, surrounded by my fellow soldiers.
Amid the tragedies playing out in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Somerset County, Pennsylvania, there were stirring acts of courage and bravery. From the shock and mourning emerged a unified people.
The effects of the events of September 11, 2001 continue to reverberate. Many of those who died left behind children who were so young they never got to know their parents. A new generation has grown up over the past two decades with few, if any, memories of those they lost. Some 1,106 victims, or 40% of those who died, remain unidentified.
The best way to honor those killed 20 years ago is to renew our commitment to unity and to overcoming the challenges we face today.
Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee holds First Public Hearing of Election Investigation
The Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee held the first public hearing of its investigation into the 2020 General Election and the 2021 Primary Election this week. Hearing Video & Testimony
Pennsylvania Department of State officials were invited to testify at the hearing regarding last-minute guidance provided to counties and its impact on the 2020 General Election. Department officials refused to attend.
The panel heard from Stewart Ulsh, chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners and Board of Elections, who described the confusing and sometimes contradictory guidance issued by the Department of State. The committee also received written testimony from County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania Executive Director Lisa Schaefer, who testified that counties struggled to keep up with guidance issued by the Department of State and election-related lawsuits. CCAP recommended several reforms to prevent the confusion of the 2020 election from reoccurring.
The committee has created a webpage for Pennsylvania residents to submit testimony regarding problems they have experienced with the state’s election system. Voters are encouraged to come forward if they have witnessed voter fraud or other election improprieties firsthand. State residents are urged to share their stories at intergovernmental.pasenategop.com/electioninvestigation/ to help guide the investigation and develop potential improvements to state law to bolster election security.
Only firsthand testimony is being requested, and only from Pennsylvania residents. Members of the public should submit testimony if they are comfortable signing an affidavit and potentially testifying under oath at a Senate committee hearing under penalty of perjury.
The investigation is expected to include public hearings, subpoenas for relevant election information and a detailed audit of the 2020 General Election and 2021 Primary Election.
Aument Bill Seeks to Empower Parents with Choice During Pandemic
I recently announced that I would soon introduce legislation that will utilize a universal fund to give families the flexibility to send their child to a school with COVID-19 policies that best meet their child’s health, safety, and academic needs.
I’ve heard from many parents who genuinely disagree with the decisions being made regarding COVID-19 policies in schools. As a parent of two school-aged children, I sympathize with their concerns. I believe we ought to empower parents by giving them the ability to choose where to send their children to school, especially when a school’s COVID-19 policies create concerns surrounding the health and academic success of their children.
As a strong supporter of both school choice for families and local decision making throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I view this proposal as a more reasonable alternative to the Governor’s heavy-handed, statewide school mask mandate.
Learn more about my proposal here.
Thank You to All Who Attended My Town Hall
Earlier this week, I held an in-person Town Hall event in Stevens with over 120 attendees where we discussed current state-related issues that are important to residents of the 36th Senatorial District, including masks in schools, an election audit, Voter ID, Education Savings Accounts, and much more. I responded to questions from constituents and listened as they provided their perspective on these contentious topics.
My sincerest thanks to all those who attended, listened, asked questions, and provided feedback – your ongoing engagement with me is what helps me do my job better representing you in Harrisburg. For those who couldn’t make it this time, check my website, e-newsletter, and social media for future events.
Aument Co-Sponsors Bill to Crack Down on Organized Retail Crime
I recently added my name to a bill sponsored by Senator Mike Regan intended to cutdown on the immense toll that organized retail theft is taking on businesses across the Commonwealth. The illicit sale of counterfeit and stolen goods has become a $509 billion criminal enterprise thanks to a growing network of online marketplaces that many of us use regularly to conveniently purchase goods for our homes and families.
On a regular basis, our local police are being called to investigate cases of people walking out of stores pushing carts loaded with expensive televisions, video game consoles, or even baby formula. Many of these items are then being sold by third-party sellers through online marketplaces, and the proceeds can be funding other illicit criminal activity.
While some retailers have taken steps to require verifiable information from third-party sellers, others have not, which contributes to the proliferation of criminal activity. As such, the bill would amend Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law to require high-volume third-party sellers to disclose specific information to the online marketplace on which they are doing business.
Learn more about this bill to protect law-abiding consumers and small businesses that want a fighting chance to survive in this growing retail market here.
Streamlining Improvement of Pennsylvania Neighborhoods
The Neighborhood Improvement District Act was enacted in 2000 to spur economic development in Pennsylvania communities. A Senate hearing this week focused on modernizing and streamlining the process to meet current challenges.
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in devastating consequences for tourism and hospitality employers throughout the Commonwealth. The Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee discussed Senate Bill 797, which would simplify the process for NID authorization and provide counties and municipalities with tools to enhance economic growth.
The panel took testimony from tourism experts, business leaders and economic development specialists. You can find the hearing video and written testimony here.
Celebrating 100th Birthdays in the 36th Senatorial District
Over the summer, a number of residents in the 36th Senatorial District reached an exciting milestone in their lives as they celebrated their 100th birthdays. It was my distinct pleasure to present official Senate of Pennsylvania citations to each of the following constituents:
Chester R. Cott – born in Old Forge, PA in July 1921, he is the beloved husband of the late Marjorie Cott for 56 years and the proud father of 3 children (Linda, Elaine, & John), 4 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild. Major Cott, US Air Force Reserve (Retired), served our country with honor and distinction in the United States Army Air Corps from 1942-1945, during which time he participated in 35 missions over Europe during World War II.
Mildred Eisemann – born in Lancaster County in July 1921, she married her husband of 59 years, the late Lloyd Quintin Eisemann, in 1941. Ms. Eisemann is the proud mother of four children and also has been blessed with 8 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. Active in her community, she volunteered her time and service with a number of local organizations and even received the 1993 Humanitarian Award by the Lancaster Chapter of Christians and Jews and the Human Relations Commission.
Theodore ‘TJ’ Bevers – Born in Dobbs Ferry, New York in July 1921, he is the beloved husband of the late Claire Bevers for 60 years, the proud father of 2 children, and also has been blessed with 3 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. Mr. Bevers served this country with honor and distinction as a member of the United States Army Air Corps during World War II. He was also employed with the New York City Police Department from 1946 to 1966 as a Homicide Detective, Second Class.
Betty Stoner – born in Landisville in July 1921, she is the proud mother of 2 children and also has been blessed with 3 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Over the years, Ms. Stoner has proven herself to be an outstanding citizen who exemplifies the finest virtues of American life. She has won the respect of her many family members, friends, and neighbors who have come to know and admire her.
Wishing all these constituents a very happy 100th birthday, and much joy in the years to come!
Filing Claims and Avoiding Scams After a Storm
The After the Storm brochure from the Pennsylvania Insurance Department includes such tips as:
In addition, keep in mind that flood damage is not covered by most homeowners’ insurance policies, and a separate flood insurance policy is required to pay for damage caused by flooding.
Suicide Prevention: Help is Available
National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month is a good time to note that for anyone with depression or thoughts of suicide: you’re not alone.
According to a 2018 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the country and is one of only three that are on the rise. In Pennsylvania, suicide rates have increased by 34% since 1999.
Military veterans are 1.5 times more likely to die by suicide than Americans who never served in the military. Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All calls are confidential:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1
You can find more information about mental health services in Pennsylvania here.
September is National Prostate Health Month
One in nine men, mostly men 65 or older, will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. The good news is the death rate is relatively low.
Prostate cancer usually progresses slowly, so some type of screening is likely to catch it in time to act. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says men should discuss the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening with their doctor.