Senator Ryan Aument E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Bringing the “American Dream” to Pennsylvania
  • Senate Panel Votes to Issue Subpoenas for Election-Related Documents from Department of State
  • Action Against Wolf’s Statewide School Mask Mandate
  • Auditor General Releases Audit Critical of Wolf Administration’s Business Closure Waiver Process
  • Aument & Martin Celebrate 100th Anniversary of 1st Calvary Division
  • Hearing Explores Positive Experiences of Local Governments During COVID-19
  • Aument Presents Citations to Boy Scout Troop 267 for Earning Eagle Scout Rank
  • Committee Discusses Ways to Preserve Life-Saving Care Provided by Firefighters
  • Proposed New Nursing Home Regulations Examined by Senate Committees
  • Scammers Continue to Exploit COVID-19
  • September is National Literacy Month

Bringing the “American Dream” to Pennsylvania

The iconic “American Dream” paints a picture where hard work = success and a comfortable lifestyle. But with increased government intervention, high taxes, endless bureaucratic red tape, and other government-inflicted barriers, the American Dream is becoming out of reach for many Pennsylvanians.

Pennsylvania has become reactive rather than proactive in laying out a vision that will clear the way for our residents to achieve earned success, upward economic mobility, and the comfortable lifestyle promised by the American Dream. This has resulted in a stagnant economy with stagnant worker wages, and it’s left us in a precarious situation where we must either adapt and overcome or be left behind in the global economy.

We must plan instead of react, we must be competitive instead of regressive, and we must have a vision for the future that will allow Pennsylvanians to truly live out the American Dream.

Learn more about my proposal to build a stronger Pennsylvania where entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic opportunity can thrive here.

Senate Panel Votes to Issue Subpoenas for Election-Related Documents from Department of State

To continue its legislative investigation into the integrity of recent elections, the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee voted to issue subpoenas for a variety of materials from the Pennsylvania Department of State.

Department of State officials were invited to testify at a hearing last week to discuss controversial guidance issued to counties in the final weeks and days leading up to the 2020 General Election. The subpoenas were approved after the department refused to participate or answer questions posed by the committee.

The subpoenas will include all guidance issued to counties, as well as all communications between the department and county election officials. All training materials, copies of all guidance and directives to counties are also included.

The committee also approved subpoenas for key voter data, including lists of all registered voters, voter activity, the method by which voters cast their ballots, and changes in voter registration. The registration and voter lists will help paint a more complete picture of Pennsylvania’s election system to allow for positive changes to existing law.

The voter information will be under strict security protocols to ensure the data is not shared, mishandled or misused in any way.

Action Against Wolf’s Statewide School Mask Mandate

I do not support a statewide school mask mandate – I favor local control when it comes to COVID-19 mitigation efforts, which is why I immediately came out against Governor Wolf’s recent statewide school mask mandate. I am pursuing any and all remedies that are within my power as a legislator to ensure that flexibility and local control are preserved in this and future pandemics, including legislative, constitutional, regulatory, and legal remedies.

First, I have signed as a cosponsor to the following bills:

  • Legislation introduced by Senator Scott Martin which would clarify that the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health’s powers to respond to emergencies stem only from an existing public health disaster emergency declaration. This would restore the intended legislative oversight approved by voters during the primary election and enable the legislature to give this decision back to local governments to decide.
  • Legislation sponsored by Senators Judy Ward, Pat Stefano, & Kristin Phillips-Hill that would amend Pennsylvania’s constitution to clarify that the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health’s powers to respond to emergencies stem only from an existing public health disaster emergency declaration.

Additionally, I recently proposed legislation that would 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 view this proposal as a more reasonable alternative to the Governor’s heavy-handed mask mandate.

Yesterday, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives took action to strike down the mask mandate through our state’s regulatory structure. You can read more about this effort here.

Finally, Senator Corman, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, has joined with parents of school-aged children in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Wolf administration’s new mask mandate for PA schools. While this course of action will likely not result in a speedy remedy, I am hopeful that this legal challenge will be successful and that we can all return to a sense of normalcy as soon as possible.

Auditor General Releases Audit Critical of Wolf Administration’s Business Closure Waiver Process

When Pennsylvanians voted in May to put limits on Gov. Wolf’s emergency powers, part of their concern was over his pandemic business closures and his administration’s handling of closure waivers. An audit by state Auditor General Tim DeFoor found voters’ concerns to be justified.

The auditor general released a performance audit examining how the Department of Community and Economic Development handled the process to grant waivers to businesses seeking to stay open during the shutdown, stating:

“This audit revealed a flawed process that provided inconsistent answers to business owners and caused confusion. While the pandemic certainly presented some unique challenges, the process was hastily assembled on the fly, unevenly administered and should be reformed before anything like it is ever used again.”

A preliminary audit by the previous auditor general uncovered similar problems. The new audit also found that Gov. Wolf’s shutdown order was more restrictive than federal guidelines, resulting in more business closures.

The General Assembly should review the recommended changes included in the audit to determine what needs to be done to prevent a repeat in any future emergencies.

Aument & Martin Celebrate 100th Anniversary of 1st Calvary Division

Senator Scott Martin and I were pleased to join the Central PA Chapter of the 1st Cavalry Division Association and the Liberty War Bird Association at the Lancaster Airport earlier this week to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the 1st Cavalry Division, one of the Army’s oldest and most decorated divisions.

The program included remarks by Chief Warrant Officer (Retired) Chieu Van Le and ELANCO School District teacher Lei Williams, who spoke about her helicopter ride to freedom just prior to the fall of Saigon.

The presentation concluded with a flyover by a fully restored Huey 823.

Hearing Explores Positive Experiences of Local Governments During COVID-19

The Senate and House Local Government committees held a joint hearing exploring the positives experienced by local government entities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Testifiers described the transition to virtual and hybrid meetings, technological advancements in conducting municipal business with the public and other government organizations and improved transparency. They also highlighted ways the pandemic led them to make regulatory changes, improve efficiency and modernize procedures.

You can view hearing video and written testimony here.

Aument Presents Citations to Boy Scout Troop 267 for Earning Eagle Scout Rank

Earlier this month, I joined Boy Scout Troop 267 to recognize Brett Stevens, Frank Christoffel V, Sasha Breniser, and Nathan Stutzman for their accomplishment in earning the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest advancement rank available in the Boy Scouts of America. Only attained by a small percentage of all Boy Scouts, this monumental achievement represents the great sacrifice and tremendous efforts that have been made by these young men.

I also presented certificates to parent volunteers Jim & Margaret Weber, Joy Lane, and Jim Landis to thank them for their service to the troop.

The Senate of Pennsylvania commends these young men on the outstanding work they have done to earn this prestigious honor, and I wish them continued success in all future endeavors!

Committee Discusses Ways to Preserve Life-Saving Care Provided by Firefighters

The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee held a public hearing to listen to fire chiefs, firefighters and others about how to improve recruitment and retention of the next generation of volunteer firefighters across Pennsylvania.

In addition to explaining the impact of funding challenges, testifiers highlighted the need for communities to work together in support of first responders to preserve critical access to life-saving care for all Pennsylvanians.

In the 1970s, Pennsylvania boasted 300,000 volunteer firefighters. Today, that number is fewer than 40,000. To help bolster those ranks, the Senate this year passed Senate Bill 83, which would provide grants to establish fire training programs for students during the school year with the hope they will remain firefighters for years to come.

You can view hearing video and written testimony here.

Proposed New Nursing Home Regulations Examined by Senate Committees

The Senate Health & Human Services Committee and the Aging & Youth Committee held a joint hearing to examine new regulations for long-term care nursing facilities being proposed by the Wolf Administration.

The committees brought together administration officials as well as industry experts and others to provide feedback on the proposed regulations, which the administration says is the first in a series of proposed changes that will be combined to create a final, comprehensive regulatory package.

You can view hearing video and written testimony here.

Scammers Continue to Exploit COVID-19

Since the start of the pandemic, fraudsters have been trying to exploit it for financial gain. The arrival of vaccines changed the nature of the scams but did not eliminate them.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says consumers should be on the lookout for these signs of vaccine scams:

  • Requests that you pay out of pocket to receive a shot
  • Ads for vaccines in websites, social media posts, emails or phone calls
  • Marketers offering to sell or ship doses of COVID-19 vaccines

Other scams have sought to steal stimulus money, while the FBI says con artists advertise fake COVID-19 antibody tests in hopes of harvesting personal information they can use in identity theft or health insurance scams. AARP has the latest information  on pandemic-related scams.

September is National Literacy Month

Children who learn good reading habits are more likely to develop a lifelong love of reading, which supports early writing and reading skills and builds their vocabulary. Here’s to exploring the world through reading during National Literacy Month and year round.

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