Senator Aument E-Newsletter

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In This Update:

  • Senate Leaders Appeal Election Case to U.S. Supreme Court
  • Senator Aument to Release Legislative Agenda in Upcoming Reimagine PA Report
  • Senator Aument Delivers Opening Remarks at PA Drone Symposium
  • Committee Discusses Future of Telemedicine in Pennsylvania
  • Grants Available for Environmental Education Projects
  • Motorcycle Safety Courses Resume
  • REMINDER: Mental Health Resources Available for Pennsylvanians in Need
  • New Scam Targets SNAP Assistance Program

Senate Leaders Appeal Election Case to U.S. Supreme Court

Last year, leaders of both parties in the Senate and the House of Representatives worked together to strengthen our state’s election law with the most comprehensive reforms in at least 80 years. In advance of this year’s General Election on November 3, all parties had been working in good faith once again to address new issues that could prevent a complete, timely and fair count of ballots.

Unfortunately, a recent ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court introduced new risks to election security and unraveled weeks of progress in negotiations between lawmakers and the Wolf Administration. It is disappointing that the state Supreme Court has muddied the voting process and created questions about the fairness of the forthcoming results, including a new requirement to count ballots received by county election boards up to three days after Election Day – a clear infringement of the General Assembly’s right to determine the time, place and manner of elections.

This week, Senate leaders appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court and requested a stay of the court’s ruling so we can resume our work to ensure every Pennsylvanian has an opportunity to vote – and give everyone the peace of mind to know that their vote is counted fairly and in a timely manner.

Senator Aument to Release Legislative Agenda in Upcoming Reimagine PA Report

I am excited to announce that I am finalizing my blueprint to Restore, Rebuild, & Reimagine a stronger Pennsylvania.

Earlier this summer, I launched the Restore, Rebuild, & Reimagine PA initiative in an effort to invite residents from all across the 36th Senatorial District to share their ideas and policy solutions with me. The report that I will soon release contains the final compilation of those results, including the methods used to reach out to constituents.

Here are few proposals from the report:

  • Telemedicine (Senate Bill 857, Vogel): Helps more patients access health care during the COVID-19 pandemic by promoting the use of telemedicine.
  • Pharmacy Benefits Manager Pricing Transparency in Medicaid (Senate Bill 825, J. Ward): Requires transparency between the payments from the Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) to the Pharmacy Benefits Managers (PBMs) and then to pharmacies and ensures fair reimbursement rates for community pharmacies.
  • Lowering the Cost of Prescription Drugs (Senate Bill 1315, Killion): Creates maximum payment rates based on international prices for prescription drugs sold in our state, as these are typically much lower than prices for the same drugs in the United States.
  • Restaurant & Tavern Restriction Relief Package (Senate Bills 1299-1302, Stefano): Eases Governor Wolf’s arbitrary and burdensome restrictions on owners of bars and restaurants.
  • Education Package to Address Online Learning (Senate Bills 1250-1252, Dinniman & Langerholc): Enhances the opening of schools and assists students, teachers, administrators, and staff during the 2020-2021 school year by addressing online and distance learning barriers and continuity of education.
  • Back on Track Education Scholarship Accounts (Senate Bill 1230, J. Ward): Creates “Back on Track Education Scholarship Accounts” for students whose education was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. All funds for the accounts will come from the reserved discretionary component of federal CARES Act funds and will be used by families for students’ education-related needs like tutoring, online classes, curriculum, tuition, counseling, and services for students with special needs
  • First-Time Homebuyers Savings Accounts (Senate Bill 309, Mensch): creates First-Time Homebuyers Savings Accounts in Pennsylvania.
  • Expanding Broadband Access with Existing Infrastructure (Senate Bill 1118, Pittman): Expedites the expansion of broadband internet throughout the Commonwealth by allowing Cooperatives to utilize existing utility poles for broadband fiber lines, if it does not negatively impact the value or use of property.
  • Legislative Approval of Emergency Disaster Declarations Beyond 30 Days (Senate Bill 1166, K. Ward, DiSanto, Killion, & Martin): Provides a voter referendum to amend the state Constitution to require legislative approval of future emergency disaster proclamations beyond 21 days.

I look forward to share these ideas and many more with you in the coming days. In the meantime, I encourage residents to read my COVID-19 Response Timeline to learn more about the actions I’ve already taken to combat the virus and safely reopen Pennsylvania.

Senator Aument Delivers Opening Remarks at PA Drone Symposium

Drone Symposium

To show my support for Pennsylvania’s drone industry, I delivered the opening remarks at the first ever Pennsylvania Public & Private Unmanned Aircraft System Symposium earlier this week.

I firmly believe that if we are to restore, rebuild, and reimagine a stronger Pennsylvania, then we must develop innovative solutions to both help existing industries and attract new ones to invest in our state. The drone industry is an $82 billion industry that is expected to add over 100,000 jobs nationwide by 2025. Now is exactly the time for Pennsylvania to advocate for the industry – and its high-paying jobs – to come here.

Committee Discusses Future of Telemedicine in Pennsylvania

Telemedicine services were authorized in Pennsylvania on a temporary basis at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and these services have played a critical role in ensuring patients could continue to access medical services without gathering in waiting rooms and other areas where the virus could easily spread. This week, the Senate Majority Policy Committee hosted a workshop discussion to gather input on the future of telemedicine in Pennsylvania.

During the discussion, medical experts and other stakeholders spoke at length about the benefits of telemedicine to patients, and they encouraged lawmakers and Governor Wolf to approve a new telemedicine law to ensure these services can continue even after the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided.

Lawmakers approved a bill authorizing telemedicine in Pennsylvania on a permanent basis in April, but Governor Wolf vetoed the bill.

Grants Available for Environmental Education Projects

Youth and adult environmental education projects may be eligible for grant funding from the state Department of Environmental Protection. Schools, colleges, nonprofit community and environmental organizations, county conservation districts and businesses are encouraged to apply for Environmental Education Grants by December 11.

A special webinar is scheduled for October 14 from 1 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. to provide additional information on how to apply. Registration is required. Registration and more details are available here.

Motorcycle Safety Courses Resume

Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program classes are set to resume statewide through the end of the year with new safety measures in place to protect against COVID-19. The classes are free to Pennsylvania motorcycle permit and license holders. Completing the basic or intermediate course waives the requirement for a permit holder to complete the skills test at a PennDOT Driver License Center.

A list of locations and training providers is available online, and virtual training is also available for individuals under the age of 18.

REMINDER: Mental Health Resources Available for Pennsylvanians in Need

Pennsylvanians who are struggling with mental health issues can find help through a variety of different avenues. If you or someone you know are experiencing a mental health crisis, help is available by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or by texting “PA” to the Mental Health Crisis Text Line at 741741.

Pennsylvania residents can also call the PA Support & Referral Helpline at 1-855-284-2494. More information on mental health resources is available here.

New Scam Targets SNAP Assistance Program

Community residents should be aware of a new scam involving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The scam involves text messages telling the recipient that they have been selected to receive assistance through SNAP and requesting personal information that is later used to commit fraud.

Government agencies do not solicit participation in assistance programs like SNAP through text messages. If you ever have a question about whether a call, text, letter or other communication is legitimate, questions can be directed to the Statewide Customer Service Center at 1-877-395-8930.

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