In this Update:
My Concealed Carry Seminar is Full
Thanks to everyone who registered to attend the Concealed Carry Seminar on Thursday, Nov. 18, we are at capacity for attendees and no more registrations can be accepted.
I am proud to serve a district that takes its right to bear arms responsibly so seriously and will look forward to hosting another concealed carry event in the future.
Senate Committee to Vote Bills Giving Parents Control of Their Children’s Education
Next week, other members of the Senate Education Committee and I will consider bills to give educational control to students’ greatest advocates: their parents.
The committee meeting will take place on Monday, Nov. 8, at noon and can be watched live online at Education.PASenateGOP.com.
Specifically, the members of the committee will vote on three bills.
House Bill 1660 would limit a school’s ability to shut down in-person education to 21 days for communicable diseases, rather than the four years that is currently allowed with one extension of 21 days.
Senate Bill 527 would automatically increase the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) caps by 25% each fiscal year when at least 90% of the respective tax credits are claimed in the previous fiscal year.
The bill will be amended to allow all students who attend a low-achieving school to benefit from the EITC and OSTC programs. A low-achieving school is a public school ranked in the lowest 15% of the school’s designation as an elementary or secondary school based on combined mathematics and reading scores from the state achievement test administered in the previous school year.
House Bill 1642 would make changes to the EITC and OSTC programs to explicitly state that payments received from any governmental agency as a result of the pandemic cannot be included in calculating household income when determining eligibility. The bill would also revise the current definition of “school-related fees” within the context of the EITC and OSTC programs to allow for the use of program dollars for dual enrollment.
36th District Receives Farm to School Program Funding
The Department of Agriculture has announced grant funding that has been awarded through the Farm to School Program. Locally, Adamstown Elementary in Cocalico Area School District received $1,000 to initiate a hydroponic garden in the school cafeteria and implement USDA Grow It, Try It, Like It curriculum.
Additional information on this program can be found here.
Veterans: Please Join Me for an Appreciation Breakfast
On Monday, Nov. 22, from 8:30-10:30 a.m., I will be hosting a Veterans Appreciation Breakfast at Indian Rock Center, Woodcrest Retreat, 225 Woodcrest Drive, Ephrata. A complimentary breakfast from Shady Maple Smorgasboard will be provided, and George P. March of the Society of The Honor Guard will present a program in observance of the Centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Information about relevant legislation and veterans’ benefits will also be available.
All veterans in the 36th District are invited to attend and may bring a spouse or guest. Seating is limited, so registration is required. Please call 717-627-0036 to RSVP or register online here.
Thanks for Attending My Black Bear Program
I recently partnered with the Pennsylvania Game Commission to host an informative presentation at Middle Creek Visitor Center on the Black Bear Program and new upgrades to the visitor center. My thanks to Wildlife Biologist Emily Carrollo, Middle Creek Visitor Center Manager Lauren Ferreri, and PA Game Commission Land Manager Steve Ferreri for their time and excellent presentations.
Hearing from Female Veterans About Their Military Experiences
The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee hosted a roundtable discussion with female veterans about their military experiences.
The discussion focused on the opportunities and challenges for females in a historically male-dominated field. They spoke of how common it was to be the only woman in a classroom filled with men and the exhaustion that comes from needing to work harder than their male peers without feeling like the work pays off.
The women also spoke of how military sexual trauma impacted, and frequently cut short, their service. Often, services available to help people cope with sexual assault aren’t known to the victims, so the roundtable participants emphasized how important it is to make that critical information available to military members at all levels of service.
Despite challenges they faced, the women emphatically felt that their service was valuable to their own personal development and cited the character development and work ethic as benefits they received.
Reuniting Veterans with Military Decorations
The Pennsylvania Treasury’s vault holds tangible unclaimed property, including hundreds of military decorations that Treasury is working to return to each and every veteran or their family. There are military ID tags, pins, campaign ribbons and medals, Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts.
Most tangible property received by Treasury is auctioned off after about three years, but not military decorations. These symbols of sacrifice are kept in perpetuity and never sold.
Treasury has a database dedicated to military decorations so families can easily search to see if anything is waiting to be returned to them or a loved one. Click here to search the database of unclaimed military decorations.
Ensuring Pennsylvania Homes, Employers Have Access to Diverse Energy Options
The state Senate voted to ensure Pennsylvania homes and employers have access to diverse energy options.
Senate Bill 275, known as “Energy Choice” legislation, would limit municipal entities from banning a specific type of fuel source for appliances and heating homes or businesses. The language is fuel-neutral and is not specific to one energy source.
Pennsylvania’s history of energy choice has resulted in reductions in energy costs as well as emissions. While other states are seeking to ban fuel sources, such as natural gas, Pennsylvania residents have a myriad of energy options from which to choose, helping to keep energy bills lower. By allowing businesses to retain the option to choose energy sources, the bill helps employers stay competitive in an increasingly challenging global market.
The bill now moves to the state House of Representatives for consideration.
Approving Tax Reform Measure for Small Business Employers
To help Pennsylvania move out of a pandemic economy and create jobs, the Senate passed a bill to bring state tax law governing expense deductions in line with federal law. It would eliminate the unequal treatment of small businesses in Pennsylvania.
The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 raised the federal limit for IRS Section 179 expense deductions from $500,000 to $1 million annually. However, Pennsylvania law limits the deduction to $25,000 for personal income tax purposes, which covers S Corporations, partnerships and individuals.
The increase in limits makes it easier for employers to buy equipment and to invest, which promotes job growth in Pennsylvania.
Small businesses create 65% of the jobs in Pennsylvania. Passage of Senate Bill 349 is part of a broader recovery effort to rebuild Pennsylvania’s economy.
The bill will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Green Light-Go Program Now Accepting Applications
Through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Green Light-Go Program, approximately $40 million is expected to be available to municipalities and metropolitan or rural planning organizations for upgrading traffic signals to light-emitting diode (LED) technology and intelligent transportation applications. It may also be used for autonomous and connected vehicle-related technology, performing regional operations such as retiming, developing special event plans, monitoring traffic signals and for maintaining and operating traffic signals.
Grant applications will be accepted through Jan. 14, 2022. Prior to application submission, applicants must complete and submit a Pre-Application Project Scoping Form to the appropriate Department Engineering District in accordance with the Green Light-Go Program Guidelines. Applicants must also update information in the Department’s Traffic Signal Asset Management System as indicated in the Green Light-Go Program guidelines available here.
Grant recipients must provide a 20% match of the grant awarded.