In this Update:
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.
Court Ruling Could End School Mask Mandate Dec. 4
A Commonwealth Court ruling has paved the way for Governor Wolf’s school mask mandate to potentially end Dec. 4. If the Wolf Administration and the courts take no further action, the mandate will no longer be in place after that date.
Commonwealth Court Judge Christine Fizzano Cannon’s ruling comes a week after her court threw out the statewide mask mandate. The mandate stayed in effect because the administration appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court. Governor Wolf has said the order will be lifted Jan. 17.
The court ruled Nov. 10 that the administration improperly used a law from 1955 to override parents and local school boards and impose a statewide masking mandate on students.
Senate Acts to Increase Campaign Finance Transparency
All candidates for office and political action committees in Pennsylvania would be required to file campaign finance reports online under legislation recently approved by the Senate.
Senate Bill 140 would require all candidates for office and political action committees in Pennsylvania to electronically file their campaign finance reports using the Department of State’s online filing system.
Currently, candidates and committees have the option of filing their campaign finance reports through paper submission, which aren’t visible online until uploaded by staff. Citizens wishing to view the reports in a timely manner have to travel to Harrisburg or pay for copies to be sent by mail.
The bill also increases penalties for late filings. Senate Bill 140 now moves to the House of Representatives for its consideration.
Update on the Legislative Reapportionment Commission
The Legislative Reapportionment Commission held its latest public hearing this week in Harrisburg.
The commission took input from an expert panel about citizen mapping efforts. You can watch the hearing and view testimony here. It has held nine public hearings, receiving input from a total of 29 experts and 51 citizen witnesses, in addition to 490 written submissions by citizens.
As dictated by the Pennsylvania Constitution, the Legislative Reapportionment Commission redraws the lines of Senate and House of Representative districts every 10 years to reflect changes in the U.S. Census.
Senate Committee Receives Input on Congressional Redistricting
The effort of redrawing the boundaries of Pennsylvania Congressional districts continued with the third public hearing on the issues by the Senate State Government Committee.
The panel discussed maps created by citizens and took testimony regarding the process behind it. You can access hearing video and testimony here.
As with state legislative districts, congressional boundaries are redrawn following each census to reflect population changes. Because Pennsylvania’s population has been outpaced by growing states, it will drop from 18 to 17 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives for the 2022 elections.
Unlike state Senate and House reapportionment, congressional redistricting is done through the legislative process, beginning at the committee level.
Webinar for First-Time Environmental Grant Applicants
Organizations, municipalities, businesses and farmers can register now for a free webinar on applying for state environmental grants.
The webinar is geared toward first-time applicants and based on survey feedback, and will cover the essentials of applying. It will also look at seven grant programs and answer questions.
Hosted by the Department of Environmental Protection, the webinar will be held Thursday, Dec. 2, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. You can find more information and register here.
Apprenticeship Week: Information for Employers and Job Seekers
National Apprenticeship Week is a reminder apprenticeships play a critical role in producing a skilled workforce by connecting aspiring workers with employers in need, and that resources are available to make that connection happen.
According to state Labor and Industry Department estimates, nearly nine out of 10 apprentices are employed after they complete their apprenticeship, and the majority take jobs with a starting salary of $60,000 a year or more. Apprenticeships also allow Pennsylvanians to graduate with little to no student debt.
There are 1,585 apprenticeships registered with the state, along with 74 pre-apprenticeships. You can learn about the different kinds of apprenticeships, how to secure one and more here.
In celebration of National Apprenticeship Week, I joined PA Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and PA Labor Industry Secretary Jennifer Berrier at Binkley & Hurst in Lititz. Binkley is a faith-based, family-oriented agricultural equipment and technology company with its primary customer base in the mid-Atlantic region. It has six locations and is headquartered in Lititz.
The Northeast Equipment Dealers is dedicated to combating the expected workforce deficit of 785,000 farmers and laborers in agriculture.
I applaud Binkley & Hurst and Northeast Equipment Dealers for their commitment to apprenticeship programs that provide a pathway for so many to experience economic opportunity and upward mobility.
November is American Diabetes Month
More than 1.1 million Pennsylvanians, or 11.1% of adults, have diagnosed diabetes. An additional 303,000 have diabetes but don’t know it.
More than 34% of the adult Pennsylvania population have prediabetes with blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
Complications from diabetes include heart disease, stroke, amputation, end-stage kidney disease, blindness and death. American Diabetes Month is an opportunity to learn about the risks, how to manage diabetes, and more.
Building Strong Families with Equine Therapy
I was pleased to join representatives from Bethany Christian Services and Little Springs Farm, as well as Sen. Scott Martin, to break ground on an indoor equine therapy facility. The new indoor facility will allow foster children in the greater Lancaster area to receive equine therapy year-round.
Bethany Christian Services is a nonprofit committed to changing the world through family, and Little Spring Farm is a recreational riding center offering equine therapy programs for children who have been adopted from the foster care system.
Discussing the Role of State Government with Local Students
Last Friday, I visited a fourth-grade class at Lititz Area Mennonite School. I enjoyed their interest in state government and was especially impressed to receive thank-you cards from them after our conversation.