Thank you for subscribing to my E-newsletter. I am honored to serve the 36th Senatorial District and look forward to working with you toward building a stronger Pennsylvania. This E-newsletter serves to keep you updated on what is happening throughout Lancaster County and what I am doing as your State Senator in Harrisburg – I hope that you find it helpful! Should you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please DO NOT reply to this email; instead, please feel free to contact me here.
In this update:
New Senate District Map Takes Effect
New boundaries for my Senate District are now in effect. The map was redrawn as part of redistricting following the most recent census.
You can find a detailed map and list of municipalities here. I look forward to serving new and remaining constituents, and keeping you informed, in the years ahead.
2021-22 Bills of Note: Moving from Pandemic Response to Recovery
As the 2021-22 legislative session draws to a close, I’d like to note some important legislation enacted to transition Pennsylvania from initial COVID-19 pandemic response to helping residents and employers get back to normal, productive lives.
To bolster our health care response and keep Pennsylvanians safe, the General Assembly allocated $225 million in federal funding for hospitals and frontline health care workers. Further emergency financial resources included $569 million for rental and utility assistance, $197 million for education programs, and $145 million to support Pennsylvania’s struggling restaurants and taverns as they cope with the devastation created by the pandemic and the governor’s mandated closings and restrictions.
When the governor refused to act, we voted to terminate the pandemic emergency declaration and end the governor’s power to close employers, limit occupancy, suspend state statutes or issue stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19. We put constitutional amendments on the ballot that will prevent emergency overreach again by a governor. You can find the full list of our pandemic response measures here.
Requiring Universities to Use Tax Dollars Responsibly
Holding institutions of higher education accountable for any taxpayer dollars they receive was the top response on my recent survey about addressing student loan debt. (Review the full survey results here.) I’ve been working with my colleagues to hold universities accountable, safeguard taxpayer dollars, and help students through my work on the Higher Education Funding Commission.
While the Commission was originally established in 2019, much of its work was put on pause due to COVID-19 and the need to refocus efforts on pandemic relief. I believe that now is the time for the General Assembly to reengage the Commission to continue its work in improving how the state funds institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth.
More specifically, I’d like the Commission to consider performance-based metrics for higher education funding decisions to hold institutions accountable for results. One way to do that would be to prioritize funding for institutions that graduate students with degrees that are in high demand in Pennsylvania. This may entail placing more emphasis on alternative pathways such as tech schools, certificate programs, trades, and apprenticeships.
More information, including video footage of hearings, can be found on the Commission’s website here.
Senate Takes Next Steps in Impeachment of Philadelphia District Attorney
The Senate this week took the next steps in the impeachment process of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner following the House of Representatives’ 107-85 vote to impeach him after investigation of his conduct in fulfilling his duties.
As outlined by the Pennsylvania Constitution, the role of the Senate is to sit in judgement and review the evidence presented by the House. Following Senate action, a writ of summons will be issued to District Attorney Krasner requiring him to come before the Senate to answer to impeachment. He will be required to file an answer by Dec. 21 and ordered to appear before the Senate on Jan. 18 at 11:30 a.m.
How Can We Make Health Care Better?
What health care concerns do you have that are most impacting your life? Is it the cost of prescription drugs? Possibly the need for expanded access to telemedicine? Maybe you would like to streamline the health insurance process.
I want to know what health care reform policies are most important to you, which is why I have a one-question survey on my website. I ask anyone who hasn’t already filled out the survey to please do that here.
Thank you for taking the time to engage with me so I can most effectively serve you.
PA Broadband Development Authority Unveils Statewide Plan
The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, created by the General Assembly last year, has released the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Statewide Broadband Plan to improve access to high-speed internet in underserved communities.
The plan focuses on infrastructure and availability, affordability, device and technology access, and digital literacy and technical support. The authority estimates there are 800,000 Pennsylvanians without broadband service. You can review the plan here.
In addition to planning, the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority is a single point-of-contact for federal broadband funding.
Thanks to Lon Wible for 37 Years of Service!
Congratulations to Lon Wible upon his retirement from the Lancaster County Office of Aging (LCOA) after 37 years of exceptional service! Lon started with LCOA in 1985 as a senior centers supervisor and worked his way up to become executive director in 2018. I am grateful for Lon’s many years of service and wish him the very best in his retirement!
Honoring the Life of Former Rep. Thomas Creighton
In memory of the Honorable Thomas Creighton, a former member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives serving Northern Lancaster County from 2001 to 2013, who passed away in July, I visited his family and presented them with an official condolence citation from the Senate of Pennsylvania.
Before serving as the state representative, Mr. Creighton worked as a plant engineer and manager at the Kellogg Company, a research scientist for Armstrong World Industries, an instructor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the Altoona School District, and a research analyst for the National Bureau of Standards in Fire Engineering.
It is with great sadness for his passing that we extend heartfelt condolences to his wife of 54 years, Sandra; sons, Robert and Thomas; daughter, Victoria; five grandchildren; and many other family members and friends.
Commemorating the Unknown Soldier at Woodcrest Villa
I stopped by Woodcrest Villa in East Hempfield to view its recently dedicated Never Forget Garden, created in commemoration of the centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. My thanks to Mennonite Home Communities President John Sauder and Korean War veteran Dr. Paul Cunningham for extending the invitation.
“To fallen soldiers let us sing,
Where no rockets fly or bullets wing
Our broken brothers let us bring
To the mansions of the Lord.
No more bleeding, no more fight
No prayers pleading through the night,
Just divine embrace, eternal light
To the mansions of the Lord.
Where no mothers cry and no children weep
We will stand our guard though the angels sleep
Through the ages let us keep
The mansions of the Lord.”
Text by Randall Wallace.
Training Available to Help Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans and Their Families
As part of ongoing efforts to prevent suicide among service members, veterans and their families, the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) is offering Military Cultural Competency Training, provided by Psych Armor at no cost, to community partners, providers and others to support strategies related to their suicide prevention action plans.
Additional information about the training content can be found here, along with registration and information on accessing the training portal. These 15 trainings will be available through the portal through December 2025. OMHSAS has the ability to train 300 people on a first come, first serve basis.
I hope providers take advantage of these evidenced-based trainings to ensure this critical care is available to service members, veterans and military families.
Friday Deadline for Hemp Marketing and Promotion Grants
Nonprofit marketing and promotion organizations can submit funding proposals for projects aimed at increasing sales, export or consumer awareness of Pennsylvania hemp products. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture plans to award grants to reimburse up to half of project costs.
Hemp was once a staple of Pennsylvania’s farming economy and could provide an array of sustainable construction materials, fiber and food products.
The department will give special consideration to projects that leverage other funding and public-private partnerships. Eligible projects may include regional or national promotion.
Qualified nonprofits may apply for grants through the Department of Community and Economic Development online application system. The application period closes Friday at 5 p.m. Full grant guidelines can be found in the Oct. 15 issue of the Pennsylvania Bulletin.