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:
Share Your Thoughts on Students’ In-School Cellphone Use
People have differing perspectives regarding students using cellphones during classroom instruction.
Those in support of limiting cellphone use in schools highlight how it can increase classroom engagement and discussion and decrease bullying and the resulting anxiety and depression kids experience. People who oppose restrictions say the policies make emergency communication with parents more challenging and unnecessarily increase disciplinary measures for students who break the rules.
As student cellphone restrictions become more common in the United States and around the world, I would like to know your opinion. Please fill out my one-question survey about your interest in legislation restricting student cellphone use in PA schools here.
Senate Approves Bill Enabling Better Service in Long-Term Care Facilities
The Senate approved a bill to enhance the availability and quality of service at long-term care facilities in Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 668 would address the workforce shortage in nursing homes that existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and has grown in recent years as health care professionals left the field due to burnout. It would enable certified nurse aids (CNAs) to train to become certified medication aides (CMAs) and deliver common, minimally invasive prescribed medications to residents of nursing facilities. Currently, only registered nurses and licensed practical nurses can administer medications to nursing home residents.
CNAs would be able to complete a certified medication administration program established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. CNAs who complete the program would be registered as CMAs and would be authorized to administer certain prescribed medications in health care facilities.
Combatting Human Trafficking in Lancaster County
Rep. Mindy Fee and I co-hosted a Human Trafficking Educational, Awareness, and Prevention Event in Lititz recently.
Parents, local officials, and community members joined us to discuss this international crisis that is particularly prevalent in Lancaster County. We covered the relationship between human trafficking, drugs, and social media; what to do if individuals suspect human trafficking; how to keep children safe from trafficking; and success stories of the Lancaster County Human Trafficking Task Force.
My thanks to Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams and ZOE International Eastern United States Regional Director Brad Ortenzi for presenting and answering questions.
Tuition and Loan Assistance for First Responders
Because of legislation passed by Senate Republicans, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency established a Tuition and Loan Assistance Program for active volunteer fire and emergency medical service providers.
After a year of service, volunteers are eligible for up to $1,000 of financial assistance per academic year. Volunteers must commit to five years of service following college graduation.
The legislation is designed to combat Pennsylvania’s crisis in attracting volunteer first responders, which has led to many fire and emergency medical service companies reducing services.
Smart Saving Upgrades Pennsylvania’s Financial Standing
Because of sound financial management and strong budgetary reserves, one of the nation’s leading credit rating agencies – Fitch Ratings – upgraded the state’s bond rating from AA- to AA. The state hasn’t held the improved rating since 2014.
The upgrade is expected to lead to lower debt service costs, saving taxpayers millions of dollars. This is one of the reasons Senate Republicans have led the efforts to build the state’s Rainy Day Fund to historic highs and resist new recurring spending the state cannot afford.
Earlier this fall, Moody’s Investor Services and S&P Global Ratings both upgraded Pennsylvania’s long-term financial outlook from “stable” to “positive.”
Good Samaritan Services Expands Facility to Serve More People
Congratulations to Good Samaritan Services on its new facility in Ephrata, which includes offices, a play area, and conference room. These new additions will help to achieve its mission of responding with compassion to the challenges of poverty-related needs across Lancaster and Chester counties and empowering individuals and families to prevent or overcome homelessness.
Comment Period Open on Plan to Expand PA Internet Access
A strong internet connection powers our economy and supports education, health care and more. Many Pennsylvania communities lack access to high-speed internet.
Development of Pennsylvania’s Digital Equity Plan was funded by federal dollars and aims to make high-speed internet available to more Pennsylvanians. You can review the plan and, until Jan. 8, 2024, take advantage of the public comment period to offer feedback.
The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority (PBDA) offers three ways to comment:
The PBDA will also host in-person and virtual Public Comment Sessions on the following dates:
Clearfield County: Dec. 7
Washington County: Dec. 14
Philadelphia: Dec. 16
Deadline for Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program is Dec. 31
The deadline to apply for the state’s 2022 Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program is Dec. 31. Applications and no-cost assistance are available from my district office.
Eligible participants can receive a maximum standard rebate of $650, but supplemental rebates can boost rebates to $975. The program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians who are 65 years or older, widows and widowers 50 years or older, and those 18 years or older with disabilities.
Claimants who already applied for their rebates may check the status of claims online or by calling 1-888-222-9190.
Residents of Lancaster County of All Ages Tour the State Capitol
Residents from Homestead Village Enhanced Senior Living in Lancaster recently made the trip to Harrisburg to tour and learn about our beautiful State Capitol.
Students from Kraybill Mennonite School in Mount Joy also toured the Capitol.
Now is a great time to come and visit this historic national landmark while it’s beautifully decorated for the holiday season. If you’d like to experience this landmark, visit www.pacapitol.com to book your tour today!
Hanukkah, the Jewish festival that celebrates the ancient miracle of the oil burning a candle for eight nights, runs from Dec. 7-15. In honor of the holiday, people of the Jewish faith light a candle on their menorahs each evening for eight nights.
As our friends celebrate the rededication of the Holy Temple, we wish them Chag sameach!
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