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:
Bills Passed in 2021-22 to Improve Education
Looking back on notable legislation we passed in the 2021-22 legislative session, some of the more important pieces were those that got students back into the classroom after the pandemic, expanded educational opportunity and better prepared students for success.
The General Assembly allocated $500 million in federal funds to help ensure schools safely reopened as soon as possible and addressed student needs resulting from the pandemic, and acted to help more students access tax credit scholarships by loosening the threshold for schools to be considered “economically disadvantaged.”
To get more teachers into the classroom, we passed legislation making permanent a temporary program that gave schools the option to use qualified individuals training to be teachers as substitute teachers, and helped ease Pennsylvania’s day-to-day substitute teacher shortage by providing schools with more hiring flexibility.
We also voted to improve workforce development initiatives and better prepare Pennsylvania students for jobs that will be in demand after they graduate. You can find a complete list of key education bills passed here.
NEW State Senate District Map for Lancaster County
Lancaster County residents may have a new State Senate district as a result of the redistricting process that followed the most recent census. The map pictured above was effective Dec. 1, 2022. Please review the new map or use the Find My Legislator tool here to see who represents you in Harrisburg.
Contact information for Sen. Chris Gebhard can be found on his website here.
Contact information for Sen. Scott Martin can be found on his website here.
As always, residents of the new 36th Senatorial District can get in touch with me by phone, fax, in person, or through my website. You can also use this form to request a meeting with me or my staff, or visit my Harrisburg or Lititz offices.
New Law Targets Repeat DUI Offenders
December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, a good time to note that legislation we passed earlier this year has taken effect that increases penalties on repeat DUI offenders and hopefully reduces tragic deaths.
Under the new law, an individual charged with DUI with a BAC of .16 or higher or a DUI involving controlled substances, and already has the following number of prior offenses, commits:
It also requires consecutive sentencing for certain repeat DUI offenders and imposes an 18-month driving privilege suspension for a second-degree DUI conviction.
The measure is named in honor of Deana DeRosa Eckman of Delaware County, who was killed in a 2019 head-on collision involving a truck operated by someone previously convicted of five DUIs.
Enforcement of REAL ID Delayed Until 2025
The deadline to obtain a REAL ID has been extended by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to May 7, 2025. The extension means you will continue to be able to board a domestic flight or enter a secure federal building with a standard driver’s license until that date.
REAL ID is a federal law that dictates how states issue driver’s licenses and ID cards if they are going to be acceptable for federal purposes.
REAL ID is optional for Pennsylvania residents. You will be able to get either a REAL ID driver’s license/identification card, or a standard driver’s license or identification card. If you do not get a REAL ID, you must have an alternate form of federally acceptable identification (valid passport, military ID, etc.) to board domestic commercial flights and enter certain federal facilities after May 7, 2025. You can find comprehensive information at PennDOT’s REAL ID page. (NOTE: The page has not been updated to reflect the new May 7, 2025 deadline.)
Implementing Reasonable Loan Terms for People with Student Debt
In a recent survey, Lancaster County residents supported helping students repay their debt under more reasonable terms without freeing them entirely from their responsibility to pay back that debt. I sponsored a bill to do just that.
The Student Loan Retirement Agreement Program is an income share agreement (ISA) program for graduates that allows them to enter into a contract with the program administrator – in this case, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) – where they agree to pay a fixed percentage or “share” of their income for a fixed period of time in exchange for having all or a portion of their student loans paid off.
To be eligible, students would need to live in Pennsylvania, be a graduate from an accredited college or university, have student loan debt or parent debt used to finance the applicant’s college education, be making timely payments on their loans, and meet other criteria established by PHEAA.
The current student loan debt structure is rigid and in need of reform, but simply forgiving existing student loans as the Biden Administration has proposed won’t do anything to solve the root of the problem. Creating more favorable repayment options that allow graduates to pay off their debt under more reasonable terms is a fair solution that will help students while ensuring taxpayers aren’t on the hook for a debt that isn’t theirs.
Read more here about my plan to help students and graduates through the use of ISAs.
What Health Care Reform Policies Do You Support?
People across the Commonwealth and even the 36th Senatorial District have different health care needs and priorities. As always, my goal is to help as many people as possible, so I would like to know which health care reform policies you support.
Please fill out the one-question survey on my website here. Thank you for making the effort to share your perspective, which helps guide my decisions as I represent you in Harrisburg.
Recognizing Retiring Police Officer’s 30 Years of Service
I recently recognized Lt. Thomas W. Shumaker, Jr., who had 30 years of dedicated service with the Ephrata Police Department, for his retirement. Lt. Shumaker began his career with the department in May 1992 as a patrol officer, a position he held for 10 years while acting as a field training officer, crime scene investigator, accident reconstructionist, and union negotiator.
When he was promoted to sergeant in 2002, he began leading the Patrol Services Group and was integral to the consolidation of the Ephrata Borough Police with the Ephrata Township Police in a contract for services arrangement that continues to succeed.
In 2005, he took over the Support Services Group, where he oversaw the administrative services and Investigations Section of the department, and he also worked with municipal and school officials to institute the School Resource Officer Program and the Youth Aid Panel. In 2007, Lt. Shumaker was appointed Interim Chief of Police, and he spent several years on the Lancaster County Chiefs of Police Hiring Consortium. Instrumental to the 2015 police service contract negotiations, he was again named interim chief in 2019.
Lt. Shumaker recently began the next chapter of his career with Warwick Area School District.
Congratulations, and best wishes!
Fishing Licenses and Permits for 2023 Available Now
Pennsylvania fishing licenses, permits and gift vouchers for 2023 are available now. Licenses are valid immediately and are good for 13 months.
They can be purchased through the HuntFishPA online portal on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website, on your smartphone using the mobile app or by visiting a retail license issuing agent, which you can find here.
In addition to licenses and permits, such as the trout or Lake Erie permits, you can purchase vouchers that can be given as gifts and redeemed by recipients.
You Can Help Honor Those Who Gave All
Every year at this time, Wreaths Across America helps communities remember the fallen, honor those who served in the military and teach children about their country by laying wreaths on the graves of heroes.
These acts of remembrance take place at Arlington National Cemetery, and more than 3,400 locations in all 50 states, at sea and abroad.
Ceremonies take place Dec. 17, and you can help by sponsoring a veterans’ wreath at a cemetery near you, volunteering or donating to a local sponsorship group. You can search for the nearest participating cemetery here.