In This Update:
Senator Aument Condemns Violence in DC, Urges Peace
In response to the events that transpired at the nation’s Capitol Building yesterday, Senator Aument issued the following statement:
“There is no excuse for the violence at the U.S. Capitol. This is not patriotism. This is despicable and should not be tolerated under any circumstances. Peaceful protests are a right; violence is a crime.
“’We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.’ – President Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address”
2021-22 Legislative Session is Officially Underway
The 2021-22 Legislative Session began this week as new and returning members were sworn into office on Tuesday. The beginning of the new session allows lawmakers to start the process of addressing the most critical issues facing our communities, including fixing problems related to the state’s response to COVID-19, creating a stronger environment for job creation and making necessary reforms to restore faith in the voting process.
A total of 24 Senators and 202 Representatives were sworn into office this week. Seating was delayed temporarily for one Senate district that is still being contested, and one House seat will remain vacant after the tragic passing of Representative Mike Reese on December 30.
There was a lot of misinformation circulated following the events that occurred on the Senate floor with Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, Senate Republicans, and Senator Jim Brewster. For those wondering what really happened, please read my full statement on the incident here.
Honoring Representative Mike Reese
I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Representative Mike Reese over the weekend. Mike served the people of the 59th Legislative District in Somerset and Westmoreland counties with honor and distinction since 2009, and his tireless leadership and dedicated advocacy will be sorely missed in the halls of the state Capitol.
He is survived by his wife Angela and three children. My heartfelt condolences go out to Mike’s family during this difficult time.
Fire and EMS Companies Can Apply Now for Federal Grants
Volunteer and career fire departments and EMS organizations can apply now for grants to support training, equipment purchases and other critical public safety priorities through the federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. Applications are available through February 12.
Workshops and webinars are scheduled throughout January to help fire and EMS companies learn more about the program and how to apply.
Security Grant Applications Available Now for Nonprofit Groups
Nonprofit organizations that serve groups at the greatest risk of being targeted for hate crimes can apply now for grants to complete security enhancements. Applications for the Nonprofit Security Grant Fund Program are available through February 3.
Eligible uses of grants include safety and security planning, the purchase of security equipment and technology, security training, threat awareness and response training, threat assessments and other safety or security-related projects.
COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard Offers Updates on Distribution
The Department of Health recently announced the creation of a new COVID-19 vaccine dashboard on its website to provide updates on the number of vaccinations administered by county, as well as demographic information about people who have received the vaccine.
The vaccine is currently being distributed to health care workers, as well as staff and residents of long-term care facilities. More information about the roll-out of the vaccine is available here.
Commercial Driver Licenses, Learner’s Permits Extended Through February 22
PennDOT has extended the expiration dates of all commercial driver licenses and commercial learner’s permits that were set to expire between March 16, 2020 and February 22, 2021.
The extension provides additional time for truck drivers to renew these licenses and permits as they continue to keep supply lines open and prevent product shortages and disruptions.