Proposal Would Bring Transparency to Collective Bargaining Process
The cost of salary and benefits for public sector employees is ultimately paid by taxpayers, so it is critical for the public to understand how this compensation is negotiated. Senator Scott Martin and I introduced bills this week that would help provide a much-needed layer of transparency to the collective bargaining process.
Collective bargaining negotiations are currently exempt from government transparency laws. Our bills would remove those existing exemptions from the Sunshine Act and the Right To Know Law. The proposals would help the public better understand the decisions that are being made with their tax dollars.
More information about our bills is available here.
It was a privilege for me to welcome the 2018 State Champion Donegal High School Field Hockey Team to the Pennsylvania Senate. Congratulations to all of the players, coaches and team personnel for all of their accomplishments!
Education Committee Approves Telepresence, Flexible Snow Day Proposals
The Senate Education Committee, which I chair, met this week to approve a number of proposals designed to improve student safety and promote new options for school districts.
We approved Senate Bill 440, which would help limit the number of additional days schools must be in session in the summer as a result of snow days and other school cancelations. The bill would allow schools to utilize up to five flexible instructional days per year in which teachers upload lessons and assignments online for students to complete.
We also endorsed a bill I am sponsoring with Senators Scott Martin and Jay Costa to make new resources available to students who face an extended absence from school. Senate Bill 144 would create a grant program to make telepresence education technology – devices that allow students to participate in classroom activities from home – available to more homebound students.
The committee also passed Senate Bill 89, which replaces references to “vocational-technical schools” with “career and technical schools” to more adequately reflect the scope of available job training programs, and Senate Bill 115 to enhance CPR instruction for students in grades 9 through 12 to improve safety and help save lives.
I enjoyed visiting with these students from the Lancaster County Career and Technical Center. They came to Harrisburg to advocate for career and technical education. I am proud of the outstanding work being done at our Lancaster CTC!
Lawmakers Give Final Approval of Legislation to Strip Public Pensions from Felons
I supported final passage of a bill this week that would ensure public employees who commit job-related felonies are stripped of their taxpayer-funded pension. The bill helps close the “Mellow Loophole,” through which former State Senator Bob Mellow of Lackawanna County had his $245,000 a year pension restored despite pleading guilty and being sent to prison on federal conspiracy charges.
The bill was approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives and was sent to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law. More information about the bill is available here.
I had a great visit with Manheim FFA students during their visit to the state Capitol. Thanks for stopping by!
Transportation Commission Seeks Public Input
The Pennsylvania State Transportation Commission is updating its Twelve-Year Program to improve the state’s transportation infrastructure, not only for motorists, but also for recreation, public transit and other modes of transportation.
The Commission is seeking input from members of the public regarding the development of the update to the program.
An online survey is available online here. I encourage community residents to complete the survey and share with anyone else who has an interest in Pennsylvania’s transportation system.
I recently had the privilege of meeting with Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr., who served on the first flight of the joint Russian-American Space Program, becoming the first African-American to walk in space. Dr. Harris is passionate about improving student access to, and achievement in, STEM education across the country.
Lititz Coffee and Conversation Event Scheduled for March 29
I look forward to hosting another Coffee and Conversation event for community residents in the Lititz area on March 29 from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. at the Lititz Boro Hall, located at 7 South Broad Street.
These events are a great way to discuss what is happening in local communities and in Harrisburg in a relaxed environment. Light refreshments will be available. I hope to see you there!