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:
Safeguarding-Taxpayer Funded Public Assistance from Waste, Fraud and Abuse
A package of bills to better protect taxpayer dollars spent on public assistance from fraud and abuse passed the Senate this week. The bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 243 would ensure that Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medical Assistance benefits are not spent on the deceased. It would require the Department of Human Services to check death certificates with the Department of Health’s Bureau of Vital Statistics. A state audit found 2,324 Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cardholders received benefits after they passed away.
Senate Bill 244 would require the Department of Human Services to compare income and employment records held by the Department of Labor and Industry with recipients of SNAP and medical assistance benefits to prevent fraud. According to the Office of the State Inspector General, 85 Pennsylvanians have been charged with public assistance fraud in 2023.
Senate Bill 245 would update the Public Assistance Integrity Act to require the Department of Human Services to issue a yearly report on its efforts to ensure lottery winners are not receiving cash benefits. The Public Assistance Integrity Act closed a loophole that did not require lottery winnings to be considered as income when determining eligibility for benefits.
Prohibiting Drug Injection Sites in PA Communities
As part of our ongoing effort to strengthen Pennsylvania by advancing policies to foster healthy and safe communities, the Senate passed a bill to prohibit drug “injection sites” in our communities.
Such sites do not help to overcome addiction. They encourage the continued use of illegal – and often deadly – drugs and attract drug dealers who sell to those entering the sites, which operate under a “bring your own drugs” policy. Drug trafficking occurs in plain sight, and drug-related violence increases as dealers protect their turf.
These sites have very poor track records of moving those with substance use disorders into treatment, with some referral rates as low as 1%. They are counterproductive to finding the appropriate strategy to curb the drug abuse epidemic. Rather than sending the incorrect message that illegal drugs can be used safely, we must focus on adequately funding treatment and community-based recovery support services.
Preventing Tax Increases and Keeping Tax Dollars Local
The Commuter Tax Fairness Act, passed by the Senate, supports Senate Republicans’ goal of limiting the tax burden for Pennsylvanians by adjusting Philadelphia’s City Wage Tax for non-city residents.
Currently, the 3.44% city wage tax is imposed on salaries, wages, commissions and other compensation paid to people working for a Philadelphia employer. Non-residents – even those who work remotely and never go into the city – are forced to pay the full Philadelphia City Wage Tax if their employer is based in the city.
With the passage of the Commuter Tax Fairness Act, the Philadelphia City Wage Tax for non-residents would remain 3.44% but 1% could be redirected to the workers’ home municipalities for municipalities that have an earned income tax. The change would reduce the increased burden placed on others living in surrounding municipalities who must pay more for basic services like fire, police and emergency medical services because none of Philadelphia’s City Wage Tax is shared.
Pennsylvanians’ tax dollars should stay local and help their communities, not be diverted to another part of the state. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Discussing the Future of Education in Pennsylvania with Local Teacher
I recently met with Lancaster School District teacher Bryan Hower at my Lititz district office. Bryan reached out to share his perspective on the importance of computer science/cyber security education to the work of the Commission on Education and Economic Competitiveness, which would be established through a bill I introduced.
The bipartisan commission would study the current school system’s challenges, learn from approaches to systematic redesign all over the world, and come up with innovative policy solutions that will enable educators and students to meet the future. Redesigning our school system is imperative if we want to be competitive not just with other states but globally.
Learn more about my plan here.
Learning About Opportunities for Expansion of Lancaster Airport
I recently visited the Lancaster Airport and met with Lancaster Airport Authority Director Ed Foster.
Lancaster Airport is the third busiest airport in PA when measuring by the number of planes that take off and land there. Federal funding allocations have been far too slow in recognizing the growth of this region and the infrastructure needs at the airport.
Ed and I spoke extensively about opportunities for expansion and the exciting potential for more flights to better meet the needs of Lancaster County residents.
Touring New Startup in Manheim Township
Quub, Inc. Chief Executive Officer Joe Latrell and his team welcomed me for a tour of the new startup company’s headquarters in Manheim Township.
Quub is building a constellation of microsatellites to monitor our natural resources like water, coastlines, and forests. Just like a smartwatch tracks your health and notifies you when something is wrong, their satellites monitor our natural resources and alert us about threats to our planet’s health.
Unlike the large and ultra-expensive satellites of the past, Quub’s satellites are small, lightweight, and built using mostly off-the-shelf components. This allows them to quickly construct a network that updates every 15 minutes for a “motion-picture” view of what’s happening on the ground.
Learn more here.
Welcoming Local Students to Our State Capitol
Students from Nitrauer and Schaeffer elementary schools in Manheim Township School District recently toured our beautiful state Capitol building in Harrisburg. It’s always a privilege to welcome young constituents to the Capitol.
If you’re interested in booking a tour of this historic building, schedule here.
Celebrating New Jobs in Rapho Township
I joined Congressman Lloyd Smucker and local Rapho Township officials to celebrate the opening of a new Amazon delivery station. This new delivery station will create 150 new jobs in the community and power the last mile of Amazon’s order process in the region.
Talking Lancaster Tourism
A member of my staff joined Rep. Brett Miller, Rep. Tom Jones, and others for a Lancaster County Tourism Tour led by Discover Lancaster. He met with industry leaders, learned about the significant economic impact of tourism in our county, and discussed ways to strengthen the industry.
Grants to Improve Access to Healthy Food
Schools and childhood education centers may apply for up to $15,000 per school for a PA Farm Bill Farm-to-School Grant for projects to improve access to healthy, local foods. The money can also be used to increase hands-on learning experiences for children in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.
Farm-to-School Grants enrich the connection between families and local producers of fresh, healthy food by changing food purchasing habits in schools. Projects increase access to markets for local farms and expose children early to agriculture, agriculture careers and healthy food choices.
Grant applications must be submitted online here by May 19 at 5 p.m.
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