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:
Advocating for Cutting Taxes, Creating Jobs, & Protecting Communities in 2022-23 Budget
As the effort to pass the 2022-23 state budget is now in full swing, I announced my budget priorities of focusing on increasing economic opportunity for Pennsylvanians, improving public safety, and positioning students for success in their future careers.
To increase economic opportunity and address the devastating effects of inflation on families, I will advocate for a reduction in both the Personal Income Tax (PIT) and Corporate Net Income (CNI) Tax.
A reduction in the PIT and CNI taxes would help every Pennsylvania taxpayer at a time when they have been beaten down by inflation and the rising costs of necessities like food and gas. We must reject reckless fiscal policies like those of President Joe Biden that have created such significant financial strain, and instead focus on policies to position Pennsylvanians for economic success and upward mobility.
Improving public safety is another important initiative, and I will focus on advancing reforms to boost police officer recruitment and retention by increasing funding for new Pennsylvania State Police classes and making a career in law enforcement eligible for an existing scholarship. Increased mental health funding in Pennsylvania schools and communities is also important.
Finally, I am pushing to strengthen Pennsylvania’s economy by preparing students for in-demand, family-sustaining careers. A bill I sponsored would redesign the state’s education system to better prepare students for the jobs of today and tomorrow, especially in sectors that are vulnerable to job losses due to automation.
For more information about how I will work to accomplish these goals, click here.
Senate Approves Poll Watcher Empowerment Act to Increase Election Oversight, Integrity
The Senate approved the Poll Watcher Empowerment Act to ensure election laws are strictly adhered to and improve confidence in Pennsylvania’s elections.
Senate Bill 573 would allow all registered Pennsylvania voters to be eligible to be a poll watcher in any precinct in the state and ensures poll watchers can clearly observe the pre-canvassing and counting of all ballots.
The bill would stiffen penalties against any election official who blocks, impedes or otherwise intimidates a poll watcher on Election Day. It would not change any duties, powers or responsibilities of poll watchers. Senate Bill 573 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The bill is the third election integrity measure passed by the Senate this year, along with the elimination of controversial ballot drop boxes and prohibiting third-party funding of elections.
Senate Acts to Protect Women’s Sports
The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which protects the integrity of women’s sports in Pennsylvania, was approved by the Senate. The bill advances to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 1191 states that school athletic teams designated for women should not be open to those of the male sex. The bill defines “sex” as the biological distinction between male and female, based on reproductive biology and genetic make-up.
The bill was introduced earlier this year after concerns grew about preserving the increased athletic opportunities female students have gained since Title IX was enacted 50 years ago next week.
Aument Proposes Bill to Empower PA Families in Education
Earlier this week, Sen. Scott Martin (R-13) and I announced our intent to introduce a bill to address discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation in Pennsylvania schools. The proposal is in response to concerns we have both received from parents that age-inappropriate conversations about these sensitive topics are occurring prematurely and without parental knowledge or consent in elementary school classrooms around the state.
Specifically, the proposal would:
At the end of the day, we all have a vested interest in making sure our children are safe and grow to be happy and healthy. Therefore, we must all work together to find fair solutions that accommodate the needs of parents and children from different backgrounds.
I recognize that this proposal will likely garner intense interest from parents and stakeholders across the Commonwealth; as such, I’ve published a webpage to answer questions about the language of the bill and dispel any myths or misunderstandings about its intent. Click here to visit the dedicated webpage for the Empowering Families in Education Act.
Elevating Home Values in Local Communities
Pennsylvania consistently ranks amongst the worst states for business, claiming one of the highest Corporate Net Income (CNI) tax rates in the country, second only to New Jersey. With Pennsylvania’s current rate of 9.99%, we’re at a great competitive disadvantage compared to most of our neighboring states that boast rates of around 6-6.5%.
We must take action to create economic opportunity for our residents and incentivize working professionals and families to move here and stay here. The first step to achieving those goals is to make the state’s CNI tax rate competitive with that of neighboring states.
Lowering a state’s CNI rate is associated with increased growth in home values. For the period between 2010-20, data analysis shows that the 23 states with the lowest CNI rates experienced significant growth in typical home value compared to the 23 states with the highest CNI rates.
Learn more about my proposal to reduce Pennsylvania’s CNI tax and how it would raise home values in Pennsylvania communities here.
Honoring Local Veteran Who Fought on D-Day
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of meeting Ray Wallace, one of the few surviving veterans who fought for our country on June 6, 1944, on the Senate floor. Ray was just 18 years old and a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division on D-Day.
He landed more than 20 miles from his drop zone and ultimately met up with 180 mis-dropped soldiers who fought off more than 2,000 Nazi soldiers for two days. Ray was ultimately captured and spent the remainder of the war in a Nazi prisoner of war camp.
Now 97 years old, Ray lives in Columbia, PA with his family. As the 78th anniversary of D-Day passed this week, we are grateful for all those who fought so bravely for our freedom, and we remember all of those who were not fortunate enough to make it back home after the war. May God bless them all.
Recognizing Young Men and Women Who Decided to Serve in the U.S. Military
It was a pleasure to speak at the Our Community Salutes event at the American Legion Post 34 in Lancaster to honor high school seniors from around the county who have made the honorable decision to serve in the U.S. military upon graduation. These students were impressive, and I admire their commitment to our country and the freedoms we’ve fought for centuries to preserve!
Building World-Class Education Systems in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s education system has become antiquated and is struggling to meet students’ needs. Fixing that problem to not only meet the needs of today’s students – but tomorrow’s, as well – will require a more resilient, adaptable, and future-ready approach.
To move Pennsylvania into a position of education and economic competitiveness, we must establish the policies and regulations necessary to give all school districts the support and flexibility they need to build world-class education systems.
My bill would accomplish that by creating the Pennsylvania Commission on Education and Economic Competitiveness. The commission would include members of the Senate and House of Representatives and have the authority to study the challenges within the current system, 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.
Pennsylvania needs a redesigned education system that will enable our students to go on to enjoy fulfilling work, stable incomes and lifelong careers.
Joint Hearing on Government Data Breach Notification
Legislation requiring timely notification to victims of a state or local government data breach was the topic of a joint Senate/House public hearing.
The Senate Communications and Technology Committee and the House State Government Subcommittee on Government Information Technology and Communication held the gathering to review Senate Bill 696.
The panels heard from representatives of the Department of General Services, the State Privacy and Security Coalition, and the Cybersecurity Association of Pennsylvania. You can view the hearing and read testimony here.
Local Students Tour State Capitol
Fourth graders from Denver Elementary School recently visited the State Capitol and met with their legislators, Rep. Mindy Fee and me.
Students from Reamstown Elementary School toured the Capitol.
Students from Akron Elementary School visited the Capitol.
If you would like to tour the national historic landmark for yourself, book your tour for up to 40 guests online here. The Interactive Welcome Center, which is full of informative exhibits, is also open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Read more about the welcome center here.
Capitol Rally Aims to Stop Wolf Bridge Tolling Plan
The No P3 Bridge Tolls Coalition was joined by lawmakers at a capitol rally Wednesday to voice opposition to the Wolf administration’s plan to toll interstate bridges in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) plan proposes tolling to pay for bridge projects and has received an overwhelming amount of disapproval, including citizens, members of the General Assembly, local officials and business operators.
PennDOT’s Public-Private Partnership (P3) bridge tolling initiative would cost the average commuter an additional $1,000 per year and was moved through the process without legislative input nor approval.
The Senate passed Senate Bill 382, which reforms the P3 statute and voids PennDOT’s plan. However, Gov. Wolf has stated that he will veto the bill. Commonwealth Court temporarily halted the tolling plan. The Wolf administration has appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Nutrition Vouchers Available to Eligible Seniors
In cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Lancaster County Office of Aging will distribute Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program vouchers to eligible persons at local senior centers.
The nutrition vouchers, valued at $24, can be exchanged for Pennsylvania grown fruits and vegetables through November at participating farmers’ markets and roadside stands.
To be eligible, an individual must be at least 60 years of age, reside in Lancaster County, and have an annual household income of less than $25,142 for one person or less than $33,874 for two. Those living in nursing homes or other residential facilities where meals are provided are not eligible for this program.
Persons who are unable to pick up the vouchers may have a representative pick up vouchers on their behalf, but need to have a completed, signed application presented at the time of distribution. To receive an application by mail or email, contact any Lancaster County Office of Aging Senior Center listed below or call the Office of Aging at 717-299-7979.
Distribution Dates and Locations: All sites at 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.