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:
Virtual Reality System Will Keep Our Communities Safe
I recently held a press conference with county commissioners and local law enforcement at the Lancaster County Public Safety Training Center. Working with our chiefs of police and county commissioners, I was able to secure funding to assist with an upgrade to the Firearms Training System (FATS).
This new virtual reality system will improve de-escalation training for police and help keep our communities safe. It will put police officers and other law enforcement in near-real-world situations in which they must respond based on the environment and behavior of virtual civilians.
Senate Bill Fights Porch Pirating
Legislation cracking down on “porch pirating” was approved by the Senate this week.
In Pennsylvania, theft of mail – also known as porch pirating – is currently charged under other theft offenses based solely on the value of the item taken. The average cost of a package stolen in Pennsylvania is $43, and nearly 2 million Pennsylvanians have been victimized by a porch pirate.
Senate Bill 527 would implement specific penalties for theft of mail, which includes a package, bag or letter. The grading of this offense would increase if the person had prior convictions for theft of mail.
Honoring Fallen Soldiers on Memorial Day
I was humbled to visit Woodcrest Villa in East Hempfield to honor the men and women who bravely served our nation and made the ultimate sacrifice.
They answered a higher calling when they left behind their loved ones and their homes to protect the freedoms and liberties we cherish.
While we gathered to recognize Memorial Day, we must always remember the valuable contributions veterans have made on behalf of our county.
Ensuring Adequate Funding for Roads and Bridges
To ensure sound funding for Pennsylvania roads and bridges, the Senate approved Senate Bill 656 to replace the state Alternative Fuels Tax on electric vehicle owners with a flat annual fee of $290.
The fee was calculated based on the average annual gas taxes paid by owners of gas-powered vehicles. Like the gas tax, the revenue from the flat fee will be deposited into the Motor License Fund for highway maintenance and construction.
Currently, owners of electric vehicles are required to file monthly statements with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and remit the alternative fuels tax on how much electricity their vehicle uses. However, most electric vehicle owners do not do this, or are inconsistent at doing so, due to the cumbersome process or simply being unaware.
Introducing My Intern to the PA Senate
We are extremely fortunate to have Isaac Good, the valedictorian of Mount Calvary Christian School of Elizabethtown, as our legislative intern this summer. Isaac has done an exceptional job interacting with constituents and my staff members over the last few weeks.
He has already helped expedite a number of legislative research projects for our office, and we’re excited to have him on the team for the busy month of June.
Senate Passes Bill Protecting Prescription Coverage for Social Security Recipients
The Senate passed Senate Bill 607 to protect PACE and PACENET participants who may be pushed beyond the eligibility limits due solely to a cost-of-living increase in Social Security payments.
The PACE and PACENET programs help Pennsylvanians age 65 or older to afford their prescription medications. Eligibility for the programs is based on income, and Pennsylvanians on Social Security received an 8.7% cost-of-living increase in their benefits for 2023.
Single older Pennsylvanians earning $14,500 or less are eligible for PACE, while those earning between $14,500 and $33,500 are eligible for PACENET. Married couples earning $17,700 or less are eligible for PACE. Those earning between $17,700 and $41,500 are eligible for PACENET.
Playing Fraud Bingo with Local Seniors
I enjoyed visiting with seniors at the Lititz Senior Center. I was there to play bingo and join the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities to discuss how seniors can protect themselves from investment and other financial fraud.
Learn more and download the game for free here.
Bill to Prevent Distracted Driving Deaths Passes Senate
Legislation prohibiting the handheld use of cellular and other devices while driving passed this week in the Senate.
Senate Bill 37 would enhance driver responsibility by prohibiting the handheld use of cell phones or other communication devices while operating a motor vehicle on a Pennsylvania highway or trafficway. A driver could only use their wireless device while holding or supporting it when the vehicle is parked on the side or shoulder of a roadway and the vehicle is safely able to remain stationary.
To help educate drivers of the change in the law, this legislation includes a provision directing law enforcement to issue warnings for violations for the first 12 months following the signing of the bill.
Visiting Students at Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13
I recently visited Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 to meet with English as a Second Language and High School Equivalency students. I particularly enjoyed speaking with refugees new to Lancaster County. I was inspired by their journey and their hopes for the future.
Thank you to Tim Shenk and the entire Community Education team for making my visit happen.
Senate Acts to Exempt Newer Vehicles from Emissions Test
To relieve motorists from outdated and unnecessary emissions testing, the Senate approved Senate Bill 561 to exempt the five newest model-year vehicles.
Pennsylvania is mandated by the federal government to implement an emissions inspection and maintenance program to comply with federal 1990 Clean Air Act amendments. Pennsylvania’s program requires motorists in 25 counties to participate in an annual emissions test.
As fuel-efficient cars have become more widespread, a vehicle emissions test has proven to be less effective at reducing air pollution. Between 2010-19, there were more than 21 million newer vehicles that passed the emissions test 99.65% of the time. Newer vehicles consistently pass emissions tests due to newer, more fuel-efficient vehicles on the market.
Prioritizing Workforce Development and Job Opportunities
The Senate has approved legislation to help establish Pennsylvania as an international leader in the development, testing and implementation of cutting-edge technologies.
Senate Bill 497 establishes the Max Manufacturing Initiative Act, which provides grants and loans to state universities so they can partner with engineering entities to enhance research capabilities, promote business alliances, produce high-value products and create family-sustaining jobs.
Advanced manufacturing is the use of innovative technologies to create and enhance products and is utilized in most industries. The manufacturing industry in the United States produces more than $4 trillion annually and thousands of job opportunities in the commonwealth.