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:
Young People Need Opportunity, Not Student Loan Forgiveness
The Supreme Court’s decision to overrule President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness proposal is a win for taxpayers. I applaud the ruling; we can’t simply push personal accountability aside. However, we can’t ignore the student loan debt crisis either.
There are steps we can and should take to help borrowers, protect taxpayers, and strengthen Pennsylvania’s economy – we can’t continue to let this broken system take advantage of millions of borrowers.
Younger generations don’t need loan forgiveness. They need the same opportunities their parents and grandparents had to gain meaningful employment, buy a home, raise a family, and build vibrant communities. But when 75% of jobs require a bachelor’s degree, the average annual cost of college tuition has increased more than 3,000% since 1969, and interest rates to repay those loans are as high as 15%, students don’t stand a chance.
Expanding the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program
In an effort to provide more financial relief for low-income seniors, the Senate passed legislation to increase the income eligibility and amount of rebates for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. I’m very pleased this bipartisan bill will put money back in the pockets of those who need it most.
The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. House Bill 1100 will expand this program to help homeowners and renters with household income of up to $45,000. Previously, the income limit was $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded.
In addition, as part of the legislation, the household income limit is required to be adjusted each July equal to a percentage change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), with any changes rounded to the nearest $10. If the CPI declines, the income limits will remain unchanged.
Honoring Local Track and Field Team for First-Place Win
It was my pleasure to host the Manheim Township High School Unified Track and Field Team to honor them for their first-place win in the Unified Team Rankings during the 2023 PIAA Track and Field Championships. This accomplishment is especially impressive because the team just completed its first season. Congrats to the coaches and players!
Pennsylvania to Receive More Than $1 Billion to Close Digital Divide
Pennsylvania is set to receive $1.16 billion in federal funding to increase access to high-speed internet connectivity for individuals, businesses, schools and hospitals.
Thanks to everyone who submitted information to challenge the Federal Communications Commission’s map that indicates areas with and without high-speed internet connectivity, Pennsylvania had the third highest number of successful challenges in the country.
While funding was predicated on the map released by the FCC, residents may still view and challenge the map should the information be incorrect. Residents can view the statewide broadband map and learn more about challenging any location in Pennsylvania here.
Nonprofit Expands to Help More People
Good Samaritan Services recently broke ground for its new shelter in Ephrata to help men, women, and children who are experiencing homelessness and hardships. The new 2,000-square-foot facility will also include an office for intake in a more private setting.
In addition to providing housing, Good Samaritan offers other resources including parenting education, job training, microloans, and matched savings opportunities. Learn more here.
Good Samaritan provides shelter and other services to more than 600 people annually across Lancaster and Chester counties.
Women Veterans to Benefit from Health Care Task Force
To provide care for the unique health needs of women veterans, the Senate approved a measure establishing the Task Force on Women Veterans’ Health Care in Pennsylvania.
The task force will study health issues facing women veterans and make recommendations to the governor and General Assembly. The panel will be composed of individuals with relevant specialties, including the chair of the State Veterans’ Commission and health care providers.
Senate Resolution 46 would also pave the way for Pennsylvania to potentially receive additional federal funding to address women veterans’ health care issues.
Congrats to Hempfield High Track and Field Star
Aidan Hodge, a recent graduate of Hempfield High School, won first place in the Class AAA Boys’ 800-meter run at the 2023 PIAA Track and Field Championships. He also won first place and broke his school’s record in the 1600-meter run with a time of four minutes and 11 seconds. Congratulations to Aidan on these remarkable achievements!
Beware of Student Loan Scam Robocalls and Robotexts
Following the Supreme Court decision regarding the U.S. Department of Education’s student loan forgiveness program, scammers are likely to attempt to use the program to make their misleading robocalls and robotexts seem more legitimate.
Common scams pretend to be from the “student loan forgiveness center” or from a state “forgiveness center.” Other messages reference a “settlement” with the U.S. Department of Education that entitles the recipient to “fully discharge” their student loan obligations. Incoming communications may also fraudulently reflect seemingly legitimate caller ID information to convince consumers to respond.
Learn more, including how to spot a scam and what to do if you are a target, here.
Purple Star School Program Supports Military-Connected Children
Thanks to legislation sponsored by Senate Republicans, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) launched the Purple Star School Program.
The program encourages schools to support the children of service members on active duty and in the National Guard and Reserves as they transition to a new school due to a parent’s change in duty station. Public and non-public schools can receive the Purple Star Award from PDE if they demonstrate their commitment to students and families connected to our nation’s military.
Pennsylvania now joins 37 other states that offer this designation. Schools can learn more and apply for the Purple Star School designation here.
Senate Approves Expanding Access to Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners
To provide comprehensive, trauma-informed quality care to survivors of sexual assault, the Senate passed Senate Bill 414 to improve access to Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs).
SANEs collect critical forensic evidence when a sexual assault survivor seeks medical attention after an attack. In addition to conducting forensic exams or rape kits, SANEs may provide expert testimony if a case goes to trial.
There are less than 50 certified SANEs across Pennsylvania despite the state having about 280 hospitals. Most hospitals do not offer access to a SANE.
The bill would improve SANE availability as it identifies a funding stream for hospitals to establish and maintain operation of SANE programs; and directs the Department of Health to compile a list of all hospitals in the commonwealth that offer SANE services and to make that information available statewide.
Free, Fresh Produce for Eligible Seniors
Through the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, eligible participants will receive $50 in vouchers to be used at approved farmers markets to purchase Pennsylvania-grown fruits and vegetables. Vouchers may be used until Nov. 30.
To be eligible, seniors must be age 60 by Dec. 31, 2023, live in Lancaster County, and have household income less than $26,973 for one person or less than $36,482 for two people. Seniors living in personal care or nursing homes are not eligible.
To pick up vouchers for yourself, go to the closest senior center and present ID if asked. You will not need an application or proof of income. Learn more, including how to pick up vouchers for others, here.