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:
Education Improvements Enacted by the General Assembly
When the General Assembly passed the 2022-23 state budget last month, we also enacted several provisions to improve education in Pennsylvania.
One problem we addressed was the potential teacher shortage faced by schools across the commonwealth. We took the first steps toward attracting more quality educators by streamlining the process for out-of-state teachers to receive certification in Pennsylvania. This critical provision will help get teachers who move to Pennsylvania into the classrooms quicker without any unnecessary delays due to red tape.
Additionally, we extended continuing education requirements to ensure good educators aren’t taken out of the classroom when we need them most. We also created a new Committee on Education Talent Recruitment that will provide grants and other resources to ensure we get the best and brightest teachers in front of students.
With statewide graduation requirements going into effect this school year, the reforms also included a provision to create an alternative graduation pathway for students impacted by COVID-19. In addition, we expanded dual enrollment so more high school students can enroll in higher education classes. This offers more young people a chance to earn college credits before high school graduation, better preparing them for college and allowing them to reduce the total cost of earning a degree.
Supporting education also means encouraging new learning options, no matter where the instruction takes place. Record new funding for the state’s popular Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) scholarship program will ensure more kids can learn in an environment that suits their unique educational needs, including both public and private schools.
Finally, the General Assembly acted to eliminate onerous regulations that would have shuttered many quality charter schools. In addition to historic levels of state funding, these actions will help ensure Pennsylvania’s children have the educational foundation needed to thrive.
State Tax Reform Helps PA Job Creators, Families
The Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office recently confirmed that real average hourly earnings – a measure of workers’ pay adjusted for inflation – declined by 3.9% in June.
In addition, the massive, new spending bill enacted in Washington will end up forcing working-class Americans to pay billions of dollars in new taxes, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
The pressures on families and job creators, caused by reckless action at the federal level and outdated policy at the state level, are real and mounting.
Boosting wages and providing new income opportunities to Pennsylvanians are the reasons the General Assembly approved sweeping tax reform in July as part of the new state budget. Business operators big and small are telling us these changes will allow them to invest more money in their businesses and employees. Creating a climate for good-paying jobs is vital to supporting families and allowing healthy communities to flourish.
Schools have Until Aug. 31 to Apply for Security and Mental Health Grants
As part of this year’s budget negotiations, we made a historic investment in the safety of Pennsylvania students. This includes $95 million for school safety and security grants and an additional $95 million for school mental health grants.
School districts have until Aug. 31 to apply for this assistance. Safety and security grants help pay for security assessments, training and more. Mental health grants can be used for counseling, screening, early intervention and other initiatives.
Children need a safe and secure learning environment to succeed in school. These grants provide financial assistance to schools to implement the strategies that work best for them.
It’s Not Too Late to Fill Out My Survey on Energy
Do you think Pennsylvania should complete energy infrastructure projects, like pipelines?
Tell me your opinion on energy policy in Pennsylvania by participating in a brief survey on my website here.
Please Watch for Children as Schools Open
With children returning to school, it’s a good time to revisit the state school bus stopping law.
The penalties if convicted of violating the law include a $250 fine, five points on your driving record and a 60-day license suspension. For your sake and that of students and school employees, please be careful around school buses.
Honoring the Winner of My Senator for a Day Contest
Earlier this year, I held a Senator for a Day Event at the State Capitol and invited students from the 36th Senatorial District to learn about the legislative process and debate legislation with their peers. The event also included a contest where students were invited to highlight a problem they see in Pennsylvania and offer a legislative solution. The winner, Hannah Slobozien, described a mission of the Lancaster County Human Trafficking Task Force that captured 14 suspects involved in a prostitution sting at an East Hempfield Township hotel. One of the men lived a mile from Hannah, which drove home the disturbing reality that human trafficking happens in our communities – not just somewhere far away.
Her legislative proposal would create a Human Trafficking Prevention county task force template that would incorporate methods of operation and strategies that are successful in existing forces. Read her winning essay here.
In honor of her win, I hosted Hannah and her family at our State Capitol.
Celebrating National Health Center Week
I recently celebrated National Health Center Week at the Union Community Care New Holland Health Center. UCC New Holland is home to a dental and medical practice. My thanks to Vice President of Health Center Operations, Jackie Concepcion, for meeting with me.
UCC also has locations in Ephrata, Denver, Lebanon and the city of Lancaster. Learn more here.
PennDOT Jobs Available for CDL Drivers
The Department of Transportation is hiring Winter CDL Equipment Operators. The job involves operating highway construction and maintenance equipment to perform snow removal duties and related tasks.
This is a seasonal position lasting from September through April, but there are frequent opportunities for promotion that include good benefits and career advancement.
Winter CDL Equipment Operators earn $18.53 to $20.49 per hour, based on location. To see counties where you might be interested in working, view PennDOT’s District map. Watch this video to learn more about this position.
PA ABLE Helps Pennsylvanians with Disabilities
PA ABLE is a savings program that helps to provide increased financial independence for Pennsylvanians with disabilities. Since being created by the General Assembly five years ago, the program has helped nearly 7,000 Pennsylvanians and their families save more than $75 million.
PA ABLE accounts allow individuals and families to save without affecting eligibility for means-tested federal benefits – and they offer tax advantages. Growth in PA ABLE accounts is tax-deferred, and withdrawals are tax-free when used for qualified disability expenses – which can include day-to-day things like groceries or rent, or larger, more long-term expenses such as assistive technology or vehicle modifications.
Eligible Pennsylvanians can open a PA ABLE account and choose from investment options or an interest-bearing checking account to best meet their savings goals. PA ABLE is administered by the Pennsylvania Treasury Department. To learn about program eligibility and how to open a PA ABLE account, visit paable.gov or call 855-529-2253.