In this Update:
Aument Bill Improving Educational Access for PA Students Passes Senate Committee
Senate Bill 786 would broaden the state’s Open Campus Initiative, a program that allows school districts to enter collaborative partnerships, which currently permits a student from one participating district to attend classes at the other school district and receive credit for that course.
In an effort to increase access to and expand educational options for students, this bill would amend the Open Campus Initiative to include courses offered by charter schools, regional charter schools, and cyber charter schools.
This legislation builds upon an existing program that was created to foster collaboration and expand opportunities for students. Especially after a year of disruptions for students due to the pandemic and school closures, this would give school districts an additional tool in their toolbox with options that would be no cost to the taxpayers.
Learn more about Senate Bill 786 here or listen to my remarks in the Senate Education Committee meeting in the video above.
Aument Cosponsors Right to Bear Arms Act
As a long-time supporter of Second Amendment rights, I was pleased to sign on to cosponsor Senate Bill 624, legislation that would prohibit the use of any state or local resources to enforce any new federal restriction, prohibition or registration requirement on the purchase or ownership of firearms, and firearm accessories, which are currently legal products in Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 624 has been referred to the Senate State Government Committee for consideration.
Learn more about the bill here.
Legislature Approves Extension of Pandemic Waivers of Government Regulations
The Senate voted to extend waivers of an array of regulatory statutes, rules and regulations to aid in Pennsylvania’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill was sent to the governor for enactment following approval by the House of Representatives.
The waivers affecting health and human services, as well as consumers and employees, were due to expire Thursday. Enactment of the legislation would extend the waivers until March 31, 2022.
In May, voters stripped Gov. Tom Wolf of the authority he claimed to extend emergency declarations without approval of the General Assembly. Delivering on a promise to the people that we work better together, the General Assembly initially extended these waivers as part of the budget in June.
Approval of the following waivers is critical to providing flexibility in managing the pandemic during a workforce shortage crisis:
Waivers Benefiting Consumers and Employees
Waivers Aiding the Work of Health Care Facilities and Services
Senate Acts to Prevent Repeat of Botched Constitutional Amendment Process
The Senate approved two measures aimed at preventing a repeat of the Pennsylvania Department of State’s devastating failure to carry out a proposed constitutional amendment to help victims of sexual abuse.
In the 2019-20 session, the General Assembly approved a proposed constitutional amendment, which would have given voters the opportunity to decide if a two-year window for victims of childhood sexual abuse to file litigation against their abusers should be created. The Department of State admitted earlier this year that it failed to properly advertise the proposed constitutional amendment, preventing the issue from going before voters and forcing the entire effort to be restarted.
One measure would require the Department of State to create a publicly accessible website to provide Pennsylvanians a transparent way to track every step of the constitutional amendment process, including:
A second bill would require formal training for the Department’s employees regarding their legislative responsibilities and the constitutional amendment process.
A 68-page Inspector General report on the botched handling of the constitutional amendment showed that some Department of State staff lack the formal training needed to properly handle their responsibilities with legislation.
Both bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Program to Battle Opioid Abuse Extended by Senate
The Senate approved a bill that continues a program designed to help doctors and pharmacists battle opioid abuse. The program, set to expire on June 30, 2022, would be extended until Dec. 31, 2028. The bill now goes to the governor for enactment.
The measure extends the successful Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescriptions (ABC-MAP) program that allows access to a patient’s prescription medication history through an electronic system to those who prescribe medications and those who dispense medication.
Electronic access to a patient’s prescription medication history allows doctors, pharmacists and other medical professionals to better treat patients. ABC-MAP enables opioid prescribers and dispensers to identify warning signs of abuse including “doctor shopping” and “pharmacy shopping” that occurs when patients attempt to obtain opioid prescriptions from multiple doctors or pharmacies.
Senate Passes Measures to Help Pennsylvania Farmers Move Goods
The Senate passed two measures to help Pennsylvania farmers make home deliveries and meet other transportation needs. The bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
One bill would enable a farmer to register a farm vehicle for the delivery of milk and other agricultural products to both businesses and homes. Under current law, a farmer is required to purchase, register and maintain a separate commercial vehicle for home deliveries while also maintaining a farm vehicle to deliver products to businesses.
Another measure would allow farmers to use a Class A, B or C driver’s license when operating farm vehicles with a combined weight of more than 26,000 pounds on roadways.
Act 170 of 2014 clarified that farmers did not need a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) when operating farm trucks, or farm trucks hauling trailers, with a combined weight of more than 26,000 pounds. However, it was unclear as to whether a farmer could use a Class B, Class C or Class A driver’s license when operating those vehicles. A Class A driver’s license is a graduated license above the common Class C license and requires an additional road test and fee.
Domestic Violence: Identifying the Signs and Getting Help
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Help is available if you’re experiencing abuse or concerned about a friend or family member:
Call: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)
Text: START to 88788
Chat: At National Domestic Violence Hotline
Aument Presents Citation to Lancaster County Planning Commission Retiree
Last month, I had the privilege of presenting an official Senate of Pennsylvania Citation to Robert Bini, sponsored by Senators Scott Martin (R-13), Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-28), and myself. Bob recently retired from the Lancaster County Planning Commission after a career spanning thirty-three years of distinguished service.
The Senate of Pennsylvania was pleased to commend Bob for his extraordinary commitment to Lancaster County and wishes him well in retirement!
Connor Joyce from Elizabethtown Shadows Senator Aument at the PA Capitol
It was my pleasure to host Connor Joyce as my shadow for the day at the Pennsylvania Capitol earlier this week. Originally from Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, Connor is a senior at Harrisburg Academy where he plays varsity basketball and represents his peers on Student Council.
Outside of school, Connor participates in outreach programs benefitting the community, such as Wreaths Across America and Habitat for Humanity.
Connor has always had an interest in politics and wanted to learn more about what a typical day for a Pennsylvania State Senator is like. He accompanied me to important advocacy meetings with constituents and stakeholders, observed committee meetings, met my staff, and saw the legislative process in action.
After high school, Connor plans to attend college to major in political science, minor in history, and complete an ROTC program.
Aument Plays in Capitol All-Stars Legislative Charitable Softball Game
I was pleased to play in the fifth annual Capitol All-Stars Legislative Charitable Softball game earlier this week. To date, the game has raised more than $250,000 for Hunger-Free Pennsylvania and Feeding Pennsylvania!
My thanks to all our event sponsors and to Senator John Gordner for throwing a great pitch that allowed me to hit a homerun for the Youse Team!