In this Update:
Responding to PA’s Dwindling University Enrollment
Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities lost another 5,000-plus students this fall. The total enrollment plummeted 5.4% to beneath 89,000 students. This is the lowest level of enrollment seen in more than 30 years.
While the pandemic certainly worsened enrollment, this trend was already in motion. It’s clear that we need to do something different to attract students. Reworking our education system to better align the skills taught in our universities with the needs of the future workforce to help students land high-paying jobs after graduation would be a great place to start.
To do that, I’ve introduced Senate Resolution 144, which would create the 2030 Commission on Education and Economic Competitiveness. The commission would be tasked with building an education system that produces a skilled workforce for in-demand jobs.
My resolution received support from the Senate and moved to the House of Representatives for consideration this past June. Learn more about my proposal to attract more talent to Pennsylvania institutions of higher education by ensuring that they are better preparing students for the jobs of tomorrow here.
Aument Recognizes the Service of Four Civil Air Patrol Members
Pictured with me, from left: Senior Master Sgt. Glenn Knight, Capt. Greg Sollenberger, Cadet Captain Journee Acosta and Maj. Carlton “Skip” Walls.
I recently had the honor of recognizing four incredible people who serve as members of the Civil Air Patrol, which is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. They are each dedicated to helping others and bettering themselves.
Senior Master Sgt. Glenn Knight received the Civil Air Patrol Exceptional Service Award for creating the Virtual In-Residence training program that is currently employed nationwide.
Capt. Greg Sollenberger received the Grover Loening Award for completion of Level 3 of the Civil Air Patrol 5-level senior training program.
Cadet Captain Journee Acosta received the Amelia Earhart Award for her sustained excellence in the four areas of cadet life: leadership, aerospace, physical fitness, and character.
Maj. Carlton “Skip” Walls received the National Commander’s Citation for assisting in the setup of a nationwide radio network using the latest technology.
Local Trail Voted a Great Place in PA
The Warwick to Ephrata Rail Trail (WERT) was named to The Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association’s list of 2021 Great Places in PA in the Great Greenway/Trail category.
The 7.2 mile WERT connects five northeastern Lancaster County communities and travels through farmland, woodlands, rural villages, and historic urban neighborhoods.
In order to qualify as “A Great Greenway/Trail,” the trail must “preserve or protect open space, scenic landscapes, historical resources, natural resources and plant/animal habitats.” It must also be “easily accessible, serve to connect people and places, be used by people of all ages, be an economic generator for communities, and often be a focal point for social events.”
I am proud to have a local trail added to this distinguished list!
Click here for the full list of 2021 Great Places in PA.
Congratulations to Local Eagle Scout John Spead
To earn this monumental achievement attained by only a small percentage of all Boy Scouts, John designed and assembled a covered bicycle pavilion for the Lancaster Evangelical Free Church in Lititz. He has also served Troop 44 in Lititz as bugler, quartermaster, assistant patrol leader and assistant senior patrol leader.
Congratulations to John for earning the rank of Eagle Scout! The Senate of Pennsylvania commends him on the outstanding work he has done to earn this prestigious honor and wishes him continued success in all future endeavors.
Register Now to Attend My Black Bear Event
I am partnering with the Pennsylvania Game Commission to host a Black Bear and Visitor Center Update on Thursday, Oct. 28, from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Middle Creek Visitors Center, 100 Museum Road, Stevens.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Black Bear Program Specialist, Wildlife Biologist Emily Carrollo, will provide an informative program that lasts an hour and covers black bear biology, how to avoid bear vs. human conflicts and general audience Q&A. The Southeast Region Game Commission staff will also be present and provide updates on recent activities occurring at the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area and Visitor Center.
Please RSVP at https://www.senatoraument.com/blackbear/ or by calling 717-627-0036 to attend.
Limiting the Influence of Lobbyists and Political Consultants
This week, Senate Republicans introduced a package of bills that would subject lobbyists and political consultants to new transparency and ethical standards to limit their level of influence in state government.
Senate Bill 801, sponsored by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery), would require lobbyists to register any clients seeking state financial assistance or grants and prohibit kick-backs and inducements for referrals or performance bonuses for a successful application for taxpayer-funded grants.
Senate Bill 802, sponsored by Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York), would prohibit any state entity from hiring an outside lobbyist or political consultant to lobby any branch of government. The bill would also prohibit former lobbyists who become employees of the General Assembly from being lobbied by their previous colleagues for one year after separation from employment. This would prevent the revolving door of individuals leaving a lobbying firm to join the legislature and immediately being influenced by their former coworkers.
Senate Bill 803, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), would prevent lobbyists from also being registered as political consultants and would prohibit a political consultant from lobbying a state official who was a client for the remainder of the term for which consulting services were provided.
Senate Bill 804, sponsored by Sen. Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks), would require all registered lobbyists to complete mandatory annual ethics training developed by the Department of State.
PennDOT Invites Pennsylvanians to Share Feedback
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is inviting the public to share construction and maintenance services feedback via an online survey through Oct. 26.
The 20-question survey asks how they receive PennDOT roadway information and how often PennDOT meets or exceeds expectations in construction and maintenance activities.
Respondents are also asked about experiences with reporting concerns to the department, and whether or how they use the state’s 511PA traveler information services, which provide information about the condition of more than 40,000 roadway miles in Pennsylvania online at www.511pa.com.
Discussing How to Best Protect PA Communities
The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee hosted a public hearing focusing on Senate Bill 698, which would allow counties to create countywide public safety authorities for firefighting and/or emergency medical services (EMS). Rather than replacing volunteer and career fire and EMS companies, authorities would exist to support them and their work.
The speaking panels included people representing local government, fire and EMS. They shared varying opinions about how to most effectively preserve access to life-saving care for all Pennsylvanians.
Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to Open Oct. 18
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which promotes funding for mitigation measures that reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property for future disasters, will open on Monday, Oct. 18.
State agencies, federally recognized tribes, local governments/communities and private nonprofit organizations are eligible to develop mitigation project sub-applications to submit to their state, territory or tribal government. States, territories and tribes are then responsible for selecting the sub-applications that align with their mitigation priorities and submit them in an application to FEMA.
FEMA will conduct a final eligibility review of all sub-applications to ensure compliance with federal regulations.
Click here for more information.
Celebrating Down Syndrome Awareness Month
About one in 700 babies in the U.S. is born with Down syndrome each year – or about 6,000.
Down Syndrome Awareness Month serves to remind us that people with Down syndrome can live full, rich lives. A loving, stimulating home environment and the right health care enable people with Down syndrome to excel and enlighten.