Senate Committee Passes Stefano Bill to Benefit National Guard Members

HARRISBURG – The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee and its chairman, Sen. Pat Stefano (R-32), voted in favor of five bills, including ones to increase compensation for members of the Pennsylvania National Guard; establish a statewide mapping system for tracking and responding to drug overdoses; and improve the state’s cyber security.

Senate Bill 1286, sponsored by Sen. Katie Muth (D-44) and me, would increase the compensation for National Guard members when they respond to emergencies to $180 per day. Act 61 of 2016 was the last increase Guard members received when it was increased from $75 to $100 per day.

“There are many teenagers who work in grocery stores and restaurants who are making more than what our Guard members – who are providing critical emergency response needs – currently do,” Stefano said. “Based on a twelve-hour shift, National Guard members make just $8.33 per hour at the current $100 per-day rate. By raising the per-day rate to $180, Guard members would make $15 an hour.”

Senate Bill 1152, sponsored by Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-33), would create the Overdose Mapping Act to ensure drug overdoses are reported into a mapping system by first responders within 72 hours. It would coordinate the response of public health, emergency management, first responders, community organizations, and health care providers to prevent and reduce overdose spikes.

House Bill 397, sponsored by Rep. Clint Owlett (R-68), would allow counties, municipalities, and school boards to utilize resolutions or ordinances, to establish tax credits for active volunteers of a fire or emergency medical services company as a recruitment and retention tool.

House Bill 1867, sponsored by Rep. Karen Boback (R-117), is the companion bill to Stefano’s   Purple Star Schools legislation. It would ensure schools provide strong services for students of military families as they deal with frequent moves, new schools, deployments and separations.

“Twenty-eight states have adopted similar Purple Star School programs, and I am hopeful that Pennsylvania will soon recognize those schools that are taking the extra steps to support our military-connected students and their families,” said Stefano.

House Bill 2412, sponsored by Rep. Craig Williams (R-160), would permit the Pennsylvania National Guard to assist state agencies, counties and municipalities with cyber security.

Click HERE for the video from the meeting.

 

CONTACT: Nathan Silcox, 717-787-7175, nsilcox@pasen.gov

Stefano’s Fire Measures Advance in Senate

HARRISBURG – This past week, two bills sponsored by Sen. Pat Stefano (R-32) supporting firefighters advanced in the Senate.

The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee passed Senate Bill 1265. This measure would task the State Fire Commissioner with establishing a registry of courses for firefighters, similar to what is done for emergency medical service providers.   

“This legislation would provide a central location for a firefighter’s training credentials so a firefighter and his or her fire chief can easily access them, rather than having to retain hard copies,” said Stefano. “All too often, firefighters have to dig up their credentials. With this legislation, it will be conveniently at their fingertips.” 

Meanwhile, the full Senate passed Senate Bill 1027, which would permit junior firefighters, aged 17, to train on the interior firefighter module with live burns – with their parent or guardian’s permission, local fire chief’s permission and under the instruction of a credentialed Pennsylvania State Fire Academy instructor. 

“A result of discussions with my local fire companies, this bill is important for recruitment and retention purposes. It will help our junior firefighters complete their training prior to turning 18, which is critical at a time when the number of firefighters in Pennsylvania is so low,” said Sen. Stefano. 

Senate Bill 1027 now moves to the House of Representatives for its consideration. Senate Bill 1265 is now before the full Senate. 

“These two measures, while not a silver bullet to fix all the issues facing Pennsylvania’s volunteer firefighters, will provide some needed assistance for two important issues,” said Stefano. 

 

CONTACT: Jake Gery, jgery@pasen.gov

Meeting to consider SB 1194 and HB 803

Senate Veterans and Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee

Tuesday, June 14, 2022 | 12:00 noon

East Wing, Hearing Room 8EA

Agenda

Meeting to consider SB 1194 and HB 803

*SB 1194 (Mensch) Establishes the Military College of Pennsylvania Educational Assistance Program

  • Amendment 04169 (Stefano) Makes two minor edits

*HB 803 (O’Neill) Establishes a Special Account for the Keystone Youth Challenge Program

  • Amendment 02118 (Stefano) Permits DMVA to adopt Rules and Regulations

Confirmation hearing for DMVA promotions and consideration of bills

Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee

Monday, June 6, 2022 | 12 noon

North Office Building, Hearing Room 1

Agenda

Confirmation hearing for DMVA promotions and consideration of bills

Schedule

Call to Order

Consideration of the following PA National Guard Officers for promotion:

Colonel to Brigadier General

  • Col Leland Blanchard (PA Army National Guard) – introduced by Sen. Stefano
  • Col Raymond Hyland (PA Air National Guard) – constituent of Sen. Hutchinson
  • Col Richard McMullen (PA Air National Guard) – constituent of Sen. Langerholc

Brigadier General to Major General

  • BG Terrence Koudelka (PA Air National Guard) – constituent of Sen. Aument
  • BG James McCormack (PA Army National Guard) – constituent of Sen. Gordner
  • BG Carl Reese (PA Army National Guard) – constituent of Sen. DiSanto
  • BG Michael Wegscheider (PA Army National Guard) – constituent of Sen. Mensch

Consideration of Legislation

  • *SB 1141 (Gebhard) (Administrative Code:  Re-use of the former Lt. Governor’s Residence)
  • *SB 1265 (Stefano) (Title 35/Health & Safety:  Fire Course Registry)
  • *HB 2097 (Hamm) (Title 35/Health & Safety:  Extends EMS Staffing Waiver)
  • Amendment #04407 (Stefano) Extends for 5-Years 

Adjournment

 

 

Stefano, Others Highlight Solutions to EMS Struggles

HARRISBURG – Sen. Pat Stefano (R-32), chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, hosted a press conference to highlight legislation that would address issues faced by the emergency medical services (EMS) community on Monday, June 6, at 11 a.m. in front of the Emergency Responder Plaza along North Street in Harrisburg.

In February, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 739, now Act 10 of 2022, which provided $25 million to our EMS providers. 

House Bill 2097 would make permanent a COVID-19 waiver, which would enable emergency responders to help more people. It would allow certified emergency personnel – such as first responders with specific first aid, CPR and emergency vehicle training – to drive ambulances with an emergency medical technician (EMT) on board. While it was permitted a few years ago, regulations have since been changed to increase the number of EMTs required per ambulance.

House Bill 2434 would increase the reimbursement rates under Medicaid for EMS providers, who have received only two increases in reimbursement for transporting individuals covered by Medicaid in the last two decades.

Speakers included:

  • Sen. Pat Stefano, chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee,
  • Sen. Katie Muth (D-44), minority chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee,
  • Rep. Martin Causer (R-67), prime sponsor of House Bill 2434,
  • Barry Albertson, past president of the Ambulance Association of Pennsylvania,
  • David Jones, president of the Pennsylvania Emergency Health Services Council, and
  • Anthony Deavae, Board Member, Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Services Institute.

CONTACT:    Nathan Silcox, 717-787-7175, nsilcox@pasen.gov

**MEDIA ADVISORY** Stefano to Host Working Animal Appreciation Day on May 24

Live stream begins at 12 p.m.

HARRISBURG – Sen. Pat Stefano (R-32), chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, is hosting a Working Animal Appreciation Day on Tuesday, May 24, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Soldiers Grove at the Capitol Complex.

The Senate of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State Working Animal Foundation are recognizing the police and military K-9s, search and rescue dogs and horses, service dogs and therapy animals that work for people.

The press conference will begin at noon in Soldiers Grove. The event will also include demonstrations every half hour:

  • 9:30 a.m.: Summit Search and Rescue
  • 10 a.m.: PA Department of Corrections
  • 10:30 a.m.: The Capitol Police
  • 11 a.m.: Canine Partners for Life
  • 11:30 a.m.: York County Sheriff’s Office
  • Noon: press conference
  • 12:45 p.m.: Pennsylvania Canine Search and Rescue
  • 1:15 p.m.: Middle Creek Search and Rescue

There will be a special appearance by K-9 Detective Briggs, who has worked with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, local police departments, the U.S. Marshal and Secret Service agencies and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The K-9 is credited with assisting in the apprehension of arson and armed robbery suspects.

Exhibits and demonstrations will include the following organizations from around the Commonwealth: Alpha Bravo Canine, Caring Hearts Pet Therapy, Carlisle Police Department, Crisis Response Canines, Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, Harrisburg Police K-9 Unit, KPETS-Keystone Pet Enhanced Therapy Services, Leg Up Farm, Life Changing Service Dogs for Veterans, Loving Eyes Seeing Eye Puppy Club, Pennsylvania Canine Search and Rescue, Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team, Pennsylvania State Police Mounted Section, Pennsylvania State Working Animal Foundation, Penn Vet Working Dog Center, Special Unit 66 Search and Rescue, Summit Search and Rescue and Tails of Valor.

Additional support for the event is provided by the Fraternal Order of Police, Pennsylvania Lodge, Pittsburgh Firefighters and the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association.

The PA Dairyman’s Association’s Milkshake on the Moove Truck will also be present to serve its famous milkshakes. You can purchase a delicious milkshake for $5. Proceeds benefit agricultural scholarships, youth programs and educational programs across the state.

The event is open to the public.

Watch the press conference at noon live at SenatorStefano.com and veterans.pasenategop.com.

 

CONTACT: Nathan Silcox, 717-787-7175, nsilcox@pasen.gov

Metzgar, Stefano Announce $53 Million Secured to Boost Route 219 Project

HARRISBURG – Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar (R-Somerset/Bedford) and Sen. Pat Stefano (R-Fayette/Somerset/Westmoreland) announced $53 million of Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) funds has been secured for the U.S. Route 219 project.

Metzgar and Stefano said the funding is a huge step forward in completing the final 5.5-mile segment of U.S. Route 219 from Meyersdale to the Pennsylvania-Maryland border.

“This money will get us through the end of the environmental stages of the project,” said Metzgar. “Completing this project is of utmost importance because of the economic and transportation benefits it provides. While I am disappointed that pre-construction costs are this expensive, that is a fight for another day. I am simply thrilled to keep the project moving in the right direction.”

“Route 219 is a critical freight corridor in our region, and this expansion will increase local businesses’ access to both the southwestern region of Pennsylvania and Maryland, which is a huge economic driver,” Stefano said. “Special thanks to the stakeholders who worked so hard to ensure the project would be eligible for the federal infrastructure dollars, enabling construction to begin sooner than it would have otherwise.”

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), which was established in 1965, determines the distribution of funding. ARC estimated that Pennsylvania would receive $87.5 million over a five-year period.

Fight Against Wolf Administration’s Carbon Tax on Electricity Consumers Will Continue in Court, Stefano Says

HARRISBURG – After Senate Democrats failed to stand up for Pennsylvania workers and ratepayers, the fight against Gov. Tom Wolf’s $781 million carbon tax will continue in court, Sen. Pat Stefano (R-32) said.

While Republicans stood united to override the governor’s veto of the resolution that disapproves of Pennsylvania joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), Democrats voted against the state’s economic interests in favor of this discredited climate policy that will spike residential electricity bills 30% and kill 22,000 jobs.

Just last week, impartial analysis from the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) concluded RGGI could nearly quadruple new electricity costs for consumers above the administration’s own year-old projections for the program. The IFO also warned members that “those costs would be pushed through to final customers.”

“I don’t understand how anyone who has been to the grocery store or gas pump lately could possibly vote to raise electricity costs for Pennsylvanians. People are already being buried by higher costs for necessities, and now Democrats want to take even more money out of everyone’s pockets? It’s unconscionable, especially because the environmental benefits are merely empty promises,” Stefano said.

RGGI will cripple Pennsylvania’s economic standing as a leading energy producer and leave the nation more reliant on fossil fuels from hostile nations than ever before, without ever achieving any of RGGI’s purported air quality improvements.

Multiple independent reports show that emissions from Pennsylvania’s power sector declined at a comparable rate to the other 10 RGGI states over the last decade, further undermining the flimsy justification the administration uses to force this unconstitutional tax onto 13 million residents.

Litigation to stop final implementation of RGGI in Pennsylvania is pending in state court.

 

CONTACT: Mark Fetzko, mfetzko@pasen.gov

Senate Passes Stefano, Robinson Bill to Better Support Military Families

HARRISBURG – The Senate unanimously passed legislation sponsored by Sens. Pat Stefano (R-32) and Devlin Robinson (R-37) to establish the Purple Star School Program in Pennsylvania.

The program is a state-sponsored recognition to acknowledge a public, private, or charter school that has committed to supporting the unique educational and social-emotional needs of military-connected students. Specifically, a Purple Star School designation means better ease and consistency in transferring schools so children experience fewer educational gaps and obtain meaningful support when frequently moving to new towns and schools as a military child.

“This bill would help military students, who already face so much upheaval and resulting stress in their lives, by minimizing the challenges associated with changing schools so frequently,” Stefano said. “By helping military children, we’re also easing a serious concern of military parents, a concern that could impact their decision to reenlist.”

In 2018, the General Assembly passed and the governor signed into law Act 119, which requires schools to provide support services and information to a student when a parent or guardian is deployed for active duty.

Senate Bill 1028 would build upon Act 119 by providing “Purple Star” recognition to schools that show compliance, maintaining a website with resources for military-connected students and their families, designating a staff point of contact for these students, adopting a resolution showing them support, recognizing the Month of the Military Child of Military Family Month with relevant events hosted by the campus, providing training to school staff to best equip them to support these families, and establishing a partnership with a military installation.

“Military families and their children face a unique set of challenges during school-age years. The process of changing schools, often in the middle of the school year, can be especially difficult,” said Robinson. “We want to recognize the schools that invest in the programs that will help these students and families who have already sacrificed so much. I am eager to see this program come to fruition in Pennsylvania.”

Currently, 28 states have a Purple Star School Program.

As the bill received support from the Senate, it now moves to the House for consideration.

Senator Stefano’s Remarks:

 

Senator Robinson’s Remarks:

 

 

CONTACT:

Nate Silcox (Office of Sen. Stefano), nsilcox@pasen.gov or 717-787-7175

Elizabeth Weitzel (Office of Sen. Robinson), eweitzel@pasen.gov or 717-787-5839

Meeting to consider HR 188

Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee

March 30, 2022 | Off the Floor

Rules Conference Room

 

Agenda

Meeting to consider HR 188

Schedule

Call to Order

Consideration of Legislation

*HR 188 (Hennessey) (Extends the Governor’s Emergency Declaration for the Forbes Avenue/Fern Hollow Bridge Collapse until September 30, 2022)

Adjournment