Senator Stefano E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Around the District
  • Senate Approves Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Teacher First Amendment Rights
  • Senate Acts to Help Farmers Meet Rising Demand for Home Delivery
  • Measure to Boost Volunteer Fire Company Membership Approved
  • PennDOT Job Openings Posted for College Students
  • Veterans: Now is a Good Time to Review and Update Benefits
  • Blood Donation is Easy and Safe

Around the District

This week, I had the pleasure of attending Somerset’s 28th Annual Fire & Ice Festival.

This year’s events included carriage rides, ice sculpture displays, food trucks, an ice slide, shopping from local artisans, and much more.

Thank you to all involved for continuing to hold this fantastic event.

On Sunday, I had the honor of attending “Shen Yun” at the Pittsburgh at The Benedum Center for the Performing Arts.

“Shen Yun” translates as “the beauty of divine beings dancing.” The company was established in New York State in 2006, with the mission of reviving 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture, which had been lost in many ways under Chinese Communist Party rule. Shen Yun is banned in China.

I was so impressed that they’re doing this to revive a culture and an art form, and pushing back against political pressure through arts and culture.

Read more here.

I’m proud to recognize Chestnut Ridge School District Lady Lion’s Belle Bosch for being one of 11 players from Pennsylvania named a 2023 McDonald’s All-American nominee!

Winners will be announced on January 24th, and the girl’s game will be aired on ESPN2 on March 28th at 6:30 pm.

Congratulations, Belle, on this well-deserved nomination!

On Monday, I had the privilege of attending East End United Community Center’s Annual Martin Luther King Day Breakfast in Uniontown.

The morning included a wonderful dance by students from EEUCC’s after-school program.

Also, awards were presented to some of the EEUCC’s most dedicated volunteer organizations, including Ben Moyer from Trout Unlimited, George Ifill from Highmark Wholecare, and Lt. Juan Curry from the Pennsylvania State Police.

This breakfast was the perfect setting to honor and reflect on the work of Martin Luther King Jr.

On Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending Bedford Chamber of Commerce’s Government: It’s Your Business Reception.  

The informal meet-and-greet event provided a unique opportunity for New-Year Networking as guests were given a chance to have one-on-one conversations with my fellow elected officials while enjoying great food with friends, old and new.

Special thanks to the sponsors, dignitaries, and all those in attendance for such a memorable and successful night.

Senate Approves Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Teacher First Amendment Rights

Following the swearing in of the governor and lieutenant governor on Tuesday, the Senate began the new legislative session in earnest Wednesday by passing several pieces of legislation, including Senate Bill 84.

The measure would eliminate the prohibition on teachers from wearing any dress, mark, emblem or insignia reflecting their faith or denomination.

It would align Pennsylvania with every other state in the nation in preserving and protecting First Amendment rights for educators. The measure was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Acts to Help Farmers Meet Rising Demand for Home Delivery

Legislation to help farmers meet the rising demand for farm products delivered to homes was approved by the Senate.

The current vehicle code allows for home deliveries via a commercial vehicle registration, but prevents the commercial vehicle from being registered as a farm vehicle. As a result, a farmer needs to purchase, register and maintain a separate commercial vehicle for at-home delivery, while also maintaining a farm vehicle to deliver agricultural commodities to places of business.

Senate Bill 95 would remove this duplicative, unnecessary and overburdensome requirement. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives.

Measure to Boost Volunteer Fire Company Membership Approved

To address the serious shortage of volunteer firefighters across Pennsylvania, the Senate passed legislation to create a pilot program giving interested high school students training in firefighting.

Senate Bill 114 would award grants to one higher education school each in eastern, central and western Pennsylvania to establish fire training programs for students in high school, with the hope they will remain firefighters for years to come.

The number of Pennsylvania volunteer firefighters has plummeted from 300,000 in the 1970s to fewer than 37,000. Senate Bill 114 was sent to the House of Representatives.

PennDOT Job Openings Posted for College Students

Summer PennDOT jobs are available to full-time college students registered for the Fall 2023 semester. 

Jobs include assisting in seasonal maintenance work, crash system input and analysis, and maintenance and custodial services at roadside rest facilities. Many students also perform laboring and flagging duties in maintenance organizations and at highway worksites. The pay is $15.49 per hour.

Students majoring in engineering or a related scientific or technical field might be interested in engineering internship opportunities at PennDOT’s Central Office (Harrisburg) or at one of its statewide engineering district offices.

Veterans: Now is a Good Time to Review and Update Benefits

The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) says that the start of the year is a good time for veterans to meet with an accredited veteran service officer to ensure they are receiving or maximizing the benefits they have earned through their service and sacrifice while in uniform.

Safeguarding military paperwork – especially the DD-214, which is used to verify military service – is an important first step for securing benefits. Filing these documents for free at the county courthouse is an easy way to secure them until needed, which can often be decades into the future. Anyone needing assistance locating their military documentation can call the DMVA at 800-547-2838 or e-mail

A complete list of accredited county directors of veterans affairs and their contact information can be found here. Contact information for accredited veteran service officers can be found here.

Blood Donation is Easy and Safe

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs donated blood. Blood donors help accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, those battling cancer and others.

Please take the occasion of National Blood Donor Month to consider providing this lifesaving gift. You can find the nearest blood drive here, and learn more about the process here.

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