Senator Stefano E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Dunbar Troop Now One of the Oldest in PA
  • Jackie’s Groovy Cheese Truck Cuts a Ribbon
  • Connellsville Chamber Presents Awards
  • DEP and LCB Processes Called into Question
  • Senate Continues Detailed Review of Shapiro’s Budget
  • Scholarship Grants Available for EMS Professionals
  • Find Lost Life Insurance Policies and Annuity Contracts
  • Supporting Agriculture, PA’s Top Industry
  • Celebrating “The Star-Spangled Banner”

Dunbar Troop Now One of the Oldest in PA

On Sunday, we celebrated Dunbar Boy Scout Troop 180’s 100th anniversary. During the ceremony, Jonathan Polyblank of the troop received his Eagle Scout Court of Honor. Congratulations to Jonathan and thank you to Troop 180, for 100 years of community service!

Jackie’s Groovy Cheese Truck Cuts a Ribbon

Congratulations to Jackie LaCroix and her team at Jackie’s Groovy Cheese Truck. This week, the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting for the new truck at the Bedford Farm Bureau Co-op. The truck houses all kinds of gooey (and groovy) food including grilled cheese and queso tomato soup. Looking forward to seeing Jackie’s truck all across Bedford County!

Connellsville Chamber Presents Awards

The Greater Connellsville Chamber of Commerce held its annual award dinner this week! Congratulations to all who were honored:

🌟 Jennifer & Kennedy Adams for their outstanding work in Connellsville
🌟 The Christian Church of Connellsville, Community Service
🌟 Eugene Lint, Community Service
🌟 Independence Health, Beautification
🌟 Max House, Distinguished Citizen

DEP and LCB Processes Called into Question

This week during budget hearings, we heard from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (LCB). I asked DEP Interim Acting Secretary Jessica Shirley about the 15 approved positions for permit processing and why the permit review process still remains lengthy and challenging.

See my questions and the departments’ responses here.

Senate Continues Detailed Review of Shapiro’s Budget

Officials struggled to answer questions about Gov. Josh Shapiro’s broad higher education concepts and wide discrepancies in K-12 education funding during the Department of Education hearing with the Senate Appropriations Committee this week. He proposes increasing Basic Education spending by nearly $1.1 billion in his 2024-25 spending plan, but his proposed budget shows no increases in Basic Education funding after this year – raising concerns that the administration cannot pay for the billions of dollars in promised new education spending without raising taxes.

The hearing was one of a series held by the committee to analyze the governor’s proposed $48.3 billion 2024-25 state budget. His plan would boost state spending by more than $3.3 billion above the current year’s budget. It requires thoughtful consideration so tax dollars are spent wisely without eliminating the state’s Rainy Day Fund in five years as projections indicate would happen with Shapiro’s budget.

At the Department of Agriculture budget hearing, discussion included state efforts to combat avian influenza, farming education initiatives and the performance of tax credit programs for PA farmers. Concerns were also raised about Gov. Shapiro’s plan to legalize adult-use marijuana.

At the hearing for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) and Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), members discussed how to make the most efficient use of existing resources as both agencies have considerable reserves and the PGC’s budget increased from approximately $130 million in 2019-20 to approximately $350 million in 2024-25.

Find the hearings schedule, livestreams of budget hearings, daily recaps and video from prior hearings at

Scholarship Grants Available for EMS Professionals

To recruit and retain emergency medical services (EMS) professionals, a tuition assistance program offers up to $5,000 for reimbursement of EMS state certification training for permanent Pennsylvania residents.

Up to $300 is available for emergency medical responders, up to $800 for emergency medical technicians, up to $1,000 for advanced emergency medical technicians and up to $5,000 for paramedics.

Pennsylvania-licensed EMS agencies are eligible to receive up to $1,250 of recruitment and retention expenses per fiscal year (July 1 to June 30). Reimbursement will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until funding is exhausted. Learn more.

Find Lost Life Insurance Policies and Annuity Contracts

Individuals who believe they are beneficiaries, executors or legal representatives of a family member or friend can locate lost life insurance policies and annuity contracts through the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

When a request is received, the NAIC will give participating companies that have policy information access to respond to you as the designated beneficiary or if you are authorized to receive information. It will also allow participating companies to search their records to determine whether they have a life insurance policy or annuity contract in the name of the deceased person.

Access NAIC’s life insurance policy locator.

Supporting Agriculture, PA’s Top Industry

To bolster agriculture – the state’s top industry – $500,000 in grants is available to help Pennsylvania farms pursue growth opportunities. Funding will be used to benefit economic development, job creation and innovation.

The Farm Vitality Planning Grant Program will help fund professional services for those planning for the future of a farm. The program is designed to enhance the long-term vitality of Pennsylvania’s farms through sound business planning, efficient transitions of farm ownership, strategic farm expansion, diversification of agricultural production and building a team of financial and technical experts as a resource for the state’s farmers.

The maximum grant amount is $7,500 and is limited to 75% of project costs. Learn more about guidelines and how to apply.

Celebrating “The Star-Spangled Banner”

Sunday, March 3, is National Anthem Day. “The Star-Spangled Banner” shares a message of endurance and perseverance. Francis Scott Key originally wrote his poem during a naval attack on Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. That battle was nearly lost.

It wasn’t until March 3, 1931, that President Herbert Hoover signed a law officially making the “The Star-Spangled Banner” our country’s national anthem.

Rather than commemorating victory, our national anthem highlights our ability to withstand attack. Today, we continue to raise our flag and refuse to be defeated.


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