In this Update:
In Harrisburg This Week
Monday morning, the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee held a hearing on the ongoing delays that we’re seeing in health care licensing. We heard testimony from professionals in mental health, home health care and nursing education, with responses from PA Department of State Acting Commissioner Arion Claggett and Deputy Secretary K. Kalonji Johnson.
Thank you to Mike Quinn from Chestnut Ridge Counseling Services, Ray D’Ambrosio of BAYADA Home Health Care and Sarah Biggs of St. Luke’s University Health Network for testifying.
Watch the hearing and read the testimony here: https://consumer.pasenategop.com/cppl-042423/
Wednesday was “Arts Advocacy Day” in the capitol building. 🎨🎼
The Pennsylvania Legislative Arts and Culture Caucus joined Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania to praise the artists who contribute their many talents to their communities and called for continued investment in arts and culture in order to boost economies and tourism throughout Pennsylvania.
I’m proud to serve as co-chair for the caucus and look forward to continue working with Citizens for the Arts, as well as the other advocacy groups present today, to propel Pennsylvania forward in the arts and culture space.
Earlier this week, I met with Shelia Shea who was advocating on behalf of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. Their goal is to end cancer as we know it through their work of improving the lives of cancer patients and their families through advocacy, research, and patient support. We discussed their legislative priorities including ensuring patient access to quality care and support for cancer prevention and early detection.
Numerous advocates for higher education took to the capitol this week while both the Senate and the House of Representatives were in session. It was a pleasure to join politics professor Charlotte Ridge, Bedford resident Cole Gross and other students from Juniata College to talk about financial aid.
Fish and Boat Announces Grants for Fayette County
This week, the PA Fish and Boat Commission awarded several grants through the Boating Facility Grant Program. Funds for this program are derived primarily from boat registration fees, state motorboat fuels tax, and restricted revenue accounts, if applicable.
Congratulations to the City of Connellsville and Masontown Borough for receiving grants for their respective projects!
City of Connellsville; Yough Park Boat Launch Rehabilitation, Youghiogheny River
Masontown Borough; Riverside Recreation Project Phase II, Monongahela River
To read the release from PFBC, visit: https://www.media.pa.gov/pages/fish-and-boat-commission-details.aspx?newsid=516
Senior Expo Coming to Somerset Next Month
My office will hold a senior expo next month in Somerset County. On Wednesday, May 24, join us at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church from 10 a.m. to noon. Exhibitors from non-profit organizations and government agencies will be on hand to answer any questions you may have. Free health screenings will also be available. Admission is free.
Increasing Accountability and Disaster Response Capability
Legislation requiring Senate confirmation of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) director was approved by a bipartisan Senate vote. Senate Bill 433 would increase accountability and ensure the agency is prepared to deal with emergencies efficiently and effectively.
PEMA is the lead emergency coordination agency in the commonwealth tasked with guaranteeing the safety of 13 million residents. This includes oversight of 911 centers and the Emergency Alert System, as well as hazardous materials and incidents involving five nuclear power plants.
Five state agencies with fewer employees than PEMA require Senate confirmation. The bill is before the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Votes to Protect Seniors from Financial Exploitation
The Senate approved a bill to help protect Pennsylvania senior citizens from financial exploitation scams using information that is already available within state government.
Under Senate Bill 137, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General would notify the Department of Aging about any investigations or enforcement actions involving someone age 65 or older and related to the Pennsylvania Telemarketer Registration Act.
The improved information sharing would enable the Department of Aging to deliver warnings to local area agencies on aging in counties across the commonwealth while ensuring strict adherence to confidentiality rules.
Senate Bill 137 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Broadband Grant Program Opens May 10
The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority recently approved the Pennsylvania Broadband Infrastructure Program which will provide $200 million in funding to businesses, nonprofits, local governments and economic development organizations.
This program will fund line extension and development projects, as well as large-scale regional infrastructure projects. Upon completion, projects must deliver service that meets or exceeds symmetrical download and upload speeds of 100 Megabits per second, with prioritization being given to fiber-optic deployment.
The application period will begin May 10 and will close July 10. View program guidelines here.
Register to Vote by May 1
The deadline to register to vote in Pennsylvania’s May 16 primary election is Monday, May 1. Your county election board must receive your application for a mail-in or absentee ballot by Tuesday, May 9.
To legally register, individuals must be a citizen of the United States, reside in their local voting precincts at least 30 days prior to the election and be at least age 18 on Election Day, Tuesday, May 16. Once registered to vote, you are not required to register again unless you change your residence, name or political party affiliation.
Voter registration forms, mail-in ballot applications and absentee ballot applications are available here or from your local county’s Board of Elections. You can also use the site to check your registration status.
Free Tick Testing for All Pennsylvanians
Pennsylvania leads the nation in the number of Lyme disease cases. As we continue to fight Lyme and other tick-borne diseases in the commonwealth, East Stroudsburg University offers a valuable resource for all Pennsylvanians.
The university has a tick lab, which provides free testing on ticks for harmful diseases including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and more. Send a tick sample to the lab and receive the test results that are often necessary evidence for doctors to treat you and increase your chance of staying healthy.
This week, the Senate passed a bill to require school officials to notify a student’s parents or guardian if a tick is removed from them at school and inform them of the symptoms of Lyme disease. The bill also calls for schools to provide the tick to parents or guardians if they would like to send it to the lab for testing.
To remove a tick, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp it as close to the skin’s surface as possible and then pull upward with a steady, even pressure. Avoid twisting or jerking as this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
For more information about tick-borne diseases or how to submit a tick for testing here.
Call Before You Dig
As the weather improves, more people are doing outdoor projects. To stay safe during your excavation project and avoid hitting an underground utility line, call PA One Call by dialing 8-1-1 before you dig.
State law requires contractors and residents to contact PA One Call at least three days prior to excavation. This minimizes risk to the contractors or homeowners who are doing the digging; to utility workers and emergency responders who are mobilized to deal with the damage; and to bystanders who live, work or travel near the locations of the incidents.
Pennsylvanians can dial 8-1-1 to connect with the One Call system, while out-of-state residents or businesses can call 1-800-242-1776. Learn more here.