Senator Pat Stefano E-Newsletter

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  • Friday is the Final Day to Submit Comments on 2020 General Election
  • Senate Acts to Put the Brakes on PennDOT’s Bridge Tolling Plan
  • Monday is the Deadline to Register for May 18 Primary Election
  • Senate Approves Legislation Permitting Essential Family Caregiver Nursing Home Visits During Emergencies
  • Senate Passes Plan to Establish a New Funding Stream for Pediatric Cancer Research
  •  From the Desk of the Chairman of Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness
  • Senate Approves Program to Train Next Generation of PA Firefighters
  • Honoring Veterans of Persian Gulf War and Global War on Terrorism
  • Around the District

Friday is the Final Day to Submit Comments on 2020 General Election

Friday is the final day for Pennsylvanians to share their experience from last year’s election with the Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform.

The surveys seek input from Pennsylvanians who voted by mail or in person in 2020.

The committee is expected to use the survey responses and testimony gathered during its series of public hearings to produce a report with recommendations that will be presented to the General Assembly.

Senate Acts to Put the Brakes on PennDOT’s Bridge Tolling Plan

The Senate approved a plan this week to reform the Public-Private Transportation Partnership (P3) statute and to void the PennDOT Pathways Major Bridge P3 Initiative.

On November 12, 2020, the P3 Board, under PennDOT’s jurisdiction, supported an ambiguous proposal to impose user fees or tolls on major bridges throughout the interstate system.  This was the first time in the P3 Board’s history to consider a proposal with user fees.

The reform legislation will: 

  • Increase transparency by requiring PennDOT to publish a detailed analysis prior to the P3 Board’s voting meeting, and mandate PennDOT to distribute a copy of the P3 Board’s resolution, with or without a user fee, within 24 hours.
  • Incorporate public input by creating a new 30-day public comment period prior to the P3 Board meeting.
  • Create checks and balances on the obscure P3 Board by clarifying any P3 project with a user fee shall be deemed disapproved unless the Governor and General Assembly approve.
  • Void the PennDOT Pathways Major Bridge P3 Initiative and require reconsideration by the P3 Board following the new process outlined in this legislation. 

Monday is the Deadline to Register for May 18 Primary Election

Monday, May 3 is the last day to register to vote in the May 18 primary election.

You can register to vote online, by mail or at several government agencies.

Other Key Dates:

May 11, 5 p.m. – Applications for a mail-in or absentee ballot must be received by your county election board.

May 18, 8 p.m. – Voted ballots must be received by your county election office. 

Senate Approves Legislation Permitting Essential Family Caregiver Nursing Home Visits During Emergencies

The Senate approved legislation to allow a family member or other designated person to visit and care for a long-term care facility resident during a disaster emergency involving a communicable disease.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many residents of such facilities have been denied the ability to see and receive care from their loved ones, causing traumatic distress.

The legislation allows long-term care facilities to designate Essential Family Caregivers for regular visits.  A participating facility must follow necessary health precautions outlined by federal and state governments. 

Senate Passes Plan to Establish a New Funding Stream for Pediatric Cancer Research

More than $100 million in private donations over the next 10 years could be raised to support childhood cancer research under a bill passed by the Senate.

The legislation establishes a tax credit program for qualifying donations to a Pennsylvania pediatric cancer research hospital. The program would be capped at $10 million per year over the next 10 years.

More children die from cancer than any other disease and currently, only 4 percent of National Cancer Institute research dollars are spent on pediatric cancer.  Since 1975, pediatric cancer incidence rates have increased every year.

From the Desk of the Chairman of Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness

On Wednesday, the Senate Aging & Youth Committee unanimously reported Senate Bill 484, legislation I introduced that would add a member of the State Veterans Commission to the Pennsylvania Long Term Care Council.  The Long-Term Care Council, comprised of 35 members and chaired by the Secretary of Aging, provides recommendations on state regulations, licensing, financing, and delivery of the Commonwealth’s long-term care services and supports system.

Our major statewide veterans organizations, which meet collectively under the State Veterans Commission, serve our disabled veterans population as well as elderly veterans.  As such, it is important that they not only hear directly what’s going on at the state level with the Long-Term Care Commission, but also have a voice to share their practical experiences.  All in all, better coordination between the Department of Aging and the State Veterans Commission will only serve our veterans better in the long run.

Senate Bill 484 now proceeds to the full Senate for its consideration.

Senate Approves Program to Train Next Generation of PA Firefighters

The Senate approved creation of a pilot program to train high school students interested in firefighting and help alleviate the pressing need for volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania.

According to the bipartisan SR 6 report on the serious problems facing volunteer fire companies, Pennsylvania is experiencing a severe shortage of volunteer firefighters. The current number of volunteers is down to less than 15 percent of the number in the 1970s.

The legislation creates a pilot program for Pennsylvania community colleges and universities to give interested high school students training in firefighting. The goal is to demonstrate that students receiving training will show an interest in becoming the next generation of firefighters. The bill requires a follow-up study to measure the program’s success.

Honoring Veterans of Persian Gulf War and Global War on Terrorism

 

Two new designations could honor veterans of the Persian Gulf War and the Global War on Terrorism under legislation recently approved by the Senate. The bill would designate March 6 as Persian Gulf War Veterans Day and October 7 as Global War on Terrorism Veterans Day.

Under the bill, the governor would be required to encourage schools to observe the contributions of veterans in these conflicts. However, the observations would not be mandatory for schools. 

Around the District

Last week I visited Meyersdale High School with Somerset county commissioner Gerald Walker and Meyersdale Mayor Mike Brant where we answered questions from juniors and seniors. Thank you for inviting me to speak with you.

I was then grateful to present a citation to Scott Meyers, who retired from the PA State Police after 26 years of service. Congratulations to Mr. Meyers on his retirement and thank you for your service to the Commonwealth.

I stopped at the FB Thomas Drug store in Meyersdale for their 125th anniversary. I was able to provide a citation to Adrian Thomas, the 3rd generation owner of the drug store as well as his son and 4th generation owner Andrew Thomas and his wife Stephanie. Congratulations to the Thomas family on the incredible achievement!

I kicked off Opening Day for the Brownsville/Redstone Township Youth Baseball League with a parade to Fenwick Park in Brownsville. A big thank you to all the volunteers and coaches for getting the field revived and mentoring our youth. Great Job!!

Fayette County has made some incredible strides in increasing their broadband reach during the pandemic through the use of CARES Act funds. Yesterday, my Outreach Coordinator Sue Quinn was on-hand to cut the ribbon with county officials at the Canaan Church of the Bretheren in Gibbon Glade broadband hotspot.  There are now 26 hotspots in the county with many more to come!

Allyson Link from my office filled in for me to celebrate the ribbon cutting of Escape Room Somerset, which is now open at the Georgian Place. Chamber Director Ron Aldom, Georgian Place VP Tonya Spangler and Congressman John Joyce’s district director Jason Berardo also celebrated this new business expansion. Congratulations to Matt and Missy Harding and a big thank you for investment in our community. May you have continued and long lasting success.

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