Senator Stefano E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Pennsylvanians Can Vote for a Better Emergency Declaration Process
  • May 11 Deadline for Primary Election Mail-in Ballot Applications
  • Route 219 Buffalo Creek Bridge Renamed in Honor of the Late John Vatavuk
  • New Deadline to Obtain REAL ID is May 3, 2023
  • Senate Gives Final Approval of Living Donor Protection Act
  • Monday Deadline: Funding Available to Strengthen PA Poultry and Livestock Farming
  • Give Your Opinion of Automated Vehicles in PA
  • National Nurses Week May 6-12
  • Around the District

Pennsylvanians Can Vote for a Better Emergency Declaration Process

This primary election, voters have the opportunity to decide two proposed amendments to the Pennsylvania Constitution that would improve the way the state responds to future emergencies.

A YES at the ballot box means voters favor: 

  • Protecting the education of our children; 
  • Supporting small employers in our local communities; 
  • Prohibiting discrimination; and
  • Providing funding for fire companies.

The Wolf Administration has been widely criticized for wording the emergency response questions in a way that is deeply confusing and prejudicial. It’s important that voters understand what the proposed amendments would accomplish.

May 11 Deadline for Primary Election Mail-in Ballot Applications

The May 18 primary election is coming up quickly. Applications for a mail-in or absentee ballot must be received by your county election board by Tuesday, May 11 at 5 p.m. to vote in the primary.

You must be registered to vote to request either ballot. You can check your registration status to review your registration information.

Route 219 Buffalo Creek Bridge Renamed in Honor of the Late John Vatavuk

A local bridge was renamed in honor of the late John Vatavuk at a ceremony held last Friday in Meyersdale. I was joined at today’s bridge-naming ceremony by Representative Matthew Dowling, as well as Vatavuk’s wife, Janet.

Act 102 of 2019 renamed the U.S 219 Buffalo Creek Bridge after Vatavuk, who served as a Somerset County Commissioner from 2008 until his passing.

At the ceremony, Dowling and I praised Vatavuk for his efforts to improve the area’s transportation network, noting that he was a champion for the completion of Route 219 from Somerset to Meyersdale. The section of highway he passionately advocated for was opened in October of 2018, fulfilling a significant part of his longtime dream of seeing it constructed all the way to the Maryland border.

I am so thankful for the time I had to get to know John.  He was a tireless advocate for 219, so I’m thrilled that one of the most impressive structures on this section of 219 serves as a reminder of John’s hard work.

“He was one of the kindest, most considerate elected officials I had the privilege to work with when stepping into office,” said Dowling.  “There wasn’t a conversation the Commissioner held that didn’t somehow find its way back to the completion of Route 219.  It is an honor to be able to do this so his legacy may live on in Somerset County.”

Vatavuk was born March 24, 1949, and was a native of Johnstown, PA.  He was a member of the first graduating class of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown in 1971 and taught in the North Star School District for 36 years until he retired in 2007.

Vatavuk coordinated the Somerset County arm of the Commissioning Committee for the USS Somerset and is an Honorary Plank Owner. He was an active member of St. Thomas Lutheran Church, where he served as its Grove Committee Treasurer, Sunday School Superintendent, Sunday School Teacher, Church Council Member, and Manager of the Softball Team.

On April 13, 2019, he was inducted into the Windber Area Hall of Fame, which he considered a great honor.  He was also presented in memoriam the 2019 Greater Good Award by the Greater Cumberland Committee.

New Deadline to Obtain REAL ID is May 3, 2023

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has pushed back the deadline to obtain a REAL ID from October 2021 to May 3, 2023, due to pandemic-related delays.

Pennsylvanians will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, photo ID card, or another form of federally acceptable identification to board a domestic commercial flight or enter a federal building or military installation that requires ID.

REAL IDs are now available to Pennsylvanians who want them. You can find applications and more here.

Senate Gives Final Approval of Living Donor Protection Act

Legislation to establish protections for living organ donors recently received final approval by the Senate and was enacted into law.

Living donors include those who donate kidneys, livers and other organs to save the lives of family members and others facing life-threatening illnesses.

Act 11 of 2021, the Living Donor Protection Act, prohibits insurers from declining or limiting coverage based solely on a person’s status as a living donor. It also requires the state Department of Health to provide public information on the benefits and impacts of live organ and tissue donation and protections granted to living donors.

Monday Deadline: Funding Available to Strengthen PA Poultry and Livestock Farming

State funding is available for research projects that will strengthen Pennsylvania poultry, swine, lamb, sheep and goat farming.

Proposals must be received by 11 a.m. on Monday, May 10. Details and applications can be accessed here.

The Center for Poultry and Livestock Excellence, created by the General Assembly in 2019, supports projects to enhance biosecurity, diagnostic testing, veterinary telemedicine and other strategies to prevent, detect and manage animal diseases and protect the food supply.

Give Your Opinion of Automated Vehicles in PA


Pennsylvanians can take a survey seeking their understanding and opinions of Highly Automated Vehicles and their comfort sharing the road with them.

The survey comes from the Highly Automated Vehicles Advisory Committee. The panel was established by the General Assembly in 2018 to advise and consult PennDOT on developing technical guidance, evaluating best practices, and reviewing laws, regulations and policies related to these vehicles.

The survey doesn’t ask your name and takes less than 10 minutes to complete.

National Nurses Week May 6-12

Even before the pandemic hit, nurses played a vital role in the delivery of health care. Over the last year, their contributions reached heroic proportions.

Nurses exposed themselves to a deadly virus on a daily basis, putting their health at risk to save the lives of others and keep our healthcare facilities running.

National Nurses Week goes through May 12, which was the birthday of Florence Nightingale, considered the founder of modern nursing. I hope you join me in recognizing the lifesaving, comforting roles nurses play in our healthcare system.

Around the District 

I spent Saturday participating in the Meyersdale Maple Festival Parade. Special thanks to my driver Matt Geiger.   Before we stepped off we enjoyed pancakes and sausage courtesy of the Meyersdale Lions Club. Thanks to everyone who came out!

Brenda Thomas from my Somerset office was on hand for the ribbon cutting for the first part of 9-11 Memorial trail located in Garrett. When the trail is complete it will be 1300 miles from Shanksville to NYC to the Pentagon and back to Shanksville.

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