In this update:
Call 988 for Suicide Prevention and Crisis Support
Pennsylvanians now have an easier way to connect to behavioral or mental health crisis services. Dialing 988 will connect callers directly to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
The Lifeline’s trained crisis response professionals support individuals considering suicide, self-harm, or any behavioral or mental health need for themselves or people looking for help for a loved one. Lifeline services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at no cost to the caller.
988 counselors located at 13 crisis call centers around Pennsylvania can immediately provide phone-based support and connections to local resources.
Proposed Constitutional Amendments One Step Closer to Voter Input
To ensure that citizens are heard, the General Assembly approved a measure that would put five proposed amendments to the state constitution on the ballot for voters to decide. The measure must be approved again in the 2023-24 legislative session to go before the voters.
The proposed amendments would:
The process of amending the constitution is lengthy and deliberative, and will give citizens across the commonwealth the appropriate time to weigh the merits of the proposals and have their voices heard.
Stefano and Warner Announce Two Fayette County Projects to Create Jobs Receive Funding
Rep. Ryan Warner (R-52) and I recently announced that the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) awarded nearly $2 million in grants and more than $3 million in low-interest loans to two Fayette County projects that will create 325 local jobs.
The first grant and loan were awarded to the Fay-Penn Economic Development Council, which will use the funding to build upon the success of the Dunbar Township Business Park. Another 19 acres will be developed within the park by constructing a 100,000 square foot multi-tenant building that will be marketed as commercial, industrial, manufacturing and office space. It is anticipated that the development of this building will result in the creation of 250 jobs.
With so many people looking for better jobs or trying to re-enter employment after being forced out of the labor market because of Gov. Tom Wolf’s business closures, these job opportunities will benefit families in the district. I look forward to seeing the projects develop and eventually boost our local economy.
This project received a $1.7 million grant and a $2.6 million 20-year, low-interest loan.
The second project would develop the North Union Commercial Park to accommodate new businesses seeking buildable property in Fayette County’s recognized major business and industry corridor. The site is fully permitted and will be used to attract commercial and light industrial businesses. Because of the project, 75 new jobs are expected to be created.
This project received a $220,000 grant and a $550,000 20-year, low-interest loan.
“Fayette County and the entire southwest region of the Commonwealth have so much potential for growth and opportunity,” Warner said. “This is a great investment in our future.”
The project was funded by the CFA, which is an independent agency of the Department of Community and Economic Development that administers many of Pennsylvania’s economic development and community improvement programs.
Proposed Constitutional Amendment on Abortion
One of the constitutional amendments approved by the General Assembly would clarify the state does not guarantee any right to abortion or public funding of abortion.
It would ensure that abortion policy in Pennsylvania comes from the people’s elected representatives. It does not ban, criminalize or otherwise prohibit a woman from seeking an abortion in Pennsylvania.
Federal courts have long held that the federal constitution does not require taxpayer funding of abortion. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held in 1985 that the state constitution also does not require such taxpayer funding.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade doesn’t mean abortion is banned nationwide. It means abortion laws will return to the purview of the individual states. The proposed amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution is simply the state legislature, and ultimately voters, determining if public money should fund abortions.
The measure must be approved by the General Assembly again in the next legislative session before the proposed amendment can go before the voters.
Crime Victims will Receive More Support Under New Law
Legislation passed by the Senate and signed into law this month gives crime victims legal standing in court, updates crime victim compensation, provides notice of events in the judicial process and enhances victim confidentiality for domestic and sexual violence crimes.
Act 77 of 2022 ensures victims can now stand in court and assert their own rights and it gives them recourse when their rights are ignored.
Giving victims standing was part of Marsy’s Law, a constitutional amendment to guarantee crime victims’ rights. More than 1.7 million Pennsylvanians voted in favor of the amendment in 2019. However, the outcome was set aside by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court due to a technicality with the ballot question.
Somerset VFD to Hold Highway Hazmat Exercise
New Laws Aim to Improve Information Sharing and Health Outcomes
Bipartisan legislation designed to improve the ability of health care providers to treat the overall health of patients is now law.
Act 32 and Act 33 of 2022 amend the Mental Health Procedures Act and the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Control Act to allow for sharing of patient information among providers, facilities and insurers. The changes would also meet existing Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements to ensure patient confidentiality.
Under current law, mental health and physical health information cannot be fully shared among providers in Pennsylvania. The proposed changes would bring Pennsylvania in line with the majority of states that already share this information and are seeing improved patient outcomes.
National Guard Needs Mentors for At-Risk Teens
The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs needs adult mentors to work with at-risk teens in the Keystone State ChalleNGe Academy (KSCA) at Ft. Indiantown Gap.
The program provides Pennsylvania teens who are struggling an opportunity to achieve the discipline and skills necessary to succeed as productive and responsible citizens through an engaging and structured residential experience. Cadets will be guided to improve their academic standing and increase their potential for future employment or further education.
Each mentor will be counted on to meet with a cadet on a routine basis to ensure they are progressing in residency and then achieving their post-residency goals. Mentors will participate in training sessions during the residential phase to ensure they are fully prepared for their critical role. All mentors will be required to pass state and federal level background checks as a condition of volunteering. You can read more about the program and volunteer here.
Somerset Senior Expo a Success
This Wednesday, I held my Somerset Senior Expo and welcomed hundreds of the area’s seniors back to St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church. The gym was filled by dozens of vendors sharing helpful information and providing vital services to the attendees. Thank you to all who attended, to the vendors who came to share their information and to the people at St. Paul’s for hosting the event again this year.