In this Update:
Coffee and Conversation Continues Next Week
Wolf Administration Mandates Masks for All Pennsylvania Students
In a major policy reversal, Governor Wolf announced that masks will be required in all Pennsylvania public and private schools, as well as childcare facilities.
We all want to protect children, and no one cares more than the parents and school administrators in our communities. That’s where the decision to mandate student masking should be made – at the local level.
In May, voters stripped Governor Wolf of his authority to unilaterally extend emergency declarations, and actions such as his statewide student mask mandate demonstrate why citizens made that decision.
It is in that same spirit that I am supporting legislation to require school districts to develop a plan for parents to opt-out their child from wearing a face covering or mask.
Helping Veterans Cut Through the Red Tape
Pennsylvania Senate Expense Reports Now Posted Online
Pennsylvania Senate expense reports are now available to the public online, increasing transparency in state government.
The reports, available at www.pasen.gov/RTKL/monthlyExpenses.cfm, detail all expenses for each individual senator’s office and institutional offices. Expense reports for July 2021 were posted this week, and the system will be updated with new reports every month going forward.
Categories of expenses available in the reports include:
Expenses for each caucus service office are listed under the respective leader reports. Other categories of information are already available online, including:
VAEP Chairman’s Update
On Wednesday, I participated in a meeting of the Pennsylvania Emergency Council to declare a State of Emergency in regard to Tropical Storm Ida. While I have been critical of the Governor for his abuse of emergency powers under the COVID-19 declaration, a natural disaster like the heavy rains and flooding from Tropical Storm Ida is what was envisioned under the law and I look forward to Pennsylvania having the resources in place to respond to the damages from this Storm.
On Monday, September 13th, the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee will hold a hearing on the “Next Generation of Pennsylvania Firefighters.” The hearing will take place at 10:30 a.m. at the Flight 93 Memorial (Learning Center). It will feature testimony from the State Fire Commissioner’s Office, leaders in the fire community from the region and Commonwealth, and Westmoreland County Community College President Dr. Tuesday Stanley. The hearing is open to the public.
Free Webinars Connect Military Veterans with Agriculture Business Funding
A free webinar series begins this month to connect military veterans who are considering starting or expanding an agriculture business with resources, funding and planning tools they need to succeed.
The first session will be held Sept. 14 from 7-8 p.m. and will cover grants, business planning and other resources. A web link or phone number to join the session can be obtained by contacting PA Preferred Program Manager Gwyn Rowland at RA-AgPaPreferred@pa.gov.
Future sessions will explore the PA Preferred Homegrown By Heroes program, which gives military veterans tools to brand their PA-made and PA-grown agricultural products for consumers who want to buy local and support veterans in their communities; sustainable agriculture opportunities through the PA Preferred Organic program; and other resources for transitioning, diversifying and expanding agricultural businesses.
National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Childhood cancers take many forms, from blood disorders to various types of tumors and rare genetic diseases.
In recent years, the General Assembly created the opportunity for contributions to be used for pediatric cancer research. These contributions are deducted from a tax refund and may be made as a $5 contribution when renewing a driver’s license or vehicle registration.
Have a Happy Labor Day
Workers across Pennsylvania and the U.S. had their lives disrupted during the pandemic, and many are still striving for a return to normalcy.
I hope you have a wonderful Labor Day weekend, as we celebrate the past contributions and hopeful future of the American worker.