In this Update:
Wolf Administration Declines Request to Discuss Election Reform
The Senate State Government Committee held a public hearing about election reform and integrity. Unfortunately, for the second time in two weeks, Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Veronica Degraffenreid and other officials from the governor’s Department of State failed to attend.
They were invited to discuss Senate Bill 878, a bipartisan bill that would implement recommendations of the bipartisan Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform, after previously agreeing to attend.
Some of the recommendations incorporated in the bill include tracking and transparent counting of mail-in ballots, real-time reporting of deceased voters, elimination of a permanent mail-in ballot list and more.
Sign Up for Election Investigation Updates Direct to Your Email
With many constituents requesting more information about the Election Investigation, I am pleased to announce a new resource available from the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee. In an effort to be transparent, the Committee will send regular email updates directly to you so you can stay up to date with every step of the investigation.
If you are interested in having exclusive content, timely news, and relevant updates on the status of the investigation delivered directly to your inbox, please sign up for “Inside the Election Investigation” email updates here.
Stefano – Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee Advances Legislation
The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee advanced five measures, according to Sen. Pat Stefano (R-32), committee chairman. These measures included legislation to amend the State Veterans’ Preference Law; a resolution urging the U.S. Navy to hold its 250th Birthday in Philadelphia; legislation to ensure in-state college tuition for deployed military families; legislation that places the Flood Plain Management Program under PEMA; and a resolution extending the emergency declaration for Hurricane Ida.
Senate Bill 849, sponsored by Sen. Stefano, would make a much-needed correction to the Veterans’ Preference Law. Currently, a veteran must have completed his or her first term of service with an “other than dishonorable” discharge. Unfortunately, the current wording in the law excludes those who, through no fault of their own due to disability, could not complete their first term of service.
“It is important that we do right by our veterans, and this measure does that,” said Sen. Stefano.
Senate Resolution 164, sponsored by Sen. Devlin Robinson (R-37), would urge the U.S. Secretary of Navy to hold the 250th Birthday of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps in 2025 in the City of Philadelphia.
“Coupled with our nation’s founding in 1776, both 2025 and 2026 will be a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our nation’s proud history,” said Sen. Stefano.
House Bill 941, sponsored by Rep. Frank Buns (D-72) guarantees in-state higher education tuition for re-assigned military families.
“The U.S. Department of Defense has found that some students lose their in-state tuition rate if their military parent is re-assigned to another state between the day they are accepted to a Pennsylvania college and the first day of the semester,” said Sen. Stefano. “As such, House Bill 941 will correct this by ensuring that military families are guaranteed the in-state tuition as soon as a student submits the enrollment deposit.”
House Bill 1598, sponsored by Rep. Karen Boback (R-117), would transfer the responsibility for administering the State’s Flood Plain Management Program with PEMA, instead of the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).
“Coupled with the ensuing state plan that will be adopted, it’s my understanding that Pennsylvania’s eligibility for hazard mitigation funding will be increased from 15% to 20% for any federally declared public assistance disaster,” said Sen. Stefano. “With the recent flooding associated with Hurricane Ida, this measure is all the more important to have a coordinated response to flooding.”
House Resolution 139, sponsored by Rep. Shelby Labs (R-143), is a concurrent resolution that would extendpart the governor’s Aug. 31 emergency declaration for Hurricane Ida until Oct. 27.
“I appreciate all the work of our emergency managers, first responders and Red Cross that have (It should either be that has or who have, depending on whether you’re referring back to work or the emergency managers, first responders and Red Cross.) assisted residents who have been dversely affected by Hurricane Ida,” said Sen. Stefano.
The bills now go to the full Senate for consideration. For a link to the video from the meeting, click HERE.
Consumer and Economic Impacts of Failing to Invest in PA’s Natural Gas Infrastructure
The Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee and the Environmental Resources & Energy Committee held a joint hearing to examine the consumer and economic impacts of failing to invest in the state’s natural gas infrastructure.
The committees brought together industry experts and others to provide feedback on labor, economic development and consumer protection.
View hearing video and written testimony here.
Stefano Introduces Resolution Honoring EMS Providers and Their Sacrifices
Sen. Pat Stefano (R-32) and Sen. Katie Muth (D-44) introduced a legislative measure in honor of emergency medical service (EMS) providers who have lost their lives while trying to rescue others and serve their community.
Senate Resolution 160 designates Sept. 13 as EMS Memorial Day in Pennsylvania.
“EMS is always there for us – 24/7/365 – and when the alarm sounds, they selflessly respond. Tragically, while working to save the lives of others, EMS providers have lost their own lives,” Sen. Stefano said. “This resolution aims to remind people that EMS providers make tremendous sacrifices to care for the needs of our communities.”
Sadly, over 65 EMS providers have made the ultimate sacrifice since 2013.
Many deaths of EMS personnel and other first responders occur when they are struck by vehicles while helping victims at the scene of traffic accidents. Last year, Sen. Stefano joined legislative colleagues in passing the “Move Over Law.” The law requires drivers approaching an emergency response area to move to a farther lane or, if unable, to slow to no more than 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
About one in eight U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a good time to learn about breast cancer risk and how to lower it.
In an effort to highlight this deadly disease and the steps that can be taken to be proactive against it, the Capitol fountain was again turned pink for the month of October. Women who have lost income or health insurance because of COVID-19 may qualify for free breast screening and diagnostic services. Learn more here.
To help combat this deadly disease, the legislature passed a new law to give Pennsylvania residents renewing their vehicle registration or driver’s license an option to donate to the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition.
Stefano Honors Gold Star Mothers with Senate Resolution
Sen. Pat Stefano (R-32) and Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20) introduced a legislative measure that designates Sept. 26 as Gold Star Mother’s Day in Pennsylvania.
Gold Star Mothers are mothers whose sons and daughters have enlisted in the United States Armed Forces and then gave their lives in service to the nation.
Recent actions in Afghanistan have resulted in additional mothers, fathers and families joining these somber ranks.
“What makes these women special is that they have not given up. They haven’t given up on others in their circumstances, and they haven’t given up on this nation,” Sen. Stefano said.
Senate Resolution 161 extends the deepest reverence, sorrow and gratitude to the Commonwealth’s Gold Star Mothers as they continue their mournful journey, struggle to overcome a mother’s greatest heartache and honor their lost children and their heroic legacy.
Celebrating Farmers on Oct. 12
Tuesday, Oct. 12, is National Farmers Day, recognizing the heritage and indispensable work of the men and women behind Pennsylvania’s number-one industry.
If you want to show your appreciation for the folks who feed Pennsylvania, America and the world, you can read about a farmer or shop at a local farmers market.
Around the District
Veteran Community Initiatives, VCI held a Veteran Outreach event today at the Friedens Armory. Got a chance to catch up with some Vietnam veterans and met with the VCI staff along with the Army recruiter and Armory command officer.
Today we celebrated the beginning of the Boswell Fire Department station expansion at their social hall. With the help of an anonymous Angel Donor, the fire company was able, with the assistance of Aspire Grant Development, to leverage that donation for a state grant. Good luck with your construction and looking forward to your ribbon cutting!
This morning I toured one of Monessen’s hidden gems: Steelfusion Clinical Toxicology Laboratory LLC. This women-owned and operated business boasts over 12 accreditations and offers rapid forensic and clinical toxicology testing utilizing Oral Fluid and Urine for the detection and quantification of illicit and prescription drugs. It was a fascinating look into the future of forensic technology. Thank you to Amy Reisinger and Amber Miller for the tour of their facility.
Yesterday, I was given a tour of the Fayette County Emergency Management Agency by Director Roy Shipley to see their investment in keeping our neighborhoods safe.
Thank you to everyone I met, especially the incredibly dedicated dispatchers who were kind enough to take a photo with me.
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