In this Update:
Happening in Harrisburg
On Wednesday, the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee met to consider three bills, all of which passed unanimously.
Watch the meeting here.
On Tuesday, I joined my colleagues and representatives of industry and labor to discuss what the future hydrogen economy means for jobs, energy and the environment following a recent federal decision to award funding to 2 hydrogen hubs benefitting Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania has the potential to be a national leader in the development and use of hydrogen due in part to not only our natural resources and geology, but also our skilled labor force. We must take full advantage of this opportunity and bring the hydrogen economy into a reality, as these hubs are expected to produce thousands of family sustaining jobs to the commonwealth.
Watch the press conference here.
Groundbreaking for business park in North Union Township
On Thursday, officials broke ground on the new business park expansion in North Union Township. “Thompson’s Crossing,” named in honor of the land’s former owner and businessman JV Thompson, will house 85 acres of both commercial and residential development to support new and growing businesses in Fayette County.
Read the release from Fayette County here.
Somerset County Veterans Appreciation Breakfast
Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar and I will be hosting a free Veterans Appreciation Breakfast on Thursday, Nov. 9, from 8-10 a.m., at the Berlin American Legion Post 445. Reserve your spot by calling my district office 814-443-2053.
Broadband Survey for Somerset County
Calling all Somerset County Residents: Your response is needed to improve broadband access across the county. Take the Connect Somerset County survey here before November 13 to ensure your voice is heard!
Senate Passes Bills Empowering Parents
The Senate approved legislation that would empower parents to protect their own child from accessing sexually explicit content at school, without impacting the books available to other students. Senate Bill 7 would require schools to:
Senate Bill 7 was crafted after a non-partisan, thorough two-year process – including conversations with parents, school administrators, teachers and librarians. It would not ban any books from Pennsylvania school curriculum or libraries, but rather empower parents to control only what their own children have access to in school.
The Senate also approved legislation requiring schools to make public curriculum information available online, including a link or title for every textbook and course syllabus used for classes. Other measures passed this week would require schools to display the United States Constitution and display the Pennsylvania Constitution. Empowering parents and families is a priority of Pennsylvania Senate Republicans.
Senate Votes to Extend and Improve Program to Protect Students
Building on recent legislation to improve school bus safety, the Senate approved legislation extending and improving the school bus stop-arm automated enforcement program. The measure is set for enactment into law.
The program was first authorized in 2018 and includes nearly 40 participating school districts that equipped 2,500 school buses with cameras to record vehicles that don’t stop for school buses. More than 4,000 violations have been recorded.
The program was set to expire this week. Senate Bill 851 makes the program permanent, improves interaction with law enforcement and streamlines the appeals process. If a driver illegally passes a stopped school bus, the school district will send the car owner a police-vetted violation in the mail. The owner must pay the $300 fine or make an appeal for a virtual or in-person hearing overseen by a PennDOT official. The driver may petition a magisterial district judge after PennDOT’s decision.
Grants Available for Organizations Helping Veterans
The Veterans’ Trust Fund is accepting grant applications for programs and services benefiting Pennsylvania veterans. Nonprofit organizations, veteran service organizations and county directors of veteran affairs may apply by Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 2 p.m.
Find more information about the grant opportunity and how to apply here.
The trust fund is supported by Pennsylvanians who donate when applying for or renewing their driver’s licenses, photo IDs or motor vehicle registrations; purchase veteran-specific license plates; or make private donations. Tax-deductible donations can be made online.
Apply to Vote by Mail by Oct. 31 for the November Election
The deadline is approaching for anyone who would like to vote by mail for the Nov. 7 election. Your county election board must receive your application for a mail-in or absentee ballot no later than Tuesday, Oct. 31, at 5 p.m.
Any registered voter may request a mail-in ballot. Absentee ballots can be requested by voters with disabilities or an illness that prevents them from going to their polling place on Election Day, or those who will be absent from their municipality on Election Day.
You can apply for a mail-in ballot online, by mail or in person at your county election board’s office or other designated locations. Learn more here.
Recognizing Pennsylvania’s First Responders
Saturday, Oct. 28, is National First Responders Day. Police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians care for us during some of life’s worst moments. They are true heroes, and I am proud to honor their brave and selfless efforts.
My Senate colleagues and I have passed legislation to address the serious shortage of volunteer firefighters in the commonwealth. The number dropped from about 300,000 in the 1980s to less than 38,000 today, so they need our support. Without enough volunteers, communities across Pennsylvania face longer wait times when minutes make the difference between life and death.