Senator Pat Stefano E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Senate Passes PA Edge Program to Bring Jobs to Pennsylvania
  • VA Vet Centers Poised to Help 32nd District Veterans
  • Senate Votes to Provide Critical Aid to Fire & EMS Companies
  • Tuesday is the General Election
  • Keystone State ChalleNGe Academy Now Accepting Applications For January 2023 Class
  • How Are Invasive Species Affecting You?
  • Reminder: Turn Clocks Back Saturday Night
  • Advisory Council Tours Keystone State ChalleNGe Academy
  • Risk of Hitting a Deer Increases in Fall
  • Around the District

Senate Passes PA Edge Program to Bring Jobs to Pennsylvania

New jobs and more investment could be coming to Pennsylvania after the Senate voted to create and expand tax credit programs to support targeted investments in key industries.

The legislation would make new resources available for job growth under the newly established Pennsylvania Economic Development for a Growing Economy (PA EDGE) tax credit program. The program will be made up of four components to attract major new investments to Pennsylvania communities.

One of the new programs is the Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub Tax Credit program, which is designed to support projects requiring a capital investment of at least $500 million. Projects would also be required to make a good faith effort to use the local labor market and create at least 1,200 permanent and new jobs.

The bill would also establish a new Pennsylvania Milk Processing Tax Credit program to support Pennsylvania’s dairy industry. The tax credit would be equal to 5 cents per gallon of milk purchased and processed from within Pennsylvania. The program would also require capital investment of at least $500 million, efforts to use local labor and the creation of at least 1,200 permanent and new jobs.

The legislation would also create the Semiconductor Manufacturing, Biomedical Manufacturing and Research. The Tax Credit program tax credits would be split evenly between semiconductor manufacturing and biomedical projects.

In addition, House Bill 1059 would increase the cap on the Local Resource Manufacturing Tax Credit Program, while ensuring tax credits remain available for construction of a smaller project facility in the near future. The bill was sent to the governor for enactment.

VA Vet Centers Poised to Help 32nd District Veterans

In an effort to help connect Veterans to available resources, I’m pleased to highlight the following VA Vet Centers that cover the 32nd Senatorial District.

Morgantown Vet Center

The VA’s Morgantown Vet Center offers confidential help for Veterans, service members, and their families at no cost in a non-medical setting.   They cover the Fayette county area.  Their services include counseling for needs such as depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the psychological effects of military sexual trauma (MST). They can also connect you with more support in VA and your community.

White Oak Vet Center

The White Oak Vet Center covers Bedford, Somerset and Westmoreland Counties.  Please call 412-678-7704 to speak with a staff member that will assist you with scheduling an appointment, questions you may have or provide an appropriate referral.. Same day services available, call for details. Non-traditional hours are available by appointment. Free to all veterans. There is a large well-lit parking area outside the Vet Center.

Senate Votes to Provide Critical Aid to Fire & EMS Companies

In the latest effort to help Pennsylvania’s fire and emergency medical services, the Senate passed a comprehensive measure that would provide essential funding and support for these critical first responders.

The assistance is especially vital for volunteer fire companies struggling to recruit members and cover rising costs. As amended by the Senate, the measure would:

  • Put in place a Volunteer Tuition and Loan Assistance Program.
  • Establish recruitment, training and retention initiatives – including higher and secondary education partnerships for EMS.
  • Provide financial assistance for career and volunteer fire companies to shore up their facilities
  • Increase the maximum amount of fire and EMS grants and allow merged companies to receive higher grants for 20 years.
  • Provide funding for online fire training.
  • Require the State Fire Commissioner to establish an online registry of firefighters’ courses. 
  • Set up a Fireworks Safety Education Program.

The measure was sent to the governor for enactment.

Tuesday is the General Election

The General Election will be held Tuesday, and polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Voters who are voting for the first time in their election district will be required to show an ID. Acceptable IDs for first-time voters:

  • Driver’s license
  • U.S. passport
  • Military, student or employee ID
  • Voter registration card
  • Firearm permit
  • Current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or government check
  • Any ID issued by the Commonwealth or federal government

If you are unsure where to vote, you can find your polling place here. You can learn about the voting system your county uses here.

Keystone State ChalleNGe Academy Now Accepting Applications For January 2023 Class

The Keystone State ChalleNGe Academy (KSCA) is accepting applications for its second class of cadets which begins in January 2023. The KSCA is designed to give academically challenged teens a second chance at obtaining their basic education, learn leadership, self-discipline, and responsibility while working toward finishing their education and building a better life.  

The opening of the academy at Fort Indiantown Gap (FTIG) in Lebanon County in July 2022 formally established the National Guard Bureau’s Youth ChalleNGe Program in Pennsylvania. The program is open to 16- to 18-year-old male and female Pennsylvania residents who are failing to progress in high school or may not be on a clear path to graduating. Applicants must be willing to be drug free, free of felony convictions, and voluntarily commit to the program. The program lasts for 17 months, with the first five months consisting of residential training at FTIG followed by one year of mentorship back in the community.

“After seeing the success of the first class of cadets, we are excited to build the second class and get off to a strong start in January,” said Steve Grossman, KSCA director. “It has been a pleasure to work with the current class and see how laser focused they are on reaching their goals toward a brighter future. Many of the cadets are talking about bettering themselves through higher education, the trade industry and schools, and some even military service. It is rewarding to see the cadets so excited about the next phase of their life.” 

For detailed eligibility requirements and to begin the application process, visit our Eligibility and AdmissionsOpens In A New Window webpage. If you prefer to have an application mailed to you or would like to talk with someone about this program, please contact the academy by emailing RA-MVPACHALLENGE@pa.gov, or by calling 717-861-7767 or 717-861-8831. 

The KSCA is a joint effort between the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) and the National Guard Bureau in consultation with the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). 

Cadets are introduced to the military structure and focus on eight core components: Academic Excellence; Physical Fitness; Leadership/Followership; Responsible Citizenship; Job Skills; Service to the Community; Health and Hygiene; and Life Coping Skills. Graduates often receive high school credits, credentials, or a GED. There is no tuition cost to attend. Meals, housing, uniforms, and school supplies are provided at no charge.

Since the program’s inception in 1993, more than 179,000 young people have completed the ChalleNGe program nationwide. This award-winning program has been recognized as one of the nation’s most effective and cost-efficient programs for targeting youth who have dropped out of school or are at the greatest risk for not satisfactorily progressing, are unemployed or under employed.

The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program currently operates 40 Youth Challenge sites in 31 states and territories. The program is both federally and state funded. 

More details can be found at www.dmva.pa.gov/KeystoneStateChallengeAcademy

How Are Invasive Species Affecting You?

The impact of invasive species on Pennsylvania citizens, local governments, businesses and others is the focus of a survey being conducted by the Governor’s Invasive Species Council.

The Invasive Species Impacts Survey will be used to chronicle the effects invasive plants, insects, animals and pathogens are having on land and waterways.

Invasive species include more than 140 invasive plant types, 25 plant diseases, 18 insects, 60 aquatic animals, five bird and mammal species, and more. The survey takes a few minutes to complete and is open through Nov. 13.

Reminder: Turn Clocks Back Saturday Night

Daylight saving time ends Sunday at 2 a.m., so don’t forget to set your clocks back one hour Saturday night.

Advisory Council Tours Keystone State ChalleNGe Academy

Last week, members of the Keystone State ChalleNGe Academy (KSCA) Advisory Council participated in a tour of the newly opened campus located at Fort Indiantown Gap. The tour included visits to the operations center, a barracks, a classroom, and the multi-purpose building. At the conclusion of the tour, participants had the opportunity to talk with staff and cadets in the inaugural class which began in mid-July. Cadets will graduate in December.

The KSCA provides Pennsylvania teens who are struggling academically an opportunity to achieve the self-discipline, education, and skills necessary to succeed as productive, responsible citizens through an engaging, safe, and structured stay-on-site experience. Cadets are guided to improve their academic standing and increase their potential for future employment or further education.

“We were excited to showcase the progress of the cadets while providing an update on the newly constructed or renovated facilities,” said Steve Grossman, KSCA director. “None of this would be possible without the wonderful support of the advisory council and the community. We are proud of how hard the cadets are doing in their quest for a brighter future.”

Cadets are introduced to a quasi-military structure and focus on eight core components: Academic Excellence; Physical Fitness; Leadership/Followership; Responsible Citizenship; Job Skills; Service to the Community; Health and Hygiene; and Life Coping Skills. Graduates often receive high school credits, credentials, or a GED. There is no tuition cost to attend. Meals, housing, uniforms, and school supplies are provided at no charge.

Administered by the Department of Defense (DoD) and implemented by the National Guard Bureau (NGB) in 1993, more than 192,000 young people have completed the ChalleNGe program nationwide. This award-winning program has been recognized as one of the nation’s most effective and cost-efficient programs for targeting youth who have dropped out of school or are at the greatest risk for not satisfactorily progressing, are unemployed or under employed.

The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program currently operates 40 Youth Challenge sites in 31 states and territories. The program is both federally and state funded.

In Pennsylvania, the KSCA is a joint effort between the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) and the National Guard in consultation with the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). 

Applications for the next class of KSCA cadets, which begins in January 2023, are now being accepted. More details about the program as well as an application, can be found at https://www.dmva.pa.gov/KeystoneStateChallengeAcademy.

Risk of Hitting a Deer Increases in Fall

With deer becoming more active during the fall breeding season, and the end of daylight saving time putting more vehicles on the road during dusk and dawn when deer move most, the Pennsylvania Game Commission is asking motorists to stay alert.

According to insurance statistics, Pennsylvania drivers have a 1-in-58 chance of a vehicular accident involving a big game animal – one of the highest rates nationwide. Drivers can reduce their chances of collisions with deer by staying alert and better understanding deer behavior. Just paying attention while driving on stretches marked with “Deer Crossing” signs can make a difference.

You can find out more about avoiding collisions with deer and how to report a collision here.

Around the District

Last week, I had the honor of presenting the Masontown Senior Center 2021-2022 “Volunteer of the Year Award” to Robert “Bob” Ahlgren.

Bob has had the most volunteer hours of over 35 volunteers for the senior center, accumulating 647 volunteer hours just this year. He delivers the Point Marion Grab and Go meals every Tuesday, calls Bingo at the Center, and is an active member of the center, attending most days for more than 18 years.

Bob is a member of the Fayette County Advisory Council, Southwestern Pennsylvania Area Agency on Aging Advisory Council, and sits with the Executive Director of SWPA AAA on the Budget Legislative Committee. 

He unselfishly gives his time and never hesitates to help others.  I can not think of a more deserving person for this award. Congratulations again Bob!

I was happy to be able to present a citation commemorating Touchstone Center for Craft’s 50th year of operation.

Touchstone Center for Crafts is a unique three-seasons craft school located 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh in the beautiful mountains of the Laurel Highlands, near Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, Ohiopyle State Park, and Nemacolin Resort. Founded in 1972 as Pioneer Crafts Council, Touchstone’s original mission was to foster interest in the preservation of traditional crafts. Today, this unique craft school has expanded to include contemporary and experimental techniques in disciplines such as blacksmithing, ceramics, metals & jewelry, glass, drawing & painting, and special topic areas.

Congratulations Touchstone Center for Crafts for 50 years of advancing arts and crafts excellence.

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