In this Update:
The Pennsylvania Senate: Looking Back and Ahead
The end of the year brings a final look back on the 2021-22 legislative session, when Senate Republicans led the effort to transition Pennsylvania from COVID-19 pandemic response to helping residents and employers get back to normal, productive lives.
On the economic front, Senate-passed budgets not only shielded Pennsylvanians from tax increases, they cut the Corporate Net Income Tax to attract employers to Pennsylvania, modernized expense deductions allowing small business owners more flexibility and tax planning opportunities, and provided tax incentives for small businesses to grow and invest in Pennsylvania.
Recognizing that economic prosperity is threatened in unsafe communities, we held public hearings over the summer of 2022 examining rising crime rates and hearing from law enforcement officers on ways to restore order.
Our schools were greatly impacted by the pandemic and lengthy closures, and some of the more important education measures we passed were those that got students back into the classroom after the pandemic, expanded educational opportunity and better prepared students for success. Read more of the 2021-22 recap here.
It’s the duty of legislators to stand between Pennsylvania families and an overreaching, overtaxing executive branch. I will proudly take up that responsibility in the new session and offer our fellow citizens an alternative vision of freedom and prosperity.
Featured in the Local News
Recently, I had the honor of joining the Braddock Trail Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution, which installed an old school bell on the grounds of the Samuel Warden mansion in Mt. Pleasant, which serves as their chapter house.
Earlier this year, I sponsored Senate Resolution 365 to support their initiative of recognizing three days annually to ring bells as a sign of thanks, praise, and unity.
The resolution recognizes the day before Thanksgiving, the Sunday after Christmas, and New Year’s Day at 6 p.m. as a time to ring bells for five minutes throughout the Commonwealth.
In 2020 and thereafter, the pandemic disrupted and tragically affected the lives of Pennsylvanians and people all over the world.
To help those who were struggling, churches in the Scottdale area of Westmoreland County and the DAR provided meals and clothing for the needy, support groups and donations to Salvation Army, United Way and other organizations.
When the Scottdale Area Association of Churches and the DAR met to discuss how to meet the needs of their community members, they came up with the idea of ringing bells as a way to give hope, connect people and bring comfort to others.
People of the Scottdale Area Association of Churches and the DAR rang bells to bring people together physically and emotionally when isolation and many other stressors associated with the pandemic were eroding Pennsylvania’s mental health. So when Edwin Zylka, a member of the association and DAR, reached out to me to bring awareness to this tradition as it prepares for its third year, I wanted to help.
The ceremony and my resolution were featured in the Connellsville Daily Courier last week.
Around the District
Recently, I had the honor of attending and speaking at the Wreaths Across America ceremony at the Addison Cemetery in Somerset County.
While many of us are getting ready to celebrate Christmas, we must pause for a much different tradition — one much more somber but so important — to remember those that gave their very lives for our nation — so that we may be free.
Wreaths Across America displays the best of our society. It receives no government funding, and the cost of its programs is paid by individual sponsors, corporate donors, and volunteer truckers.
For nearly 30 years, the Wreaths Across America project has annually placed wreaths on the graves of our nation’s fallen military heroes in all 50 states, at sea, and abroad. This past year, nearly two million wreaths were laid.
I am pleased that the Berlin I.O.O.F. Cemetery, the Fairmont Cemetery Association, the Great Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery (Uniontown), McGregor Cemetery (Cairnbrook), Newbury Cemetery (Addison), and Windbers Cemeteries also participated in Wreaths Across America within the 32nd Senatorial District.
These wreaths express our gratitude for the service and the ultimate sacrifice made by our fellow Pennsylvanians and their comrades from hometowns across our great nation.
Former President Ronald Reagan said, “We will always remember — we will always be proud — we will always be prepared — so that we may always be free.”
So thank you to the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Addison Cemetery Association, and the Peterson-Addison Historical Society — for organizing this remembrance ceremony — which means so much to the families of our heroes.
May they rest in peace.
If you wish, you may donate to the cause here: https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/
Congratulations to Tussey Mountain School District on being selected as “Fan Favorite” in Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) District 9’s Paint the Plow Contest!
The theme this year was “Put Down the Device in Snow and Ice. Great job!
Grants to Benefit Veterans
Nonprofits, veteran service organizations, and county directors of veterans affairs have until Jan. 19, 2023, to apply for PA Veterans’ Trust Fund grants for programs and services benefiting Pennsylvania veterans.
Apply here: https://bit.ly/3YZHk68
New Guide to PA Unemployment Benefits Available
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has published an updated Unemployment Compensation Handbook, a guide to unemployment benefits.
Unemployment Compensation is a program designed to provide temporary income between jobs to workers who lost their job through no fault of their own: for example, due to a layoff, plant closure or lack of available work.
The handbook was designed to be easier to understand than previous versions and includes links to additional information on the Labor and Industry Department website.
You Can Help Ensure an Accurate PA Broadband Access Map
You can help ensure Pennsylvania receives an accurate level of federal funding for broadband deployment.
Check out your address on the Federal Communications Commission broadband access map to see if the local internet access information is correct. The map shows all U.S. locations where fixed broadband service is or can be installed. Pennsylvania’s federal funding for broadband deployment depends on map accuracy.
Pennsylvanians should submit challenges by Jan. 13, 2023. There are two ways to submit a challenge: by a single location, or in bulk. The location challenge can be completed by individual consumers utilizing the map itself. Bulk challengers will be required to use the Broadband Data Collection platform to submit information to the FCC.
Additional information about the Consumer Challenge Process can be found here, and additional information on the Bulk Challenge Process can be found here. A consumer may also challenge mobile data coverage through the FCC Speed Test App, a free application that can be downloaded from an Apple or Google Play Store.
Older Drivers and Safe Driving
Nearly a quarter of Pennsylvania’s licensed drivers are 65 years of age or older, and resources are available to help with the unique challenges faced by older drivers.
Signs that can indicate it may be time to limit or stop driving altogether include:
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Seniors Driving Safely publications help older drivers assess their abilities and offer guidance on next steps if their medical condition is reported to PennDOT. The series also includes a publication designed to guide family and friends of older drivers in what can sometimes be difficult conversations about deciding to stop driving, as well as information for health care providers on PennDOT’s medical reporting program.
Friday Deadline for Communities to Apply for Boating Facility Grants
Friday is the deadline for communities to apply for state grants to help realize the positive social and economic impacts of providing convenient boating access along their local waterways.
The Boating Facility Grant program provides grants for planning, acquisition, development, expansion and rehabilitation of public boating facilities located on the waters of the Commonwealth.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission encourages townships, boroughs, and municipal and county governments to apply. Nonprofit groups – including land trusts, conservancies and watershed associations – are also eligible to apply. Private businesses and service clubs are not eligible for direct funding but are encouraged to partner with their local county or municipality.
Happy New Year
As we conclude another eventful year filled with challenges and accomplishments, we look ahead to 2023 with renewed hope and excitement. I wish you and your loved ones the best in the new year.