In this Update:
Langerholc, Browne Legislation Becomes Act 1 of 2022
I’m pleased to announce legislation that I co-prime sponsored with my colleague Senator Pat Browne was signed by Governor Tom Wolf and became Act 1 of 2022.
Act 1 of 2022 will assist students experiencing homelessness or those who transition between foster homes to stay on track to graduate high school. Schools will now designate a point person to review the student’s past transcripts and provide the essential support needed to aid the student to graduate in a timely manner.
Langerholc Bill to Advance Highly Automated Vehicles Receives Bipartisan Support
In Harrisburg this week, we held a voting meeting today to consider Senate Bill 965, which authorizes research institutions and companies to test and deploy Highly Automated Vehicles (HAV) in Pennsylvania. The bill passed (12-2) with bipartisan support.
The bipartisan vote on this historic legislation builds on the last five years of safely testing Highly Automated Vehicles in Pennsylvania. As evidenced by my leadership to develop today’s comprehensive amendment, my door is always open to discuss the challenges and opportunities of this emerging industry. I look forward to continuing the collaboration with Commonwealth agencies, stakeholders, and constituents on this roadmap for Highly Automated Vehicles.
Senate Bill 965 was introduced on January 5, 2022, at a bipartisan press conference in Pittsburgh. After numerous discussions and meetings with stakeholders, the comprehensive amendment was drafted to address the following areas:
The amendment was unanimously approved by the Senate Transportation Committee. The bill as amended now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
Standing Up for Our Constitutional Rights
I defended the right to bear arms by speaking in support of HB 979 which is the companion legislation to my SB 448. This legislation makes it unequivocally clear that the General Assembly is the only elected body that can regulate the sale and use of firearms in our Commonwealth. This legislation will head to the Governor’s desk today and I implore him to sign HB 979.
Ceremony for Korean War Veteran
My staff had the pleasure of attending a ceremony held by U.S. Senator Pat Toomey’s office honoring Command Sergeant Major Robert Symon with the “Ambassador for Peace” medal from the people of the Republic of Korea for his service in the Korean War. I would like to thank Sergeant Symon for his service and dedication to our great nation.
Richland High School Senior Class Discussion
This week, I had the pleasure of speaking to the Senior Class at Richland High School and we had an interactive discussion about how our State Government works. The students did a fantastic job!
Tour of Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center
I joined local state representatives at Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center to see the many opportunities for both high school and adult learners. The growing need for skilled tradespeople has increased and GJCTC is meeting the demand by training tomorrows’ workers. Many thanks to John Augustine the Administrative Director, the administrators, instructors, and students who gave us a tour of the school and demonstrated several of the machines.
Bedford County Chamber of Commerce
Thank you to the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce (PA) for the invitation to have Tonya Clark of my Bedford office join their first Quarterly Membership Meeting of 2022! I’m so appreciative of the Chamber for their continued efforts to promote and assist the business community throughout Bedford County.
Ribbon Cutting of MorGainz Fitness Jackson
This week, my staff attended the ribbon cutting ceremony of MorGainz Fitness Jackson in Nanty Glo. This is the fourth location for MorGainz Fitness. Congratulations Kelly and Dave!
Blight Removal Funding
I was pleased to be able to provide state funding to assist with blight removal in Johnstown.
Rule of Law Essay Contest
Attention Teachers and Parents of 5th and 6th Graders: The Courts, Community, and Rule of Law Committee of the Judicial Council of the Third Circuit are partnering with bar associations, civic organizations, and educational institutions across the geographical reach of the Third Circuit to promote an essay contest for 5th and 6th grade classes. Essays are to focus on civics, citizenship, and the concept of the “Rule of Law.” The essay prompt is: “What does the Rule of Law mean to you and to our country?” Class essays must be submitted on or before Friday, March 18, 2022. Details are available here.
Senate Passes New Funding for Hospitals, Health Care Workers
The Senate this week approved critical funding for hospitals and frontline health care workers who continue to keep Pennsylvanians safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill was sent to the governor for enactment.
It allocates a total of $225 million to hospitals and their employees. The additional dollars will be allocated as follows:
The legislation requires the funding to be directed to retention and recruitment programs for staff. Hospital executives and administration, contracted staff and physicians would not be eligible for payments.
Student Loan Relief for Nurses Available through March 1
Applications are being accepted through March 1 for the new Student Loan Relief for Nurses program.
Qualified nurses working through the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible to receive student loan relief of up to $2,500 for each year of work (beginning with 2020) for up to three years, with a maximum benefit of $7,500.
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency indicates the high volume of applications has slowed the review process, and online applications are not offered. You can learn more about the program and the application process here.
Senate Acts to Improve PA National Guard Health Care
Legislation to increase the number of health care providers in the Pennsylvania National Guard was approved by the Senate. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The legislation improves the Medical Officer or Health Officer Incentive Program, which was created in 2014 to provide an education stipend to those who qualified through their time in the armed services.
This incentive program began to address the lack of health care providers within the Guard. However, some health professionals, such as dentists and physician assistants, were inadvertently left out of the program.
Senate Bill 927 would establish a broader definition of “health professional” to capture those left out of the original program. It would also create education stipend tiers based on the participant’s education level, so that physicians and physician assistants would get a higher reimbursement to help pay down their higher tuition debt.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Applications Being Accepted
Older and disabled Pennsylvanians can apply now for rebates on property taxes or rent paid in 2021.
The Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older, widows and widowers age 50 and older, and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded.
After checking eligibility requirements, you can file your rebate application online by visiting mypath.pa.gov or feel free to stop by my district offices in Bedford, Richland, or Clearfield and my staff will be happy to assist you with completing the form. Submitting your application online does not require you to sign up for an account. You can check the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program instruction booklet to learn which information you will need to complete the process.