In This Update:
Special Committee Set to Begin Bipartisan Election Review
A newly created Senate panel will begin a comprehensive review of the 2020 General Election with its first hearing on Monday, March 15, beginning at 10 a.m. The hearing is scheduled to review best practices of election integrity and security from other states.
The Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform is anticipated to produce a report that will be presented to the General Assembly with recommendations to improve the administration and safety of elections in Pennsylvania.
State residents are encouraged to submit comments through the online form.
New Legislation Puts the Brakes on Tolling PA Interstate Bridges
I joined colleagues earlier this week to announce the introduction of legislation to stop the proposed plan to toll bridges on Pennsylvania’s interstate system.
View entire news conference here.
Senate Bill 382, which I prime sponsored, would reform the Public-Private Transportation Partnership (P3) statute and void the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) Pathways Major Bridge P3 Initiative.
The size, scope and process of PennDOT’s P3 bridge tolling initiative are beyond the legislative intent and statutory requirements of Act 88. This high-risk plan to toll nine bridges will counter our economic recovery efforts. Our answers to fix revenue problems cannot be merely met with tacit approval for another tax, fee or toll on the backs of Pennsylvania’s hardworking families and residents. Let us use this moment to have a much broader conversation on transportation funding within this great Commonwealth.
On November 12, 2020, the P3 Board, under PennDOT’s jurisdiction, supported a proposal to impose user fees or tolls on major bridges throughout the interstate system. This was the first time in the P3 Board’s history to consider a proposal with user fees.
The serious gaps in the P3 statute became clear when PennDOT finally announced the details of the proposal three months after the P3 Board meeting. The P3 statute requires a detailed analysis prior to the meeting.
Senate Bill 382 will accomplish the following:
Act 88 authorized the creation of the P3 Board to expedite transportation projects in Pennsylvania. There are various P3s benefiting the Commonwealth’s transportation system, such as the construction of compressed natural gas fueling stations at transit agencies and the rapid replacement of 558 state-owned bridges.
The Senate Transportation Committee held a hearing on January 25 to examine the loopholes of this P3 Initiative. The Committee expects to consider Senate Bill 382 this month.
2021 PA Budget Hearings – Department of Human Services
Emergency Rental Assistance Applications Available Now
Renters struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic can apply now for financial assistance through a program authorized by the General Assembly last month. Applications and more information on the program are available from the Department of Human Services.
Funding for the program was released to counties by Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity on Tuesday.
Budget Hearings Delve Into Wolf’s Spending and Tax Plans
The Senate Appropriations Committee began the formal process of reviewing Governor Wolf’s budget proposal this week, including exploring how the governor’s massive new spending plans and record-breaking tax increases would impact Pennsylvania communities, families and small employers.
Some of the key points discussed during the hearings this week include:
Senate Returns to Session Next Week, Budget Hearings Continue
The Senate will return to session on Monday. You can follow all committee hearings, meetings, floor debates and votes live at www.PASenateGOP.com.
In addition, the Senate Appropriations Committee will continue its review of Governor Wolf’s budget with hearings featuring the Department of Education and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education on Thursday.
JARI Scholarships for Pitt-Johnstown
JARI is offering ten $500 scholarships for current students or incoming freshman enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown for the 2021 summer and fall terms.
The scholarships are open to individuals who reside in Cambria or Somerset Counties.
The grant program will be provide eligible students with a $500 scholarship to be use toward tuition or other school-related expenses (i.e. meal plans, parking, class materials, etc.). The scholarships are funded through The Supporting Learning Communities Grant funded by the Y.S. and Y.W. Nam Fund at the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies (CFA). The deadline for application submission is April 19, 2021.
All forms (guidelines and scholarship application) can be accessed at www.jari.com click on the Workforce Development tab.
Boyer Orchards Goes From Side Business to Award Winner in Three Generations
In February, at the virtual-only edition of the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention, Matt Boyer was named Outstanding Grower of the Year by the State Horticultural Association of Pennsylvania. Congratulations! View the article here.
Daylight Saving Time
Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead 1 hour Saturday night for Daylight Saving Time. We “spring forward” at 2 a.m. Sunday and “fall back” on November 7.