In This Update:
Senators Continue to Highlight What a YES Vote Means on May 18
A group of senators held a news conference at the Capitol this week to highlight what a YES vote means when voters go to the polls to decide proposed Constitutional amendments on May 18.
Lawmakers approved three potential amendments to the Constitution that will appear on the ballot for voters in the May 18 election, including one question to prohibit discrimination based on race or ethnicity and two questions designed to improve the way the state responds to future emergencies.
The Wolf Administration has been widely criticized for wording the emergency response questions in a way that is deeply confusing and prejudicial.
A YES at the ballot box means voters favor:
A new webpage offers a detailed explanation of what the proposed amendments would accomplish.
Senators Call on Governor to Halt Unilateral Action on Carbon Tax
Pennsylvania Senate Republicans sent Governor Tom Wolf a letter Wednesday informing him that none of his nominations to the Pennsylvania Utility Commission (PUC) will be considered by the Senate if he continues to pursue a unilateral carbon tax on Pennsylvania employers and customers.
The letter notes that the governor’s effort to force Pennsylvania to join the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) without the input of the legislature is a clear violation of the checks and balances provided by the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Hearings Examining Governor’s Budget Proposal Conclude
The Senate Appropriations Committee completed a series of 21 public hearings that closely examined the details of Governor Wolf’s state budget proposal.
The comprehensive review of the Governor’s proposed $40.2 billion General Fund Budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22, which includes a massive increase in state spending, a substantial personal income tax rate hike, imposition of Marcellus Shale extraction tax, and elimination of funding for broadband expansion and vital agricultural and health programs.
The complete coverage of the hearings can be found here.
This week PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee. I asked several questions of the secretary ranging from the department’s finances to the P3 Major Bridge Tolling Initiative. The entire hearing can be viewed here.
Comments on 2020 General Election Due by Friday, April 30
This is the final week for Pennsylvanians to share their experience from last year’s election with the Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform. Election surveys for Pennsylvanians who voted by mail or in person will be accepted through Friday, April 30.
The committee is expected to use the survey responses and testimony gathered during its series of public hearings to produce a report with recommendations that will be presented to the General Assembly.
This week the Special Committee held the third and final public hearing on insight on the Administration of Elections in Philadelphia and Allegheny Counties. The hearing can be viewed here.
Andrew Bauer – Job Shadow
This week I had the pleasure of introducing Andrew Bauer to my colleagues. Andrew is from Johnstown, Cambria County, and attends Richland High School. Andrew was in Harrisburg to shadow me for the day.
Class of 2021, with graduation day fast approaching and in light of the challenges this past year has presented, I would like to feature graduates throughout the 35th Senatorial District on my Facebook page in May and June. It’s a chance to recognize those who have persevered through unprecedented times and remained focused on their future goals and celebrate their accomplishments.
Do you know of someone graduating from high school, trade school or college from Bedford, Cambria or Clearfield counties that has made an impact on their community, accomplished a goal, been accepted to a college or technical school, joined the armed forces, or any other amazing accomplishments? If so, please visit https://redesign.senatorlangerholc.com/senior-spotlight/.
April 24 – National Prescription Drug Take Back Day
Tomorrow, April 24, is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day at multiple locations across the Commonwealth from 10am-2pm. Multiple locations are available throughout Cambria County so click on the link below to find a location nearest you.
Clearfield County: https://cjdac.org/rx-drug-take-back/
U.S. Small Business Administration’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has released details on the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), including application requirements, eligibility, and a program guide. These materials are now available at www.sba.gov/restaurants.
Although a start date for the program has not yet been announced, they are beginning to market this program throughout western Pennsylvania.
Keep in mind, there are some cross-eligibility constraints associated with RRF and other SBA COVID-19 relief options. A chart outlining SBA program interactions can be found here: https://bit.ly/2RR8H4d
Senate Votes to Extend Program Helping Schools Find Substitute Teachers
Pennsylvania schools could have additional opportunities to find qualified substitute teachers under a bill approved by the Senate this week.
Lawmakers created a program in 2016 that allowed individuals training to be teachers to serve as a substitute teacher, provided the individual has valid clearances and at least 60 credit hours. However, the program is set to expire on June 30.
The legislation approved this week would make this temporary program permanent. As a result, schools, intermediate units and career and technical schools can ensure qualified substitutes are available to meet the needs of students.
Senate Bill 445 – Breast Cancer Research
During this week’s Senate Transportation Committee meeting, as Chairman, I prioritized Senate Bill 445 early in the Session to ensure we provide more resources to support breast cancer research. Advancing breast cancer research will benefit not only Pennsylvanians but our nation as a whole. With the enactment of this legislation, individuals can voluntarily contribute to the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition while renewing a driver’s license or vehicle registration online. This is an innovative way to increase breast cancer research funding. Pictured with me is Pat Halpin-Murphy, President and Founder of the PA Breast Cancer Coalition and Senator Bob Mensch, prime sponsor of this legislation.
Protecting the First Amendment Rights of Teachers
The Senate approved a critical bill this week to ensure the First Amendment rights of teachers are better protected. The legislation would repeal a provision of the School Code which prohibits teachers from wearing any garb, mark, emblem or insignia that would indicate they are a member of or adherent to any religious order or sect while in the performance of their duties as a teacher.
Although federal courts have held that the school’s religious affiliations policy violates the free exercise of religion and free speech clauses of the Constitution, these provisions are still in place and public school directors can be held criminally liable for failing to enforce this prohibition. Pennsylvania is the last state in the United States with this provision still in place.
Cambria Drive-up Food Distribution – May 12
Save the date! Register now for Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank’s drive-up distribution on Wednesday, May 12 from 12 -2 pm at Johnstown Galleria, 500 Galleria Drive. You must make a reservation in advance of the event. Reserve Food here: bit.ly/Find-Food