In this Update:
Upcoming License Plate Replacement Event
Attention Cambria County – Don’t forget to mark your calendars! I will be holding FREE License Plate Replacement Events in Johnstown & Ebensburg this month! If you have a damaged, peeling, or discolored plate my office can assist you in getting it replaced for free. Standard, personalized, and specialty plates are all eligible and can be replaced free of charge through these events. For more information, please contact my Johnstown District Office at 814-266-2277.
Ribbon Cutting at Boxed Up Expressions
My staff had the pleasure of attending the Ribbon Cutting and Grand Opening of Boxed Up Expressions, yet another amazing small business in our community. If you are looking for a unique gift box experience, then stop by and check it out.
Grand Re-Opening of the Greater Johnstown Senior Activities Center
My staff joined Pennsylvania Department of Aging Secretary Jason Kavulich at the Grand Re-Opening of the Greater Johnstown Senior Activities Center, which has been closed for two years. I would like to thank Secretary Kavulich for visiting the 35th Senatorial District to celebrate this occasion and congratulate everyone who played a role in making the center’s renovation project a huge success.
75th Anniversary of Bigler YMCA and Strawberry Festival
My staff presented a citation at the 75th anniversary of Bigler YMCA and Strawberry Festival!
Senate Works to Reunite Missing Children with Their Families
The Senate approved the Child Reunification Act to provide parents and law enforcement with a new tool to help identify and return missing children.
Senate Bill 460 would provide parents and guardians with free identification kits that include fingerprinting materials, DNA collection swabs and other information to help identify the child in case of an emergency.
The bill would require school districts to distribute the kits to all first graders at no cost to parents. To protect the personal information of children and families, the information would be stored securely by parents and would not be entered into any state or national database.
Supporting Transportation Infrastructure
The Senate has been working on numerous transportation initiatives that would impact ALL areas of our state.
The Senate passed Senate Resolution 136 to extend until Nov. 1 the emergency disaster proclamation issued in response to the collapse of the I-95 bridge in northeast Philadelphia.
Earlier this year, as people struggled with rising costs for all kinds of basic necessities, the Senate voted to protect Pennsylvanians’ wallets and stop the automatic gas tax increase for 2023. It would have been the second-highest gas tax in the nation, behind only California.
In another vote to bolster funding for Pennsylvania’s transportation infrastructure, the Senate passed Senate Bill 121 to restrict the diversion of transportation funding out of the Motor License Fund by the State Police for statewide highway patrol operations. The fund obtains revenue from transportation charges, including the gas tax, vehicle registration fees and driver license fees.
We also recently passed Senate Bill 656 to ensure owners of electric vehicles pay their fair share of road and bridge maintenance by enacting a flat annual fee of $290. Currently, they are required to remit the Alternative Fuels Tax based on the amount of electricity their vehicle uses, but most electric vehicle owners do not do this.
Preventing Overdoses and Easing Strain on EMS Providers
Legislation to allow Emergency Medical Service (EMS) providers responding to drug overdoses to leave a life-saving drug with caregivers received Senate support.
Senate Bill 81 would permit EMS providers to leave a dose of life-saving naloxone, or Narcan, with the on-scene caregiver of a patient who overdosed on opioids and was revived by the emergency medical technician. It would ease the strain on EMS providers by limiting repeat visits.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved naloxone nasal spray for over-the-counter use, with the change going into effect later this summer. Senate Bill 81 would expedite the timeline within Pennsylvania. It would also allow other versions of naloxone, which are still under review for over-the-counter sales, to be distributed by EMS providers.
Another measure to ease the strain on EMS providers, Senate Resolution 120, calls for a study on the dollar amount EMS providers are losing when they aren’t paid for their services.
EMS providers are not reimbursed for the treatment they provide Medicaid patients unless the patient is transported to the hospital or treatment facilities. As a result, the increased number of overdose response calls without transport hurts our EMS providers, which are already struggling financially.
Senate Advances Bill to Combat Elder Abuse
The Senate passed legislation combatting elder abuse and strengthening guardianship laws in Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 506 would require courts to automatically appoint counsel to individuals undergoing the guardianship process, consider other less restrictive alternatives before imposing a guardianship, and institute training and screening of professional guardians. The bill would also establish more robust review procedures for those currently in a guardianship.
Currently, when an adult of any age is deemed incapacitated by a court, a guardian may be appointed to become responsible for making certain decisions on their behalf, including for financial, medical and personal matters. Pennsylvania is one of only eight states in America that does not automatically appoint counsel to represent alleged incapacitated persons.
Bill to Expand College, Job Training Opportunities Passes Senate
Each year, billions in available student financial aid goes unclaimed. This week, the Senate approved a bill to help more state residents make informed decisions about pursuing college and job training programs.
Senate Bill 750 would require high school seniors to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines eligibility for federal, state and school financial aid programs. Families who choose not to complete the application could opt out on a form provided to parents or guardians.
This important measure will help to train more young Pennsylvanians for family-sustaining careers that will anchor them in the commonwealth. When they put their roots down here, our state will benefit economically and attract more employers drawn by the skilled workforce. It furthers the Senate Republican priority of empowering Pennsylvania families through education empowerment and access.
Helping Children of National Guard and Reserve Members Adjust to New Schools
Legislation that will reduce the educational challenges faced by children of National Guard and Reserve members was unanimously approved by the Senate.
Military families face frequent reassignments, posing educational challenges for children transitioning between schools in different states. Senate Bill 209 would give children of National Guard and Reserve members the same help provided to those of active-duty military families through the Military Interstate Children’s Compact.
The compact provides a consistent set of policies that make getting started in a new school, joining extracurricular activities, facilitating enrollment and meeting graduation requirements as easy as possible for military children.
Senate Protects Sexually Exploited Children, Human Trafficking Victims
The Senate approved legislation to ensure that sexually exploited children who are human trafficking victims always have full access to appropriate services and support.
Under current Pennsylvania law, any minor who is exploited for commercial sex must identify their third-party perpetrator to be considered a victim of human trafficking, unless their purchaser is charged as a trafficker.
Senate Bill 44 would ensure that third-party control is never a consideration for access to victim services. Senate Bill 45 would eliminate the third-party control requirement to access victim services under the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Notification Act.
Bill to Help Medically Fragile Babies Receives Senate Support
The Senate approved legislation to provide critical care for medically fragile babies by expanding access to pasteurized human donor milk.
Senate Bill 500 would require Medical Assistance coverage for medically prescribed pasteurized human donor milk in both inpatient and outpatient settings for children who are less than a year old. The donor milk must be obtained from a milk bank licensed in Pennsylvania or through a hospital licensure process in accordance with the Keystone Mothers’ Milk Bank Act of 2020.
For very low birth-weight babies and other medically compromised infants, the use of donor milk is a proven, cost-effective way to improve health outcomes and lower health care costs. It protects against serious health complications that can lead to longer hospital stays, multiple medical and surgical procedures, readmissions, lifelong disability or even death.
To qualify for coverage, the child’s mother must be medically or physically unable to produce breast milk in an amount needed to meet the child’s needs.
Senate Passes Bill Authorizing Body Cameras for Parole Agents
Legislation that would authorize state parole agents to wear body cameras was approved by the Senate.
Senate Bill 260 would allow state parole agents of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to wear body cameras capable of capturing encounters with parolees.
Under current law, state parole agents are not authorized to wear body cameras due to the Wiretap Act’s antiquated language. Other members of law enforcement including deputy sheriffs, municipal police officers and members of the Pennsylvania State Police are authorized.
If you are not already subscribed to this newsletter please sign up here.