In this Update:
This Week In The Senate Transportation Committee
Hearing on $104 Million in Lost Turnpike Tolls
This week officials from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) testified before the Senate Transportation Committee to address the recent report that the PTC has failed to collect $104 million in unpaid tolls. Last June, the turnpike laid off their entire team of toll collectors in pursuit of what they believed would be a more efficient method with EZ-Pass and Toll-by-Plate. I stand committed to working with the PTC in the future, to ensure that this does not happen again.
Hearing on Reforming Pennsylvania’s DUI Laws
The Senate Transportation Committee received testimony on reforming Pennsylvania’s DUI laws. The first panel was focused on Senate Bill 773 sponsored by Senator Mensch that would address loopholes regarding repeat DUI offenders. The second panel was focused on Senate Bill 167 addressing medical marijuana’s patients using medical marijuana and proceeding to operate a motor vehicle. The last reforms discussed spotlighted legislation sponsored by Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill and myself to address recent court decisions that produced gaps in our current laws. All testimony can be found here.
Forum on Automotive Economic Opportunities and Megatrends
I attended a public forum about the impact of electrification and autonomy in the automotive sector at the John P. Murtha Center for Public Service, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. You can watch the full forum here.
Meeting to Consider 10 Bills
The Senate Transportation Committee had a voting meeting to consider 10 bills, including 2 pieces of legislation sponsored by myself to address various issues related to school transportation. Senate Resolution 172 calls on the U.S. Congress to act and amend the Federal statute governing the Commercial Driver’s License to address the school bus driver shortage. Senate Bill 859 extends the temporary regulations for the school bus stop arm camera enforcement program.
Hearing to Explore Vehicle Emissions and Electrification
On Monday, September 27, at 11 am the Senate Transportation Committee will hold a public hearing to hear testimony about vehicle emissions and electrification. Speakers will include representatives from the Electrification Coalition, Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and Department of Environmental Protection. Click here to watch the hearing live.
NFIB Guardian of Small Businesses Award
I received the National Federation of Independent Business Guardian of Small Businesses Award for the 2019-2020 legislative session. I look forward to continuing to work to make it easier for small businesses to thrive in the Commonwealth.
Tour of River’s Landing in Clearfield
I had a great opportunity to tour the River’s Landing mixed use building in Clearfield and meet with various organizations. Thank you Rob Swales, CEO of Clearly Ahead Development, for the tour. Congratulations!
Community Action Partnership of Cambria County’s 56th Annual Dinner
I was honored to have a member of my staff attend the Community Action Partnership of Cambria County’s 56th Annual Dinner. Congratulations to all the employee and board member service award winners. Thank you for all you do for our community. Congratulations to Tony Penna Jr. for receiving the 39th Paul Bennett Award, Susan Mann of the 1889 Foundation for receiving the 35th Anthony Genovese Humanitarian Award, Donna Chaplin for receiving the 1st Annual Professional Development Award and Mary Walker for receiving the 19th Annual Dorothy G Lewis Staff Award.
Senate Hearing on School COVID Policy Reveals Ongoing Frustration with State Agencies
Saying state agencies overseeing schools are slow to respond to COVID-19 questions while providing conflicting guidance on the virus to schools, educators from all levels testified before the Senate Education Committee about their ongoing frustrations with the Wolf Administration’s oversight.
The Department of Health and Department of Education declined to participate, citing pending litigation.
A Lancaster County superintendent testified that the current mask orders from the state agencies conflict with the FAQs and emails that the district has received. The director of a career center in Jefferson County testified schools are the target of frustrations from parents as “threats from the government pile on to an already intense situation.”
A child care worker said the communication from the state Office of Child Development and Early Learning has ranged from vague to intimidating, with threats to remove the facility employees if the young children in daycare do not comply.
The Education Committee will continue to press the Wolf Administration for answers. You can view hearing video and written testimony here.
Senate Votes to Implement Low-Interest Loans to Fire Companies Approved by Voters
The Senate voted to implement aid to Pennsylvania fire departments approved by voters in a May referendum. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 739 would permit municipal fire departments or companies that provide services through paid personnel and emergency medical services companies to participate in the Emergency Services Loan Assistance Program, which has been historically limited to volunteer fire companies.
Expanding the assistance program was one of several ballot questions decided by voters in the 2021 Primary Election.
Bill Limiting Firefighter Exposure to PFAS, Safeguarding Environment Approved by Senate
A bill restricting the use of “Class B” firefighting foams containing added per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) for training purposes and testing was approved by the Senate. The measure now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Some PFAS linger in the environment and in the human body – they don’t break down and can accumulate over time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects.
Senate Bill 302 would restrict the use of foam containing PFAS chemicals beginning July 1, 2022 and direct the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, in consultation with the State Fire Commissioner, to assist firefighting entities with evaluating and determining how to transition to the use of Class B firefighting foam that does not contain a PFAS chemical. The legislation would not impact the continued use of firefighting foams during emergency situations.