|On Thursday, May 21, I will host my annual Student Government
Seminar at the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport. More
than 300 participants, including students and advisors representing 17
high schools throughout the 23rd Senate District, will take
part in the full day event, the largest Senate organized Student
Government Seminar in the state.
This seminar is a great opportunity for high school students to interact with their local, state and federal officials. It allows students to develop legislation, debate important issues with key policymakers, allows them to offer their personal input and vote on “mock” bills in an open session. The intent is for students to obtain a better understanding of the legislative process and develop professional relationships that can open the door for future internships and job opportunities.
Follow the day’s discussion using hashtag #YawSGS.
On May 13, a Senate plan reforming Pennsylvania’s state pension systems was approved by a vote of 28 to 19.
Senate Bill 1 addresses the monumental pension crisis facing Pennsylvania and represents a significant step toward helping to control state spending. This substantial legislation restructures the state’s two public employee pension systems – the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) and the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) – in order to make them viable in the long term.
The features of Senate Bill 1 include:
• All new state and public school employees will be enrolled in a mandatory, 401-k type Defined Contribution Plan, similar to those used by private sector workers.
• Members of the General Assembly, upon election or re-election, will be enrolled in the same Defined Contribution Plan as state and public school employees.
• Current employees’ previously earned benefits will not be changed.
• Current employees will then be able to choose between increasing their pension contribution or electing to lower their future benefits.
• There will be no changes to current retirees’ benefits.
• A Public Pension Management and Asset Investment Review Commission made up of investment professionals and retirement advisors, will be established to make recommendations to the General Assembly and the Governor. Among their duties will be to evaluate the performance of current investment strategies and procedures of both state retirement systems regarding rates of return and associated fees paid for fund management.
Restructuring the public pension system is not a new issue to the Senate. Over the last two years the Senate has held numerous hearings on the issue, including one most recently last month. The information gathered during those hearings served as a valuable resource and led to the drafting of Senate Bill 1. In addition, much of SB 1 mirrors that of SB 922 from 2014, which was thoroughly vetted by the Senate Finance Committee during public hearings.
Last week, the Senate approved a bill that would allow the use of medical cannabis in the Commonwealth. The legislation would allow thousands of ill and suffering Pennsylvanians the ability to utilize cannabis to treat their ailments.
Senate Bill 3 provides access to regulated medical cannabis for patients with certain qualified medical conditions and establishes the State Board of Medical Cannabis Licensing under the Department of State to provide regulatory oversight and licensing.
The bill now moves to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for further consideration.
On Tuesday, the state Senate unanimously approved two bills focused on veterans. The legislation is comprised of Senate Bill 284 to authorize an “Honoring Our Veterans” special motorcycle registration license plate, as well as Senate Bill 285 to amend the Veterans Trust Fund to include amounts payable to the fund from the sales of those motorcycle plates as a source of revenue for the fund.
On May 13th, the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee considered the nomination of Cindy Adams Dunn to head the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). Following an hour-long discussion, the committee reported Dunn’s nomination with a favorable rating to the full Senate for consideration.
This legislative session, I reintroduced legislation, at the
request of a Bradford County constituent, which will amend Title 75 (Vehicles)
of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for the duty of passengers
in a vehicle to render aid to any person injured in an accident.
Currently, the only requirement of a passenger to render aid to an injured person in an accident is if the driver is physically unable to do so. My legislation would require a passenger to give reasonable assistance, including making arrangements for the injured person to get to a physician, if the driver is physically unable or refuses or neglects to render aid.
PA Economy League Holds Budget Discussion
|On Friday, May 15, I joined State Budget Secretary Randy Albright and Mark Ryan, Deputy Director of the Independent Fiscal Office, to discuss Pennsylvania's economic and revenue outlook for the next fiscal year. The forum, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Economy League Central PA LLC & Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce|
Jersey Shore High School Receives Recognition
Pictured [Back: Brian Kauffman, KEEF Executive Director, Pamela Witmer, PUC Commissioner, Rich Selverian, KEEF President; Front: Steven Keen, Assistant High School Principal, Heath Rager, CTE Instructor, Mark Wall, Facilities Manager, Dorothy Chappel, Superintendent, Adrienne Craig, Business Manager, Nick Troutman, Communications Director for Senator Gene Yaw]
On May 12, more than 60 people gathered at the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg to join the KEEA Energy Education Fund in recognizing seven Pennsylvania schools for their energy efficiency efforts. I am pleased to report that Jersey Shore High School was among the schools who received a 'Moving to the Head of the Class Award'.
To preview their contest entry video, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=of8OtCgF9VE
|Public feedback on the next update to Pennsylvania’s Twelve-Year Transportation Program will be collected through May 29. The program outlines PennDOT’s next 12 years of projects for all modes of travel including car and truck, public transit, bicycle and pedestrian, aviation, rail and ports. You can provide your input via an online survey, click here.|
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Senate Box 203023
362 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3023
330 Pine Street
Williamsport, PA 17701
1 Elizabeth Street
Towanda, PA 18848