Hello! Thank you for subscribing to my E-newsletter. I am honored to serve the 23rd Senate District and look forward to working with you toward building a better future for Pennsylvania!
This E-newsletter serves to keep you updated on what is happening throughout Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, Tioga and Union counties and what I am doing as your state senator in Harrisburg. I hope that you will find this E-newsletter helpful, and if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.
On the Horizon…
The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development is accepting nominations for the 2024 Awards for Local Government Excellence through Jan. 26. Learn more and submit nominations HERE.
The Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful 2024 Litter Hawk Youth Award Program is now open! Students in kindergarten through 6th grade are invited to share how they keep Pennsylvania beautiful through art, words, or video now through Jan. 31st. More information and applications HERE.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced that all driver license and photo centers will be closed Saturday, Jan. 13 through Monday, Jan. 15 in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission is now accepting applications from nonprofit organizations and local governments for the Keystone Historic Preservation Grant Program. Learn more about eligibility and apply HERE.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) application period is opening soon! This yearly program can fund the purchases of trucks, vehicles, gears, training, and more and is available for fire companies and non-affiliated EMS organizations. More information on applications and guidance materials available HERE.
On the Road…
Beginning later this year, Southern Airways Express will begin service to Dulles (IAD), once again connecting Williamsport to destinations across the world!
I am honored to have been elected to chair the Pennsylvania Delegation of the tri-state Chesapeake Bay Commission!
The Commission is a policy leader in the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. They have a 40-year track record of working in a cooperative, bi-partisan manner to find solutions that work in local communities while also helping the Bay. I am proud to be part of its leadership team.
Thank you to CBC Executive Director, Anna Killius, who joined me in last week’s announcement!
Last week, I was pleased to welcome my intern, Ethan McKenzie, to the Capitol.
Ethan is from Muncy and is currently a student at Harvard Law School. He graduated 𝘴𝘶𝘮𝘮𝘢 𝘤𝘶𝘮 𝘭𝘢𝘶𝘥𝘦 from the Pennsylvania College of Technology in May 2021 with a degree in Software Development and Information Management.
I am thrilled to welcome Ethan to our team and look forward to helping him gain insight into the legislative process. He certainly has a bright future ahead of him!
Giving Students the Tools to Succeed
The passage of the 2023-24 state budget reflects important Senate Republican priorities, including helping students by dedicating an additional $567 million to Basic Education and an additional $150 million for education tax credits to provide scholarships to students so they can learn in an education environment that best suits their needs.
We also ensured greater collaboration in keeping children safe in the classroom by consolidating school safety programs and operations under the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. The commission already manages the highly successful School Safety and Security Grant Program created by the Senate in 2018.
As mental health needs continue to rise, we allocated $100 million for K-12 mental health programs for schools so children have the basic foundation to succeed educationally.
Helping Pennsylvanians at the Pump
After automatically rising last year due to inflation, the 2024 Pennsylvania gas tax will return to 2022 levels.
Last year, the average wholesale price of gasoline exceeded $2.99 per gallon, which triggered an automatic increase in the gas tax. Knowing how Pennsylvanians were already struggling with skyrocketing inflation, the Senate passed and sent to House of Representatives legislation last January to end these inflation-based, automatic gas tax hikes.
Had the House acted in a timely fashion, Pennsylvanians would have saved more than $200 million in the gas tax. We continue to encourage our counterparts to work cooperatively with us to benefit commonwealth residents as we were elected to do.
Reducing the Tax Burden
As part of the state budget, Senate Republicans voted to reduce the tax burden. One initiative would address a barrier to employment for working families by giving parents additional support to continue to seek and maintain employment.
The legislation also exempts Dependent Care Assistance and Flexible Savings Accounts, which are used to cover health care expenses, from the state Personal Income Tax. They were already exempt from federal taxes.
Finally, it helps counties and municipalities avoid raising taxes on their residents. It increases the payment made for state-owned property dedicated to outdoor recreation to $2.40 per acre to be paid from the State Gaming Fund. Previously, open spaces for the public’s enjoyment were more of a financial burden because they aren’t owned by businesses or individuals.
Officiating Opportunities Available Throughout PA
If you would like to help your community more this year, there are lots of opportunities to make a huge difference in the lives of student-athletes.
There’s a shortage of referees, umpires and other high school officials in almost every sport. High school officials protect the integrity of the games our kids love to play by demonstrating qualities like honesty, objectivity, consistency and courage.
Hours are flexible, and it’s a great way to stay in good physical condition. Find out how to become an official.
Recognizing Law Enforcement in Our Communities
Tuesday, Jan. 9, is Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. Protecting our communities is a dangerous and demanding job, but men and women across the state answered the call to public service. They leave their families not knowing if they’ll need to give their lives to keep us safe.
I appreciate their selflessness and commitment to others and was proud to vote for legislation to help them.
Act 60 of 2023 expands the list of law enforcement entities covered under the Heart and Lung Act, which provides for salary and medical expenses to be paid when an officer or firefighter is injured on the job. Other new laws passed by the Senate allow municipal police to conduct fingerprint-based criminal history checks on police applicants and funds an additional 100 Pennsylvania State Police troopers to help make our communities safer.