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.
“Beware of little expenses.
State Senate Budget Hearings Underway
The state Senate Appropriations Committee began its FY 2019-20 budget hearings this week, and will continue through March 7th. A few noteworthy hearings scheduled for next week include PennDOT (Mon. Feb. 25 @3PM); The Pennsylvania College of Technology (Tues. Feb. 26 @3PM); Liquor Control Board (Thurs. Feb. 28 @1PM) and the Department of Environmental Protection (Thurs. Feb 28 @ 3PM). For a complete calendar schedule, click here. TUNE-IN by visiting my website, click here.
For a video recap, along with a summary of topics discussed, click here.
What We’re Watching…
This week, Governor Wolf joined commonwealth, legislative, labor, and business leaders to sign an executive order to create the Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center. The command center will expand the collaboration between government and the private sector to address the skills gap and worker shortages. The jobs skill gap is a growing concern among Pennsylvania employers who have voiced frustration with finding skilled and qualified employees to fill open positions.
Countdown to 2020… Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee questioned top state officials from the PA Department of State this week on the costs associated with replacing county-owned election voting machines that include paper ballots in time for the 2020 presidential election. At present, Pennsylvania is one of only 13 states using a system without paper ballots. The Governor has proposed to allocate $75 million over five years, with $15 million earmarked for grants to counties in FY 2019-20 as a down payment for the upgrades.
Also as part of his state budget proposal, the Governor wants to impose a “per capita fee” to be paid by state residents who are not served by a local police force, but instead rely on State Police coverage. The current plan would ditch his previous call for a flat $25 per capita fee in favor of a range of $8 to $166 based on municipal population.
It’s a problem that’s indicative no matter where you live… flooding. I am working with state and local officials to improve stream cleaning and maintenance efforts for our local waterways. Routine stream maintenance, including the removal of gravel bars and other debris from streams, can prevent future devastation throughout our region, while at the same time help PA comply with federal EPA mandates for improving the Chesapeake Bay.
‘Leadership Susquehanna Valley’ Assembles for Government Day
On Thursday, February 21st, I joined the 2019 Leadership Susquehanna Valley class in Lewisburg to discuss ongoing legislative initiatives in Harrisburg. Leadership Susquehanna Valley offers a great behind-the-scenes and big-picture view of the Valley, plus various types of leadership training initiatives. I appreciated the invitation!
USDA Seeks Applications for the Community Connect Grant Program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development announced recently that it is accepting applications for its Community Connect Grant Program. The Community Connect program helps rural communities extend access where broadband service is least likely to be commercially available, but where it can make a tremendous difference in the quality of life for people and businesses.
As announced on the USDA webpage and in a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), applications will be accepted through April 15, 2019. Applicants are also advised to use the Application Guide that is available online, click here.
Calling All Dairy Farmers
While the problems are global, Pennsylvania faces unique challenges due to having several large dairy industry states on its borders. PMMB is currently reviewing the regulations that govern the pricing system and also how they communicate what they do to you and others in the industry. In order to make the best decisions they need information from you that includes general awareness about the federal and PA milk producer pricing systems and the PA-specific Over Order Premium. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a survey invitation.
Calling all K-12 schools in the 23rd Senate District!
The KEEA Energy Education Fund wants to recognize students, staff, and faculty for creative and effective initiatives to reduce energy costs.
Has your school implemented a creative behavior change program to save energy, saved a ton of kWh with a retrofit project, or hired an Energy Manager to devise a five-year energy plan? FOUR Energy Champion Awards will be awarded in 2019.
Applications are due by 5PM on March 1, 2019. Winners will be announced March 11, and awards ceremonies will be scheduled in April and May of 2019.
To learn more, click here.
In Other News….
Counties, municipalities, nonprofits and others can sign up for a free Feb. 27 Department of Conservation and Natural Resources webinar on applying for Community Conservation Partnerships Program grants to help pay for recreation and conservation projects. The webinar covers eligible projects, local matching requirements, competitive grant-writing and more. The grant application deadline is April 10.
The PA Infrastructure Investment Authority is holding a series of 11 information sessions across the state for municipal officials, conservation districts, private landowners, authority board members and staff, regulators, engineers, and others interesting in learning about how PennVEST funding can help improve water quality in your community.
Pennsylvanians filing their personal income taxes can help military personnel and their families by donating part or all of their refund to a state program that provides grants of up to $3,500 to Pennsylvania members of the armed forces and their families who have a direct and immediate financial need as a result of circumstances beyond their control. The tax form includes instructions on how to donate.
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