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.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced this week that his office has reached a settlement agreement with Chesapeake Energy, who filed for bankruptcy in June 2020. A webpage has been set-up that includes a detailed FAQ list: https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/chesapeake/
This Week: Senate Appropriations Committee Kicks Off Budget Hearings
Streamed LIVE @ www.SenatorGeneYaw.com
This week, the Senate Appropriations Committee virtually kicked off the 2021-2022 appropriations hearings.
On Tuesday, March 9th 2021, I participated in the budget hearing for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) to review their budget as proposed by Governor Wolf in February.
While appropriations hearings will continue throughout the week, I will also participate in the hearing scheduled for Thursday, March 11th, 2021, beginning at 10AM, for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Both of these departments fall under the purview of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, of which I serve as chairman.
TUNE IN: Committee Briefing to Examine Deployment and Utilization of Carbon Dioxide Management Technologies
The Pennsylvania Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee will hold a virtual informational briefing on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, beginning at 10AM, to examine the deployment and utilization of carbon dioxide management technologies.
Carbon capture and storage is broadly recognized as having the potential to play a key role in decarbonizing many industry sectors here in Pennsylvania and across the globe. This committee hearing will review the technology, as well as the costs associated with the capture, transport and storage of carbon dioxide.
The hearing will be webcast live on the committee website – https://environmental.pasenategop.com/ – and an archived video will be available shortly after the hearing concludes. Prepared comments made by presenters will be available on the website at the start of the hearing.
Supporting Our Local Fire Departments
(L-R): Ted Lowden, fire company president; Anthony Kovaleski, PA Skill; Marcia Pedro, fire company secretary/treasurer; Rep. Tina Pickett; Sean Thibodeault, deputy chief; and Ed Fitzgerald, assistant chief.
Last week, Rep. Tina Pickett and I took part in a check presentation ceremony at the Mildred Fire Company in Sullivan County. Our thanks to the Pennsylvania Skill Charitable Giving Program for the $20,000 donation. Local firefighters need all the support we can give them for the life-saving service they perform in our communities.
Hearing Highlights Importance of Getting Students Back in the Classroom
A joint hearing of the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee last Wednesday explored the many ways the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted students, families and educators. The message from teachers, parents, students, representatives of state agencies and other key participants was clear – Pennsylvania students need to be back in the classroom as soon as possible to safeguard their educational development and mental health.
Testifiers explained the numerous ways that school shutdowns and current policies are hurting young people and families. The hearing also included discussion about meeting the needs of students with special needs, challenges associated with virtual learning and hybrid models, the need for consistency in state and federal guidance to school districts, concerns about standardized testing during COVID-19, and much more.
Funding Released to Support Struggling Restaurants, Hospitality Industry
The Senate approved legislation that was signed into law last month to provide $145 million to Pennsylvania restaurants and other employers in the hospitality industry that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and Governor Wolf’s mitigation orders. Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity announced last week that the funding has been distributed to counties, clearing the way for employers to begin applying for grants on March 15.
The grant program will be administered by local economic development organizations and/or community development financial institutions. More details on how to apply in each county will be available within the next two weeks.
COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force Announces Plan to Prioritize Seniors and Vaccinate Teachers
In order to help get more Pennsylvania students back in the classroom, the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force announced a new plan last week to provide vaccines to teachers without impacting the ability of seniors and other vulnerable populations to get vaccinated. This announcement came in conjunction with news of an improved distribution formula that accounts for a county’s overall population, population over 65, infection rate, and COVID death rate, the intent of which is to dramatically improve the vaccination rate of Pennsylvanians in Phase 1A, including seniors.
The new vaccination plan would not change who is eligible to receive the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in Phase 1A, including older Pennsylvanians and state residents who are more vulnerable to the virus due to various health conditions. However, teachers would now be eligible to receive the newly authorized, single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine under a separate program, which is expected to help teachers and students return to the classroom as soon as possible.
In order to deliver the vaccine quickly, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the departments of Education and Health will partner with the state’s 28 Intermediate Units (IUs) to establish vaccine sites, with the support of the Pennsylvania National Guard. Lawmakers passed legislation authorizing the National Guard to deliver vaccines in February.
PUC Urges Consumers to Explore Assistance Options
Consumers and businesses who are struggling with higher heating bills this winter are encouraged to explore assistance options before existing programs are changed or eliminated. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) is urging individuals and employers to contact their utility company to learn about assistance programs that are available, including payment plans, late-payment fee waivers and other options to resolve overdue balances.
Consumers can also call PUC’s Bureau of Consumer Services toll free at 1-800-692-7380 for more information.
Wildlife Conservation Officer Training Program Applications Due March 14
Pennsylvanians who are interested in a career as a Wildlife Conservation Officer can apply now through March 14 to be a part of the next training program, which begins this summer.
The training includes a 26-week basic training course for municipal police officers in Hershey, followed by an additional 26 weeks of training at the H.R. Stackhouse School of Fishery Conservation and Watercraft Safety in Bellefonte, Centre County.
***Muncy Boat Launch Update***
The PA Fish & Boat Commission engineering staff will be working to complete the design work, archaeological investigation and permitting for construction as the next steps in 2021 for the Muncy Boat Launch.
Construction is anticipated to commence in the spring of 2022, and the targeted completion timeframe for the construction phase will subsequently be summer/fall of 2022. At that time, the Muncy access will be opened to public after construction.
New Resources Available for National Guard Members, Veterans and Job-Seekers
The Pennsylvania National Guard Associations will host three virtual job fairs in the coming months to help connect veterans and other job-seekers with employment opportunities in their area. The first event will be held on March 24 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., with additional events scheduled on May 26 and July 28. Interested individuals can register to participate here.
The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) also recently announced a new online portal to help National Guard members and their families access education benefits, allowing applications for the Military Family Education Program and the Education Assistance Program to be completed online.
More details on benefits are available on PHEAA’s website.