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…
Senate Convenes this Week. WATCH LIVE
Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee to Hold Voting Meeting on Wednesday, May 10th. WATCH at SenatorGeneYaw.com.
John J. & Ann Vitale Scholarships Are Available for College Seniors and Graduate School Students through The Community Foundation of the Endless Mountains.
Union County Library to hold FREE Workshop for People Joining Medicare on May 18th at 10 a.m. To register, please call 570-524-2100 or 570-374-5558
This week is National Hospital Week! Join the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) in celebrating Pennsylvania hospitals, health systems, and health care workers. Thank you to Pennsylvania’s health care teams for your commitment to caring for our communities and all Pennsylvanians!
Out and About
I had a great meeting with members of the Pennsylvania Forest Products Association in my Harrisburg office last week.
From the 23rd Senatorial District, Shelby Chorba from Northern Tier Hardwood Association, Stephanie Phillips-Taggart from KWPA, Nate Metzler from Metzler Forest Products, Mike Bridgham from Pick Fought Wealth Advisors of Raymond James, and Scott Cummings from Cummings Lumber were at the Capitol for PFPA’s Annual Advocacy Day.
Thank you for a great discussion!
Last week I stopped by the Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association (PREA) Annual Reception. PREA serves as the unified voice for electric cooperatives in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Together, these cooperatives represent more than 600,000 consumers in over 230,000 rural households, businesses, and industries in the two states.
It was great to see so many familiar faces in Harrisburg!
Pictured with me is Arnie Kriner of Tri-County Rural Electric, Dr. Kyle Kopko, Executive Director of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, and State Representative Eddie Day Pashinski.
On Friday, Chuck Dillon from my Wellsboro Office attended the Tioga County Conservation District Luncheon to provide a legislative update. Conservation district staff gave updates on grants, planning, permitting and flooding issues facing the county and were able to showcase projects and answer questions for legislators and attendees.
Senator Yaw Selected by WVIA as Recipient of PA PBS “Good Neighbor Award”
WVIA Public Media Chief Development Officer, Kate Sickora and WVIA Public Media President & CEO, Carla McCabe presented the awards at the State Capitol last week.
The “Good Neighbor Awards” are given in the spirit of Fred Rogers to individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to improving the quality of life in our community.
As a member of The Center for Rural Pennsylvania Board of Directors, I was proud to partner with WVIA in the fight to combat the opioid crisis through their “Battling Opioids” series.
Thank you for this wonderful recognition!
Dual Credit Program Grants Awarded to Local Schools
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) recently announced the recipients of $6.7 million in grant funding awarded to 100 school entities across the Commonwealth to enable more high school students to enroll in dual credit programs, according to Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23).
The following school entities in the 23rd Senatorial District received funding:
The funding will be used to create or expand equitable and innovative dual credit opportunities for all secondary school students, including students experiencing educational instability, students enrolled in career and technical education programs, low-income students, and historically underserved students.
Safeguarding Taxpayer Funded Public Assistance from Waste, Fraud and Abuse
A package of bills to better protect taxpayer dollars spent on public assistance from fraud and abuse passed the Senate this week. The bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 243 would ensure that Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medical Assistance benefits are not spent on the deceased. It would require the Department of Human Services to check death certificates with the Department of Health’s Bureau of Vital Statistics. A state audit found 2,324 Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cardholders received benefits after they passed away.
Senate Bill 244 would require the Department of Human Services to compare income and employment records held by the Department of Labor and Industry with recipients of SNAP and medical assistance benefits to prevent fraud. According to the Office of the State Inspector General, 85 Pennsylvanians have been charged with public assistance fraud in 2023.
Senate Bill 245 would update the Public Assistance Integrity Act to require the Department of Human Services to issue a yearly report on its efforts to ensure lottery winners are not receiving cash benefits. The Public Assistance Integrity Act closed a loophole that did not require lottery winnings to be considered as income when determining eligibility for benefits.
Prohibiting Drug Injection Sites in PA Communities
As part of our ongoing effort to strengthen Pennsylvania by advancing policies to foster healthy and safe communities, the Senate passed a bill to prohibit drug “injection sites” in our communities.
Such sites do not help to overcome addiction. They encourage the continued use of illegal – and often deadly – drugs and attract drug dealers who sell to those entering the sites, which operate under a “bring your own drugs” policy. Drug trafficking occurs in plain sight, and drug-related violence increases as dealers protect their turf.
These sites have very poor track records of moving those with substance use disorders into treatment, with some referral rates as low as 1%. They are counterproductive to finding the appropriate strategy to curb the drug abuse epidemic. Rather than sending the incorrect message that illegal drugs can be used safely, we must focus on adequately funding treatment and community-based recovery support services.
Fighting Crime to Ensure Safe Communities
To fight crime that threatens safe communities, the Senate approved legislation to crack down on the unchecked crime crisis plaguing Philadelphia’s mass transit system.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is the sixth largest mass transit agency in the United States and provides essential transit services for one-third of Pennsylvania’s population. Riders and SEPTA employees have raised alarms on the rising number of people addicted to drugs, experiencing homelessness and suffering from serious mental illness.
Senate Bill 140 would require the Pennsylvania Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor from a county of the first class to re-institute prosecutorial jurisdiction when heinous crimes occur on SEPTA’s property. This prosecutor will address the sweeping inaction of the current Philadelphia District Attorney and ensure scofflaws will answer for their crimes since the current DA has a systemic record of failing to prosecute assaults on victims.
Senate Approves Measure to Stop Abuse of Housing Voucher Program
Some people in Pennsylvania are unfairly manipulating the Housing Choice Voucher program, commonly referred to as Section 8, for their own benefit, which hurts those with a legitimate need who follow the rules.
The Senate approved Senate Resolution 45 urging the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to address abuse of the porting process in the program.
Porting is the process by which a family can transfer their Housing Choice Voucher rental subsidy when they move to a location outside the jurisdiction of the agency that provided the voucher.
Individuals circumvent wait lists for in-demand areas by claiming residency in other places, obtaining vouchers, staying for a few months and leaving, opening the door for more individuals to take advantage of the system. Porting also burdens schools and health and human services
Grants to Improve Access to Healthy Food
Schools and childhood education centers may apply for up to $15,000 per school for a PA Farm Bill Farm-to-School Grant for projects to improve access to healthy, local foods. The money can also be used to increase hands-on learning experiences for children in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.
Farm-to-School Grants enrich the connection between families and local producers of fresh, healthy food by changing food purchasing habits in schools. Projects increase access to markets for local farms and expose children early to agriculture, agriculture careers and healthy food choices.
Grant applications must be submitted online here by May 19 at 5 p.m.
Recognizing National Mental Health Awareness Month
Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in the United States since 1949 to fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for policies that support millions of Americans impacted by mental health challenges.
Senate Republicans have pushed for investments in mental health, and that push continued last year as we fought for mental health financial support to schools, funding for more support staff in nursing facilities and workforce recruitment and retention payments for frontline workers. We also worked to pass important legislation last session to allow for greater access to drug and alcohol programs.
My colleagues and I will continue to make mental health funding a priority this legislative session.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health challenges, find resources here.