Op-Ed: A Win-Win for Pennsylvania’s Farmers and Local Water Quality
By Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23)
As Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and a member of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, which is a tri-state legislative assembly representing Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, I have been proud to work towards the betterment of Pennsylvania’s 85,000 miles of rivers and streams for the better part of a decade. Clean water is vital to our state’s health, local communities, and economy. We need clean water upstream to have healthy, vibrant communities downstream. By working to restore our waterways, we will reduce the cost of drinking water treatment and invest in our top two industries – tourism and agriculture – by helping farms improve soil health and increasing recreational opportunities.
As stewards of the land, Pennsylvania farmers know that protecting the environment and natural resources is vital to the success and future of our farms and communities. Farmers all across Pennsylvania have been leaders in implementing practices to improve water quality, but we know there is more to be done. Many of the investments needed are too costly for many farm owners to afford on their own, especially in a difficult farm economy. As a result, I have recently sponsored Senate Bill 465, which would create a new Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program (ACAP), providing funding and technical support to expand on-farm conservation practices throughout Pennsylvania, using a formula that benefits all parts of the state while directing additional resources to areas with the greatest opportunity for improvement. READ MORE
News for You…
PENNVEST Grant Awarded to Towanda Borough Municipal Authority… I recently joined with Representative Tina Pickett (R-110) to announce a $2,234,500 million state investment allocated to the Towanda Borough Municipal Authority for the Monroe Borough Water Line Replacement Project. As we look at the aging infrastructure of many of our local communities, it has never been more important to support their efforts to improve water quality through improved systems. Monroe Borough’s public water system needs significant upgrades from the iron pipes that were originally installed. This funding will ensure safe, potable drinking water for years to come. READ MORE
TUNE IN: Public Hearing to Gather Feedback from PA Citizens Regarding Legislative Reapportionment…On Wednesday, August 4th at 5PM, the Legislative Reapportionment Commission will meet in Harrisburg to hear from citizens on the reapportionment process. WATCH LIVE
PennDOT Announces Application Period for 2021 Rail Freight Grant Programs…PennDOT recently announced that the application period for the grants under the Rail Transportation Assistance Program (RTAP) and the Rail Freight Assistance Program (RFAP) is now open. Pennsylvania ranks first in the country in the number of operating railroads, with 65, and ranks near the top in total track mileage, with more than 5,600 miles. For eligible organizations wishing to apply for funding through either program, applications for both programs will be available on the dotGrants website. Deadline to apply is 4PM on Friday, August 20th, 2021. Program information can be found on the Bureau’s website and application questions should be directed to Steve Panko at email@example.com or 717-787-1202.
DEP Announces Availability of Grants through the Small Business Advantage Grant Program…DEP recently announced the availability of up to $1 million in grant funding for the 18th year of the Commonwealth’s Small Business Advantage Grant Program. The Program assists small businesses undertaking energy efficiency, pollution prevention or natural resource conservation projects. The Program is a first-come, first-served grant program that provides up to 50% matching grants, up to a maximum of $5,000 for all project types. Eligible projects must save the small business a minimum of $500 per year and at least 25% in annual energy consumption or pollution-related expenses. READ MORE
UGI Announces Williamsport Infrastructure Project…UGI Utilities, Inc. will begin a natural gas main replacement project in the City of Williamsport on August 2nd, 2021. This project is part of the Company’s multi-year infrastructure betterment initiative. The natural gas main replacement project will take place on the following streets:
Approximately 4,500 feet of non-contemporary main will be replaced. This project will also renew gas service lines to 97 customers.
Construction hours will take place from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. During construction, residents will experience lane closures and traffic delays. Parking also will be restricted on those blocks during construction hours. Flaggers will direct traffic during construction. The project is expected to be completed by the early October with road restoration scheduled prior to winter.
Legislative Review: Pandemic Response
When Pennsylvania voters chose overwhelmingly this year to amend the state Constitution and limit the length of a governor’s unchecked emergency powers, they were weighing in on ballot questions created through Senate legislation.
Other measures passed by the Senate this year to safely respond to the COVID-19 pandemic include:
Act 1 of 2021 amending the state Fiscal Code to allocate $569.8 million for Rental and Utility Assistance, $197 million for education programs, and $145 million to support Pennsylvania’s struggling restaurants and taverns as they cope with the devastation created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the governor’s mandated closings and restrictions.
Act 21 of 2021 ensuring all waivers previously effective under the COVID-19 emergency will remain in effect until Sept. 30, 2021, unless sooner terminated by the authority which initially authorized the waiver.
Act 67 of 2021 allowing family members to safely visit long-term care facilities during a pandemic as essential caregivers.
Senate Resolution 90 extending the emergency temporary rules adopted to maintain continuity of operations of the Senate during the COVID-19 disaster emergency.
House Resolution 106 terminating the pandemic emergency declaration and ending the governor’s power to close employers, limit occupancy, suspend state statutes or issue stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19.
You can find a full list of bills of note passed by the Senate in 2021 here.
Senate Hearing Explores the Impact of the PA Workforce Shortage
The economic impact of the workforce shortage facing Pennsylvania employers was the topic of a public hearing last week by the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee.
Pennsylvania is facing a serious workforce crisis that is threatening our employers and slowing our economic recovery. Businesses across the Commonwealth have been forced to curtail their hours of operation or even close because of a workforce shortage. The panel heard from the PA Chamber of Business and Industry, local employers and the PA Restaurant and Lodging Association in order to fully identify the employers’ needs and the role the General Assembly can play in creating an environment for economic growth and job creation.
You can view hearing video and more here.
DMVA: Important to Safeguard DD-214 Military Paperwork
The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs urges veterans to safeguard their DD-214. For veterans who have lost this important document, or family members who cannot locate it on a veteran’s behalf, the DMVA can assist in retrieving an official copy.
The DD-214 is issued by the U.S. Department of Defense upon a military servicemember’s retirement, separation or discharge from active duty. It contains information needed to verify military service for benefits, retirement, employment and membership in veterans’ organizations. Without this key document, there could be a big delay when veterans seek benefits earned through their service to our nation.
The DMVA can also assist with locating the DD-215, which is used to correct errors or make additions to a DD-214, helping to assure that veterans have accurate discharge documentation.
Anyone needing assistance from the DMVA to locate their DD-214/215, or other military documentation, can call toll-free 1-800-547-2838 or email RA-REQ@pa.gov. More information about locating military documents can be found by visiting the Records Request Program.
Unclaimed Property Waiting for PA Residents
Millions in unclaimed property is secured in the Pennsylvania Treasury vault. An updated website has been launched to help residents look for and retrieve their unclaimed property.
Dormant accounts from financial institutions and other entities must be reported to the PA Treasury by April 15 each year. The vault includes tangibles such as jewelry, coins, collector cards and war medals previously abandoned in safe deposit boxes. In fact, one in 10 state residents have unclaimed property waiting for them.
Whether your search yields enough for a latte or a steak dinner or more, take a few minutes to enter into the Treasury’s database your name and the name of family members. For additional assistance, you may contact the Bureau of Unclaimed Property at 800-222-2046.
Out & About in the District
Agriculture Career Summer Experience
Liz Vollman of my staff recently joined Rep. Tina Pickett and Rep. Clint Owlett for the Agriculture Career Summer Experience on July 12th, which is a weeklong event organized by the Northern Tier Industry & Education Consortium and hosted by Superintendent William Clark at the Northeast Bradford High School.
The event kicked off with a welcome breakfast, featuring local leaders and FFA leaders, who had an interest in agriculture. Fourteen students were in attendance from grades 9-12 from across the Northern Tier. They spent the week learning about leadership and agriculture through workshops with FFA leaders and the Bradford County Conservation District, visits to area farms, a vet clinic, and lumber mill, as well as work at the greenhouse at the Northeast Bradford High School. The week ended with a graduation ceremony for students in the program.
Towanda Water & Sewer Ribbon Cutting
[Left to Right: Lauren Egleston -NTRPDC; Leslie Cote – PennVEST; Fred Johnson – TMA Board Member; Rep. Tina Pickett; Kyle Lane – TMA Manager; Mike Walsh – TMA Chairman; Charlotte Sullivan – TMA Board Secretary/Treasurer; Arnie Kriner representing Sen. Yaw; Brian Shura P.E. , Stiffler and McGraw]
In July, my office helped cut the ribbon for the new North Towanda Water Treatment Plant, along with members of the Towanda Municipal Authority (TMA). The project included three new wells, transmission lines, storage tank and replacement of 6,400 linear feet of waterpipe. According to TMA, “This state-of-the-art system, including the planned future improvements, has been engineered to supply a clean, reliable and environmentally safe water supply for the central Bradford County region for the next 50 years and beyond.”