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.
Have a Happy & Safe Thanksgiving
Governor Announces New Mitigation Efforts Today
Governor Wolf today announced new mitigation efforts aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19. The Governor stated that the reason for the new efforts is due to the increase in cases throughout the state and throughout the country.
The Governor’s new mitigation measures include:
In addition, the Governor is going to continue his call for telecommuting as much as possible and encourage people to stay indoors as much as they can.
Legislature Sends State Budget to Governor’s Desk
Passage of Senate Bill 1350 on Friday, November 20th, finalizes the state spending plan for the current fiscal year – July 1st , 2020 to June 30th, 2021 – that was initiated with the enactment of a five-month interim budget (Act 1A – House Bill 2387) on May 29th, 2020. The bill is now on the Governor’s desk for consideration.
I readily acknowledge that this budget leaves much to be desired. However, when we consider the circumstances which we face now and, apparently will be facing for some time, this budget presents a reasonable spending plan.
To read more, click here.
Issues / Legislative ReCap
I’ve received email correspondence on a number of issues over these past two weeks. Here is a breakdown of a few of them.
First, regarding the 2020 Election – my office has been receiving calls and emails asking the Legislature to step in and appoint electors. In the Election Code, we have legislated that the “manner” of appointing electors is by the popular vote. In section 1501 of the Act, we provide that in presidential election years, “there shall be elected by the qualified electors of the Commonwealth, persons to be known as electors of President and Vice-President of the United States, and referred to in this act as presidential electors…” In other words, when we vote for President, we are voting for their slate of electors – the slate of electors identified by the winner of the popular vote for President within our Commonwealth becomes the presidential electors for the Commonwealth.
This is not something new. This section has been a part of our Election Code since its adoption in 1937. Other states have used direct appointment as their method in history, but since the about the 1940s, all states have used the popular vote to select electors.
Additionally, the House of Representatives recently passed House Resolution 1100, which directs the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee to conduct a risk-limiting audit of the election, including a review of the way mail-in and absentee ballots were handled by each county. The LBFC was chosen to fulfill the resolution because they are a bipartisan organization made up of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans from the state House and Senate, and the committee can continue to work even though the general assembly session comes to an end at the end of the month.
Second, House Bill 777 has been approved by the Legislature and sent to the Governor. With limitations set on local VFWs, American Legions, Moose Lodges and other organizations, COVID-19 shutdowns have taken a toll on these establishments. The legislation would amend the Local Option Small Games of Chance Act to allow approved social clubs to keep a full share of small games of chance revenue following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Third, many health care providers, schools, businesses and other entities have raised concerns about lawsuits being filed against them related to COVID-19, even if they closely followed all health directives from state and federal health agencies. The Senate approved approved House Bill 1737 last week that would protect these entities from lawsuits if they acted in good faith to protect public health. [Read More]
Also included in House Bill 1737 was a provision to establish a statewide standard for agritourism or “agritainment” activities on farms. Agritourism includes farm tours, petting zoos, corn mazes, pick-your-own produce, hayrides, farm markets, and paintball. The legislation would require that farmers post multiple signs warning visitors of the risks or ask visitors to sign a waiver of liability before participating in activities.
Public Hearing on PennDOT’s 2020-21 Highway and Bridge Budget
The PA Senate Transportation Committee held a public hearing today, November 23rd to discuss PennDOT’s $8.1 billion gap in its annual highway and bridge funding budget. Yassmin Gramian, P.E., Secretary of Transportation, and others participated in the event.
PennDOT has noted that despite rising traffic and freight travel in our state, the funds available to maintain our highways and bridges have not kept pace due to shrinking gas tax – due to more electric vehicles – and federal revenues. Click here to participate in PennDOT’s online engagement platform.
In Case You Missed It….
SEDA-COG has available $5.7 million of funds from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) for loans to alleviate sudden and severe economic issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic for eligible small businesses in SEDA-COG’s region, which includes Lycoming, Union counties…
Senate Approves Bills to Protect Second Amendment Rights of Pennsylvanians
Two bills approved by the Senate last week would ensure the Second Amendment rights of Pennsylvanians are protected during emergency declarations. Both bills were sent to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
Under current law, the rights of law-abiding citizens to open carry firearms can be limited during a state of emergency. The Senate approved a bill that would ensure these rights are not infringed during a state of emergency. The bill would also ensure firearm sales are not prohibited during an emergency declaration.
The Senate also approved a bill that would establish the Hunting, Firearm, and Ammunition Life-Sustaining Business Act to ensure shooting ranges, sportsman clubs, hunting facilities and firearm and ammunition manufacturers, retailers and distributors are considered life-sustaining businesses that will not be shuttered by state government during an emergency declaration.
PennDOT Driver License, Photo Centers Closed for Thanksgiving Holiday
Operation Safe Holiday kicked off November 16th; “Click It or Ticket” Thanksgiving enforcement mobilization running through November 29th
PennDOT announced that all driver license and photo centers will be closed Thursday, November 26th, through Friday, November 27th, in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services, including all forms, publications and driver training manuals, online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov.
Additionally, the Pennsylvania State Police and PennDOT are reminding Pennsylvanians who must travel of the importance of safe driving and consistent seat belt use ahead of the long Thanksgiving weekend and the start of the holiday season. State police and local law enforcement will be on the lookout to ensure drivers and front-seat passengers are buckled up, and children are secured in properly installed child safety seats.