In this Update:
My Statement on the Tragedy in Nashville
The school shooting in Nashville broke my heart for many reasons. Not only were the lives of three children and three adults lost, but the sense of safety parents have in sending their children to school was shattered again. Surviving students lived through a very traumatic experience that will forever shape how they see the world. Parents, children and their teachers cannot continue to face such horrors. We all deserve to feel safe in our schools and our communities. Children are our most precious blessing, and we must do all we can to protect them. To that end, I worked with stakeholders – local sheriff’s departments, chiefs of police, county commissioners and experts in security – to create a pilot program for communities in Beaver, Greene and Washington counties. This initiative will provide intensive, expert training for law enforcement, school resource officers and other security personnel to protect schools and public buildings.
Of course, we also have to address the mental health component of the problem. The Senate has historically advocated for investments in mental health, and that push continued last year as we fought for mental health financial support for schools. My colleagues and I will continue to press for mental health funding this legislative session, and I will continue to fight specifically for my district. I am immeasurably grateful to have received the funding for this pilot program to improve safety in the 46th District and look forward to its launch on June 5.
Little Lake Theatre Marks 75th SeasonThis week I was thrilled to present the Little Lake Theatre Company in Canonsburg with a Pennsylvania Senate Certificate of Recognition of their 75th season that kicks off next Thursday. Over the next nine months, the theatre will be performing the following plays and musicals: Popcorn Falls, Curious George and the Golden Meatball, Amelie, For Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday, Deathtrap, Willy Wonka Jr., Lord of the Flies, The Book of Will, Mr. Burns: A Post Electric Play, and White Christmas.
This historic venue doesn’t just provide entertainment, it gives the community a place to connect and come together. I hope to see you at a performance this summer. For more information, visit www.littlelake.org
Welcoming FFA Students to the State Capitol
Future Farmers of America (FFA) students and advisors from from the Avella, Fort Cherry, McGuffey, and Waynesburg chapters traveled to Harrisburg and attended their State Legislative Leadership Conference as well as visit the Capitol. The group also stopped by my office to meet with my staff and learn about working at the Capitol. FFA cultivates leadership opportunities and teaches hands-on skills to our future generations. I am so proud of these students and dedicated advisors who are molding them into tomorrow’s leaders.
Thank you to everyone who attended my “Coffee with Camera” event in Waynesburg. I hope everyone enjoyed some fresh brew, cookies, and conversation. I am grateful to Community Foundation of Greene County for providing the space, Hilltop Packs Coffee Company for the great coffee flavors, and Your Cookie Rookie for the delicious and absolutely adorable Greene County and American flag cookies.
Senate Concludes Week Two of Budget Hearings
The Senate Appropriations Committee continued public hearings this week on the proposed 2023-24 state budget.
Gov. Josh Shapiro’s $45.8 billion budget seeks to boost state spending by more than $1.3 billion above the current year’s budget. Projections indicate it will nearly wipe out the state’s Rainy Day Fund in five years.
Among the highlights:
The Department of Education hearing focused on the largest proposed Basic Education Funding increase in Pennsylvania history as well as Gov. Shapiro’s failure to follow through on his promise to fund Lifeline Scholarships, a key provision to help provide families with greater options to meet their educational needs.
At the Department of State budget hearing, the committee sought details about federal and private election funding, county election grants, funding outreach to unregistered voters and publishing constitutional amendments.
At the hearing for the Department of Labor and Industry, members discussed the potential for major job losses if Pennsylvania enters the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Persistent concerns about Unemployment Compensation (UC) claims processing and preventing UC fraud were also leading topics.
The Department of Agriculture hearing included acknowledgment that the Norfolk Southern train derailment impacted many residents at Pennsylvania’s border with Ohio, including farmers. Testing of livestock and crops will continue following that incident.
During the Pennsylvania State Police hearing, there was discussion about funding methods, as the state police currently receives money out of the Motor License Fund. The governor proposed phasing in a new Public Safety and Protection Fund.
Find full hearing recaps, video, livestreams and upcoming schedule at PASenateGOP.com.
Help Our Struggling Military Members
Anyone who is owed a Pennsylvania personal income tax return has a convenient opportunity to support our military members, veterans and their families who are facing tough times.
You can help those who serve our nation and commonwealth by making a gift to the Military Family Relief Assistance Program. All donations will benefit those with a direct and immediate financial need as a result of circumstances beyond their control.
On lines 32 through 36 of the Personal Income Tax Return, fill out Code C. If you do not have an overpayment on your return, you may make a donation by sending a check directly to the Military Family Relief Assistance Program, c/o Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Building 0-47, Fort Indiantown Gap, Annville, PA 17003-5002.
Veterans: Town Hall about PACT Act on April 4
The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) will hold an in-person Veteran Town Hall on the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act on Tuesday, April 4, from 6-8 p.m. at the West View VFW Post 2754, 386 Perry Highway, Pittsburgh. The town hall will also be available by phone.
The new federal PACT Act law expands VA health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange and other toxic substances. The town hall will enable veterans and their advocates to learn and ask questions about eligibility and applying for benefits related to the PACT Act.
In-person attendees may arrive early to enjoy a dedicated resource fair from 5-6 p.m. People who will be attending any portion of the event in person are asked to register by calling 717-644-3890.
Anyone joining the town hall by phone should call 267-332-8737 and enter Conference ID: 989503340# to participate. Both in-person attendees and callers will be able to ask questions during the town hall.
State Offers Free Motorcycle Safety Training
PennDOT offers free motorcycle training through the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program.
Free courses for novice through seasoned riders are offered to Pennsylvania residents who have a motorcycle learner’s permit or motorcycle license. Four levels of courses are available – including the 16-hour Basic Rider Course, the eight-hour Intermediate Rider Course, the one-day Advanced Rider Course and the 3 Wheel Rider Course.
For more information or to enroll in a course, visit www.pamsp.com.
$25,000 Fishing and Boating Grants Available
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is seeking applicants for grants to support education programs that promote new and renewed interest in fishing and boating. The grants aim to connect Pennsylvanians with the fun of commonwealth waterways by teaching fishing and boating skills and providing quality places for these recreational opportunities.
PFBC will reimburse qualifying organizations up to $25,000 for eligible expenses from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024. The grants require a minimum 25% match of total project costs. Grant applications must be submitted here by April 14.
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