Senator Bartolotta E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Improving Access to High-Speed Internet
  • School Safety Grants Awarded
  • Happenings in the 46th
  • Supporting Adult Basic and Continuing Education
  • Training PA’s Workforce for Available Positions
  • Increasing the Number of Firefighters in Pennsylvania
  • Spring Gobbler Season Begins April 27
  • April is National Donate Life Month

Improving Access to High-Speed Internet

The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority (PBDA) announced this week that Washington County is being awarded $9.4 million to increase access to reliable, high-speed internet. I am so pleased the Washington County Authority, Comcast and PBDA partnered to make it happen.

Made feasible by the federally funded Broadband Infrastructure Program, a total of $200 million in competitive grants was awarded for projects across the state lacking 25/3 Mbps internet service. Grantees will be held accountable for the prudent expenditure of awarded funds. The PBDA has the ability to claw back any unused or misused funds.

This inaugural round of grants represents a significant milestone in the PBDA’s broader initiative to close the digital divide since the General Assembly established the PBDA in 2021.

School Safety Grants Awarded

More than $150 million in School Safety Grants have been approved this week for students across the commonwealth. Pennsylvania’s School Safety & Security Grant Program was originally established in 2018, providing for school entities to be safer places for students, staff and visitors. Most recently through Act 33 of 2023, changes were made to strengthen and expand the program, which is overseen by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, School Safety and Security Committee.

I spoke on the Senate floor in support of this competitive school safety program. Six school districts in the 46th Senatorial District were awarded a total of $1.26M.

▸ Carmichaels Area SD: $367,152

▸ Charleroi Area SD: $206,275

▸ Chartiers-Houston SD: $96,711

▸ Jefferson-Morgan SD: $96,459

▸ Ringgold SD: $312,501

▸ West Greene SD: $183,049

Meritorious Grants ranging from $30,000 to $45,000 were awarded to each of the 497 applicants from all 67 counties that applied. The award amount is based on the school size. Funding can be used to address safety and security through security assessments, violence prevention and all-hazards plans.

Mental Health Grants ranging from $70,000 to $100,000 were awarded to each of the 719 applicants from all 67 counties that applied. These applicants included school districts, area career and technical schools, intermediate units, charter schools, regional charter schools and cyber charter schools. School districts received a base of $100,000 plus a formula amount depending on their school size. The intermediate unit, area career and technical school, charter school, regional charter school or cyber charter school applicants each received $70,000. The funding can be used for school mental health services, training and programs for students and staff.

Additionally, grants were approved through the Competitive School Safety and Security Grant Funding, and Targeted School Safety and Security Grant Programs. Learn more.

Happenings in the 46th

I would like to thank everyone who came out to last week’s Wellness Event in Peters Township that I hosted with Representative Natalie Mihalek. Also, a special thank you to the exhibitors who volunteered their time to provide helpful information and demonstrations for the attendees to improve everyone’s overall wellness!

It was a pleasure to learn more about The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Leah Blain and Major (Ret.) Peter Whitney [pictured] shared the wonderful mental health programming that is available to our veterans, service members, and their families – at no cost. Recently, they entered into a memorandum of understanding with the University of Pittsburgh and are expanding their services to the entire Commonwealth.

It was very inspiring to hear their mission and share with them some opportunities for partnership in the 46th Senatorial District.  Our veterans, service members and their families are forever in our debt. You can learn more about the clinic here.

Recently I had an opportunity to meet with my friend Ed Picchiarini, CEO of Arc Human Services, located in Canonsburg, Washington County. Arc is making a difference everyday by serving people of all ages with intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health challenges. Ed provided exciting updates on how Arc is incorporating technology into the services they provide. He also shared with me some of the challenges they are experiencing.

I want to take this opportunity to say Thank You to Mr. Picchiarini and the entire team at Arc for making a difference in the lives of those you work with – it is inspiring.

I am working with Representative Jason Ortitay and Houston Borough officials on a future flood mitigation plan. This week we met at the Houston Fire Hall with Mayor James Stubenbordt, Council President Larry W. Scears, and Council Vice President Nick Galbraith.

In partnership with Pennsylvania Women Work, I will be hosting Career Kick-Start on Friday, May 21, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Frank Sarris Public Library, 35 N. Jefferson Ave., Canonsburg.

The free, one-day workshop will help participants boost their job search. It will offer opportunities to meet with a career coach to refine resumes, take a career assessment, identify professional skills and strengths, learn how to find and apply for jobs, practice and receive feedback on interviews, meet with employers who are hiring, and get a professional headshot.

Space is limited. Women who are interested are asked to register online. Please call 412-742-4362 with any questions.

Supporting Adult Basic and Continuing Education

 Last week I had the opportunity to address professionals in the field of adult basic and continuing education at the annual Pennsylvania Association for Adult Continuing Education (PAACE) Conference legislative breakfast.

PAACE members are excellent advocates for those who are most vulnerable in our society. Often times one of the keys to truly understanding what someone is going through is to hear real life stories, and to know how impactful state funding resources can and have been used. Advocating for legislation to help successful programs and working to commit funds that will help successful programs become even better are things I believe the PAACE organization does well.

I am the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 462, which proposes the establishment of a onetime $15 million Recovery Fund for Adult Education providers to meet the increased need to upskill working age adults for the workforce with which we are still facing as we recover from the pandemic. You can learn more about my legislation here.

I was also honored to receive the PAACE Outstanding Partner of the Year award for my efforts, advocacy and legislation towards public education. Thank you to my friend Carey Harris, CEO of Literacy Pittsburgh, for moderating the panel discussion and presenting me with the award.

Training PA’s Workforce for Available Positions

Complementing Senate Republicans’ efforts to protect Pennsylvania jobs, support is available for community colleges, trade or tech schools, school districts and nonprofits through the Manufacturing PA Training-to-Career Grant Program.

The program is designed to help companies identify and train a skilled workforce for existing positions or ones that will be open soon. It is also designed to advance capacity for local and regional manufacturers and increase awareness of manufacturing career opportunities for youth or those with barriers.

Grants may be used for professional services/consultants, internships, equipment purchases, shop modifications, program development, marketing, domestic travel and salaries. Learn more and apply online.

Increasing the Number of Firefighters in Pennsylvania

The Senate approved a bill aimed at increasing the number of volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania by reforming the certification process without sacrificing quality or safety.

Current firefighter applicants must complete four training modules totaling 188 hours. They then must pass a cumulative test covering all four modules. Senate Bill 1101 would enable applicants to be tested following each of the four modules.

In the 1970s, the commonwealth had as many as 300,000 volunteer firefighters. There currently are fewer than 38,000 volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania.

Spring Gobbler Season Begins April 27

On Saturday, April 27, spring gobbler season opens with a half-day hunt for junior hunters and mentored hunters 16 and under. All participants must be accompanied by adults, and hunting hours run from 30 minutes before sunrise until noon.

The regular season runs from May 4-31. Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until noon from May 4-18 and 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset from May 20-31.

Approximately 172,000 people hunt spring turkeys in Pennsylvania every year. Last season, hunters harvested about 39,500 gobblers – an increase from 35,700 in 2022 and 28,100 in 2021. Information about spring turkey hunting rules and regulations, for youth and regular hunts, is available here.

April is National Donate Life Month

Making a difference in the lives of others might be easier than you think. With nearly 7,000 Pennsylvanians awaiting organ transplants, donors can save up to eight lives. People donating tissue can enhance the lives of 75 others by helping them recover from trauma, spinal injuries, burns and vision loss.

If you aren’t an organ or tissue donor yet but would like to be, there’s no need to wait until you get or renew your driver’s license, learner’s permit or photo ID. It’s easy to register online to donate.

Misconceptions about organ and tissue donation can discourage people from taking the important step to save lives. Find myths and facts here.


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