I am pleased to send you this edition of my electronic newsletter. These e-newsletters enable me to provide information about issues, events and activities in Harrisburg and around the 46th Senatorial District to you in a timely manner while saving postage costs.
If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website www.senatorbartolotta.com for more information about your state government. You can also keep up to date through Facebook (www.facebook.com/senatorbartolotta), Twitter (www.twitter.com/senbartolotta) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/senatorbartolotta/).
In this Update:
Connecting Rural Washington County thru High-Speed Internet
This week I joined the Washington County Board of Commissioners, Diana Irey Vaughan, Larry Maggi, and Nick Sherman, partnered with Hickory Telephone and the County Authority to embark on an important mission to splice fiber in support of the ongoing Rural Broadband program. This collaborative effort aims to activate multiple communities by bridging the digital divide and bringing reliable high-speed internet to unserved areas.
This significant initiative activated 312 previously unserved residential and commercial locations throughout Washington County. The spliced fiber encompasses an impressive 41-mile network, effectively extending the reach of the rural broadband program and unlocking new opportunities for economic growth, education, and telecommunication services.
I was honored to be a part of the collaborative effort. The successful splicing of fiber in Taylorstown this week represents a significant milestone in the ongoing rural broadband program. Washington County continues its commitment to connect every corner of the community, ensuring that no one is left behind in the digital revolution.
Senate Sends Budget Bill to Governor’s Desk
The Senate reconvened this week to send the 2023-24 General Appropriations bill to Gov. Josh Shapiro’s desk to be signed into law. This action maintains our commitment to moving Pennsylvania forward and will prevent disruptions to the many critical services Pennsylvanians rely on every day. Advancing this legislation ensures funding can be released to schools, counties and nonprofits without interruption as the final components of the budget are negotiated and completed.
The $45.45 billion budget spends approximately $400 million less than what Gov. Shapiro proposed in March. I am pleased we were able to pass a budget that holds the line on taxes, promotes job growth, continues historic support for schools and sets aside money to prevent future tax hikes.
It is important to note this step does not complete the budget process, as certain programs require implementation language before funding can be released. These include key priorities like mental health grants for schools, emergency relief for hospitals and increases to EMS reimbursement rates. We are continuing our work to negotiate these items to ensure a full budget is put in place to help all Pennsylvanians.
The Senate also signed and sent to Gov. Shapiro’s desk a bill that would expand eligibility and rebate amounts available through the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program, providing more assistance to low-income seniors and Pennsylvanians with disabilities.
With the recent resignation of a member of the House, their chamber now stands deadlocked, with an even number of Republicans and Democrats. Having a chamber with a 101 to 101 split makes it very hard to see how some of these important pieces of legislation can be advanced until the vacancy in the House is filled again. The Senate stands ready to return to session and complete the steps necessary to bring this year’s budget to a close as soon as possible.
$1,125,000 Investment for Washington County Airport
PennDOT announced this week that $1,125,000 million in state funds will be invested in Washington County Airport. This investment is part of $10 million in state funding that will be awarded to public use airports for facility improvements, infrastructure preservation and development. Pennsylvania’s robust aviation industry helps bolster economies across the Commonwealth, and supporting safe, reliable infrastructure.
The investment will continue construction of the southside taxiway. This development will provide enhanced airside and landside access to continue to add corporate hangars and aviation businesses. This funding to continue construction at the Washington County Airport will play a tremendous role in attracting businesses to Southwestern PA and enhancing the local economy. I look forward to all the good this project will bring to the 46th District.
Make Sure You’re Seeing My Facebook Posts
If you haven’t already followed my official Facebook page, I think you should! If you have, you may not be seeing all of my new posts because of their confusing algorithm. To make sure you always do – take these steps on your phone:
Step 1: Go to my Senator Camera Bartolotta page.
Step 2: Click on the “Follow” button. (If you aren’t following my page yet)
Step 3: Click the “Following” button. (If you already follow my page, you will click this button first)
Step 4: Hit the “Favorites” option and you are all set!
Free REAL ID Seminar on August 11 in Bentleyville
I am partnering with PennDOT to host a free REAL ID Seminar for residents of Washington County on Friday, August 11, from 1-3 p.m. at at Bentleyville Public Library, 931 Main St., Bentleyville.
The process of obtaining a REAL ID can be confusing, and my goal is to make it as simple as possible for everyone by providing an opportunity to hear from the experts and ask any lingering questions. This can help to prevent people spending time at the DMV only to find out the documents they have are insufficient. PennDOT representatives will explain the federal ID requirements, how and where to apply, and the documents needed to obtain a Pennsylvania REAL ID. They will also share how to know if the identification is needed.
Beginning May 7, 2025, a REAL ID may be necessary to fly and enter a federal building or military base if you don’t have appropriately accepted identification.
While the seminar is free to attend, Washington County residents are asked to please RSVP to attend the seminar by calling Bartolotta’s district office in Washington at 724-225-4380.
Share Your Opinion about Broadband in Pennsylvania
Rather than a luxury, high-speed internet is a necessity to participate in today’s economy. Access to high-speed internet helps to ensure public safety, benefits employers and Pennsylvania’s workforce, and provides an equal opportunity for students.
Pennsylvania has been awarded $1.16 billion in federal funding to expand internet access across the commonwealth. Community members – including residents, businesses and organizations – are invited to comment on the draft five-year implementation plan via an online survey available through Aug. 8.
Report Abuse of Adults Living with a Disability
Sadly, adults living with a disability are more likely to face abuse, neglect, exploitation and abandonment.
Common signs of abuse include bruises or broken bones, weight loss, memory loss, personality changes, social isolation and changes in banking habits.
If you suspect abuse, report it by calling the Protective Services Hotline at 1-800-490-8505. A report can be made on behalf of the adult whether they live in their home or in a care facility such as a nursing facility, group home or hospital. Reporters can remain anonymous and have legal protection from retaliation, discrimination, and civil and criminal prosecution.
Recognizing National Farmers Market Week
Aug. 6-12 is National Farmers Market Week, and there are so many places to celebrate in Pennsylvania. With agriculture as the state’s top industry, farmers markets can be found all across the commonwealth.
Farmers markets offer more than the freshest produce. You can also find delicious baked goods, cheeses and craft coffees. Some even offer how-to classes and the opportunity to pick your own produce.
Find a farmers market to enjoy here.
Free Tool to Relate Military Experience to Civilian Job Requirements
The Department of State has an innovative tool to help veterans and service members translate their military experience into civilian career opportunities. The military occupational crosswalk is a series of charts for each occupation licensed by the department that compare licensing requirements with typical duties, training, qualifications and related credentials with military occupations.
Created after Act 35 of 2022 received unanimous support from the General Assembly, the crosswalk defines a military applicant as a service member, veteran or military spouse; provides initial licensure fee waivers for military spouses who must relocate because of a service member’s military orders; allows service members to reactivate an expired professional or occupational license without penalty if the reactivation coincides with a deployment and is completed within one month of returning from the deployment; and more.
Read more here about professional and occupational licensing in the commonwealth.
Submit or Search for a Veteran Job
The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs offers a job listing as a service to individuals and organizations to promote their veteran and military-oriented events being held in Pennsylvania. It is a comprehensive resource for the state’s more than 700,000 veterans as they consider new employment opportunities.
Submit a job or view the current listings – which include roles for nurses, police officers, recovery specialists and more – here.
Improved Dashboard Better Tracks PA Homeowner Assistance Fund
The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) launched an updated program dashboard to track the status of the Pennsylvania Homeowner Assistance Fund, a pandemic-relief program that provides financial assistance to qualified homeowners for mortgage and housing-related expenses.
The new dashboard, which will be updated at least monthly, includes:
The initial dashboard presents the data in a static image format, but in the coming weeks, PHFA will introduce additional interactive capabilities including the ability to see more detailed information by county and details by the various assistance types. The changes will provide increased accountability and transparency in the program’s operations.