Senator Bartolotta E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • The Benefits of Hydrogen Hubs
  • Promoting Veteran-Owned Businesses
  • Senate Passes Bills Empowering Parents
  • Senate Votes to Extend and Improve Program to Protect Students
  • Grants Available for Organizations Helping Veterans
  • Apply to Vote by Mail by Oct. 31 for the November Election
  • Recognizing Pennsylvania’s First Responders
  • Happy Halloween!

The Benefits of Hydrogen Hubs

This week I was joined by President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-39), Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-41), Sen. Devlin Robinson (R-37) and Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23) to discuss what the future hydrogen economy means for jobs, energy and the environment following a recent federal decision to award funding to two hubs benefitting Pennsylvania.

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has set a goal to produce 50 million metric tons of clean hydrogen fuel by 2050. To reach this goal, DOE announced projects selected for funding through its Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs program.

The Mid-Atlantic Clean Hydrogen Hub (MACH2) is located in Philadelphia, and the Appalachian Hydrogen Hub (ARCH2) is located in neighboring West Virginia. These projects will receive $1.7 billion in investment from the federal government and billions more in commitments from the private sector companies involved in these hubs.

Because of our abundant natural resources and highly skilled and ready workforce, Pennsylvania is uniquely positioned to be a national leader in the development and use of hydrogen. We can make hydrogen in Pennsylvania cleaner and more cost-effective than anywhere else on earth as long as we provide regulatory certainty for companies that want to make hydrogen investments in Pennsylvania. We cannot let misinformed environmental extremists and politicians distort the truth and toss family-sustaining jobs by the wayside.

The hubs are expected to produce thousands of family-sustaining jobs across a number of industries, many of them in the skilled building and construction trades.

Hydrogen produces only water and heat when burned with oxygen, with no harmful pollutants or greenhouse gas emissions. Because of breakthroughs in this technology, it has become much more cost effective to convert hydrogen into electricity.

Hydrogen energy, a rapidly growing technology, can help to provide consumers with a balanced grid that is affordable, reliable and clean.

Promoting Veteran-Owned Businesses

To recognize veterans’ entrepreneurial efforts, the Senate unanimously passed my legislation this week that would create a logo promoting Pennsylvania’s veteran-owned businesses.

Senate Bill 438 would authorize the creation of a special logo to promote veteran-owned businesses. To be eligible, a business must be registered with the Department of State and at least 51% of the ownership interest must be held by a veteran, reservist or member of the National Guard.

There will be no registration or renewal fees associated with the logo, so it will come at no cost to veterans. I am pleased that I was able to modify my original bill to eliminate the fees that veterans would have had to pay to use the logo. Now, it will offer them the support they deserve as they take the monumental step of running their own business as they transition from serving our country to reintegrating into civilian life.

To discourage the logo from being used fraudulently, the bill would also ensure that an individual who falsely claims to be a veteran for the purpose of obtaining this designation would face criminal penalties. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Passes Bills Empowering Parents

The Senate approved legislation that would empower parents to protect their own child from accessing sexually explicit content at school, without impacting the books available to other students. Senate Bill 7 would require schools to:

  • Identify sexually explicit content in school curriculum, materials and books.
  • Create an opt-in policy that would:
    • Notify parents of the sexually explicit content by including a list of the book titles on the form.
    • Give parents the opportunity to review the materials.
    • Require parents to give direct consent for their children to be provided or have access to sexually explicit content.
  • Provide children with non-explicit alternatives if their parents do not opt in.

Senate Bill 7 was crafted after a non-partisan, thorough two-year process – including conversations with parents, school administrators, teachers and librarians. It would not ban any books from Pennsylvania school curriculum or libraries, but rather empower parents to control only what their own children have access to in school. 

The Senate also approved legislation requiring schools to make public curriculum information available online, including a link or title for every textbook and course syllabus used for classes. Other measures passed this week would require schools to display the United States Constitution and display the Pennsylvania Constitution. Empowering parents and families is a priority of Pennsylvania Senate Republicans.

Senate Votes to Extend and Improve Program to Protect Students

Building on recent legislation to improve school bus safety, the Senate approved legislation extending and improving the school bus stop-arm automated enforcement program. The measure is set for enactment into law.

The program was first authorized in 2018 and includes nearly 40 participating school districts that equipped 2,500 school buses with cameras to record vehicles that don’t stop for school buses. More than 4,000 violations have been recorded.

The program was set to expire this week. Senate Bill 851 makes the program permanent, improves interaction with law enforcement and streamlines the appeals process. If a driver illegally passes a stopped school bus, the school district will send the car owner a police-vetted violation in the mail. The owner must pay the $300 fine or make an appeal for a virtual or in-person hearing overseen by a PennDOT official. The driver may petition a magisterial district judge after PennDOT’s decision.

Grants Available for Organizations Helping Veterans

The Veterans’ Trust Fund is accepting grant applications for programs and services benefiting Pennsylvania veterans. Nonprofit organizations, veteran service organizations and county directors of veteran affairs may apply by Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 2 p.m.

Find more information about the grant opportunity and how to apply here.

The trust fund is supported by Pennsylvanians who donate when applying for or renewing their driver’s licenses, photo IDs or motor vehicle registrations; purchase veteran-specific license plates; or make private donations. Tax-deductible donations can be made online.

Apply to Vote by Mail by Oct. 31 for the November Election

The deadline is approaching for anyone who would like to vote by mail for the Nov. 7 election. Your county election board must receive your application for a mail-in or absentee ballot no later than Tuesday, Oct. 31, at 5 p.m.

Any registered voter may request a mail-in ballot. Absentee ballots can be requested by voters with disabilities or an illness that prevents them from going to their polling place on Election Day, or those who will be absent from their municipality on Election Day.

You can apply for a mail-in ballot online, by mail or in person at your county election board’s office or other designated locations. Learn more here.

Recognizing Pennsylvania’s First Responders

Saturday, Oct. 28, is National First Responders Day. Police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians care for us during some of life’s worst moments. They are true heroes, and I am proud to honor their brave and selfless efforts.

My Senate colleagues and I have passed legislation to address the serious shortage of volunteer firefighters in the commonwealth. The number dropped from about 300,000 in the 1980s to less than 38,000 today, so they need our support. Without enough volunteers, communities across Pennsylvania face longer wait times when minutes make the difference between life and death.

Happy Halloween!

The entire #CameraCrew hopes you have a spooky and SAFE Halloween!


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