In this Update:
Merry Christmas to You and Yours
This holiday season, I would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas. May you enjoy the real gifts of love, peace and happiness.
My district office hours may be limited due to the holidays. Please call ahead to be sure my offices are open.
Also, PennDOT Driver License Centers will be closed on Dec. 23 and 25 for Christmas, and on Dec. 30 and Jan. 1 for New Year’s. Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website.
$3.6 Million in Grants for 46th District
More than $3.6 million of funding has been approved for major water and wastewater improvement projects, as well as arts and culture projects, in the 46th District. The state funding was awarded through the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) and disseminated through the H2O and Small Water and Sewer (SWS) programs.
Established by the General Assembly in 2008, the H2O PA program provides for single-year and multi-year grants for the construction of drinking water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer projects; the construction or renovation of flood control projects; and the repair or rehabilitation of high-hazard unsafe dams.
The SWS Program provides grants for small water, sewer and storm water infrastructure projects. Municipalities and municipal authorities that own and maintain a public water supply, sanitary sewer or storm water system are eligible to apply as long as their projects exceed a total cost of $30,000.
Grants were also awarded through the PA Arts and Culture Recovery Program, which dedicates funding to nonprofit arts and culture organizations, local arts and culture districts, and arts and culture professionals to ensure the stability and recovery of the state’s arts and culture sector post-pandemic.
For a full list of the projects and their totals, please visit my website.
Wreaths Across America
Last week I joined over 3,000 volunteers to lay Christmas wreaths for 16,200 veterans laid to rest at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies during Wreaths Across America Day. At the same time, wreath-laying ceremonies took place at Arlington National Cemetery and at more than 3,400 additional locations. It’s incredibly important that we remember our fallen veterans, honor those who serve, and teach our children the value of freedom.
If you are interested in volunteering, the wreath cleanup day will be on January 20, 2024 beginning at 8 a.m. at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies. You can also mark your calendars for next year’s Wreaths Across America day that will take place on Saturday, December 14, 2024.
Reforming the Probation System
As we prepare to spend time with our loved ones for the holidays, I am pleased my bill – passed with broad, bipartisan support – that will help families reconnect is about to become law. Along with Senator Lisa Baker (R-20) and Senator Anthony Williams (D-8), we sponsored a bill that will reform Pennsylvania’s probation system to give people a better pathway out of the criminal justice system. Senate Bill 838 is set for enactment into law.
The legislation offers greater fairness, eliminates excessive incarceration and gives individuals a more reliable second chance to get their lives right. It also reduces ever-rising state correctional costs for taxpayers. Senate Bill 838 will establish a mandatory probation review conference for probationers, providing criteria for when they occur and a presumption that probation will be terminated unless the individual does not qualify.
The bill will also allow the review conference to occur earlier based on the good conduct of defendants by achieving certain educational, employment or other goals. A provision to allow for the waiving of the mandatory review conference in cases where all stakeholders agree it is unnecessary is also included.
Bill to Combat Package Thefts Signed into Law
The Senate passed legislation to combat porch pirating – the theft of packages delivered to people’s homes – and it was recently signed into law.
Senate Bill 527, now Act 41 of 2023, implements specific penalties for theft of mail, which includes a package, bag or letter. In Pennsylvania, theft of mail is currently charged based solely on the value of the item taken.
According to Forbes, Americans spent $1.7 trillion shopping online since 2020 and nearly eight in 10 Americans have had a package stolen in 2022. Pennsylvania now joins eight other states that have already made porch pirating a felony.
New Law Gives Young Adults Strong Financial Literacy Foundation
Legislation to provide students with basic money management skills was recently signed into law. Specifically, it requires completion of a half-credit personal finance course to graduate high school.
Recent estimates calculate there are more than 350 million American-owned credit card accounts, and, on average, credit card owners have about four cards apiece. Families in the United States are approaching approximately $1 trillion dollars in credit card debt and more than $15 trillion dollars in debt overall.
The course will give high school students the understanding they need about topics like credit and credit scores; savings and investments; college, home and auto loans; and planning for postsecondary education and retirement.
Sharing the Holiday Spirit with PA Veterans
If you would like to support our veterans and military families this holiday season, making a monetary donation goes a long way toward helping the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs provide members, veterans and their families with essential programs and services that would not be available otherwise.
Donations can be made by mail or online. They are tax-deductible, and gifts of any amount are appreciated. Learn more about making a donation.
Driving Safely During Inclement Weather
Pennsylvania has nearly 40,000 miles of roads – which translates to 96,000 snow-lane miles – that must be maintained during inclement weather so people can travel safely.
The approximately 2,200 PennDOT-owned and rented plow trucks have in-truck technology that logs and shares data in real time so the public can monitor the routes of their interstate and expressway travels on www.511PA.com.
Of course, drivers should avoid the roads until they have been cleared, if possible. Anyone who must travel is urged to use extra caution by slowing down, increasing their following distance and avoiding distractions. Read more winter driving tips here.
If you are not already subscribed to this newsletter please sign up here.