In this Update:
Funding Secured for 37th District
It’s been a busy three years so far in the Senate! I am so thrilled to advocate for these funds that were all awarded to much-need projects Allegheny County. Most recently, I was glad to see over $1 million awarded to the Municipality of Bethel Park from the PA Department of Transportation’s Automated Red Light Enforcement Program. This funding will improve traffic congestion and safety at the Hamilton Road/Baptist Road intersection.
Over $3.5 million from the Commonwealth Financing Authority was also secured recently for projects throughout the 37th district, and I look forward to bringing even more resources to our area this year. You can read about these projects and view other legislative updates on my website.
American Legion Appointments Available in My Office
My office hosts open office hours with a representative from the American Legion every month. Graham Wieland, a Department Service Officer with the Legion, is available to help with a wide range of veterans’ needs.
Graham honorably served our country in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. I was honored to present him with a certificate of recognition recently for all the incredible work he does.
Please do not hesitate to contact my office if you or a family member needs assistance with veterans’ services. Graham is a tremendous resource and always so glad to help others!
Student Mental Health Roundtable, School Funding Available
I enjoyed a very productive visit and roundtable discussion this week on student mental health at South Fayette High School. Thank you to Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis, Representative Jason Ortitay, Dr. Michelle Miller, Deputy Secretary Dr. Carrie Rowe, and everyone who participated.
The Senate approved two major bipartisan budget implementations in December, with $100 million dedicated for K-12 mental health programs in school. School Mental Health Grants totaling $90 million are available for school districts, intermediate units, area career and technical schools, charter schools, regional charter schools and cyber charter schools.
Approximately $32 million is available through Competitive School Safety Grants for school resource officers, security-related technology and violence prevention programs that address safety and security. As part of Senate Republican efforts to ensure safe schools and communities, a budget measure passed in December included provisions to consolidate and streamline school safety and security programs and operations under the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
The School District Meritorious Grant Program is specifically for school districts and approximately $18.6 million is available. Individual awards to address physical safety and security range from $30,000 to $45,000. All grant applications must be received by Feb. 29.
Reminder: Property Tax/Rent Rebate Clinic
My office will be hosting a property tax/rent rebate clinic along with Representative Natalie Mihalek on Monday, February 12th at the Bethel Park Community Center. Please call my office if you would like to register.
This year, the PA Department of Revenue increased the income gap to $45,000 for both homeowners and renters. Only half of an applicant’s Social Security income is included in the calculations for eligibility. The maximum standard rebate on property taxes or rent paid increased to $1,000. The program is open to state residents 65 and older, widows and widowers 50 or older, or anyone age 18 and over who is 100% disabled. You can read more information here.
Robinson Bill to Allow Electronic Payments for Non-Profit Fundraising
I’m glad legislation I prime sponsored, Senate Bill 667, is gaining traction! Its companion bill in the House seeks to accomplish the same goal, which is simply to allow electronic payments for local non-profit fundraising by organizations like fire companies and VFWs. Thank you abc27 News for reporting on this! You can read their full article here.
Protecting PA’s Local Governments from Cyberattacks
The Senate Communications and Technology Committee and the Senate Local Government Committee this week examined cybersecurity threats faced by local governments and municipal authorities.
Recent cyberattacks targeting the Bucks County emergency dispatch system and the Aliquippa Water Authority highlight the vulnerability of Pennsylvania’s more than 2,500 local governments and authorities.
While exposure of residents’ personal information is a serious concern, these attacks can also interfere with ways people satisfy basic needs, such as the delivery of clean drinking water to their homes and being able to call for help in the case of an emergency. Learn more from the cybersecurity experts and local government officials who took part in the hearing.
2023 Accomplishments: Supporting PA Seniors
As part of the Senate’s commitment to healthy and safe communities, we have focused on measures to support Pennsylvania seniors, ensuring they have access to the health care they need, and preventing their exploitation.
One new law adjusts Medicaid reimbursement rates for nursing homes so the facilities can continue to meet the needs of vulnerable patients. Another law ensures seniors do not lose access to Pennsylvania’s prescription drug programs due to an increase in their Social Security payments.
A third piece of legislation recently signed into law aims to prevent elder abuse by strengthening guardianship laws. It protects vulnerable adults within the guardianship system from fraud, abuse, neglect and exploitation.
Improving Pennsylvanians’ Experiences by Increasing Broadband Access
Federal grants are available to improve the experiences Pennsylvanians have at medical care facilities, schools and libraries. The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority’s Capital Projects Fund allows for investment in high-quality broadband infrastructure as well as other connectivity infrastructure, devices and equipment.
The $45 million of competitive grants can be used for community projects to construct, acquire or improve facilities that will enable work, education and health monitoring.
Grants will be awarded in amounts ranging from $250,000 to $2 million. Apply online through April 20. While the grant funding was awarded through a federal program, it supports Senate Republicans’ priority of infrastructure advancement.
PA VETConnect Helps Veterans Access Programs and Services
Thanks to recent legislation approved by the PA Senate, PA VETConnect makes it easier for Pennsylvania’s 700,000 veterans to access the programs and services available to help them.
Administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, PA VETConnect benefits service members, veterans and their families. The database of resources enables local veteran advocates to point veterans to information, resources, programs and services in their area and across the commonwealth.
Resource areas include benefits, employment, financial assistance, post-traumatic stress, mental wellness and substance use.
Preventing Cancer by Increasing Access to Screenings
The federal government estimated that nearly two million Americans would be diagnosed with cancer and that more than 600,000 would die from their disease in 2023. Research shows that more than 40% of those cases can be attributed to preventable causes such as smoking, physical inactivity, excessive exposure to the sun and excess body weight.
Making healthier choices can dramatically reduce your risk of cancer, according to the American Association for Cancer Research. Learn how you can put yourself on a better path and test your cancer prevention knowledge here.
Senate Republicans passed legislation that is now law to help Pennsylvanians get the preventative cancer testing they need. Specifically, it eliminates out-of-pocket costs for genetic testing of hereditary cancer syndromes and supplemental breast screenings for women at high risk of developing breast cancer.
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