In this Update:
Labor and Industry News
As Chair of the Labor & Industry Committee during this week’s hearing, I asked Acting Secretary Walker about the Department’s plan to stabilize the unemployment compensation system so claimants can receive the timely service they deserve.
I also asked about proposed investments in registered apprenticeship programs, enhanced enforcement of labor laws, and layoff aversion.
We also discussed the potential for major job losses if Pennsylvania enters the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
View the full exchange here.
Second Week of Budget Hearings
Highlights from other hearings include:
The Department of Education hearing focused on the largest proposed Basic Education Funding increase in Pennsylvania history. I specifically wanted to learn more about school safety and mental health, and I asked how we can work together toward ensuring a safe learning environment for PA students in any school setting. I also brought up my bipartisan-sponsored legislation to remove lead from drinking water in schools.
At the Department of State budget hearing, the committee sought details about federal and private election funding, county election grants, funding outreach to unregistered voters and publishing constitutional amendments.
The Department of Agriculture hearing included acknowledgment that the Norfolk Southern train derailment impacted many residents at Pennsylvania’s border with Ohio, including farmers. Testing of livestock and crops will continue following that incident.
During the Pennsylvania State Police hearing, there was discussion about funding methods, as the state police currently receives money out of the Motor License Fund. The governor proposed phasing in a new Public Safety and Protection Fund. I also questioned Commissioner Paris about their efforts to combat human trafficking in PA.
Help Our Struggling Military Members
Anyone who is owed a Pennsylvania personal income tax return has a convenient opportunity to support our military members, veterans and their families who are facing tough times.
You can help those who serve our nation and commonwealth by making a gift to the Military Family Relief Assistance Program. All donations will benefit those with a direct and immediate financial need as a result of circumstances beyond their control.
On lines 32 through 36 of the Personal Income Tax Return, fill out Code C. If you do not have an overpayment on your return, you may make a donation by sending a check directly to the Military Family Relief Assistance Program, c/o Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Building 0-47, Fort Indiantown Gap, Annville, PA 17003-5002.
Veterans: Town Hall about PACT Act on April 4
The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) will hold an in-person Veteran Town Hall on the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act on Tuesday, April 4, from 6-8 p.m. at the West View VFW Post 2754, 386 Perry Highway, Pittsburgh. The town hall will also be available by phone.
The new federal PACT Act law expands VA health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange and other toxic substances. The town hall will enable veterans and their advocates to learn and ask questions about eligibility and applying for benefits related to the PACT Act.
In-person attendees may arrive early to enjoy a dedicated resource fair from 5-6 p.m. People who will be attending any portion of the event in person are asked to register by calling 717-644-3890.
Anyone joining the town hall by phone should call 267-332-8737 and enter Conference ID: 989503340# to participate. Both in-person attendees and callers will be able to ask questions during the town hall.
Funding for Apprenticeships
As a strong proponent of the apprenticeship model, I was pleased to see the Department of Labor & Industry recently made $1 million in grant funds available for building trade programs to diversify their workforce. Click here for more information on the available funding.
Commission to Improve PA’s Education System
I was pleased to be appointed to the Pa Commission on Education and Economic Competitiveness by Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward. I’m looking forward to working with the commission to rethink how we educate and train our future workforce. Click here for details.
$25,000 Fishing and Boating Grants Available
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is seeking applicants for grants to support education programs that promote new and renewed interest in fishing and boating. The grants aim to connect Pennsylvanians with the fun of commonwealth waterways by teaching fishing and boating skills and providing quality places for these recreational opportunities.
PFBC will reimburse qualifying organizations up to $25,000 for eligible expenses from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024. The grants require a minimum 25% match of total project costs. Grant applications must be submitted here by April 14.
Vietnam War Veterans Day
Wednesday, March 29th was National Vietnam War Veterans Day, and this year marks the 50th anniversary of the end of the war. To everyone who served during this conflict, I humbly thank you for your incredible service and sacrifice. I was pleased to see so many events across the Commonwealth honoring this group of veterans, especially ones in my hometown. The Heinz History Center hosted a special ceremony to honor local Pittsburgh veterans. Thank you for giving our hometown heroes the recognition they deserve!
Cub Scouts Receive Arrow of Light Rank
Congratulations to the seven Cub Scouts from Troop 215 in Bethel Park for receiving their Arrow of Light Rank! I am honored to recognize these young scouts for their incredible accomplishments.
If you have a scout receiving the Arrow of Light or Eagle Scout, please contact my office! I am always happy to recognize these individuals with a Senate-issued certificate, citation, or recognition.
Beagles Visit My Office!
You never know who is going to stop by your office for a visit. This week, I had a few four-legged visitors in my office. Thank you to Animal Friends and the Humane Society of Pennsylvania for their advocacy for these lovable pups, and helping them find their fur-ever home!
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