In this Update:
National Night Out Highlights
I had the pleasure to attend several events for National Night Out throughout the 37th district! I was pleased to see such a great turnout from the community at Franklin Park, Bethel Park, and Pleasant Hills.
The Upper St. Clair Library teamed up with the USC Police and Volunteer Fire Departments, as well as Tri-Community South EMS, to host an opportunity for kids to meet their local first responders. This was a great, hands-on event for kids to learn about the vehicles and equipment they use.
Thank you to our first responders for everything you do to keep us safe! I’m looking forward to more events this weekend.
Western PA Urban Search & Rescue Hearing
This week I participated in a hearing for legislation sponsored by myself and Sen. Costa, which would create an urban search and rescue team in Western Pennsylvania. Right now, the only team with this capability exists in Philadelphia, and there is a dire need to provide this level of protection for our residents on the western side of our commonwealth.
I appreciate the support of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and from both chambers of the legislature to ensure that a proper emergency response is in place for our constituents, should a catastrophe arise.
171st Air Refueling Wing Tour
I enjoyed a wonderful tour of the 171st Air Refueling Wing this week! It was so interesting learning about in-flight refueling for the Department of Defense and NATO aircraft. Thank you to everyone there for your good service and educating us about this important part of Coraopolis!
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.
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.
American Legion Appointments
My office is offering appointments with a representative from the American Legion on Tuesday, August 8th. Veterans can receive help accessing benefits and services from the state or U.S. Veterans Administration. Please contact my office if you would like to make an appointment.
Veterans are also encouraged to sign up for the DMVA’s Veterans Registry to receive timely information about state benefits, programs, and services.
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.
Purple Heart Day
On August 7th, we recognize the brave men and women who were killed or wounded while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
National Purple Heart Day was first observed in 2014, but the medal dates back to 1782 when it was first designated by George Washington as a Badge of Merit. General Douglas MacArthur received the first modern Purple Heart for his service during WWII, and since then over 1.8 million have been awarded.
Let us all take a moment to reflect on the service and sacrifice of those who have received the Purple Heart.
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