In this Update:
Constituent, Breast Cancer Survivor Visits Harrisburg
I had the privilege to bring my constituent, Cara Sapida from Pittsburgh’s WPXI, to the Senate floor this week to speak about her breast cancer journey. Cara received the Pink Ribbon award from the PA Breast Cancer Coalition (PBCC) and was recognized at their 30th anniversary reception!
It was great to hear from State Senator Kim Ward and Pat Halpin-Murphy, president and founder of the PBCC. Congratulations, Pat, on thirty years of excellent advocacy, and thank you, Cara, for sharing your inspiring story!
Western PA First Responders Visit Harrisburg
It’s always wonderful having our first responders from Western Pennsylvania visit the Capitol! Thank you all for your tireless work and dedication to the residents of Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. Your commitment to keeping our area safe is deeply appreciated, and you have our unwavering support.
Robinson Bill Approved in Committee
I am pleased to sponsor legislation that would update Pennsylvania’s controlled substance scheduling which will aid in the opioid epidemic fight and make our communities safer. Senator Lisa Baker and I cosponsored Senate Bill 959, which would allow the scheduling of controlled substances in Pennsylvania to automatically follow the federal government’s Drug Enforcement Administration’s classification whenever a new substance is added.
This will significantly help law enforcement be better aware of emerging drug trends and keep these dangerous substances out of the wrong hands. Thank you to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for supporting this important bill. You can read more on this legislation here.
Veterans Appreciation Breakfast
Thank you to my friend and colleague, Senator Wayne Langerholc, for inviting me to speak at his veterans appreciation breakfast! It was great getting to talk with these wonderful men and women and hearing their inspiring stories as they served our country. Thank you, so much, to all of our veterans!
SHACOG Celebrates 50th Anniversary
Congratulations to the South Hills Area Council of Governments on celebrating their 50th anniversary! SHACOG serves 22 municipalities, 22 police departments, and 40 fire departments across Southwestern Pennsylvania. Thank you for everything you do for our communities!
Senate Backs Israel, Condemns Hamas
Following the murderous attacks of innocent people by the terrorist group Hamas, the Senate approved two resolutions condemning Hamas’ Oct. 7 carnage.
I am proud to be a cosponsor of both resolutions, SR 191, introduced by Senators Santarsiero and Schwank, and SR 185, introduced by Senator Mastriano. The resolutions were unanimously adopted by the Senate.
These resolutions show Pennsylvania’s support of the Jewish people as they defend against this terrorist threat, and that we stand “firmly with the people of Israel and their right to defend themselves.” Senate Resolution 185 labels the attacks by Hamas as “shocking, barbaric and evil,” further adding they “amount to war crimes of the worst kind.”
Senate Advances Critical Support for EMS, Hospitals and Nursing Homes
This week, the Senate approved legislation advancing critical public health components of the budget process.
Passage of House Bill 1351 addresses the crucial public health needs for emergency medical services, hospitals and nursing homes and ensures Pennsylvanians continue to receive access to needed health care services.
Senate Votes to Increase Access to Addiction Treatment Programs
To combat prevalent opioid addiction, the Senate unanimously passed legislation increasing access to licensed addiction treatment programs for Pennsylvanians.
Senate Bill 941 would provide regulatory flexibilities that can be used during an opioid epidemic to create real solutions to workforce shortages and directly help those in need of treatment get access quicker.
Additionally, Senate Bill 941 would establish annual reporting requirements to the General Assembly regarding unnecessary barriers to workforce recruitment and access to treatment.
Bill Enhancing School Bus Safety Receives Senate Support
The Senate passed a bill to improve school bus safety by increasing penalties for those refusing to follow the law.
Senate Bill 897 would give judges the discretion to increase fines above the current $250 for refusing to stop for a school bus when red lights are flashing or a stop arm is extended. It would also require repeat offenders to complete a PennDOT Driving Improvement School. Additionally, it would establish a new penalty for individuals who fail to proceed with caution past a school bus with flashing amber lights.
According to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, approximately 1,000 drivers annually are convicted of passing a stopped school bus with signals flashing. Many more citations are issued without resulting in a conviction.
Grants Available to Ready PA for New Businesses
To attract and retain more businesses in the commonwealth, PA SITES (Pennsylvania Strategic Investments to Enhance Sites) will make $10 million in grant funding available to help locations become “shovel ready.”
Eligible projects must be in Pennsylvania and support the development of competitive sites. These include undeveloped sites and sites that were previously utilized or underutilized – such as former industrial, commercial, military, school, or hospital sites or buildings.
Municipalities, economic development organizations, redevelopment authorities, municipal authorities and industrial development agencies may apply for the funding here through Wednesday, Nov. 8.
Last Chance to Register to Vote in the Nov. 7 Election
If you wish to vote on Election Day on Nov. 7, you must be registered to vote by Monday, Oct. 23.
There are four ways to register to vote: online, by mail, in person at your county voter registration office and at PennDOT and some other government agencies.
Find the details about each of these methods here.
Recognizing National Cybersecurity Awareness Month
In October, we focus on staying safe online by taking steps to protect personal data. Simple steps you can take include using strong passwords, using multifactor authentication, recognizing and reporting phishing, and updating software.
My colleagues and I are also working to put measures in place that will better shield you from online threats. Senate Bill 565 would protect students’ personal data from unauthorized or inappropriate disclosure.
Other legislative measures would safeguard the state’s online assets. Senate Bill 563 would establish that commonwealth agencies have strong capabilities in place to discourage, combat and recover from ransomware attacks. Senate Bill 284 would establish a standalone Office of Information Technology (OIT) under the Office of Administration. The OIT would create a strategic plan for future IT projects across state government, as well as manage and maintain all future IT procurement within state agencies.
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