In this Update:
Honoring Law Enforcement, Veterans
Amen Corner hosted their annual Law Enforcement Luncheon, and I had the honor of bestowing the “Into the Breach” award to Officers Michael Halterlein, Benjamin Olsen & Bailey Fertig of Jefferson Hills Police Department, and Officers Matthew Plunkett, Timothy McKown & Ryan Warnock of Pleasant Hills Police Department.
These brave officers responded to a critical shooting incident with an unwavering resolve, shielding innocent lives from harm, identifying critically injured individuals, stabilizing wounds and safely evacuating several victims from the building. Thank you, officers, for your incredible bravery and heroic actions to keep our citizens safe.
I had the honor to introduce my friend and mentor, Rocky Bleier, at Franklin Park’s Salute to Veterans Breakfast, where six World War II Veterans were in attendance.
We also wished WWII veteran and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, Howard Pfeifer, a happy 100th birthday and cut the ribbon for a new Veterans Trail in Blueberry Hill Park. Thank you, Franklin Park, for hosting a wonderful event!
I attended a wonderful breakfast held by the Veterans Breakfast Club at Christ Church at Grove Farm, where I had the privilege to visit with veterans who have given so much for our country.
Sheperd’s Heart Fellowship and Veteran’s Home has provided food, shelter, and resources to those in need for thirty years. I had the privilege to join them this morning to serve meals to the homeless population, including many veterans.
Thank you, Sheperd’s Heart, for this opportunity to serve and for all you do for the Pittsburgh community, especially our homeless veterans.
It was such a privilege to recognize these law enforcement officers and veterans for their service to our communities and country. Thank you all for your service and sacrifice. You have my deepest gratitude.
Constituent Wins Statewide Contest
Congratulations to my constituent from Franklin Elementary School in Sewickley, Ananyasri Boddupalli, for winning division 1 first place in the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT)2023 school bus poster contest! The contest is open annually to students in kindergarten through eighth grade, and this year the theme was “Safely Rolling to My Destination.”
Ananyasri did a beautiful job, and her efforts are helping students, drivers, and pedestrians be safer throughout Pennsylvania!
North Allegheny School District Celebrates 75 Years
North Allegheny School District is celebrating their 75th anniversary! I was pleased to present them with a congratulatory citation from myself and Senator Lindsey Williams. My colleagues from the PA House, Rep. Arvind Venkat and Rep. Rob Mercuri, presented citations as well. Congratulations to the school district on this milestone, and best wishes for the next 75 years!
9/11 Memorial Trail
I was pleased to welcome members from the 911memorialtrail here at the Capitol this week to meet with the 9/11 Trail Caucus which I proudly co-chair with Senator Lisa Boscola.
This bipartisan caucus in the Senate joined together earlier this year to support development of the 9/11 Memorial Trail, which connects the three sites of the September 11 attacks, spanning over 1,300 miles in length. This trail is meant to be a lasting memorial to symbolize the resiliency and character of the brave heroes from that devastating day.
A big thank you to Jeff, Jane, and Andy who have worked tirelessly on this trail project, and to my colleagues: Senator Mike Regan, Senator Pat Stefano, Senator David Argall, Senator Nick Miller, and Senator Judy Ward who joined in this fruitful discussion.
Robinson Bill to Combat Opioid Crisis Approved by the Senate
After being approved in committee last week, I am pleased to see my legislation pass the full Senate. Senate Bill 959 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. You can read more on this legislation, which I prime sponsor with Senator Lisa Baker, here.
Press Conference Discussing Hydrogen Hubs
I spoke in a press conference hosted by my colleague, Senator Camera Bartolotta, and discussed how hydrogen hubs will impact the environment and our Commonwealth’s economy, following a recent federal decision to award funding to two hubs benefitting Pennsylvania.
The hubs are expected to produce thousands of family-sustaining jobs across several industries, many of them in the skilled building and construction trades. You can view my remarks and read more here.
Senate Passes Bills Empowering Parents
The Senate approved legislation that would empower parents to protect their own child from accessing sexually explicit content at school, without impacting the books available to other students. Senate Bill 7 would require schools to:
Senate Bill 7 was crafted after a non-partisan, thorough two-year process – including conversations with parents, school administrators, teachers and librarians. It would not ban any books from Pennsylvania school curriculum or libraries, but rather empower parents to control only what their own children have access to in school.
The Senate also approved legislation requiring schools to make public curriculum information available online, including a link or title for every textbook and course syllabus used for classes. Other measures passed this week would require schools to display the United States Constitution and display the Pennsylvania Constitution. Empowering parents and families is a priority of Pennsylvania Senate Republicans.
Senate Votes to Extend and Improve Program to Protect Students
Building on recent legislation to improve school bus safety, the Senate approved legislation extending and improving the school bus stop-arm automated enforcement program. The measure is set for enactment into law.
The program was first authorized in 2018 and includes nearly 40 participating school districts that equipped 2,500 school buses with cameras to record vehicles that don’t stop for school buses. More than 4,000 violations have been recorded.
The program was set to expire this week. Senate Bill 851 makes the program permanent, improves interaction with law enforcement and streamlines the appeals process. If a driver illegally passes a stopped school bus, the school district will send the car owner a police-vetted violation in the mail. The owner must pay the $300 fine or make an appeal for a virtual or in-person hearing overseen by a PennDOT official. The driver may petition a magisterial district judge after PennDOT’s decision.
Grants Available for Organizations Helping Veterans
The Veterans’ Trust Fund is accepting grant applications for programs and services benefiting Pennsylvania veterans. Nonprofit organizations, veteran service organizations and county directors of veteran affairs may apply by Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 2 p.m.
Find more information about the grant opportunity and how to apply here.
The trust fund is supported by Pennsylvanians who donate when applying for or renewing their driver’s licenses, photo IDs or motor vehicle registrations; purchase veteran-specific license plates; or make private donations. Tax-deductible donations can be made online.
Apply to Vote by Mail by Oct. 31 for the November Election
The deadline is approaching for anyone who would like to vote by mail for the Nov. 7 election. Your county election board must receive your application for a mail-in or absentee ballot no later than Tuesday, Oct. 31, at 5 p.m.
Any registered voter may request a mail-in ballot. Absentee ballots can be requested by voters with disabilities or an illness that prevents them from going to their polling place on Election Day, or those who will be absent from their municipality on Election Day.
You can apply for a mail-in ballot online, by mail or in person at your county election board’s office or other designated locations. Learn more here.
Remembering Tree of Life Victims
Five years ago, eleven lives were lost at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrell Hill. May we always remember the innocent victims and honor their memories, and may we continue to support the families and communities affected by this horrific tragedy.
Recognizing Pennsylvania’s First Responders
Saturday, Oct. 28, is National First Responders Day. Police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians care for us during some of life’s worst moments. They are true heroes, and I am proud to honor their brave and selfless efforts.
My Senate colleagues and I have passed legislation to address the serious shortage of volunteer firefighters in the commonwealth. The number dropped from about 300,000 in the 1980s to less than 38,000 today, so they need our support. Without enough volunteers, communities across Pennsylvania face longer wait times when minutes make the difference between life and death.
For anyone who hasn’t already signed up to receive my e-newsletters, you can get on the mailing list here.