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In this email update:
Changing the election process for lieutenant governor in Pennsylvania
Last month I introduced Senate Bill 761 which reforms the process of electing the lieutenant governor in Pennsylvania. The legislation would amend the state’s Constitution to permit gubernatorial candidates to choose their running mates which is how presidential candidates currently select their running mates.
Given the countless reports we have seen and heard in the media about the dysfunctional relationship between our current governor and lieutenant governor, Senate Bill 761 aims to remedy this issue in the future by allowing the governor and lieutenant governor to run as a team in order to better lead the state of Pennsylvania and carry out their core functions and responsibilities.
I discussed the components of my bill on WITF’s Smart Talk program last week. You can listen to the full discussion here.
Continuing the fight for school property tax elimination
School property tax elimination has been, and continues to be, my #1 goal.
Senator Mike Folmer (R-Dauphin/Lebanon/York), a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 76, the Property Tax Independence Act, and a leading advocate of this issue in the Senate, recently spoke on the Senate floor highlighting the importance of eliminating the school property tax and the drive to keep moving forward with this issue.
During his comments Senator Folmer states that while there are individuals who deem this issue as a “lost cause,” he is continuing this fight because, “No tax should have the power to leave you homeless.”
You can listen to Senator Folmer’s comments here.
Improving our state’s universities
Earlier this session, I introduced Senate Resolution 34 which would require an independent study of the long-term viability and sustainability of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). The resolution was adopted by the Senate unanimously on April 18, 2017.
Under this resolution, the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) is tasked with the responsibility of examining revenues and expenses of PASSHE, as well as potential cost-saving measures that could be used to save money for both students and taxpayers.
The goal of this study is to help us understand, from an unbiased perspective, factors that are causing a decline in enrollment at certain universities, what the urgent needs are at universities and how we can move forward to ensure Pennsylvania’s students receive an affordable, quality education and degree.
PASSHE recently released its own study.
Its consulting firm recommended reducing staff and performing consolidations for universities that have the largest enrollment declines and budget gaps, as well as stronger, more secure leadership and management at these institutions.
After reviewing their report, several of my colleagues and I have agreed that the recommendations do not provide enough detailed information on how to improve the system. Now that we have reviewed their study, our independent review of PASSHE will begin.
You can read more about the PASSHE report and the reactions (both positive and negative) from the Philadelphia Inquirer here.
The PASSHE universities include the following institutions: Bloomsburg University, California University of Pennsylvania, Cheyney University, Clarion University, East Stroudsburg University, Edinboro University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Kutztown University, Lock Haven University, Mansfield University, Millersville University, Shippensburg University, Slippery Rock University and West Chester University.
Below, you will find the enrollment numbers over the years at these universities:
Senate passes bill that would enhance PA’s 2-1-1 system
The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 211 which would enhance the already existing 2-1-1 system in Pennsylvania.
PA’s 2-1-1 system is responsible for connecting citizens with the appropriate health and human services assistance that is available through government programs and private and non-profit organizations in their communities. The 2-1-1 system connects volunteers and donors with organizations who can pull together the necessary resources in order to meet the needs of the community.
Senate Bill 211 would provide the following enhancements to the system:
Creation of a new community park underway
Back in March, construction crews finally tore down one of the most blighted buildings in our entire region – Kaier’s Brewery in Mahanoy City. The brewery was already in significant disrepair, having already shifted and threatening to collapse on its own.
While Representative Neal Goodman (D-Schuylkill) and I were disappointed to see such an important piece of local history fall into a hazardous state of disrepair, it was critical that something needed to be done. That is why Representative Goodman and I worked together to secure a grant from the PA Department of Community and Economic Development to assist in the demolition of the property and turn it into a community park and playground for residents.
Below are pictures of the brewery before, during, and after the demolition project was underway:
Kaier’s Brewery before demolition
Kaier’s Brewery during demolition
Kaier’s Brewery after demolition
Read more about the demolition project and the community park from the Standard Speaker here.
Updating the Berks County Comprehensive Plan
The Berks County Planning Commission is asking residents to provide their input on community needs and issues as they begin working on updates to the current Berks County Comprehensive Plan.
The Berks County Comprehensive Plan focuses on some of the following areas:
Residents are encouraged to complete the survey by August 11, 2017.
Residents can access the survey here.
For more information about the survey, please contact Matt McGough at: 610-478-6300 x6306 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PUC holds public hearings on proposed water rate increase
The Public Utility Commission (PUC) will be holding nine public input hearings across the state regarding the proposed rate increase by Pennsylvania-American Water Company.
The purpose of these hearings is to provide consumers with the opportunity to provide their comments and concerns regarding the proposed rate increase.
There will be a live-streaming of a public hearing in Harrisburg on Thursday, July 27, 2017 at 1 p.m. Citizens can testify in person or via telephone.
A public input hearing will also be held on Thursday, August 3, 2017 at the Inn at Reading located in Wyomissing. The hearing will begin at 6 p.m. and requires in-person attendance.
For more information about the hearings and how to participate, please click here.
Pennsylvania’s HealthyWoman Program
Breast cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death among women, and many of us personally know someone who has battled this disease.
The PA Department of Health established the HealthyWoman Program which is designed to provide women with clinical breast exams, mammograms and follow-up exams free-of-charge. The services are provided to women between the ages of 40-64 who either have limited or no health insurance, or have a gross family household income that is at or below the 250 percent of the federal poverty guideline.
For more information about the HealthyWoman Program, please click here.
Applying for the Pennsylvania State Police
The Pennsylvania State Police is currently accepting applications for individuals interested in joining the police force and serving our communities.
The State Police is looking to recruit candidates to serve due to several retirements that have occurred or are set to occur by their current troopers.
For more information about employment opportunities with the State Police, please click here.