Senate Approves Study on Long-term Care Staffing Trends During the COVID-19 Pandemic

HARRISBURG – The Senate approved a resolution today that would initiate a study on staffing trends at long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sen. Judy Ward (R-30) said.

Ward sponsored Senate Resolution 288 in March to better understand how the pandemic affected staffing needs at long-term care facilities, which were hit especially hard by the virus, and how those challenges impacted the state’s Medicaid spending.

“Throughout the Commonwealth, these facilities are struggling with both increased staffing costs and a workforce shortage,” said Ward. “To truly help them, we have to know what we are up against.”

The resolution directs the Joint State Government Commission to analyze wage rates for staff and contract nurses, as well as the rates staffing agencies charged to provide these workers to facilities. The commission will also consider wage increases, nurse ratios and the increased need for specialized staff between 2018 and present day.

“This legislation will give us a clear picture of what is driving the challenges that our long-term care facilities have faced in obtaining and keeping staff,” said Ward. “Then, using the study’s findings as a roadmap, we can provide much-needed help to this critical industry.”  

The resolution now will be transmitted to the Joint State Government Commission, which will begin the study.

 

CONTACT: Nathan Akers, 717-787-2421

Ward to Host an Emergency Services Workshop on June 9

HUNTINGDON — Sen. Judy Ward (R-30) will host an Emergency Services Workshop at the Smithfield Fire Company No. 10 on Thursday, June 9, 2022, at 6:00 PM to provide legislative updates, share funding resource information, and discuss current issues facing first responders.

“Our first responders are on the front lines, serving our communities in emergency situations, and they are facing serious financial and staffing issues,” said Ward. “It is my hope that this workshop will offer them information and resources that can help them meet the day-to-day challenges they face.”

Representatives from the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) will discuss policy recommendations from Senate Resolution 6 of 2017, as well as other relevant legislative developments.

Funding experts will share information on federal, state, and private foundation resources specific to the needs of first responders. Each workshop attendee will receive a funding resources reference manual that contains an extensive list of grant and loan programs with contact information for each. The event is free, and fire, police, ambulance, and emergency management personnel are encouraged to attend.

Registration is available online or by calling 814-695-8386. The deadline to RSVP is Wednesday, June 1, 2022. The Smithfield Fire Company No. 10 building is located 10 Firehouse Lane in Huntingdon.

 

CONTACT: Nathan Akers, 717-787-2421

Ward Issues Statement on Senate Bill 956

HOLLIDAYSBURG – Sen. Judy Ward (R-30) issued the following statement today regarding Senate Bill 956 to ensure the media, public and elected officials understand the legislation and to help prevent misrepresentation of the constitutional amendment:

“Federal courts have long held that the federal constitution does not require taxpayer funding of abortion. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held in 1985 that the state constitution also does not require such taxpayer funding.

Senate Bill 956 is a constitutional amendment that reiterates the status quo, that the Pennsylvania Constitution does not grant a right to an abortion or the taxpayer funding of abortion. If approved, it will prevent taxpayer dollars from funding elective terminations and will preserve the authority of elected officials – not the judicial branch – to enact future abortion laws.

To no one’s surprise, this issue has elicited consternation from abortion rights activists who wield passionate and misleading rhetoric to convince the masses that my bill will lead to widespread bans. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Currently, Medicaid covers both non-elective abortions and voluntary abortions involving cases of rape or incest, but still withholds funding for all other elective instances. If the constitutional amendment is approved by the voters, this won’t change. The Abortion Control Act will remain the law as well. The language does not ban abortions, but rather ensures that abortion policy in Pennsylvania comes from the people’s elected representatives.”

 

CONTACT: Nathan Akers

Ward, Gleim Announces $1.25 Million Redevelopment Grant for Historic Carlisle Properties

Harrisburg – Two historic properties in Carlisle received a $1.25 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant, Sen. Judy Ward (R-30) and Rep. Barb Gleim (R-199) announced today.

“I was happy to work with Sen. Ward to secure the funding needed to preserve these two historic properties,” said Gleim. “I look forward to seeing the finished projects.”

The grant will cover the costs to renovate, modernize and redevelop two historic early 20th century properties – a farmhouse and rustic barn – at 2395 Ritner Highway in West Pennsboro and Dickinson Townships.

The farmhouse rehab includes electrical work, insulation, roofing, carpentry, masonry and exterior modernization. The rustic barn, which served as part of a functioning farm on the property until the 1960s, will see its original exterior restored, while the interior will undergo an overhaul of its mechanical and electrical systems, as well as added storage and insulation.

“A community’s historic assets honor its heritage and character,” said Ward. “This state investment to renovate and redevelop these two properties will protect, preserve, and rehabilitate the historic features of these structures while modernizing them for future use, making them a wonderful community asset for many years to come.”

RACP, a $3.1 billion program administered through the Office of the Budget, provides grants for development projects that boost the economic, civic, cultural, recreational or historical value of the surrounding community. 

 

CONTACT:

Nathan Akers (Ward)

Tricia Lehman (Gleim)

Ward, Gregory Announce $2 Million Grant for Blair County Road 101 Corridor

Harrisburg – The Blair County Road 101 corridor improvement project received $2 million in grant money from Pennsylvania’s Multimodal Transportation Fund (MTF), Sen. Judy Ward (R-30) and Rep. Jim Gregory (R-80) said today.

“I am very pleased to work together with Senator Ward on this important section of Claysburg,” said Gregory. “This funding is timely and appreciated by the people of Southern Blair County.”

The project scope rehabs the corridor for vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian use from Railroad Street north to Hickory Street in Claysburg. Improvements include correcting drainage issues; replacing existing curb and sidewalk with ADA ramps; relocating overhead utilities; milling, overlay, and base repair; and line painting.

“Blair County has diligently pursued funding for County Road 101 for years, so the announcement of this funding is great news,” said Ward. “Numerous much-needed improvements to this road will improve conditions for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians, providing safe access to local destinations in the community.”

The MTF offers funding to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as investments in ports, rail freight and aviation projects. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation selected 56 plans totaling $47.8 million during this latest application round.

 

CONTACT:

Nathan Akers (Ward)

Jenn Fitch (Gregory)

Schmitt, Ward Announce Needed Funding to Improve Transportation in Blair County

ALTOONA – To improve infrastructure in and around Altoona, Rep. Lou Schmitt (R-Blair) and Sen. Judy Ward (R-Blair/Fulton/Cumberland/Franklin/Huntington) announced needed grant funding through the Pennsylvanian Department of Transportation’s Multimodal Transportation Fund.

The funding will improve the Altoona Transportation Center, a hub for passenger rail service and local and regional bus lines, as well as a stretch of road in Allegheny Township.

“The funding for the train station lays the groundwork for the proposed addition of a second round-trip passenger train between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh via Altoona that should be up and running in the coming years,” Schmitt said. “It is a piece of the puzzle that would continue Altoona’s rail history well into the future.”

Altoona received $1.29 million to revitalize the Altoona Transportation Center, a multimodal transportation hub for passenger rail and local and regional bus services, by completing public safety and connectivity improvements, renovating utilities, installing new wayfinding and access signage, updating passenger spaces and transfer areas, and providing more reliable passenger access.

“Altoona’s Transportation Center is the multimodal transportation hub for residents, businesses, and visitors to the area and is key to the downtown revitalization of the city,” said Ward. “These much-needed renovations to the center will make it safer and more reliable, creating a vital asset that will benefit the city and the surrounding area for many years to come.”

Allegheny Township received $454,704 to improve traffic flow and accommodate truck turning movements at the intersection of Theater Drive and U.S. 22 (Route 764) by adding a 300-linear-foot right turning lane on Theater Drive, upgrading the existing signal, completing drainage improvements and moving utilities.

“Upgrades to this busy intersection will allow large trucks to navigate turns easier, supporting economic development and transportation safety goals,” said Ward. “The business park off of Theater Drive is the home to several major employers in the area, and these improvements will provide better access to these businesses and make this intersection safer for traveling motorists.”

The Multimodal Transportation Fund provides grants to encourage economic development and ensure that a safe and reliable system of transportation is available to the residents of the Commonwealth.

Ward, Topper Announce Multimodal Grant for Union Township

Harrisburg – Union Township received a $310,000 grant through the Pennsylvania Multimodal Transportation Fund (MTF), Sen. Judy Ward (R-30) and Rep. Jesse Topper (R-78) announced today.

“Maintenance of our rural roads is very challenging for local governments with limited resources,” said Ward. “I am pleased that Union Township is receiving this much-needed assistance to improve the conditions of this roadway, making it safer for traveling motorists.”

The project scope includes pavement and drainage improvements to a 1.5-mile stretch of Hendershot Road in Union Township, Fulton County.

“This project will provide much-needed improvements for motorists and pedestrians in the area,” Topper said. “It is a wise investment in our infrastructure that will have a positive impact on residents.”

The MTF offers funding to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as investments in ports, rail freight and aviation projects. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation selected 56 plans totaling $47.8 million during this latest application round.

 

CONTACT:

Nathan Akers (Ward)

Greg Gross (Topper)

Senate Votes to Ban Unsecured Ballot Drop Boxes and Private Funding of Election Operations

HARRISBURG – State Sen. Judy Ward (R-30) voted today to safeguard the integrity of Pennsylvania’s elections as the Senate approved legislation that would prevent the future use of unsecured ballot drop boxes and ban private money to fund election operations.

“Today was a significant day for Pennsylvania voters,” said Ward. “These pieces of legislation are a significant step towards safer, more secure, and more trustworthy elections.”

Senate Bill 1200 would require mail-in ballots that are not returned in the mail to be returned only to the County Board of Elections office, effectively eliminating drop boxes in Pennsylvania. 

Drop boxes were permitted by a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling in 2020, despite the fact that they were never authorized or intended by the General Assembly through the legislative process. Since that time, numerous examples of drop boxes being misused have been discovered throughout the state, including:

    • Video evidence from Lehigh County showing ballot harvesting in the 2021 General Election.
    • Video evidence from Lackawanna County showing a man allegedly harvesting multiple ballots into a drop box during the 2021 Primary Election.
    • Video evidence from Montgomery County showing ballot harvesting in the 2021 General Election.
    • Memorandum from Lehigh County explaining how detectives reviewed video from four different drop boxes in the county and determined there were overvotes at each of the locations.
    • Testimony from a Luzerne County Judge of Elections indicating an individual admitting to repeatedly harvesting ballots at a drop box, not realizing it was even illegal.

Eliminating unsecured ballot drop boxes will not negatively impact voter access. There are more than 10,000 publicly available locations across the Commonwealth that voters can use to return their ballots.

“It is the legislature’s job to create election law,” said Ward. “Drop boxes were created by the court, not by the legislature. Senate bill 1200 helps to ensure that creating election law stays in the hands of the people’s representatives.”

Senate Bill 982 would ban any state employee or county from accepting money from outside groups to pay for the administration of elections in Pennsylvania.

The legislation was created in response to the use of grant money from the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) during the 2020 Election. Correspondence between CTCL officials, the Wolf Administration and county officials demonstrates that funding was intentionally directed predominantly to counties that favor Democrats.

Democrat-leaning counties were selectively invited to apply for the grants before Republican-leaning counties were even made aware of the funding. Philadelphia and its surrounding counties received more than $18 million from CTCL in the 2020 Election, while other counties received significantly less.

“We cannot allow undue influence in our elections,” said Ward. “Money for elections should come from public funds and not private donations by partisan organizations. Senate bill 982 prevents that from happening in the future.”

Both bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

 

CONTACT: Nathan Akers, 717-787-2421

Senate Aging & Youth Committee Examines Adult-Use Marijuana Legalization Impacts on Children

Harrisburg – The Senate Aging and Youth Committee convened a public hearing today to discuss the impact of adult-use marijuana legalization on children, Chairwoman Judy Ward (R-30) said.

“Pennsylvania has already legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but this would be a step in the wrong direction for the Commonwealth,” Ward said. “Before taking this step, I strongly believe that we must thoroughly vet all aspects of the issue including the potential impact of this decision on our children and young adults.”

Experts from law enforcement, addiction treatment, public health and youth organizations testified about the negative outcomes associated with legalized adult-use marijuana markets across the country.  Together their testimony painted a troubling picture of what could happen to our children and youth if a legal marijuana market develops in Pennsylvania.  Today’s hearing provided valuable insight that pushed back against the misconception of “harmless” marijuana.

“Today’s hearing was incredibly thought provoking,” said Ward.  “There are no doubt dangers associated with marijuana, and we need to be careful.  As an elected official it is my duty to take these dangers seriously and develop policy that promotes a safe and healthy Pennsylvania.”

The hearing in its entirety and submitted testimony can be viewed on the Senate Aging & Youth Committee’s website.

 

CONTACT: Nathan Akers, 717-787-2421