In this Update:
With the recent redistricting, my legislative district represents residents in Blair, Fulton, Huntingdon, Mifflin and Juniata Counties. For constituent services concerning state-related issues, please visit any of my office locations for assistance. The locations are listed below.
Senate Approves Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Teacher First Amendment Rights
Following the swearing in of the governor and lieutenant governor on Tuesday, the Senate began the new legislative session in earnest Wednesday by passing several pieces of legislation, including Senate Bill 84.
The measure would eliminate the prohibition on teachers from wearing any dress, mark, emblem or insignia reflecting their faith or denomination.
It would align Pennsylvania with every other state in the nation in preserving and protecting First Amendment rights for educators. The measure was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Acts to Help Farmers Meet Rising Demand for Home Delivery
Legislation to help farmers meet the rising demand for farm products delivered to homes was approved by the Senate.
The current vehicle code allows for home deliveries via a commercial vehicle registration, but prevents the commercial vehicle from being registered as a farm vehicle. As a result, a farmer needs to purchase, register and maintain a separate commercial vehicle for at-home delivery, while also maintaining a farm vehicle to deliver agricultural commodities to places of business.
Senate Bill 95 would remove this duplicative, unnecessary and overburdensome requirement. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives.
Measure to Boost Volunteer Fire Company Membership Approved
To address the serious shortage of volunteer firefighters across Pennsylvania, the Senate passed legislation to create a pilot program giving interested high school students training in firefighting.
Senate Bill 114 would award grants to one higher education school each in eastern, central and western Pennsylvania to establish fire training programs for students in high school, with the hope they will remain firefighters for years to come.
The number of Pennsylvania volunteer firefighters has plummeted from 300,000 in the 1970s to fewer than 37,000. Senate Bill 114 was sent to the House of Representatives.
PennDOT Job Openings Posted for College Students
Summer PennDOT jobs are available to full-time college students registered for the Fall 2023 semester.
Jobs include assisting in seasonal maintenance work, crash system input and analysis, and maintenance and custodial services at roadside rest facilities. Many students also perform laboring and flagging duties in maintenance organizations and at highway worksites. The pay is $15.49 per hour.
Students majoring in engineering or a related scientific or technical field might be interested in engineering internship opportunities at PennDOT’s Central Office (Harrisburg) or at one of its statewide engineering district offices.
Veterans: Now is a Good Time to Review and Update Benefits
The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) says that the start of the year is a good time for veterans to meet with an accredited veteran service officer to ensure they are receiving or maximizing the benefits they have earned through their service and sacrifice while in uniform.
Safeguarding military paperwork – especially the DD-214, which is used to verify military service – is an important first step for securing benefits. Filing these documents for free at the county courthouse is an easy way to secure them until needed, which can often be decades into the future. Anyone needing assistance locating their military documentation can call the DMVA at 800-547-2838 or e-mail RA-REQ@pa.gov.
A complete list of accredited county directors of veterans affairs and their contact information can be found here. Contact information for accredited veteran service officers can be found here.
Southern Alleghenies RPO 2023 Candidate Project Listing
The Southern Alleghenies Rural Planning Organization (RPO), in cooperation with the Bedford, Fulton, Huntingdon, and Somerset County Planning Commissions, is accepting proposals from sponsors to list their projects in the Southern Alleghenies Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan’s Candidate Project Listing. Proposals for projects to be placed on the Candidate Project Listing will be accepted until March 31, 2023. Proposals must be for projects located at least partially within one of the RPO counties of Bedford, Fulton, Huntingdon, or Somerset.
The Southern Alleghenies RPO will act as a clearing house for bicycle and pedestrian projects of significant quality and value to the region. The projects chosen for the Candidate Project Listing will be based on how the project supports the goals and objectives of the Southern Alleghenies RPO Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan. Projects in this listing have been appropriately vetted by the RPO and their status will be determined to fall within one of the four categories: Initial, Early Developmental, Advanced Developmental, and Ongoing Maintenance.
This selective process will be a resource for federal, state, and local agencies (i.e. PennDOT, DCNR, DCED) looking to fund well developed and quality projects. In the RPO’s role as a clearing house for bicycle and pedestrian projects, the aforementioned agencies and partners can be assured a project has been vetted and listed in any of the four categories for development based on demonstrated level of planning, readiness, and need.
For more information or to submit a proposal, please visit:
The RPO’s 2022 Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan can be found here:
Blood Donation is Easy and Safe
Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs donated blood. Blood donors help accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, those battling cancer and others.
Please take the occasion of National Blood Donor Month to consider providing this lifesaving gift. You can find the nearest blood drive here, and learn more about the process here.
Out and About in the 30th
I recently participated in the 36th Annual Respect Life March held in Tyrone, Blair County. It was a meaningful time with special people. Pictured with me is my friend and supporter of life, Marita Forr.
I was honored to introduce a bright young lady as the Senate’s guest chaplain, Libby Baker-Mikesell. Libby grew up on a farm in Juniata County. She is currently attending seminary at United Lutheran Seminary in Gettysburg and is interning at Saint James Lutheran Church in Gettysburg. I wish her the best of luck in the future!
This past week, I had the opportunity to sit down and speak with newly reappointed Secretary of Agriculture, Russell Redding. See full interview below.
Looking back at last week’s PA Farm Show with some fun facts: 8,645 pounds of mushrooms, 20,000 pounds of French fries, 18,580 gallons of dairy milkshakes, and thousands of hours of labor to accomplish all of this! Wishing for another successful Farm Show next year!
Pictured with me is Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President and Juniata County resident, Chris Hoffman.
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