Senator Ward, J E-Newsletter

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January 31, 2020

New Bills, Grants Support Firefighters and EMS Organizations

Our local firefighters and emergency medical service providers serve our communities extremely well, and they deserve our respect for all they do to protect our lives and property. I supported a package of bills in the Senate this week that will help to ease some of the pressures they face, including financial difficulties and trouble with recruitment.

The bills include:

  • Senate Bill 908, which seeks to expand the Volunteer Fire Company, Ambulance Service and Rescue Squad Assistance program, increase the maximum loan amounts allowed by the program, expand the allowable list of uses of Fire Relief Funding and review the current funding formula.
  • Senate Bill 910, which would extend the life of the Fire Company and Emergency Medical Service Grant Program to June 2024 and expand the use of the program to include recruitment

In addition, a number of local fire companies and EMS organizations received grants recently to support equipment purchases, facility upgrades, training and other critical needs. Information on grants in Franklin and Fulton counties is available here. More info on grants in Blair County is available here. A breakdown of funding awarded in Cumberland County is available here. Grants in Huntingdon County are detailed here.

Best of wishes to Joe Harteis who works in sales at the Blair County Convention Center. Good luck to you Joe in your retirement!

New Senate Committee Chairs Appointed

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati recently announced three new committee chairs. I am deeply honored to be appointed to lead the Senate Aging and Youth Committee for the remainder of the 2019-20 Legislative Session.

The panel is responsible for reviewing legislation that affects the programs and services dedicated to senior citizens and younger Pennsylvanians. In recent months, the committee has worked on improving the state’s Older Protective Services Program, updating laws pertaining to PACE/PACENET and the State Lottery Law, strengthening child abuse reporting procedures and adding reporting requirements for children born with an addiction to opioids or other illegal substances.

I look forward to continuing efforts to protect some of the state’s most vulnerable residents. More information about my appointment is available here.

It was a pleasure to speak at the Tuscarora Chamber Breakfast at Whitetail Ski Resort in Mercersburg along with Representatives Jesse Topper and John Hershey.

Dairy Investment Program Boosts Local Companies

The dairy industry has suffered through difficult economic conditions for years. In 2018, I supported the creation of a new Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program to provide assistance to one of the most important sectors of the state’s agriculture industry. Two local dairy operations recently received grants through the program.

Reykjavik Creamery in Lower Mifflin Township will receive a $470,076 grant to upgrade its processing facility. In addition, Healthy Mom – which does business as the Newville-based Maia Yogurt – secured a $97,450 grant to develop and market a new probiotic drink.

It is extremely encouraging to see the impact of this new program locally. More information on the Reykjavik Creamery project is available here, and more details about the Healthy Mom project are available here.

My thanks goes out to Big Spring School District Superintendent Dr. Richard Fry, as well as the teachers, staff and students for a wonderful tour. I enjoyed learning about the innovative classroom design for the students. Flexible seating and flexible academic work schedules were just some of the areas I learned are provided to facilitate student learning. There are great things happening at Big Spring School District and I am proud to have the administration, faculty and students in my legislative district.

Grants Support Local Education and Career Training

One of the keys to supporting a strong economy is ensuring schools teach students the skills they need to compete in the workforce. Two grants that were awarded locally will help schools and businesses work together to prepare students for different career paths in the area.

One of the grants will support programs to motivate students in grades 6 through 12 to pursue STEM and technology careers. More information about that grant is available here. The other grant will achieve a similar goal by supporting an expansion of an existing STEM program to benefit students. More details about that grant is available here.

I was proud to join my colleagues, Adjutant General Carrelli and Sgt. Major Harry “Jim” Buchanon (Blair) recently for a roundtable discussion on mental health issues and suicide prevention among our veteran community.

Funding Available to Support Community Projects

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will be accepting applications for the Community Conservation Partnerships Program now through April 10. The program offers assistance in support of community projects that help plan, acquire and develop parks, recreation facilities and trails; and conserve critical conservation areas and watersheds.

More information is available here.

I had the absolute pleasure of taping a radio interview with Bill Kick on News Talk 103.7 FM in Chambersburg. His show airs on Saturday mornings.

Senate Approves Fair Access to Cancer Treatment

The Senate approved a measure this week to help cancer patients access potentially lifesaving drugs under House Bill 427, which is a companion to my legislation, Senate Bill 66, the Fair Access to Cancer Treatment Act. Under the legislation, health insurance policies that cover treatments for stage four metastatic cancers will not be able to limit or exclude innovative drugs for those patients if the drugs have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for this use and are consistent with best practices.

In addition, patients no longer would have to first demonstrate that they failed to respond to a different drug or drugs before they are provided coverage.

Metastatic patients experience an expansion of their cancer to new parts and organs in the body. For these patients, time is of the essence, and delays in treatment are matters of life and death. I am proud to be a part of moving this important legislation forward and offer help to all those survivors and their families.

I appreciated the chance to join the American Legion Riders in Blair County for their Wigs for Kids benefit. Two Legion members (including Eric Miller, pictured above) grew their hair to donate their hair clippings to Wigs for Kids.

Thank you to the Knights of Columbus and St. Matthew Church in Tyrone, Blair County for sponsoring the “March for Life”.

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