Senator Ward, J E-Newsletter

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February 24, 2020

Wolf’s Budget Proposal Would Boost Spending, Borrowing and Taxes

Governor Wolf unveiled a $36.1 billion budget earlier this month that would boost state spending by $1.5 billion, increase borrowing by more than a billion dollars, and increase taxes on natural gas extraction, trash service and State Police coverage. The spending plan would also cut a number of programs that our communities rely on, including agriculture, regional cancer centers and school safety.

I have deep concerns about the governor’s plans. We cannot tax and spend our way to prosperity; we need to create a budget that is responsible and sustainable so we can avoid tax increases that will hurt Pennsylvania families and employers. In the months ahead, my priority will be passing a budget that does not add new burdens on taxpayers – now or in the future.

My full statement about the budget is available here. Some of my thoughts about the budget are also detailed in the video below.

2/4/20 – Reaction to Governor’s Budget Address

Governor Signs Bill to Protect Stage IV Cancer Patients

Last year, I introduced a bill that would require health insurance companies to cover prescribed treatments for patients with Stage IV metastatic cancer. The Senate and the House of Representatives recently approved a similar measure sponsored by my colleague Representative Kerry Benninghoff. Governor Wolf signed the bill into law on February 14.

For patients affected by Stage IV metastatic cancer, every day counts. Any delay in treatment could be a matter of life and death. In these critical cases, treatment decisions should be made exclusively by doctors and patients – not insurance companies. I am thankful that this law will offer new hope to patients and families who are fighting this terrible disease.

More information is available here.

My deepest thanks goes out to the Blair County Chamber of Commerce for honoring me as the winner of the 2020 ATHENA Award. The award recognizes women who strive toward the highest levels of professional accomplishment and devote time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community. I am truly grateful! Congratulations to the other Chamber award recipients as well.

New Funding Supports Blair County Job Training Initiative

A grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development will support new apprenticeship opportunities in the carpentry field in Duncansville. The funding will support on-the-job training and classroom instruction to apprentices, as well as the use of new technology training.

More information about the grant is available here.

I had a great opportunity to visit with community residents at the Freedom Rally hosted by Survival Mindset at the Altoona Grande Hotel. I will continue to fight to protect our 2nd Amendment rights in Harrisburg!

Bills Addressing Blight, Psych Services Advance in the House

Two bills I introduced have passed the Senate and are already advancing toward a final vote in the House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 67 would expand access to psychology services by allowing Pennsylvania to join the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT) to allow telepsychological practice across state lines.

The House Professional Licensure Committee recently approved the bill. More information about the legislation is available here.

In addition, the House Urban Affairs Committee recently passed Senate Bill 352, which would give municipalities new tools to transform blighted properties into thriving parts of the community. More information about that bill is available here.

I enjoyed an informative tour of Cold Spring Hollow Distillery in Mercersburg recently. They opened in November and make “sippin shine” vodkas and whiskey.

PennDOT Seeks Input on Public Participation Plan

PennDOT recently opened up a 45-day comment period on proposed updates to its Statewide Public Participation Plan, which is designed to outline opportunities for public involvement in developing statewide transportation planning and programming.

Members of the public are encouraged to weigh in on the plan by submitting comments here.

More exciting news for the community: the newly formed nonprofit EBT Foundation has purchased the historic East Broad Top Railroad and plans to resume regular operation in 2021. There is so much interest and enthusiasm for restoring and preserving this National Historic Landmark, which has been impressively preserved for over 60 years by the Kovalchick family. Congratulations and best wishes to the new ownership team!

Student Art Competition Focuses on Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a serious condition spread by deer ticks that can cause long-term damage to the heart and central nervous system. The Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Education are offering a unique contest to raise awareness of Lyme disease among younger Pennsylvanians.

Students in grades 1-6 are encouraged to compete in an art competition that raises awareness about where ticks are found and how to avoid getting a tick bite. The deadline to submit artwork is March 6.

Contest materials are available here.

Disability and Mental Health Summit

I will be participating in the Disability & Mental Health Summit in Pittsburgh on March 3rd.  This Summit provides the largest collection of resources in western Pennsylvania. I would encourage you to visit the website and attend if possible.

New Choices Career Development Program Coming to Altoona

2020 Trout Stocking Schedule Available Now

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission recently announced its 2020 trout stocking schedule for all Pennsylvania waterways. This year, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission plans to stock approximately 3.2 million trout in 707 streams and 130 lakes open to public angling.

You can search the 2020 trout stocking schedule by county and date here.

I had the pleasure of presenting a 90th birthday citation to a dear friend of mine, Henry Weinberg. Henry has had a beautiful life well-lived!

On March 7 in East Freedom, Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans will offer an update on what is being done to monitor and address chronic wasting disease in deer. Details about this event are available below.

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