Senator Ward, J E-Newsletter

View this email in a browser

In this Update:

  • Senate Defends Use of Taxpayer Dollars with Careful Budget Review
  • Help Available to Fight Drug and Alcohol Abuse
  • 2024 Adult Trout Stocking Schedule Available
  • Cybersecurity Resources for Local Governments
  • Daylight Saving Time Begins This Weekend
  • Out and About in the 30th

Senate Defends Use of Taxpayer Dollars with Careful Budget Review

The Senate Appropriations Committee continues its review of Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget proposal, which totals more than $48.3 billion. His plan would increase state spending by more than $3.2 billion, or about 7.1% above the current year’s budget. Projections indicate it will be all but impossible to balance budgets in the next five years without deep spending cuts and massive tax increases.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) hearing focused on what the administration is doing to ensure the commonwealth’s power grid can handle increased demand for electricity. Members also had questions about why the current year’s budget for DEP included funding for 15 new positions specifically to reduce permitting delays but serious waits – a year and a half and longer – still exist.

At the Department of Human Services budget hearing, I asked how we are ensuring that state and local resources work collaboratively to address child abuse without making kids endure even more trauma. Additionally, the committee sought an explanation about the Shapiro administration’s plans to spend billions of new taxpayer dollars to expand Medicaid to cover services that do not pertain to physical or behavioral health. Examples include moving expenses and household items like pots and pans, furniture and air conditioning units for eligible recipients, including recently released prison inmates.

The Department of Transportation hearing covered ongoing concerns about the sustainability of the Motor License Fund and commonwealth transportation funding. Replacing funds lost to electric vehicle use remains a challenge as the phasing-out of State Police from the Motor License Fund continues. The committee received a status update for the replacement of the six interstate bridges that were included a replacement program opposed by Senate Republicans.

At the Department of State budget hearing, the committee asked about the department’s requested $5.2 million increase for “Voter Registration and Education” activities throughout the commonwealth. Committee members sought assurances that the outreach would occur in rural areas as well as urban and suburban.

At the Department of Health budget hearing, I asked why Gov. Shapiro wants to dedicate $10 million to a Long-Term Care Transformation Office instead of to efforts to actually support nursing homes. Find the hearings schedule, livestreams of budget hearings, daily recaps and video from prior hearings at

Help Available to Fight Drug and Alcohol Abuse

State assistance is available for nonprofit organizations, government entities, community groups and parent groups that work to prevent the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse from harming Pennsylvanians.

Funding can be used to reduce the demand for, or provide an alternative to, drug and alcohol abuse and the violence and other consequences these substances can cause. It can also be used to prevent drug and alcohol abuse and associated problems through educational programming.

Apply for the grant of up to $2,000 through the Office of Attorney General Community Drug Abuse Prevention Grant Program.

2024 Adult Trout Stocking Schedule Available

The 2024 adult trout stocking schedule is now available. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will stock approximately 3.2 million adult trout in 695 streams and 128 lakes open to public angling. An additional 1.2 million trout will be stocked by cooperative nurseries.

The trout stocking schedule is searchable by county, lists the waterways in alphabetical order, and indicates stocking dates, meeting locations for volunteers, and the species of trout that are planned to be stocked at each location. Pennsylvania’s statewide Opening Day of Trout Season is April 6. A single, statewide Mentored Youth Trout Day will take place March 30.

Trout to be stocked will include approximately 2.3 million Rainbow Trout, 702,000 Brown Trout, 132,000 Brook Trout and 14,000 Golden Rainbow Trout. As with past practice, the average size of the trout produced for stocking is 11 inches in length.

Cybersecurity Resources for Local Governments

Despite the perception that local governments are too small to be the target of bad actors online, Pennsylvania’s thousands of municipalities are at risk of cyberattack. In fact, 69% of state and local governments reported being hit in 2023 by ransomware – malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.

To combat these attacks that often come with costly consequences, local governments should conduct a cyber assessment and make sure municipal employees understand the importance of using strong passwords and spotting suspicious emails. The initiative grew out of a January hearing held by the Senate Communications and Technology Committee and the Senate Local Government Committee focusing on cybersecurity threats faced by local governments and municipal authorities.

Funding opportunities exist to support cybersecurity efforts through the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, which administers a program that distributes federal funding. Local governments can learn more at the new Senate Republican Cybersecurity Resources for Local Governments webpage.

Daylight Saving Time Begins This Weekend

Daylight Saving Time begins this Sunday, March 10, at 2 a.m. While cell phone and computer clocks usually change automatically, most people move their standard clocks and appliances ahead one hour on Saturday night.

It’s also a good time to check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. If the devices are older than 10 years, experts suggest upgrading to 10-year, sealed battery alarms. They don’t require any battery replacement throughout their lifetime. However, it’s still a good idea to press the test button on the alarms at least once every month.

Out and About in the 30th

It was a great night in Fulton County for the annual 4-H banquet. Pictured with me is Sawere Truax and Reuben Knepper who had the great honor of being chosen to serve on 4-H PA State Council (first time anyone from Fulton County was chosen). Pat Decker received recognition for 61 years volunteer service. Several of the youth were part of my AB Ross agricultural leadership program and received certificates of completion. I was excited to share the plans for this year’s A.B. Ross program which will be held on May 14th in Huntingdon County for 4-H students. If you know a student in 7th – 12th grade that is part of 4-H, encourage them to discuss this program with their leader or call my office to learn more.

In celebration of Read Across America Week, I visited Holy Trinity Catholic School in Blair County to read to the students. I enjoyed Miss Patterson’s K-3 class and Miss Clapper’s K-4 class. My visit also included reading to Mrs. Meintel’s Kindergarten class. I think my Dr. Seuss hat was a big hit!

Mrs. Shepherd’s 6th and 8th grade history/social studies students at Blair County Christian School gave me a warm welcome into their classes this week. The students were very interested in learning about the legislature and how I represent them in Harrisburg as their Senator. Continuing with the celebration of Read Across America Week, I stopped by to read to some of my elementary friends at the school. The first and second graders were an attentive bunch and asked many questions!

Coach Dave Baker retired after a remarkable 44-year career in football coaching. He spent 31 years with the Williamsburg High School Blue Pirates and the last 13 years with the Central High School Scarlet Dragons. Thank you for decades of service to our youth, Coach Baker!

The Village at Morrisons Cove hosted a press conference with Executive Director for PA Long-Term Care Council Kevin Hancock, Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Debra Bogen, Senior Vice President Chuck Quinnan, and President and CEO of PA Health Care Association Zachary Shamberg. The press conference highlighted grant funding that will support long-term care facilities across the Commonwealth to help our most vulnerable citizens.


If you are not already subscribed to this newsletter please sign up here.

Facebook Twitter Website

2024 © Senate of Pennsylvania | | Privacy Policy