Senator Ward, J E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Senate Bill 7 Introduced to Protect Children’s Education
  • Growing Greener Watershed Grant Program Opens Friday
  • How to Apply for a Veterans ID Card
  • Keystone State ChalleNGe Academy for At-Risk Youth Accepting Applications
  • Check Out a State Park Near You
  • Recognizing the Vital Role of Volunteers
  • Remembering Congressman Bud Shuster
  • Out and About in the 30th

Senate Bill 7 Introduced to Protect Children’s Education

In an effort to provide parental control of student exposure to sexually explicit content in schools, I cosponsored this legislation with Senator Ryan Aument to make parents aware of the mature content their child may be provided in school and give them the ability to deny their own child access to such content.

Many offices have been contacted by parents who are concerned about inappropriate content in their children’s school curriculum and library books. In examples right here in Pennsylvania, parents have identified books and assignments that contain graphic, sexually explicit content that adults would be prohibited from viewing at work. Parents, understandably, are outraged.

In response to these concerns, Senate Bill 7 was introduced, which would require schools to:

  • Identify sexually explicit content in school curriculum, materials, and books.
  • Create an opt-in policy that would:
    • Notify parents of the sexually explicit content by including a list of the book titles on the form.
    • Give parents the opportunity to review the materials.
    • Require parents to give direct consent for their children to be provided or have access to sexually explicit content.
  • Provide the child with non-explicit alternatives if their parents do not opt-in.

Importantly, Senate Bill 7 would not ban any books from any Pennsylvania school curriculum or library.

Providing parental notification and control of the content and materials being provided will go a long way to increasing communication and trust between parents and schools. We must work together to find a bipartisan solution that honors parents, considers impacts to teachers and schools, and protects children from all backgrounds.

Read more about Senate Bill 7 here.

Growing Greener Watershed Grant Program Opens Friday

Beginning Friday, April 21, organizations involved in water resource restoration and protection can apply for the next round of Growing Greener grants through the Department of Environmental Protection’s Growing Greener Plus Grants Program

Growing Greener grants are designed to improve or protect this Commonwealth’s waters from nonpoint source pollution associated with agricultural activities, acid mine drainage, stormwater runoff, energy resource extraction and streambank and shoreline degradation.

Counties, municipalities, municipal authorities, county conservation districts, watershed organizations, councils of governments, educational institutions and other organizations dedicated to water clean-up and preservation can apply. The application deadline is June 23.

How to Apply for a Veterans ID Card

Many former service members are unsure how to prove they are a veteran to take advantage of discounts offered by businesses. These include restaurants, hotels, stores, recreational activities, home improvement and more.

The easiest way is to apply for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans ID Card (VIC), which is a digital photo ID you can use to get those discounts. Since September 2022, all new Veterans ID cards have been digital. A veteran with a physical ID card can continue using it to get discounts. The VIC is separate from the VA health care ID, which a veteran receives when enrolling in VA health care.

Find out how to apply for a card here. If you have any questions or need help, email VA’s VIC program at

Keystone State ChalleNGe Academy for At-Risk Youth Accepting Applications

The Keystone State ChalleNGe Academy (KSCA) is accepting applications for its third class of cadets, which begins in July. KSCA is designed to give academically challenged teens a second chance at obtaining their basic education, as well as learning leadership, self-discipline and responsibility.

The program is open to 16- to 18-year-old male and female Pennsylvania residents who are failing to progress in high school or may not be on a clear path to graduating. Applicants must be willing to be drug free, free of felony convictions and voluntarily commit to the program. The program lasts for 17 months, with the first five months consisting of residential training at Fort Indiantown Gap in Lebanon County, followed by a year of mentorship back in the community.

Learn more about eligibility requirements and begin the application process here. Anyone who prefers to have an application mailed or would like to talk with someone about the program may contact the academy by emailing or calling 717-861-7767 or 717-861-8831.

Check Out a State Park Near You

Now that spring has arrived, the nicer weather will allow Pennsylvanians more opportunities to explore our state’s 124 beautiful state parks, operated by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Pennsylvania’s state parks system manages more than 300,000 acres for popular recreation activities, such as hiking, picnicking, camping, fishing, hunting and boating.

Pennsylvania state parks do not charge an entrance fee; however, fees do apply for some activities.

If you like to enjoy the outdoors with your dog, 56 of our state parks offer dog-friendly campgrounds. Learn more or find a park nearby here. Make reservations online here to secure campsites, cabins, picnic pavilions, whitewater boating launch time permits and more.

Recognizing the Vital Role of Volunteers

The strength of America is found not in the relationship between citizens and government, but between citizens themselves: Neighbors helping neighbors through the act of volunteering.  

An estimated 23.2% of Americans or more than 60.7 million people formally volunteered with organizations between September 2020 and 2021. For everyone who steps up and gives time, effort and more, you have my deep appreciation.

Remembering Congressman Bud Shuster

My deepest thoughts and prayers are with the Shuster family, as they mourn the loss of their father, Congressman Bud Shuster.

Congressman Shuster was a visionary who saw that, in order to have economic development, we needed to maintain a transportation infrastructure that was capable of accommodating the needs of businesses large and small, while still meeting the expectations of everyday commuters.

Congressman Shuster’s commitment to his constituents will endure as a shining example of model servant leadership to all elected officials. I am proud to reside in the district that benefited from so many projects and programs that he was instrumental in facilitating for the benefit of all. His legacy is cherished by people across the generations.

Out and About in the 30th

 The Altoona Kiwanis Club hosted their Pancake Saturday at Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School. I was a “celebrity pancake maker” for the day!

Every Life Matters (ELM) held it’s yellow umbrella walk in the rain recently. It was great to spend time with new friends Todd and Krista who volunteer for ELM.

Congratulations to Village-In-Place Physician Services on their opening in Martinsburg. The center is a branch of The Village at Morrisons Cove.

This week I gave the welcome at the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association (PMTA) annual membership conference. I am happy to support PMTA and appreciate their advocacy for their members.

Geeseytown Fire Company, my home fire company, recently held their annual awards banquet. Chief Denny Estep addressed the crowd and presented the annual awards.

Congratulations to B4 Club Therapy on their grand opening in Altoona. B4 Club Therapy specializes in injury prevention, muscle recovery, and functional mobility. I wish them the best of luck!

In partnership with the Blair County Conservation District (BCCD), Rep. Lou Schmitt and I hosted a Stormwater Management for Property Owners Workshop at the Logan Township Municipal Building in Blair County. Stormwater runoff is a common problem in the county and throughout Pennsylvania, and elected officials receive many calls and complaints about the impacts of that runoff, which causes flooding, property damage, erosion, and pollution to our waterways. During the program, officials with the BCCD discussed important information, such as explaining what stormwater is, how regulations impact property owners, property owners’ responsibilities, and much more. The workshop provided residents with information that they could use to better understand stormwater management and what it means to be a good stormwater neighbor.

Cabinetworks Group in Mount Union hosted a visit from PA Governor Josh Shapiro and Acting PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Rick Siger. The governor and Acting DCED Secretary, along with local elected officials, economic development, and workforce development groups, toured the facility, spoke with the employees, and received an update on the company’s $20-plus million plant expansion project that will create over 300 new jobs. Working in partnership with the state, the commitment of this company to invest in the expansion of this plant is very exciting, and it will create great opportunities for Huntingdon County and the area!

I met a great group of kids at Faith and Grace Daycare in Roaring Spring. The kids really enjoyed the reading of Clifford. It’s one of their favorites and mine too!


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