Senator Judy Ward E-Newsletter

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In This Update:

  • Senators Continue to Highlight What a YES Vote Means on May 18
  • Senators Call on Governor to Halt Unilateral Action on Carbon Tax
  • Area Communities to Receive Almost $4.34 Million in State Funding for Local Projects
  • Child Abuse Prevention Month and Week of the Young Child
  • Hearings Examining Governor’s Budget Proposal Conclude
  • Senate Votes to Extend Program Helping Schools Find Substitute Teachers
  • Protecting the First Amendment Rights of Teachers
  • Comments on 2020 General Election Due by Friday, April 30

Senators Continue to Highlight What a YES Vote Means on May 18

A group of senators held a news conference at the Capitol this week to highlight what a YES vote means when voters go to the polls to decide proposed Constitutional amendments on May 18.

The Wolf Administration has been widely criticized for wording the emergency response questions in a way that is deeply confusing and prejudicial. See my remarks Here.

A YES at the ballot box means voters favor: 

  • Protecting the education of our children; 
  • Supporting small employers in our local communities; 

A new webpage offers a detailed explanation of what the proposed amendments would accomplish.

Senators Call on Governor to Halt Unilateral Action on Carbon Tax

Pennsylvania Senate Republicans sent Governor Tom Wolf a letter Wednesday informing him that none of his nominations to the Pennsylvania Utility Commission (PUC) will be considered by the Senate if he continues to pursue a unilateral carbon tax on Pennsylvania employers and customers.

The letter notes that the governor’s effort to force Pennsylvania to join the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) without the input of the legislature is a clear violation of the checks and balances provided by the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Area Communities to Receive Almost $4.34 Million in State Funding for Local Projects

Local communities will receive almost $4.41 million in state funds that will contribute to the vitality of our community by improving safety and contributing to an improved quality of life. Our region will benefit from this much-needed state funding for important public improvements to better serve area residents and employers. I am pleased to be able to work in partnership with other local leaders to bring this funding home.

The projects in the 30th Senate District are:

The Roaring Spring grant was awarded by the Commonwealth Financing Authority’s (CFA) Multimodal Transportation Fund. The playground funds are part of the CFA’s Greenways, Trails and Recreation Funding Program, which is funded by Act 13 of 2012 which established the state’s Marcellus Shale Impact Fee and the Marcellus Legacy Fund.

The PENNVEST program provides low-interest loans and grants to communities for new construction or improvements to water and wastewater treatment plants.  PENNVEST is not supported by the state’s General Fund budget, which covers the daily operations and services of the Commonwealth. Financing is provided through the use of federal funding and prior bond issues by the state as well as proceeds from Act 13 of 2012.

Child Abuse Prevention Month and Week of the Young Child

April is considered “Child Abuse Prevention Month”.  I was pleased to join with Senator Brooks in sponsoring Senate Resolution 87, designating April 2021 as “Child Abuse Prevention Month” in PA. It is critical that we increase the public’s awareness of child abuse and prevent and stop abusive behaviors and environments.

We all must be committed to breaking the vicious cycle of abuse and create a safe, nurturing, loving home for every child in Pennsylvania.  

Also, April 10th through the 16th was “Week of the Young Child.  This year represents its 50th Anniversary and is a celebration started by the National Assoc. for the Education of Young Children. The purpose of this week is to bring attention to the needs of young children and their families and how early child education programs and services meet those needs.

See my remarks on the Senate Floor recognizing both Here

Hearings Examining Governor’s Budget Proposal Conclude

The Senate Appropriations Committee completed a series of 21 public hearings that closely examined the details of Governor Wolf’s state budget proposal.

The Committee undertook a comprehensive review of the Governor’s proposed $40.2 billion General Fund Budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22, which includes a massive increase in state spending, a substantial personal income tax rate hike, imposition of Marcellus Shale extraction tax, and elimination of funding for broadband expansion and vital agricultural and health programs.

The complete coverage of the hearings can be found here.

Senate Votes to Extend Program Helping Schools Find Substitute Teachers

Pennsylvania schools could have additional opportunities to find qualified substitute teachers under a bill approved by the Senate this week.

Lawmakers created a program in 2016 that allowed individuals training to be teachers to serve as a substitute teacher, provided the individual has valid clearances and at least 60 credit hours. However, the program is set to expire on June 30.

The legislation approved this week would make this temporary program permanent. As a result, schools, intermediate units and career and technical schools can ensure qualified substitutes are available to meet the needs of students.

Protecting the First Amendment Rights of Teachers

The Senate approved a critical bill this week to ensure the First Amendment rights of teachers are better protected. The legislation would repeal a provision of the School Code which prohibits teachers from wearing any garb, mark, emblem or insignia that would indicate they are a member of or adherent to any religious order or sect while in the performance of their duties as a teacher.

Although federal courts have held that the school’s religious affiliations policy violates the free exercise of religion and free speech clauses of the Constitution, these provisions are still in place and public school directors can be held criminally liable for failing to enforce this prohibition. Pennsylvania is the last state in the United States with this provision still in place.

Comments on 2020 General Election Due by Friday, April 30

This is the final week for Pennsylvanians to share their experience from last year’s election with the Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform. Election surveys for Pennsylvanians who voted by mail or in person will be accepted through Friday, April 30.

The committee is expected to use the survey responses and testimony gathered during its series of public hearings to produce a report with recommendations that will be presented to the General Assembly.

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