In this Update:
Senate Republicans Begin Series of Hearings on Combatting Rising Crime
The Senate Majority Policy Committee kicked off a series of hearings on crime and public safety during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, gathering at the Cambria County Courthouse to get input from police, prosecutors, judges and key community groups.
Pennsylvania has the highest violent crime rate of any state in the Northeast, according to FBI data. Between 2019 and 2020, no other state reported a greater year-over-year increase in violence. Driven by spikes in aggravated assault and homicide, Pennsylvania’s violent crime rate climbed 27.1% from 2019 to 2020.
Testifiers pointed to a growing difficulty in recruiting and retaining police officers, due in part to heated anti-police rhetoric in recent years. Others noted that drugs, mental health issues and the influx of residents from high-crime areas were driving up the number of offenses.
A top priority for Senate Republicans is to ensure Pennsylvanians feel safe in the towns, cities and communities they call home. These hearings will help legislators better understand the trends in crime from law enforcement and key stakeholders, and better match the Commonwealth’s economic goals with community objectives throughout Pennsylvania.
The next hearing on crime and public safety will be held Monday, May 2 in Lancaster County.
Avian Flu in Pennsylvania: What to Know
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture confirmed the state’s first positive cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in domestic poultry in several Lancaster County farms.
As of April 26, there have been five affected commercial flocks, zero affected backyard flocks, and a total of 3.8 million birds affected in Lancaster County. The most up-to-date status of confirmed Pennsylvania cases can be viewed on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these avian influenza detections do not present an immediate public health concern. No human cases of avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States. Poultry products and eggs are safe to consume if stored and cooked at proper temperatures.
Both commercial poultry farms and Pennsylvanians with backyard chickens should be on high alert to protect their flocks from this highly contagious and fatal disease. Domestic poultry, including chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, guinea fowl, quail, pheasants, emus and ostriches, are most susceptible to avian influenza.
If you have domestic birds, report sick domestic birds or unusual deaths in your flock to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture at 717-772-2852 option 1. The line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Information about the current state of HPAI in Pennsylvania can be found at the HPAI Address Search Application .
Monday is the Deadline to Register to Vote
The deadline to register to vote in the primary election is May 2. You can register to vote and check your registration status online or download and print a registration form and mail it to your county election board.
Applicants using the online voter registration system must complete and submit their application by 11:59 p.m. May 2 to vote in the primary. Paper voter registration forms must be received in county voter registration offices by close of business on May 2.
People wishing to register to vote in the May 17 primary must be:
The deadline to apply for mail-in and absentee ballots is May 10.
Help is Available to Start a Small Business
Next week is Small Business Week in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. It’s a good time to note the entrepreneurial opportunities and local economic benefits that small businesses provide.
Pennsylvania is home to 1.1 million small businesses that employ 2.5 million workers.
The Pennsylvania Business One-Stop Shop has resources for planning, registering, operating and growing a business. It includes CommonGoods, a new website helping consumers find and support local PA businesses while shopping online, and an eCommerce section to help small businesses establish and grow their online presence and sales.
Shoppers can support local employers and the local economy by patronizing small businesses. For every $100 spent at a small business, $48 goes back into the local economy in which the business is located. If that same $100 is spent at a big box store or national retailer, only $14 makes it back to the local economy.
Tips on Door-to-Door and In-Person Energy Sales
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is providing consumer tips on door-to-door sales and marketing activities by agents of competitive electric and natural gas suppliers, reminding consumers of their rights as well as their options when it comes to shopping for and selecting a competitive supplier for natural gas or electric service.
With the change of seasons and more daylight, there’s an uptick in door-to-door sales and marketing activity by competitive suppliers. In Pennsylvania, from April 1 through Sept. 30, hours for door-to-door sales and marketing expand one hour, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. When a local ordinance has stricter limitations, a supplier must comply with the local ordinance.
You are not required to choose a competitive supplier for electricity or natural gas supply. Agents who conduct door-to-door activities, or appear at public events, are required to wear an identification badge. They must immediately leave a residence when requested and must honor a customer’s request to be exempted from future door-to-door sales and marketing activities. You can find tips on avoiding deceptive or high-pressure sales here.
Out and About in the 30th
Recently, I sat down with Dilonna Coran, PA State Director for Concerned Women for America (Pennsylvania Chapter) to discuss current issues that are affecting women in the state and nation. We discussed how several of my current bills address some of the issues and also discussed goals of the group.
It was my honor to present a Senate Citation to Michael Gardner of Troop 3031 on his attainment to the rank of Eagle Scout. Michael’s community service project was a Gaga ball pit at C.W. Longer Elementary School on the Hollidaysburg Area School District campus.
Recently, I spoke to the Sheetz Fellows class at the Sheetz Entrepreneurial Center in Downtown Altoona to give the class an overview of my position as Senator and what current legislation we are working on this session. This motivated group of students asked a lot of great questions.
This week I attended the PA Army National Guard Center open house in Blair County. A special congratulations to Cadet Kyle Byrne who received recognition for Civil Air Patrol Cadet of the Year from the Air Force Association, Altoona Chapter.
I was happy to participate in the ribbon cutting event for the new home to the Saint Francis University (SFU) Curry Innovation Lab and SFU’s Francis Worldwide, School of Continuing Studies, in the beautiful new Curry Innovation Center and celebrate this exciting, innovative academic/business partnership between SFU and Curry Supply Holdings. This unique collaboration supports a new vision for economic development and innovation, bringing together creative entrepreneurial leaders in our community who think outside the box and have so much to offer and students who will benefit from real-world experience that will be invaluable to their college educational experience, giving them exposure to things that cannot be learned just sitting in a classroom. The new Curry Innovation Center in the former Vipond building, a piece of Altoona history, adds another significant asset to the renaissance of the city’s downtown. I welcome St. Francis University to Blair County, congratulate SFU and Curry Supply on this wonderful new partnership, and wish them great success on this new venture. It was a great day for the City of Altoona and Blair County and the future looks very bright!
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