Senator Ward, J E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Partnering with UPMC to Host Community Health and Wellness Event
  • FAFSA Assistance
  • Senate Acts to Meet PA’s Power Needs 
  • Senate Approves Bill to Get Pennsylvanians Off UC and Back to Work
  • Celebrating Historic Breast Cancer Screening Law
  • Grants Available to Capitalize on Tourism
  • Beware of Ticks and Lyme Disease
  • Out and About in the 30th

Partnering with UPMC to Host Community Health and Wellness Event

FAFSA Assistance

Senate Acts to Meet PA’s Power Needs

Acting to establish a sweeping, new energy framework for Pennsylvania, the Senate approved legislation this week creating the Independent Energy Office (IEO) and Pennsylvania’s Opportunity with Energy Reliability (POWER) Board. The bill moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Under Senate Bill 832, the IEO will provide data-driven analysis and ensure lawmakers have the reliable information necessary to review and implement current energy strategies as well as be on the forefront of new innovative technologies. The POWER Board will be a public clearinghouse for energy development in Pennsylvania and allow residents to see public accountability on decisions that impact energy prices in Pennsylvania.

The federal government has passed legislation to provide funding for states to grow solar, wind, hydro and nuclear capacities. Pennsylvania must apply for these funds and provide a framework to distribute funding throughout the state. The General Assembly has not yet established this framework, and statutory authority is needed.

Senate Approves Bill to Get Pennsylvanians Off UC and Back to Work

Unemployed Pennsylvanians who engage in job dodging by sabotaging their own efforts to get hired would jeopardize their Unemployment Compensation benefits under a bill approved by the Senate.

Job dodging is the process used by some Unemployment Compensation recipients to avoid obtaining a job and to continue to collect benefits. Job dodgers may skip a job interview or refuse employment or a referral for employment to continue receiving Unemployment Compensation benefits.

Senate Bill 1109 is intended to prevent Unemployment Compensation recipients who apply for a job from unreasonably discouraging their own hiring. It would require the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to create or update forms enabling employers to report Unemployment Compensation claimants who discourage their own hiring through job dodging. The bill moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Celebrating Historic Breast Cancer Screening Law

One year ago, a first-of-its-kind in the nation comprehensive breast cancer screening bill was signed into law as Act 1 of 2023. Senate Republicans supported the bill that eliminated out-of-pocket costs associated with BRCA-related genetic testing and counseling as well as supplemental screening such as breast MRI and ultrasound for women at high risk.

High-risk conditions covered by the law include dense breast tissue, personal history of breast cancer, family history of breast cancer, genetic predisposition and prior radiation therapy.

Act 1 covers individuals whose insurance is state-regulated, including plans purchased through the Pennie marketplace or employer-provided insurance. The law takes effect for many plans between 2024 and 2025. All state-regulated plans must be in place before the end of 2025. Learn more.

Grants Available to Capitalize on Tourism

To draw sporting events and the associated tourism to Pennsylvania, grants are available to municipalities, local authorities, nonprofit organizations and legal entities that meet specific criteria. Learn more and apply by June 30 using the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Electronic Single Application.

The Sports Marketing and Tourism Program was created to attract high-quality, amateur and professional sporting and e-sports events to Pennsylvania. Hosting a major event increases sales to small and large businesses in the area, which boosts the local economy.

The last round of grants benefited Philadelphia Soccer for the 2026 World Cup in Philadelphia, the United States Golf Association for the 2025 United States Men’s Open in Oakmont and the 2024 United States Women’s Open in Lancaster.

Beware of Ticks and Lyme Disease

Pennsylvania leads the nation with the number of Lyme disease cases. While we are lucky to have access to the many outdoor recreational opportunities in the commonwealth, they come with the risks of tickborne diseases.

National Lyme Disease Awareness Month is an opportunity to learn how to protect your family and pets against Lyme. Use insect repellent when spending time outdoors, treat your clothing and gear with permethrin and conduct a tick check when you come inside.

There are three stages of Lyme disease with distinct signs and symptoms occurring in each stage, including a bullseye rash, headaches, nerve pain, heart palpitations and fever. If you discover a tick, safely remove it, put it in a plastic bag and mail it to the Pennsylvania Tick Research Lab for free testing. Within three business days, you will know if the tick carried Lyme disease and other diseases – valuable information for you and your health care provider.

Out and About in the 30th

What a treat to have the Bishop Guilfoyle Lady Marauders basketball team come to the Capitol to celebrate their recent state championship. Way to go girls!

Congressman John Joyce and I visited Fame EMS in Lewistown. Pat Shoop is the Director of the EMS agency which also has full time paramedics. 

In recognition of National Day of Prayer, The Way of Truth Ministries hosted their annual prayer gathering at Legion Park in Blair County. Pastors from churches all across the county led prayers for a variety of topics. Pictured is Pastor Gary Dull, President of The Way of Truth Ministries, who led this special event. Also pictured with Pastor Dull is Dave Butterbaugh, who pastors Independent Christian Bible Church and is also an Altoona City Councilman.

Women’s Choice Network in Pittsburgh did not disappoint.  It was such a pleasure to see the amazing work they do to empower women and care for moms and their babies.  Pictured with me are Rep. Brown, Kim from Rep. Mercuri’s office, Amy Scheuring, Vice President of Women’s Choice Network, and several members of the staff. 

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA celebrated two local startups, Cignal and Flat5, at Shy Bear Brewery this week. Cignal is located in Reedsville and builds software for trustworthy machine vision artificial intelligence. Flat5 in Lewistown provides a transparent and automated solution to streamline the trucking industry.

Thank you to Shepherd’s Maternity Home and Catholic Social Services of Scranton for allowing the Senate and Maternal Health Caucus to tour their facility.  Their maternity homes provide the shelter, safety, and service that expecting mothers need to provide the best life for them and their child, and getting to hear from some of the women first hand was truly special. From left to right is Senator Rosemary Brown, Joe Mahoney (CEO of Catholic Social Services of Scranton), Melanie Whiteleather (Rep. Flood’s office), Senator Lisa Baker, and two staff members from the maternity home.

Congressman John Joyce and I visited the Mifflin County Academy of Science and Technology.  We spoke with students in many shops including Mechatronics, Precision Machining, Construction Trades, Welding and Practical Nursing.  Barry King is the Administrative Director of the School. 

Congratulations to the Lewistown Merchant Square on their grand opening this week!


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