Senator Ward, J E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Partnering with UPMC to Host Community Health and Wellness Event
  • Senate Republicans Secure Historic Tax Cuts for Working Families
  • Senate Votes to Create Statewide Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking System
  • Legislation to Curb Distracted Driving Set for Enactment
  • Senate Acts to Bolster Telemedicine in PA
  • Scholarship Bill Wins Bipartisan Support
  • Preventative Care Protects Moms, All Women
  • Alternative Fuels Incentive Grants
  • Out and About in the 30th

Partnering with UPMC to Host Community Health and Wellness Event

Senate Republicans Secure Historic Tax Cuts for Working Families

Working families, job creators and energy consumers in Pennsylvania would see their taxes reduced by approximately $3 billion a year under a bill approved by the Senate with a strong bipartisan, veto-proof majority. It would represent the largest tax cut for working families in Pennsylvania history, saving taxpayers more than $13 billion over the next five years.

Senate Bill 269 would reduce the personal income tax (PIT) rate from 3.07% to 2.8%, putting more money in the wallets of every Pennsylvanian who earns a paycheck. The bill would also eliminate the gross receipts tax on energy, effective Jan. 1, 2025, providing critical relief from high energy costs.

The tax cuts would benefit all Pennsylvania families and inject an additional $3 billion into the state’s economy, rather than growing government and arbitrarily picking winners and losers. The plan is a sharp contrast from Gov. Josh Shapiro’s calls for $3.2 billion in new government spending, as well as legislation introduced by House Democrats to nearly quadruple certain taxes paid by small businesses. Instead, Senate Republicans continue to protect taxpayers against unnecessary tax increases, new spending and unchecked growth in the size of government.

Senate Votes to Create Statewide Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking System

To assist survivors of sexual assault, the Senate approved Senate Bill 920, which would establish a sexual assault evidence tracking system. Using the system, individuals could follow the path of a rape kit throughout the collection and testing process.

Sexual assault forensic exams are conducted using what are commonly referred to as rape kits, in which DNA evidence is collected from the assault victim’s body, clothes and other personal belongings. The process can increase the likelihood of criminal prosecution.

Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia have established rape kit tracking systems. Enactment of the legislation would enable Pennsylvania to receive additional federal funds.

Legislation to Curb Distracted Driving Set for Enactment

Legislation passed by the Senate to prohibit the handheld use of cellular and other devices while driving is set for enactment into law.

Senate Bill 37 would enhance driver responsibility by prohibiting the use of handheld cellphones or other communication devices while operating a motor vehicle on a Pennsylvania highway or trafficway. While hands-free use of devices when driving would remain legal, handheld use of devices would only be permitted when the vehicle is parked on the side or shoulder of a roadway and the vehicle can safely remain stationary.

To inform drivers about the new law, law enforcement must issue warnings for violations during the initial 12 months following the bill’s enactment.

Senate Acts to Bolster Telemedicine in PA

The Senate approved legislation aimed at expanding the use of telemedicine in Pennsylvania.

Telemedicine is the remote delivery of health care services and medical information using telecommunications technology. It allows medical services to be provided to some of the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians who otherwise would not be able to receive them due to location or other circumstances. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it saw rapid growth in Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 739 requires insurance providers or managed care organizations to reimburse health care providers for services provided to a patient through telemedicine. Services provided through telemedicine must meet the same standard of care as health care services provided in person.

Scholarship Bill Wins Bipartisan Support

The Senate Education Committee advanced bipartisan legislation that I introduced to provide more educational options to children in low-performing public schools through scholarships to attend the school of their choice.

Senate Bill 795 (J. Ward) would establish the Pennsylvania Award for Student Success (PASS) Program. During Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget address earlier this year, he referenced his continued support for “scholarships that let poor families in struggling school districts put their kids in the best position for them to succeed – whether that’s paying for extra tutoring, books and computers, or yes, going to another school.”

The bill, which now heads to the full Senate for consideration, is part of a larger Senate Republican initiative to preserve the role parents have in their children’s lives.

Preventative Care Protects Moms, All Women

Happy Mother’s Day to the women who play a critical role in their families as they care for their loved ones. Often, they are so focused on supporting everyone else that meeting their own needs takes a back seat.

However, when it comes to breast cancer, that’s simply not safe to do. It’s important for all women who are at least 40 years old to carve out time to get a mammogram every two years. Know your risk and family history because Act 1 of 2023 eliminates all costs associated with screening breast MRI, ultrasound, genetic testing and counseling for individuals with high risk.

The comprehensive breast cancer screening bill will save lives so we can enjoy more time with the mothers and all other women in our worlds.

Alternative Fuels Incentive Grants

$5 million in funding is available to school districts, municipalities, nonprofit organizations, and businesses in Pennsylvania that want to transition to cleaner fuel transportation. 

There will be two application periods, the first closing at 11:59 pm on June 28, 2024 and the second closing at 11:59 pm on December 20, 2024. 

Priorities for funding include:   

  • Minority-, veteran-, or woman-owned businesses
  • Zero emission vehicle projects  
  • Renewable natural gas vehicle and infrastructure projects  
  • Medium- and light-duty fleet refueling infrastructure projects    

Find all the information you need on eligible projects and how to apply at www.dep.pa.gov/AFIG.

Out and About in the 30th

Huntingdon County Sheriff Leonard and Blair County Sheriff Ott stopped in to talk about their legislative priorities and the issues that are affecting them most.  It is always great to hear firsthand how we in Harrisburg can best assist and support our law enforcement officials.

Karen Johnston and other folks from the Healthy Communities Partnership came in to talk about tobacco cessation and the increasing rate of vaping products, especially in youth.

What a pleasure to see David and Sandy Macharola.  They made a visit to my office to speak about the advocacy efforts of the rare disease and hemophilia community and the importance of the hemophilia line item in the budget and my legislation, Senate Bill 372, that would provide for co-pay accumulator reform.

Good luck to Abby Traxler, Miss Central PA, at the upcoming Miss PA pageant. Abby is from Lewistown  and has been working to promote financial literacy.

Congratulations to seven students from Mount Union who will be attending the FBLA National Leadership Conference in late June.   These students include Josh Sechrist, Allyssa Chaney, Jake Cooper, Sayde Wise, Briley Benson, Jenna Ritchey, and Dylan Porter.

Josh finished 1st at states and will be competing in Electronic Career Portfolio.  Allyssa finished 2nd at states and will be competing in Word Processing.   Jake finished 7th at states and will be competing in Introduction to Public Speaking, while Sayde finished 6th at states and is competing in Spreadsheet Design.   Both Dylan and Jenna will be attending as voting delegates, while Briley is attending to gather information for future competitions.

We are very proud of these students and wish them luck as they take the next step in their FBLA competitive journey.   If you are interested in supporting these students, please contact their adviser, Mrs. Vicki Cooper (vcooper@muasd.org).

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