Senator Ward, J E-Newsletter

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May 17, 2019

New Senate Committee Chairs Appointed

Recent changes in the makeup of the state Senate created the need to change the leaders of several committees. I was honored to be appointed by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati to lead the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee for the remainder of the current two-year legislative session.

The committee is responsible for reviewing legislation and resolutions related to a number of subjects pertaining to housing and community revitalization, as well as oversight of the operations of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

It is a privilege to be given the opportunity to play a leading role in addressing housing and revitalization issues not only in local communities, but throughout the entire state. More information about this new position is available here.

I was flattered to join the community for the 68th Annual National Day of Prayer event in Blair County. It was a great time of prayer and reflection.

It was great to see Elias Baker Elementary School from Altoona in the Capitol. Representative Lou Schmitt and I had a great time with the kids.

Fighting to Protect Patients with Rare Diseases

During my career as a nurse, I witnessed the numerous challenges faced by individuals and families who are affected by rare diseases. In recognition of Rare Disease Advocacy Day, I recently spoke about the importance of supporting families suffering from these conditions at a news conference at the state Capitol Building.

One of the problems I highlighted was the practice of pharmacy benefit managers taking advantage of co-pay assistance programs that are designed to help patients. I have introduced legislation that would ensure patients get the financial benefits of these programs – not pharmacy benefit managers and insurance companies.

More information about my bill is available here. More information on the news conference in support of patients and families affected by rare diseases is available here.

I appreciated the chance to visit with Dr. Julie Decker, a nursing instructor at Penn State Altoona, who provided research on WWII nurses who became POWs. I recognized these women on the Senate floor during National Nurses Week at the Capitol, which was May 6-12. Video of my remarks is available here.

Construction Completed on Critical Fulton County Medical Center Access Road

The Fulton County Medical Centered recently celebrated the completion of a new access road that will open up the campus for new development and provide access to its new $20 million Center for Advanced Medicine expansion project. The road will also create new opportunities for development projects in the future, including senior housing and a wellness center.

Support for the project was provided by the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Congratulations to FCMC on the completion of this project, and I know we all look forward to seeing all of the exciting new initiatives that will be made possible as a result of its completion!

My thanks goes out to members of TRU (Tobacco Resistance Unit) from the Joshua House Community Center and Blair Regional YMCA for stopping by my office in Harrisburg.

As a Hollidaysburg Area High School graduate, I was honored to present the Distinguished Graduate Awards to Maria Murphy and Evan Soisson at the Awards Ceremony this week. Congratulations to these two exceptional young people and all the award recipients!

Local Libraries Receive Funding for Workforce Development Initiatives

Hollidaysburg Area Public Library and Tyrone Snyder Public Library were two of the first public libraries to receive grants as part of a new program designed to help community residents boost their career skills and businesses.

The funding will help libraries host new events and workshops, including support and mentoring for job-seekers, connecting unemployed individuals to careers and training, and assistance for new entrepreneurs to learn the skills they need to be successful in growing a small business.

The grants were awarded by the American Library Association and Public Library Association with sponsorship by Grow with Google. Pennsylvania is the first state in the nation to receive grants through the new program.

Additional information about the program is available here.

I had the opportunity to tour Alexandria Borough Water Authority treatment plant and discuss infrastructure projects and needs with Authority Chairman Ken Bost.

New Grant Program Aims to Boost Creative Communities

A new grant program from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts is seeking to support arts-based projects that help improve the quality of life in local communities. The Pennsylvania Creative Communities Initiative will select up to four pilot communities to receive up to $25,000 per year for up to four years to support projects to create a demonstrated, positive impact in terms of livability, economic development and community connectedness.

Letters of interest for the program from municipalities will be accepted from May 31 until June 28. More details about the program are available here.

I enjoyed spending time with Director Scott Sheehan and members of the Hollidaysburg Senior High Jazz Band in the Capitol!

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