Senator Judy Ward E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Voters Take a Stand by Approving Constitutional Amendments to Improve Emergency Response
  • Citizens can Comment on PennDOT Plan to Toll Highway Bridges
  • Plan to Ban State From Requiring Vaccine Passports to Move Forward
  • Senate Aging and Youth Hearing regarding PA Nursing Homes – One Year Later
  • Senate Holds Two Public Hearings on 5G Deployment in Pennsylvania
  • Capitol Hunger Garden Breaks Ground on 11th Season
  • Observing National EMS Week

Voters Take a Stand by Approving Constitutional Amendments to Improve Emergency Response

In Tuesday’s primary election, Pennsylvania voters passed the two amendments to the state Constitution that were designed to improve the way the state responds to future emergencies. One limits an emergency declaration to 21 days unless the General Assembly approves a longer duration. The other clarifies that the governor will not be able to unilaterally veto legislative action that ends the declaration.

As we wait for the final election results to be certified, we mark the first step to returning checks and balances to the Commonwealth’s long-term emergencies. Governor Wolf has finally said he will work with the people. The General Assembly is now receiving information from Governor Wolf that had previously not been shared. That information allows us to make better informed decisions as we move forward to implement the will of the people.  We are now operating under the rules established when the people of Pennsylvania voted to amend the state Constitution

The primary election results demonstrate our system of government works better when we work together. Pennsylvania voters had their say in shaping the way our Commonwealth addresses crises and disasters. With the passage of these amendments, the General Assembly as the voice of the people, will have a greater say in the response to long-term emergencies in the state.

The passage of the amendments makes certain that Pennsylvania avoids the negative consequences of one person making all of the decisions during a long-term emergency.

Make no mistake the people of Pennsylvania have spoken, and I am continuing to work to restore your liberties.  We are moving away from the unilateral rule we have experienced for the last 15 months.

Citizens can Comment on PennDOT Plan to Toll Highway Bridges

Residents can use an upcoming telephone town hall to voice their opinion on PennDOT plans to toll bridges on Pennsylvania interstate highways.

PennDOT will hold a telephone town hall on the plan Tuesday, May 25, beginning at 6 p.m. To join the town hall, register here to receive a phone call to join at the start of the meeting or call (855) 756-7520, Entry Code Extension 73539#.

In addition to the telephone town hall, citizens can comment:

If you have a comment or question about a specific bridge tolling project, you can access each project’s comment form by visiting the project websites here.

On February 18, PennDOT unveiled a plan to toll nine bridges:

  • Interstate 78 – Berks County
  • Interstate 79 – Allegheny County
  • Interstate 80 – Clarion, Carbon, Jefferson, and Luzerne counties
  • Interstate 81 – Susquehanna County
  • Interstate 83 – Dauphin County
  • Interstate 95 – Philadelphia

Last month, the Senate approved Senate Bill 382, which would reform the Public-Private Transportation Partnership (P3) statute and to void the PennDOT Pathways Major Bridge P3 Initiative. It is now before the House Transportation Committee.

Plan to Ban State From Requiring Vaccine Passports to Move Forward

The plan I helped to author – Senate Bill 618 – that bans the state from requiring vaccine passports is gaining momentum in the Senate. It is scheduled to be voted on in the Health and Human Services Committee this week. 

The state or government at any level should not require every citizen to show proof of this vaccine. Our goal should be focused on getting the vaccine to those who want it, but not punish those individuals who have made a personal choice.

I do not believe the state should be mandating the COVID-19 vaccination. It’s a personal decision.

Those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons or even for personal choice should not be discriminated against for making a decision that they believe is in the best interest of their health and safety.  This bill works to ensure that we are protecting our Constitutional rights and health privacy. After a year of being subjected to intrusive monitoring of their health and deliberate assaults on privacy, vaccine passports would be an unfathomable invasion into Pennsylvanian’s personal lives and private medical information.

You can hear more information here.

Senate Aging and Youth Hearing regarding PA Nursing Homes – One Year Later

5/20/21 - Opening Remarks

As Chair of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee, I feel it imperative we understand and address the ongoing needs of long term care in Pennsylvania. The hearing outlined how the pandemic shook the industry to its core and these providers and those they care for still need our assistance.

Senate Holds Two Public Hearings on 5G Deployment in Pennsylvania

The Senate Communications and Technology Committee recently held two public hearings to review the deployment of 5G wireless technology in Pennsylvania.

5G is the fifth-generation technology successor to 4G broadband cellular networks, which provide connectivity to most current cellphones. Cellular phone companies began deploying 5G worldwide in 2019.

The first hearing featured wireless providers and local government representatives. The second hearing heard from state agencies and labor unions involved in wireless infrastructure. You can view hearing video, agendas and testimony at the links.

Capitol Hunger Garden Breaks Ground on 11th Season

The Capitol Hunger Garden, which grows produce for food banks and draws attention to the need for food donations statewide, recently broke ground for its 11th season. 

The garden, which is overseen by the bipartisan legislative Hunger Caucus and tended to by the Penn State Master Gardeners, is located on a 1,000 square-foot plot adjacent to the State Capitol Building.

Since its inception, the garden has annually produced between 700 and 800 pounds of vegetables that are donated to food banks, pantries and local soup kitchens.

Observing National EMS Week

Over the past year, we witnessed how Emergency Medical Services personnel are ready to serve their communities and patients, even when facing an unprecedented global pandemic, and despite the risks to their personal health and safety.

EMTs, paramedics and other EMS practitioners serve as healthcare professionals, social workers, crisis counselors, consolers and caregivers. For this national EMS Week, we honor the many roles of EMS professionals and the people behind the scenes who support them.

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