Senator Ward, J E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Providing for Educational Opportunities
  • 36th Annual Blair Media Blood Blitz
  • Work Continues on the 2024-25 State Budget
  • Bill Limiting Smartphone Use in Schools Passes Senate
  • Senate Advances Bill to Allow Year-round Motorcycle Inspections
  • Bill Expanding First Responder Service Dog Fee Exemptions Receives Senate Approval
  • Senate Passes Bill Discounting Hunting and Fishing Licenses to Volunteer Firefighters
  • Out and About

Providing for Educational Opportunities

I want to thank the Senate Finance Committee for approving my legislation, Senate Bill 1280, which would provide a tax credit for parents related to educational expenses at a non-public school. This legislation continues to empower parents and further helps children find the educational opportunities that truly best fit them and their needs.

This bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration. You can click the image above to view the committee meeting and see my comments on the legislation.

36th Annual Blair Media Blood Blitz

The Largest blood drive in Blair County is set for Tuesday, July 16 at Altoona Area Junior High School Fieldhouse located at 1400 7th Ave. in Altoona. It is set to take place from 8 A.M. until 6 P.M. This 10-hour event has a goal set to collect 200 units of blood for our community.

Donors are critically needed right now after a sharp decrease in donations since late spring. When fewer people donate, blood products can start to disappear from hospital shelves, but patients counting on lifesaving transfusions have no time to wait. All blood types are needed. Donors can help save a life in just one hour.

The Blair Media Blood Blitz is open to the public. Donors can save time by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online. To get started, follow the instructions at or use the Blood Donor App and entering code BLOODBLITZ.

GIVE A GIFT, GET A GIFT All presenting donors will be treated to special refreshments from Rob’s Catering, receive a Red Cross T-shirt and be entered to win one of the following prizes: a tabletop s’mores maker, telescopic fishing rod and lure set, LED camping lantern, Slumberjack 8-person tent, red YETI cooler or a Blackstone grill with accessories.

All those who come give blood in July will also receive a Fandango Movie Ticket by email to see TWISTERS on us! Plus, all presenting donors will be automatically entered for a chance to win a 2025 Ram 1500 Big Horn®! (See terms:

For more information, please go to or call 1-800-Red – Cross (1-800-733-2767).

Work Continues on the 2024-25 State Budget

Our Senate Republican Caucus remains committed to producing a pro-growth budget which will empower Pennsylvanians and is equally honest with taxpayers about our state’s fiscal health both now and in the future. We have been diligently working to come to consensus on a final product. Additional session days will be added as needed to complete the budget as quickly as possible.

Learn more about the process of enacting the 2024-25 state budget and watch the Senate in session here.

Bill Limiting Smartphone Use in Schools Passes Senate

The Senate this week approved legislation to improve students’ mental health and academic performance by limiting their use of smartphones in school.

Since the early 2010s, there has been a steep decline in mental health in children, and their academic performance is suffering. Children’s compromised mental health, social skills and academic performance directly correlates to the rise of smartphones and social media apps.

Senate Bill 1207 would establish the Cell Phone Lockable Bag Pilot Program until Dec. 1, 2026. The School Safety and Security Committee would award grants to purchase secure, lockable smartphone bags in which students would deposit their mobile devices until the end of the school day.

The bill would also require schools participating in the program to create and post online a policy prohibiting the use of smartphones during school time. It must include exemptions for students who have a documented medical condition – such as diabetes – that requires the use of a phone.

Senate Advances Bill to Allow Year-round Motorcycle Inspections

The Senate passed legislation to allow safety inspections to be performed year-round on motorcycles registered in Pennsylvania.

Even though motorcycles can be purchased and driven on Pennsylvania roadways throughout the year, the state Vehicle Code currently only allows safety inspections to be performed from March to October.

Senate Bill 1147 would eliminate that restriction so motorcycle operators have more opportunities to complete required inspections. Motorcycle registration with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation would continue to be tied to the month the vehicle is to be inspected.

Bill Expanding First Responder Service Dog Fee Exemptions Receives Senate Approval

Senate Bill 82 which I proudly co-sponsored, received Senate approval this week. Senate Bill 82 will extend license fee exemptions to service dogs which are integral to our fire departments, sheriff’s offices and rescue services. This exemption currently applies only to municipal and state police departments. The bill was sent to the governor to be signed into law.

Service dogs detect threats, aid in search and rescue missions, and provide critical support during medical emergencies. The exemption from licensing fees aims to minimize financial barriers for agencies relying on these highly trained animals.

Additionally, the measure addresses challenges created by a revision to the state’s dog law that prohibited out-of-state residents from boarding their dogs in Pennsylvania-based kennels.

Senate Passes Bill Discounting Hunting and Fishing Licenses to Volunteer Firefighters

The Senate approved a bill that would enable volunteer firefighters to obtain discounted hunting licenses and fishing licenses in Pennsylvania.

Resident adult hunting licenses cost $20.97 and fishing licenses cost $27.97. The legislation would reduce the cost of each to $1 for volunteer firefighters who served at least the previous 12 months in the commonwealth.

Pennsylvania in the 1970s had as many as 300,000 volunteer firefighters. There currently are approximately 38,000 volunteer firefighters in the commonwealth.

Out and About

I attended the Blair County Farm Bureau picnic at Canoe Creek State Park. Pictured with me are Blair Country Dairy Princess, Anna Longenecker, and Alternate Dairy Princess, Rylee Stultz.

It was so nice to see Herb and Judy Shelow, along with their granddaughter, Hannah Beecher. They happened to be in Harrisburg this week, while we were in session, touring our Capitol and catching an Altoona Curve game against the Harrisburg Senators. Thank you for stopping by!

It was an honor to read part of the Declaration of Independence at Fort Roberdeau to celebrate Independence Day. It was a special time of commemoration for all who attended, and what better place to celebrate than at a revolutionary war fort! Also, great to see Jared Frederick speaking to some “new recruits”.

It was fun to celebrate the 4th of July with family at the Altoona Curve who played the Harrisburg Senators.


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