Senator Judy Ward E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Senate Approves Measures to Help Women at High Risk of Breast Cancer
  • Other Bills Passed by the Senate this Week  
  • Senate Committee Reviews Legislation to Empower Parents
  • Farmers Breakfast
  • HARP Helps Hospitality Workers in Need
  • Cultural and Historical Support Grants Available
  • Domestic Violence Awareness Month
  • 30th Happenings

Senate Approves Measures to Help Women at High Risk of Breast Cancer

The Senate this week passed two bills to help women at high risk for breast cancer, ensuring coverage for MRIs, ultrasounds and genetic testing with no out-of-pocket costs.

Breast cancer is the second-most common cancer in women in the United States after skin cancers, and early detection is the key to saving lives. The Senate approved the following bills:

Senate Bill 1225 eliminates out-of-pocket costs for breast MRI and ultrasound for women with high-risk conditions such as dense breast tissue, a family history of breast cancer, personal history of breast cancer, genetic predisposition or prior radiation therapy.

Senate Bill 1330 removes costs associated with genetic testing and counseling for Pennsylvanians with a family history of breast and ovarian cancers. Genetic testing for heredity cancers provides the opportunity for earlier screenings and preventive treatments and procedures.

At a news conference celebrating passage of the bills, PA Breast Cancer Coalition President Pat Halpin-Murphy said: “Senate Bill 1225 and Senate Bill 1330 will arm the women of Pennsylvania with the best tools possible to find breast cancer at its earliest, most treatable stage.”

 Other Bills Passed by the Senate this Week

In addition to bills expanding coverage for breast cancer prevention, the Senate approved the following measures this week:

Senate Bill 1243 improves personal financial literacy by requiring completion of a half-credit economics and personal finance course as a high school graduation requirement.

Senate Bill 139 directs the Department of Education to establish a model curriculum for instruction in the events and significance of Sept. 11, 2001 and provides for a moment of silence in schools on 9/11.

Senate Bill 1265 creates an online registry of fire courses for firefighters similar to what is maintained for medical responders, EMTs and paramedics.

Senate Bill 1282 grants land banks the same environmental protections other economic development agencies receive when dealing with brownfields.

You can find a list of all bills that received votes in the Senate this week here.

Senate Committee Reviews Legislation to Empower Parents

The Senate State Government Committee held a public hearing Tuesday on legislation to establish by state statute the rights of parents over the upbringing of their children.

The hearing featured testimony from Pennsylvania parents and parental rights advocacy groups. Testifiers discussed the importance of the parent-child bond, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on learning, and the inability of parents to remove inappropriate material from Pennsylvania schools.

Senate Bill 996 would make clear in statute that the state, counties, local governments and school districts may not infringe on the fundamental rights of parents to direct the upbringing, education, health care and mental health of their children without demonstrating that such action is reasonable and necessary to achieve a compelling state interest — narrowly tailored – and not otherwise achieved by less restrictive means.

The legislation would also ensure a parent’s right to access and review all school records related to their child, a right to review all instructional materials used throughout the school year, and the right to opt out their child from certain curriculum that the parent finds to be objectionable or harmful.

Earlier this year, the Senate approved legislation to require school districts to identify sexually explicit content in school curriculum and materials and notify parents that their child’s coursework includes such content, and prohibit classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation for pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students.

Farmers Breakfast

HARP Helps Hospitality Workers in Need

Hospitality Assistance Response of PA (HARP) provides immediate, emergency funding to servers, bartenders, front-desk workers, housekeepers, receptionists, cashiers, cooks and others in need in the hospitality field.

HARP is a 501(c)(3) funded by private donations and can help with medical bills or general hardship and provide immediate relief to hospitality employees experiencing a variety of other financial challenges. Grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis and subject to availability of funds.

If you want to donate or know a hospitality worker who needs help, you can find information here.

Cultural and Historical Support Grants Available

Applications are being accepted from qualified museums and official county historical societies for nearly $2 million in state Cultural and Historical Support Grants.

Among other uses, the grants can supply general operating support to museums and official county historical societies that are not supported by other state agency funding programs. Eligible museums must have annual operating budgets exceeding $100,000 and at least one full-time professional staff person (some museums are not eligible if they are eligible for grant support from other state agencies).

The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission has eligibility information and grant guidelines. The deadline to apply is Nov. 7.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

No one should have to tolerate domestic violence, and help is available for anyone experiencing it.

National Domestic Violence Hotline 
1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)
1-800-787-3224 (TTY for the Deaf)

The Guide to Victim’s Assistance features resources available to victims after abuse, neglect, financial exploitation or other crimes such as domestic violence, sexual assault, simple and aggravated assault, harassment, theft and homicide.

30th Happenings

I had the honor of welcoming the Worshipful Company of Extraordinary Homeschoolers to the Senate this week. This homeschool group is made up of 47 families in southcentral Pennsylvania. Through this group students can participate in biblical studies, music, physical education, and art. They meet monthly for classes at the Alumni Community Building in McConnellsburg and have been fortunate to see continued growth over the recent years.

Congratulations to Joe Keller, owner of Keller Engineers, Inc. on being named the 2022 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Blair County Chamber of Commerce’s Business Excellence Dinner. Joe’s reputation as a distinguished professional is matched by his renown as an outstanding citizen, philanthropist and volunteer leader for numerous non-profit and community organizations. Blair and surrounding counties have benefited significantly from Joe’s commitment to supporting the fulfillment of collective goals and individual ambitions. He is a most worthy recipient of The Chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Business Excellence.

I was thrilled to participate with my friend Amy Mearkle, in the Making Strides For Breast Cancer walk at the Peoples Natural Gas Field in Blair County. Pictured with me are friends, Bev and Ray Kennedy. Also pictured are the Ladies from WTAJ TV-10.

 

Congratulations to Lori Bechtel-Wherry on her well-deserved retirement as Chancellor and Dean at Penn State Altoona for the past 18 years.  I was honored to be a part of her special retirement event this week and present her with a Senate citation. She is an amazing woman.

This week I attended the Blair Conservation District’s annual banquet. Dairy Maid, Anna Longenecker of Williamsburg addressed the audience and Donna Fisher, Conservation District Director, presented Rob Clauto with the 2022 Outstanding Conservationist Award.

I enjoyed a special time of prayer and reflection at the 4th Annual Altoona Prayer Breakfast this week. Penn State alum and former NFL player Leo Wisniewski was the keynote speaker. I am grateful to Leaders of Faith and Rob Fields for bringing this program to Blair County.

 

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