Senator Ward, J E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Senate Approves Bill Enabling Better Service in Long-Term Care Facilities
  • Tuition and Loan Assistance for First Responders
  • Comment Period Open on Plan to Expand PA Internet Access
  • Deadline for Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program is Dec. 31
  • Happy Hanukkah!
  • Out and About in the 30th

Senate Approves Bill Enabling Better Service in Long-Term Care Facilities

The Senate approved a bill to enhance the availability and quality of service at long-term care facilities in Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 668 would address the workforce shortage in nursing homes that existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and has grown in recent years as health care professionals left the field due to burnout. It would enable certified nurse aids (CNAs) to train to become certified medication aides (CMAs) and deliver common, minimally invasive prescribed medications to residents of nursing facilities. Currently, only registered nurses and licensed practical nurses can administer medications to nursing home residents.

CNAs would be able to complete a certified medication administration program established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. CNAs who complete the program would be registered as CMAs and would be authorized to administer certain prescribed medications in health care facilities.

Tuition and Loan Assistance for First Responders

Because of legislation passed by Senate Republicans, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency established a Tuition and Loan Assistance Program for active volunteer fire and emergency medical service providers.

After a year of service, volunteers are eligible for up to $1,000 of financial assistance per academic year. Volunteers must commit to five years of service following college graduation.

The legislation is designed to combat Pennsylvania’s crisis in attracting volunteer first responders, which has led to many fire and emergency medical service companies reducing services.

Comment Period Open on Plan to Expand PA Internet Access

A strong internet connection powers our economy and supports education, health care and more. Many Pennsylvania communities lack access to high-speed internet.

Development of Pennsylvania’s Digital Equity Plan was funded by federal dollars and aims to make high-speed internet available to more Pennsylvanians. You can review the plan and, until Jan. 8, 2024, take advantage of the public comment period to offer feedback.

The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority (PBDA) offers three ways to comment:

The PBDA will also host in-person and virtual Public Comment Sessions on the following dates:

Clearfield County: Dec. 7

Washington County: Dec. 14

Philadelphia: Dec. 16

Deadline for Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program is Dec. 31

The deadline to apply for the state’s 2022 Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program is Dec. 31. Applications and no-cost assistance are available from my district office.

Eligible participants can receive a maximum standard rebate of $650, but supplemental rebates can boost rebates to $975. The program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians who are 65 years or older, widows and widowers 50 years or older, and those 18 years or older with disabilities.

Claimants who already applied for their rebates may check the status of claims online or by calling 1-888-222-9190.

Happy Hanukkah!

Hanukkah, the Jewish festival that celebrates the ancient miracle of the oil burning a candle for eight nights, runs from Dec. 7-15. In honor of the holiday, people of the Jewish faith light a candle on their menorahs each evening for eight nights.

As our friends celebrate the rededication of the Holy Temple, we wish them Chag sameach!

Out and About in the 30th

Congratulations to the team of Women’s Health Services of Roaring Spring on Pine Heights Street on the grand opening of a much needed women’s healthcare service clinic in a rural community.  The clinic team includes Dr. Stephen Bisacco, Dr. John Littlejohn, Suzi Brannock, CRNP, and Siarra Bardell, LPN.

The Blair County Chamber held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the grand opening of the Blair County office of Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak, located at 1913 East Pleasant Valley Blvd., Altoona. Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak is a full-service elder law firm solely focused on elder law.

The Maternal and Infant Health Caucus had another great tour this week as Genesis of Pittsburgh opened their doors to show us what they do.  Genesis does amazing work for pregnant women and new mothers, providing material assistance, parenting and nutrition classes, and a place to stay for pregnant women who need it.  We were blown away by all the lives that are changed because of their incredible work.  Pictured with me from left to right are Senator Hutchinson, President Pro Tempore Ward, Charlene Nagy from Genesis, Genesis Executive Director Crystal Turner, Representative Mercuri, and Representative Kinkead.

This week I had the opportunity to visit the Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona. Executive Director Joe DeFrancesco spoke of all the wonderful projects going on with the museum.

Pictured with Joe DeFrancesco showing us around the museum.

Pictured with Archive Manager Matthew Wolff speaking about “Kelly’s Bar.”

Penn State Altoona Rail Transportation Engineering

The Blair County Game, Fish, and Forestry Association in Riggles Gap had a membership meeting I was happy to attend and speak with their members. We shared in great conversation about Second Amendment issues, conservation efforts, and other state issues. Thank you to all the members who attended and all you do to promote being responsible sportsmen.


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