Senator Dush E-Newsletter

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In this update:

  • Voter ID: Time for PA to Catch Up with Other States, Nations
  • Restoring Checks and Balances in Pennsylvania Government
  • Phase-out of Job-Killing PA Tax Begins
  • Miniseries of Human Trafficking Interviews
  • Open House for New Bellefonte District Office on Feb. 17
  • Penn Highlands Brookville, Penn Highlands Elk Hospitals Recognized for Excellence in Patient Safety
  • Jefferson County Fair Queen Claire Haines
  • 2023 Clarion Forest Landowner Conference on Feb. 11
  • Rebates for Property Taxes and Rent Available to Seniors, Pennsylvanians with Disabilities
  • Fifteen-County Lumber Heritage Region Receives $365,000 in Grant Funding
  • Local Organizations Can Apply Now for Conservation Grants
  • Lowering the Risk of Birth Defects
  • Underground Railroad Exhibit at Bellefonte Art Museum

Voter ID: Time for PA to Catch Up with Other States, Nations

A proposed constitutional amendment passed by the Senate earlier this month to require ID verification at polling places remains in the House of Representatives. Its approval is needed to let voters have a say through a ballot question in the spring primary election.

Pennsylvania’s failure to enact this key component of election integrity has put it behind not only a vast majority of states and most developed countries, but behind many developing nations as well.

Every excuse used to block this rational election reform has been shown to be false. Requiring proof of identification before voting does not suppress turnout, and acceptable IDs are not difficult to obtain.

Nationally, the calls for voter ID come from Democrats and Republicans alike. Eighty percent of Americans favor voter ID as do 74% of Pennsylvanians. Now is the time to pass Senate Bill 1 and let the voters decide.

Restoring Checks and Balances in Pennsylvania Government

In addition to letting citizens decide whether voters should be required to show ID, Senate Bill 1 includes a proposed constitutional amendment allowing the people’s representatives in the General Assembly to overturn any government regulation that conflicts with the will of the people.

The need for this change was made clear by the Wolf administration’s unilateral decisions during the pandemic that went beyond the intent of the legislation that granted him certain authority. By closing businesses and schools with no input from the people, the executive branch elevated itself above the legislative and judicial branches in an obvious violation of the checks and balances afforded by the Pennsylvania Constitution. Because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court refused to exercise the obvious check, the legislature took it to the people of Pennsylvania, who, having suffered the governor’s abuses, responded by approving a constitutional amendment stripping the governor’s office of the powers he claimed. But that takes time.

No governor of any party should be permitted to wield such unchecked power again. If the House of Representatives follows the Senate’s lead and passes Senate Bill 1, voters will be empowered to restore this crucial balance of power.

Phase-out of Job-Killing PA Tax Begins

The phase-out of Pennsylvania’s sky-high Corporate Net Income tax got underway this month, part of our efforts to keep good jobs here and create new ones.

Republican lawmakers secured a cut in this job-killing tax as part of the 2022-23 state budget. Before this reduction to 8.99%, Pennsylvania’s CNI tax had been 9.99% for nearly three decades while other states had lower tax rates – some far lower – and many have been lower for almost as long.

When gradually reduced to 4.99% in 2031, Pennsylvania’s CNI rate will have gone from one of the highest in the nation to one of the lowest, making the commonwealth far more competitive with other states.

A 2009 report by an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City demonstrates that the burden of the corporate income tax is borne in large part by labor within the state in the form of lower wages. A 2016 paper published in the journal American Economic Review found employees shoulder about a third of the corporate tax burden.

Reducing this tax will be the difference between jobs coming to our local communities and jobs leaving. This will be a great benefit to Pennsylvania families.

Miniseries of Human Trafficking Interviews

Joe Sweeney Human Trafficking Interview

January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and though human trafficking awareness has grown in recent years, there is so much more to be done to properly fight traffickers and help victims.

I introduced a three-pronged approach to dealing with human trafficking during the anti-human trafficking conference held at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown in October 2022. This approach includes communications/education of human trafficking, rescuing victims and restoration/reintegration of body and soul of survivors.

To draw further attention to this important issue, I have produced a series of interviews (four) that I released this month.

Every Thursday in January I have posted on my website a background discussion about human trafficking, a short bio of the anti-human trafficking CEO I interviewed and a five-minute interview with this human trafficking expert.

This week is the final interview of the series, and it features Joe Sweeney, the founder and CEO of The Asservo Project.

Joseph Sweeney serves as the founder/CEO of The Asservo Project. For more than 25 years, Mr. Sweeney has devoted himself to serving his country and community as a former SWAT operator, bomb squad commander and U.S government explosive security specialist. While serving overseas as part of anti-terrorism programs, he had conversations with colleagues about child kidnapping and human trafficking. Once aware of the size and scope of this epidemic and the lack of effort to combat it, he felt he had to do something to help these people and The Asservo Project was formed.

The Asservo Project provides resources to assist law enforcement, conduct awareness seminars and build relationships with global organizations. For suspected human trafficking/child exploitation, please contact their tipline at 877-SAVE994.

Open House for New Bellefonte District Office on Feb. 17

Being keenly aware that I’ve been given, through the redistricting process, a significant number of people in Centre County who never had the opportunity to evaluate me and vote for me, I will be holding an open house for my new Bellefonte district office on Friday, Feb. 17 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

I’ve already been out-and-about meeting with people, but I want to give folks the opportunity to know where and when I will be available to meet them, and also know where the new office for the eastern part of District 25 is.

The office is located at 301 North Spring Street, Bellefonte, PA 16823. The office phone number is (814) 355-0477 and the office Fax number is (814) 355-6046.

So, if you have some time on Feb. 17, I’d love to meet you at the Bellefonte office.

Penn Highlands Brookville, Penn Highlands Elk Hospitals Recognized for Excellence in Patient Safety

Penn Highlands Brookville and Penn Highlands Elk are two of the 21 hospitals recently recognized statewide by the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) for their stellar performance ensuring patients’ safety.

Penn Highlands Brookville and Penn Highlands Elk are important providers of high-quality health care to residents in the 25th District. The exemplary work they’ve done to enhance patient safety is worthy of the acknowledgement they have received from HAP and a great benefit to all those who rely on these facilities for their care.

HAP honors the top performing hospitals each year through their Excellence in Patient Safety Recognition program. This recognition reflects the extraordinary steps Penn Highlands Brookville and Penn Highlands Elk continue to make to prevent health care-associated infections and improve patient-safety outcomes.

The top-performing hospitals are identified by HAP using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Healthcare Safety Network. To be recognized, hospitals must perform better than the mean standardized infection ratio in three key measures: central line-associated bloodstream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, and Clostridioides difficile infections.

Jefferson County Fair Queen Claire Haines

Recently our Jefferson County Fair Queen, Claire Haines, had the opportunity to go to Hershey, PA, to compete against 58 other fair queens for the title of 2023 Pennsylvania Fair Queen.

While Claire wasn’t chosen as queen or one of the finalists for the title, she documented her adventure on Facebook, and from what she posted, she came away from the competition with many great experiences and having met some wonderful people.

I’m so proud of Claire and what she has accomplished. Great job, Claire, and good luck in all your future endeavors!

2023 Clarion Forest Landowner Conference on Feb. 11

The people of district are very conscientious about environmental stewardship. There are many landowners and people who are interested in owning larger tracts of land, and they know there are some best management practices that could help them meet their goals.

Whether you own forested land, hope to one day or serve as a woodland advocate, you can come to the 2023 Clarion Forest Landowner Conference on Feb. 11 and join others who share your interests and get the knowledge and tools you need to care well for your woods and elevate your stewardship.

The conference will be at held from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Grunenwald Science & Technology Center at PennWest University Clarion. Parking is available at 80 Greenville Avenue, Clarion, PA 16214.

There will be five sessions during the conference, with the topics to include timber sale basics, current solar leasing basics, woodland flowers, creating wildlife habitat and enjoying wild edibles.

Speakers will be from the Penn State Extension, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Bureau of Forestry, the Jennings Environmental Center, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and other agencies.

The cost is $15 per person. Pre-registration is required and the deadline to register is Feb. 5. You can register online here.

Rebates for Property Taxes and Rent Available to Seniors, Pennsylvanians with Disabilities

Older adults and Pennsylvanians with disabilities can apply now for rebates on property taxes or rent paid in 2022.

The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded. Spouses, personal representatives or estates may also file rebate claims on behalf of claimants who lived at least one day in the claim year and meet all other eligibility criteria.

The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975. You can find more eligibility and application information here. Eligible applicants can visit to electronically submit their applications.

Fifteen-County Lumber Heritage Region Receives $365,000 in Grant Funding

The Lumber Heritage Region (LHR), one of Pennsylvania’s twelve heritage regions, has received $365,000 in grant funding for projects across the 15-county region.

This funding is from two separate partnership grants provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) to heritage area partners.

All of the region’s 15 counties located in Northwest/North Central Pennsylvania will benefit from the funding received through these grants. Education and outreach, and tourism promotion and marketing are major ongoing projects that can be felt in each of the communities.

Last year over 1,500 school-aged children were taught the importance of lumbering to our region. LHR was also able to create two virtual educational tools – Boom Heritage and Legends of Lumbering – that are housed on the LHR YouTube Channel.

This funding was part of $1.8 million recently awarded to heritage areas throughout the state, with portions of that funding to go toward the continued development of the PA Route 6 Heritage Corridor’s bicycle tourism program as well as the completion of a master plan for a Dark Sky Program in Cameron County within the LHR.

Local Organizations Can Apply Now for Conservation Grants

Counties, municipalities and municipal agencies, pre-qualified land trusts, nonprofits and other eligible organizations can apply now for state conservation, recreation, trail and related grants.

Administered by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Community Conservation Partnerships Program is funded with a variety of state and federal funding sources including Pennsylvania’s natural gas Impact Fee.

Applications will be accepted through April 5. Online tutorials are available to aid organizations in the application process.

Lowering the Risk of Birth Defects

Rates of infant deaths due to birth defects have declined by 10% in the United States. However, even today, every 4½ minutes a baby is born with a major problem affecting parts of the body including the heart, brain or foot, causing lifelong health challenges.

The National Birth Defects Prevention Network offers women five tips for preventing birth defects:

  1. If possible, take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day at least one month prior to conception.
  2. Plan a visit with your health care provider to support a healthy pregnancy.
  3. Reduce your risk of infections.
  4. Care for your body and mind before and during pregnancy to set you and your baby up for success.
  5. Avoid harmful substances during pregnancy, such as alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

Not all birth defects can be prevented. However, healthy choices and habits help lower the risk of having a baby born with these challenges.

Underground Railroad Exhibit at Bellefonte Art Museum

The Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County will house a permanent exhibit to commemorate the role of the region in the operations of the Underground Railroad.

The exhibit contains information about the operations of the Underground Railroad, art work depicting the courage and suffering of the enslaved African Americans and stories about the local citizens who helped and supported them.

To learn more about how Bellefonte is connected to the Underground Railroad, visit


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