Senator Dush E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Hoping to See You at THON Weekend 2024
  • Senate Committees Question OA Officials on Server Data Loss
  • Shielding Pennsylvanians from Cybersecurity Attacks
  • Budget Hearings Begin Next Week Examining Massive Shapiro Spending Plan
  • PA Parks Offer Free Events for People of All Ages
  • Happy Presidents Day!

Hoping to See You at THON Weekend 2024

Once again, I am proud to join with Senators Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35) and Scott Martin (R-13) in prime sponsoring a resolution designating February 12-18 as “THON Week” in Pennsylvania and honoring the work of the 16,500 Penn State student volunteers who make the fundraiser possible.

THON provides both emotional and financial support for families who benefit from the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital. As the largest student-run philanthropy effort in the world, THON has raised $219 million to help 4,800 families since its creation in 1973.

THON raised more than $15 million in 2023 alone.

The year-long fundraiser culminates in a 46-hour dance marathon that will take place February 16-18 at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Penn State, thank you for all you do to support THON! As always, donations large or small, make it possible for pediatric cancer patients and their parents not to have to make difficult choices between what is the best treatment and what their family budget can afford.

A livestream of the event is available at

Senate Committees Question OA Officials on Server Data Loss

Last week, as Chairman of the Senate State Government Committee, I partnered with Senate Communications and Technology Committee Chair Tracy Pennycuick (R-24) to convene a joint public hearing on the recent Shapiro Office of Administration (OA) server data loss.

Those testifying about the Jan. 3 incident included OA Secretary Neil Weaver, who said an employee performing routine server maintenance made an error that disrupted multiple agencies.

Most notably, this “human error” resulted in the loss of data from two applications used by the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) to manage and log evidence submissions, and from one application used by the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) for members’ online services account login.

The data deletion involved 77 servers maintained by OA, and all but one has been restored. The work to reconstruct the remaining PSP data from various sources is ongoing, Weaver said.

OA officials also stated that regular server backups are done, as policy dictates, and that they could not discuss several other aspects due to security concerns. 

As you can see from my questioning in the video link above, the OA’s collective, under oath testimony generated far more questions than answers. These answers were especially lacking as to why top OA officials and state lawmakers with legislative oversight were not immediately notified about the deleted data.

Additional information requested during this hearing will be reviewed once received by our committees. At that point, we will make the determination on whether to convene another public hearing on this incident with the PSP.

Video of the complete hearing can be accessed here.   

Shielding Pennsylvanians from Cybersecurity Attacks

Following a recent cyberattack on the Pennsylvania court system, the Senate has approved legislation to improve cybersecurity defenses by setting cybersecurity standards for IT procurement within state government.

Cyberattacks and data breaches – experienced by multiple state agencies – highlight the need for increased cybersecurity measures to protect the valuable data of every Pennsylvanian.

The bill would require any acquisition of computer hardware by the state to adhere to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidelines for computer security. NIST’s comprehensive approach includes standards, guidelines and best practices to effectively manage cybersecurity-related risks.

Senate Bill 745 is now pending further consideration in the House of Representatives.

Budget Hearings Begin Next Week Examining Massive Shapiro Spending Plan

State spending would increase by more than $3.2 billion, or about 7.1%, under Gov. Josh Shapiro’s new budget plan. This level of increase will make it virtually impossible to balance future budgets without deep spending cuts and massive tax increases within the five-year planning period.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will be participating in a series of state budget hearings to fully examine the governor’s proposal and identify fiscally responsible alternatives to rein in the governor’s massive spending spree.

The first hearing is scheduled for Feb. 20 and will feature appearances by the Independent Fiscal Office, Department of Corrections and Pennsylvania Parole Board, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Department of Community and Economic Development, Department of Labor and Industry and Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

Livestreams of the hearings and daily recaps will be available here.

The hearings will be used to review Gov. Josh Shapiro’s spending plan and ask administration officials about the need for any proposed increases. From there, a budget that more appropriately reflects the needs of taxpayers can be developed before the constitutional deadline of June 30.

PA Parks Offer Free Events for People of All Ages

As people start to feel a bit of cabin fever this time of year, it can be a great time to take advantage of recreational opportunities offered at Pennsylvania state parks.

There are free or low-cost seminars to interest people of all ages. Some examples include a winter photography walk, an introduction to cross country skiing, make and take tree cookie crafts, a cast iron cooking lesson and even a full moon hike.

Find a full calendar of events, including some that are virtual, and sign up here.

Happy Presidents Day!

On Monday, Feb. 19, we recognize Presidents Day and reflect on the effort it takes to guide our country in the right direction. Originally, the holiday was to honor our first president – George Washington – but it has since been expanded.

Because of the holiday, my offices will be closed with normal business hours resuming on Tuesday, Feb. 20.


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