Senator Dush E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Schmidt Commits to Critical Election Integrity Objectives During Final Confirmation Voting Meeting
  • PA Senate Goes All-In to Protect Sexually Exploited Children, Human Trafficking Victims
  • Senate Works to Reunite Missing Children with Their Families
  • Supporting Transportation Infrastructure
  • Preventing Overdoses and Easing Strain on EMS Providers
  • Senate Advances Bill to Combat Elder Abuse
  • Bill to Expand College, Job Training Opportunities Passes Senate
  • Happy Independence Day

Schmidt Commits to Critical Election Integrity Objectives During Final Confirmation Voting Meeting

On June 26, as chairman of the Pennsylvania Senate State Government Committee, I convened a voting meeting which resulted in the recommendation of Secretary of the Commonwealth nominee Al Schmidt to the full Senate in a nearly unanimous vote of 10-1. 

As I stated in my opening comments, this confirmation process is about securing future elections, not disputing the past. We are squarely focused on making sure our electoral system is transparent, accountable and trustworthy. I believe and, as Mr. Schmidt has stated he does, that these issues are vital for the voters of the commonwealth.

In addition to fulfilling the committee’s constitutional responsibility of fully vetting executive branch nominees, my major objective for both confirmation hearings was to get Acting Secretary Schmidt on public record in support of commonsense solutions to fortify the electoral process, instill confidence in voters and preserve integrity in every election at every level.

As the Secretary of the Commonwealth is the single most important individual when it comes to conducting elections, it was reassuring to hear “Al Schmidt Commit” to working together with the Legislature on the following bipartisan election integrity goals:

  • Addressing voter roll accuracy and the timely removal of ineligible voters.
  • Bolstering ballot security by making drop boxes more secure and issuing guidance at the county level to prevent ballot harvesting and ballot stuffing.
  • Evaluating inspection options for PA voting machines.

Video clips of Acting Secretary Schmidt answering my questions on each of these critical voter integrity priorities can be found on my Facebook page.

The full confirmation voting meeting can be viewed here.

More information can be found here.

PA Senate Goes All-In to Protect Sexually Exploited Children, Human Trafficking Victims

Continuing efforts to combat human trafficking throughout the commonwealth, on June 29, the Pennsylvania Senate unanimously advanced legislation – that that I was proud to sponsor alongside Sens. Maria Collett (D-12) and Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-28) – to ensure that sexually exploited children who are human trafficking victims always have full access to appropriate services and support.

Frequently described as modern-day slavery, human trafficking is the fastest rising crime in both America and around the world. Through force, fraud and coercion, human traffickers exploit their victims through demeaning sexual abuse, domestic servitude, forced marriage and organ removal. 

Tragically, under current Pennsylvania law, any minor that is exploited for commercial sex must identify their third-party perpetrator to be considered a victim of human trafficking, unless their purchaser is charged as a trafficker.

My legislation, Senate Bill 44, would ensure that third-party control is never a consideration for access to victim services by amending Titles 18 and 23 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.

In addition to the important changes this legislation makes to the trafficking section, my office worked with the Office of the Attorney General to modify Section 6318 to allow law enforcement to pose as a third party, or a seller, when working undercover.

Sen. Collett’s Senate Bill 45 would eliminate the third-party control requirement to access victim services under the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Notification Act (Act 197 of 2012).

No matter how a district attorney chooses to prosecute, sexually exploited children should never be subject to the emotional and physical trauma of identifying their human trafficking perpetrator to obtain services that they desperately need for healing and recovery.

Enactment of this bipartisan, collaborative legislation would finally ensure that any child who is preyed upon for commercial sex will be legitimately recognized as a victim of human trafficking under the law.

Senate Bills 44 and 45 now advance to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

More information can be found here.

Senate Works to Reunite Missing Children with Their Families

The Senate approved the Child Reunification Act to provide parents and law enforcement with a new tool to help identify and return missing children.

Senate Bill 460 would provide parents and guardians with free identification kits that include fingerprinting materials, DNA collection swabs and other information to help identify the child in case of an emergency.

Except for the DNA swabs, this is something the U.S. Military has done to help provide families the ability to give law enforcement the means of identifying their children quickly when they have been recovered after an abduction.  In fact, I was doing this for children at Vandenberg Air Force Base in 1989.

The bill would require school districts to distribute the kits to all first graders at no cost to parents. To protect the personal information of children and families, the information would be stored securely by parents and would not be entered into any state or national database.

Supporting Transportation Infrastructure

The Senate has been working on numerous transportation initiatives that would impact ALL areas of our state.

This week, the Senate passed Senate Resolution 136 to extend until Nov. 1 the emergency disaster proclamation issued in response to the collapse of the I-95 bridge in northeast Philadelphia.

Earlier this year, as people struggled with rising costs for all kinds of basic necessities, the Senate voted to protect Pennsylvanians’ wallets and stop the automatic gas tax increase for 2023. It would have been the second-highest gas tax in the nation, behind only California.

In another vote to bolster funding for Pennsylvania’s transportation infrastructure, the Senate passed Senate Bill 121 to restrict the diversion of transportation funding out of the Motor License Fund by the State Police for statewide highway patrol operations. The fund obtains revenue from transportation charges, including the gas tax, vehicle registration fees and driver license fees.

We also recently passed Senate Bill 656 to ensure owners of electric vehicles pay their fair share of road and bridge maintenance by enacting a flat annual fee of $290. Currently, they are required to remit the Alternative Fuels Tax based on the amount of electricity their vehicle uses, but most electric vehicle owners do not do this.

Preventing Overdoses and Easing Strain on EMS Providers

Legislation to allow Emergency Medical Service (EMS) providers responding to drug overdoses to leave a life-saving drug with caregivers received Senate support.

Senate Bill 81 would permit EMS providers to leave a dose of life-saving naloxone, or Narcan, with the on-scene caregiver of a patient who overdosed on opioids and was revived by the emergency medical technician. It would ease the strain on EMS providers by limiting repeat visits.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved naloxone nasal spray for over-the-counter use, with the change going into effect later this summer. Senate Bill 81 would expedite the timeline within Pennsylvania. It would also allow other versions of naloxone, which are still under review for over-the-counter sales, to be distributed by EMS providers.

Another measure to ease the strain on EMS providers, Senate Resolution 120, calls for a study on the dollar amount EMS providers are losing when they aren’t paid for their services.

EMS providers are not reimbursed for the treatment they provide Medicaid patients unless the patient is transported to the hospital or treatment facilities. As a result, the increased number of overdose response calls without transport hurts our EMS providers, which are already struggling financially.

Senate Advances Bill to Combat Elder Abuse

The Senate passed legislation combatting elder abuse and strengthening guardianship laws in Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 506 would require courts to automatically appoint counsel to individuals undergoing the guardianship process, consider other less restrictive alternatives before imposing a guardianship, and institute training and screening of professional guardians. The bill would also establish more robust review procedures for those currently in a guardianship.

Currently, when an adult of any age is deemed incapacitated by a court, a guardian may be appointed to become responsible for making certain decisions on their behalf, including for financial, medical and personal matters. Pennsylvania is one of only eight states in America that does not automatically appoint counsel to represent alleged incapacitated persons.

Bill to Expand College, Job Training Opportunities Passes Senate

Each year, billions in available student financial aid goes unclaimed. This week, the Senate approved a bill to help more state residents make informed decisions about pursuing college and job training programs.

Senate Bill 750 would require high school seniors to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines eligibility for federal, state and school financial aid programs. Families who choose not to complete the application could opt out on a form provided to parents or guardians.

This important measure will help to train more young Pennsylvanians for family-sustaining careers that will anchor them in the commonwealth. When they put their roots down here, our state will benefit economically and attract more employers drawn by the skilled workforce. It furthers the Senate Republican priority of empowering Pennsylvania families through education empowerment and access.

Happy Independence Day

Next week marks 247 years since the 13 American colonies signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia to break free from British rule. As we pause to celebrate the birth of our nation, let us take a moment to remember the men and women who sacrificed so much to create this country.

If you are traveling, check out, which is free and available 24 hours a day. The site provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to traffic cameras.

PennDOT will also close its driver license service centers on Tuesday, July 4. Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services, including all forms, publications and driver training manuals, online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website.

Have a safe and happy July Fourth!


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