In this Update:
Automatic Voter Registration Update
On Oct. 4, as chairman of the Senate State Government Committee, I finally received the opportunity to get a first-hand look at PennDOT’s automatic voter registration system that the governor unilaterally implemented three weeks ago without Legislative approval.
As you can read in Jan Murphy’s exclusive PennLive article by clicking here, this live demonstration was “disconcerting” to say the least.
Ask the Question! What’s In Your Child’s School Library?
On Wednesday morning, I joined with an energized group of state policymakers, parents and pastors seeking to protect our school children from sexually explicit material and highlight some of the most obscene books known to be available in many school libraries.
During my remarks, I posed a series of questions that every parent and guardian should consider regarding why school administrators, school boards, faculty and librarians are exempt from violating child obscenity laws if they sanction the use of pornographic and other parental rights-robbing materials in our public schools.
(NOTE: We had security in place to ensure children were not exposed during this press conference and we have had to blur some areas of even this photo to ensure children are not exposed.) I also asked the press in attendance what would happen to their FCC license or what would happen to their papers if they put these images and language on the front page of their papers sitting on the news racks?
Neither bill would ban any books from any Pennsylvania schools or libraries.
Parents and parental guardians are strongly encouraged to click here for the latest information.
Celebrating Benjamin Franklin and America’s Constitutional Republic
This past week, in our breathtaking state Capitol Rotunda, I participated in a press conference commemorating the 300th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin’s first arrival in Philadelphia.
It was an inspiring time of reflection regarding the fundamental principles put into practice by Franklin and the rest of America’s Founding Fathers to establish our unprecedented constitutional republic.
Welcome to Your State Capitol
I would like to express my gratitude to Pastor David Blair of Brookville First Baptist Church for serving as guest chaplain and delivering Tuesday’s opening prayer on the state Senate floor.
Accompanying Pastor Blair on his journey to Harrisburg was his son Jameson.
Senate Advances Harsher Penalties for Drug Dealers
As a retired corrections officer, I spoke on the Senate floor in support of legislation that would double the prison time for drug dealers who sell products that lead to the poisoning death of a victim, including drugs laced with fentanyl.
Also known as “Tyler’s Law,” Senate Bill 235 would establish a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a minimum $15,000 fine for anyone convicted of selling or distributing drugs that result in a death. Under current guidelines, drug dealers who poison victims with fentanyl can be back out on the streets in two years or less.
The bill would not apply to drug users who share drugs with family members or friends, or those who seek medical help for individuals who overdose.
SB 235 now advances to the PA House for consideration.
Bill to Provide New Career Paths for Individuals in Recovery Passes Senate
Individuals in recovery for substance use disorder would be able to maintain meaningful employment and chart a new path under a pilot program approved by the Senate.
Senate Bill 69 would create a Recovery to Work pilot program to connect individuals in recovery with high-priority occupations through local workforce development boards. The boards would work with the treatment and recovery community as well as local employers and training providers to find job training and employment opportunities.
The pilot program would be led by the Department of Labor and Industry with the assistance of the departments of Health, Community and Economic Development, and Drug and Alcohol Programs, as well as the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
Senate Votes to Improve Bridge Maintenance and Safety
This week, the Senate passed legislation to make state funding available for local bridge projects.
Currently, state Motor License Fund dollars are made available for the construction and repair of county bridges. While the funds are used to repair county-owned bridges, spending guidance fails to note how the funds could be used for bridges owned by municipalities within the counties. As a result, municipal bridges suffer and go without repair while remaining funds go unused due to ambiguous guidance.
Senate Bill 799 would give counties the flexibility they need to fund local bridge projects.
Bill Offering Free Credit Monitoring to Data Breach Victims Receives Senate Support
The Senate approved legislation to strengthen notification requirements for data breaches and provide affected citizens with free credit monitoring.
Senate Bill 824 would provide citizens affected by a data breach a free credit report and a year of credit monitoring while they recover. The bill also strengthens state notification requirements and requires Attorney General notification if a data breach occurs in the commonwealth.
The measure would cover instances in which an individual’s first and last name or first initial and last name have been accessed in combination with any of the following information: Social Security number, bank account number, driver’s license or state ID number.
Recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Every October, we recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, but early detection can drastically increase the survival rate. Take action by scheduling regular clinical breast exams and mammograms.
Of course, my colleagues and I work throughout the year to support people facing breast cancer. We passed comprehensive breast cancer screening legislation earlier this year that eliminated out-of-pocket costs for necessary BRCA testing and screening for high-risk Pennsylvanians.
This week, we also supported a resolution highlighting metastatic breast cancer – stage four when cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Despite advancements in medical science, metastatic breast cancer remains incurable.
Stocking PA’s Waters with Trout
Pennsylvania’s waterways are being restocked with approximately 117,500 hatchery-raised adult Rainbow, Brown and Brook Trout in 119 stream sections and lakes. The effort, which began this week, will continue through mid-December.
The stockings will replenish popular fishing spots across the state and provide ice fishing opportunities. Review the trout stocking schedules here. They are subject to change because of water temperature fluctuations and hatchery logistics.
In addition to the Fish Commission’s own hatcheries they have a wonderful working partnership with fish hatcheries around the 25th District that help make fishing an enjoyable time, particularly for first time anglers.
Trout that are stocked during fall and winter can be fished for immediately. Anglers ages 16 and older must have a valid Pennsylvania fishing license and trout permit. You can buy 2023 fishing licenses and permits online or at a retail license issuing agent.
Tour State Game Lands on Oct. 8 and 15
Across the commonwealth, you can tour state game lands the next two Sundays: Oct. 8 and 15. The drive-through tours, offered by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, are free and held rain or shine for vehicles licensed to travel on public roads.
The tours offer the opportunity to learn about the historical aspects of the game lands and the habitat improvements being made on them.
Find specific locations and times for the tours here.