Senator Dush E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • New Senate Republican Leadership Team Chosen for the 2023-24 Legislative Session
  • A1C Robert P. Pape Memorial Bridge Dedication
  • Senate Accomplishments: Helping Crime Victims
  • Training Available to Help Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans and Their Families
  • Utilities Set to Adjust Seasonal Energy Supply Prices Dec. 1; Financially Struggling Consumers Can Get Utility Assistance
  • Support Available for Nursing Apprenticeships
  • Pre-Application Period Begins for Traffic Signal Improvement Grants
  • National Guard Academy for At-Risk Youth Taking Applications
  • Help for Pennsylvanians Dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Volunteers Sought for National Focus Group on Virtual Public Involvement

New Senate Republican Leadership Team Chosen for the 2023-24 Legislative Session

11/15/22 - Senate Leadership News Conference

Senate Republicans this past week elected their leadership team for the 2023-24 legislative session.

Sen. Kim Ward (R-39) has been elected to serve as interim Senate President Pro Tempore from Dec. 1 until Jan. 2. On Tuesday, Jan. 3, the Senate will vote for a President Pro Tempore to serve for the new two-year legislative session. She becomes the first woman to hold the position, the third-highest post in Pennsylvania government. She previously served as Senate Majority Leader.

Sen. Joe Pittman (R-41) will serve as Senate Majority Leader. His duties include overseeing the legislative agenda, developing policies and strategies for the Senate Republican Caucus, and playing a key role in floor debates. He also has a major role in negotiating issues with the Administration and House of Representatives and in coordinating action on the Senate floor.

Sen. Ryan Aument (R-36) was elected Majority Whip. The duties include acting as assistant floor leader, working to gain support for legislation and ensuring that Republican policies and strategies are maintained through the cooperative efforts of the majority caucus.

Sen. Scott Martin (R-13) will chair the Senate Appropriations Committee. The committee reviews all legislation for its fiscal impact and plays a crucial role in negotiating and developing the state budget. Each year, the panel holds a series of public hearings with leaders of state departments and agencies to study the governor’s budget proposal and ensure taxpayer dollars are being utilized properly.

Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-28) will serve as Majority Caucus Chair for the 2023-24 legislative session. The chair presides over Republican caucus meetings to discuss bills and amendments and to develop caucus strategy.

Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-46) was elected Senate Majority Caucus Secretary to oversee all executive nominations submitted to the Senate for confirmation. She will coordinate the review of the background and experience of nominees and ensure that proper documentation is submitted.

A1C Robert P. Pape Memorial Bridge Dedication

Pictured left to right: Rep. Brian Smith (R-66), Robert’s siblings Joseph Pape, Susan Pape Meneely, John Pape, Jr. and Sen. Cris Dush

On November 11, 2022, The Mahoning Valley VFW Post 2076, in Punxsutawney was the host to the Robert P. Pape Bridge Dedication following a veteran’s day program.  The bridge, which is located on Route 119 and crosses over the Mahoning Creek, is now named A1C Robert P. Pape Memorial Bridge. 

Airman First Class Pape enlisted in the US Air Force on Nov. 13, 1968.  He was stationed at Da Nang Air Base in South Vietnam on Sept. 2, 1970.  Robert’s brother, John Pape, Jr. spoke of Sept. 2, 1970, when Robert was trying to extinguish a flaming aircraft when the aircraft exploded.  Robert’s family was told that 30 soldiers lost their life that day. 

John asked, “When you cross Robert’s bridge, don’t just think of Bobby, but also think of all the veteran’s that lost their life that day.” 

Senate Accomplishments: Helping Crime Victims

As lawmakers, we work to implement legislation to help communities prevent crime. But when crime does occur, we need to make sure the laws stand behind victims.

Three bills recently signed into law will help protect crime victims from being targeted again, give them a greater say in criminal proceedings and help them recover restitution from offenders.

Act 50 of 2022 extends the Domestic and Sexual Violence Victim Address Confidentiality Act to give victims of child abduction and human trafficking access to substitute mailing addresses. This approach has been successful in preventing assailants from using such information to locate victims. The new law also allows requests for address confidentiality to be submitted electronically. Previously, requests had to be made in writing, impeding access and slowing the process.  

Act 71 of 2022 requires that a victim of a violent crime be notified of any proceeding in which conditions for bail can be modified. This affords the victim the right to offer comment regarding a defendant’s bail conditions when they’re imposed or later modified.

Act 134 of 2022 makes it easier for crime victims to obtain relevant information learned by law enforcement during the investigation of the crime. Crime victims can then use that information in civil legal actions to recover damages for their injuries. The meager restitution obtained through criminal cases often does not fully compensate victims.

I look forward to continuing to work in the next legislative session to reduce crime and support those impacted by offenders.

Training Available to Help Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans and Their Families

As part of ongoing efforts to prevent suicide among service members, veterans and their families, the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) is offering Military Cultural Competency Training, provided by Psych Armor at no cost, to community partners, providers and others to support strategies related to their suicide prevention action plans.

Additional information about the training content can be found here along with registration and information on accessing the training portal.  These 15 trainings will be available through the portal through December 2025. OMHSAS has the ability to train 300 people on a first come, first serve basis.

Please take advantage of these evidenced-based trainings available now, and work in partnership to provide services to our service members, veterans and military families our commonwealth.

Utilities Set to Adjust Seasonal Energy Supply Prices Dec. 1; Financially Struggling Consumers Can Get Utility Assistance

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) is reminding consumers they have options to manage anticipated higher bills and stresses that consumers currently struggling to pay monthly bills should act now and seek assistance by contacting their utilities.

All Pennsylvania regulated electric utilities are adjusting their charge that covers the cost of the energy (electricity or natural gas) they supply, so it’s important that consumers be prepared for those changes.

Consumers can use the PUC’s electric and natural gas shopping websites to compare prices and find what works best for them. Struggling consumers are urged to call their utilities, with the PUC noting that direct conversations between struggling customers and utilities are the best “first step” in addressing outstanding bill balances and discussing utility assistance programs.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for the 2022-23 winter heating season is also available – it opened on Nov. 1, 2022 – for families living on low incomes to help them pay their heating bills in the form of a cash grant. Households in immediate danger of being without heat can also qualify for crisis grants.

Pennsylvanians can apply for LIHEAP and other public assistance programs online at or by phone at 1-866-550-4355.

Support Available for Nursing Apprenticeships

Local workforce development boards have until Nov. 30 to apply for state assistance to develop nursing apprenticeship programs in low- or moderate-income communities.

Distributed by the Department of Labor and Industry, Nursing Pathway Apprenticeship Industry Partnership grant funding will award local workforce development boards up to $260,000 to collaborate with community partners, organizations, sponsors and regional industry partnerships to register, maintain and manage nursing apprenticeship programs, as well as recruit and retain qualified health care professionals.

The initiative aims to prepare individuals for a range of nursing positions, including home health aides, certified nursing assistants, and licensed practical nurses.

Pre-Application Period Begins for Traffic Signal Improvement Grants

Green Light-Go is a competitive state grant program designed to improve the efficiency and operation of traffic signals in Pennsylvania communities, reducing congestion and increasing safety at intersections.

Prior to applying for this assistance, municipalities, counties and planning organizations must pre-apply by Dec. 23. Full applications must be submitted electronically through the DCED Single Application for Assistance between Jan. 3, 2023 and Jan. 31, 2023.

It is anticipated awards from this application round will be announced in summer 2023 and the projects must be completed by spring 2026.

National Guard Academy for At-Risk Youth Taking Applications

Applications are being accepted for youth to take part in the Pennsylvania National Guard’s Keystone State ChalleNGe Academy class beginning in January 2023. If selected, students will attend the 22-week residential phase at Fort Indiantown Gap in Annville, Lebanon County.

The academy provides a positive learning environment designed to guide at-risk teenagers in furthering their education and setting a path to a brighter future. Cadets will experience a structured and disciplined residential program built upon a military-based training model.

There is no tuition cost to attend. Meals, housing, uniforms and school supplies are provided at no charge. There is no military obligation requirement after completing the program. Find out more and apply here.    

Help for Pennsylvanians Dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease

There are an estimated 280,000 Pennsylvanians living with Alzheimer’s disease. This type of dementia is the seventh leading cause of death among all adults.

Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month is a reminder that while there is no cure for this disease, there is a wide range of support available for patients and families.  

You can find caregiver resources and information on risk reduction and other topics at the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Alzheimer Association’s Greater PA Chapter.

Volunteers Sought for National Focus Group on Virtual Public Involvement

The North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission – serving Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Jefferson, McKean and Potter counties – is looking for volunteers to participate in a national focus group on virtual public involvement.   

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is recruiting participants for a nationwide study to understand how people engage with public agencies online. Focus groups will take place in early 2023 and will be scheduled based on participant availability.

All you need do is sign up here or use the link provided in the flyer presented below. If selected to participate in a one-hour online focus group, you will receive a $50 gift card for your time!

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