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Senate Approves Vogel Cost-Saving Legislation for Schools
The Senate recently approved my legislation that will allow school districts to save thousands of dollars in annual mailing costs.
Senate Bill 1077 eliminates the mandate that school districts annually inform parents by physical mailing when the district uses audio and video recording to identify and address discipline issues on school buses.
The mailer mandate was included as part of Act 9 of 2014, which gave school districts the ability to use audio recordings on school buses.
Instead of the physical mailing, which can easily cost thousands of dollars each year, schools must post notice of the policy in the student handbook as well as on the school’s website.
Student handbooks outlining rules and procedures are already posted on each school’s publically accessible website. Parents have to acknowledge they have read and understand the rules and procedures by an electronic signature. There is no need to require a separate, physical mailing each year for this one specific policy. This will save taxpayer dollars.
Senate Bill 1077 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Approves Bill to Increase Penalties for Home Invasions
Last week, the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) released their Initial Revenue Outlook for Fiscal Year 2016-17. These forecasts are critical to the budget process because these statistics are largely used as a basis for the crafting of a balanced budget. Without delving into the details too much, I can report here that revenue collections are expected to modestly grow, due mostly to growth in personal incomes and sales tax receipts. It’s important to note that these projections assume current tax rates. Click here to read the full report.
The IFO, created by an act of the Legislature in 2010, provides revenue projections for use in the state budget process along with impartial and timely analysis of fiscal, economic, and budgetary issues to assist residents and the General Assembly in their evaluation of public policy. I encourage all of my constituents to visit their website and learn more about the state of our Commonwealth’s finances. Click here for more information.
I’m pleased to announce that efforts to restore the historic Kaufman House in Zelienople received a significant boost in the form of a $500,000 state grant. The grant was part of more than $2.6 million in funding awarded through the Keystone Communities program to support 14 community revitalization projects across the Commonwealth.
This is a great contribution by the state to support a major project by a coalition of organizations that will provide a significant economic boost to Zelienople and the entire region. This project will help the Kaufman House rise up from the ashes of the 2011 fire and again become a major component of downtown Zelienople.
The Kaufman House was built in 1909, but the hotel portion has not been used for overnight stays since the early 1970s.
The Butler County Tourism Foundation, the Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau, the Butler County Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Butler County Community College (BC3), Zelienople Borough and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are working in collaboration to restore and renovate the building on West New Castle Street.
The Kaufman House's history will be preserved by the project, which includes a restaurant/coffee shop/lounge and a boutique hotel with 18 to 22 rooms. The facility will serve as a training facility for the tourism and hospitality industries. BC3 will provide internship opportunities for culinary arts and hospitality management positions.
Zelienople was awarded a $3 million state grant in December 2014 for a major
downtown improvement project including the restoration of the historic Kaufman
House. The project, based on a comprehensive master plan adopted by the borough
in 2010, encompassed Zelienople’s Central Business District. The project
included paving and sidewalk improvements, the installation of decorative
lighting and landscaping with the goal of encouraging the development of
specialty shops, restaurants, office space downtown.
Beaver Country Rail Freight Projects Awarded over $1 Million in Grants
Two rail and freight projects in Beaver County have been awarded over $1 million in Rail & Freight Assistance Grants.
Investments in rail and freight infrastructure are vital to the success of local heavy industry. I welcome these state investments in Beaver County and the good jobs that come with them:
The rail Freight Assistance Program provides assistance for investment in rail freight infrastructure. The intent of the Program is to:
(1) Preserve essential rail freight service where economically feasible, and
(2) Preserve or stimulate economic development through the generation of new or expanded rail freight service.
The Darlington Days festival will be held on June 3, 4, and 5 in downtown Darlington with fireworks on Saturday night. For more info, see flier.
Capitol Hunger Garden Opens for 7th Season
Recently, I and fellow members of the Legislative Hunger Caucus joined together at the Capitol to mark the opening of the Capitol Hunger Garden.
The Capitol Hunger Garden is an approximately 1,000 square-foot area of land adjacent to the State Capitol Building which is overseen by the Hunger Caucus. Since its inception, the garden has annually produced between 700 and 800 pounds of vegetables that are donated to food banks, pantries, and local soup kitchens.
Opioids for Pain: Be Smart. Be Safe. Be Sure
Prescription opioids are crucial for pain management, but growing abuse of
these drugs has reached epidemic proportions in Pennsylvania. The PA Medical
Society recently launched “Opioids for Pain: Be smart. Be safe. Be sure.” It
seeks to reduce opioid abuse and overdoses, educate patients about the safe use
of opioids and the warning signs of addiction, and help physicians prescribe
opioid drugs with more precision and less potential for abuse.
Free Dental Clinic
The MOM-n-PA is an annual, two-day free dental clinic for underserved Pennsylvanians. It will be held on June 3rd and 4th at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.
Their mission is to provide dental treatment at no cost to individuals that cannot afford dental care. Treatment is provided on a first-come, first-serve basis and turnout is expected to be high, so please make sure to go early. Patients do not pre-register.
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Senate Box 203047