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Elder Vogel Jr.
May 15, 2019
Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center will be presenting Disney’s Frozen, Jr. this fall and I’m excited to have Elsa and her favorite pal, Olaf join us at my Kids Expo this week on May 18th! Come on out to meet these beloved characters and catch them performing a few of your favorite hits like “Let It Go!”. We are also excited to announce that every child in attendance has the chance to win a signed Mario Lemieux hockey puck.
I have the opportunity to be in full support of a package of bills that would help Pennsylvania agricultural operations remain competitive and profitable for current and future generations of farmers.
Bills in the “Farming First” package that were passed by the Senate today include:
The “Farming First” package is designed to build on the longstanding efforts of Senate Republicans to support Pennsylvania’s farm families and maintain agriculture’s status as the state’s top industry.
Pennsylvania’s 59,000 farm families manage more than 7.7 million acres of farmland. The agriculture industry generates more than $7.5 billion in cash receipts annually.
Senate Republicans led the fight last year to create the Pennsylvania Dairy Industry Investment Program, which is designed to improve the production, processing and distribution of dairy products throughout the state.
Over the past four years, Senate Republicans have also worked to restore a cumulative total of more than $15 million in cuts proposed by Governor Wolf to critical programs supporting the agriculture community, including livestock and open dairy shows, food marketing and research, hardwoods research and promotion, agricultural research and Agricultural Excellence.
All of the bills in the “Farming First” package were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. You can watch my remarks on this proposal by clicking here.
Local Schools Receive Safety Grants from State Program
School safety grants were awarded to nine school districts in Beaver and Lawrence counties. Beaver County school districts receiving grants are:
Lawrence County school districts receiving grants are:
The grants were awarded by the School Safety and Security Committee within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) as part of the School Safety and Security Grant Program, which was created by lawmakers in 2018.
This funding provides these districts in Beaver and Lawrence counties with financial support to enhance the safety of students in these schools. It is important to me that we take the appropriate and necessary steps to ensure our young people can feel safe in their classrooms and schools.
Eligible uses for the grants include hiring school security officers, purchasing security-related technology, completing safety and security assessments, implementing violence prevention curricula, offering counseling services for students, and creating other programs to protect students.
A total of approximately $40 million was awarded for 234 projects throughout the state in the current round of funding. In total, the School Safety and Security Grant Program will provide $52.5 million in school safety grants and $7.5 million in community violence prevention grants in the current Fiscal Year.
Every school district in the state that submitted a meritorious application was awarded a $25,000 grant last October to improve school safety. The grants announced today were awarded on a competitive basis to schools that were seeking additional funding beyond the original grant.
PCCD received a total of 638 applications totaling $177.6 million for school safety projects in the current Fiscal Year.
I had the privilege to speak at The Capitol Hunger Garden, which serves as a wonderful tool to provide fresh produce to those in need while raising awareness about the hunger issues we face here in Pennsylvania. This morning, we celebrated the 10th Annual Opening of the Garden.
Senate Bill 146 – Free Firefighter Training Online
The Senate approved Senate Bill 146 providing free firefighter training online when applicable. It’s open to all PA firefighters, but will be especially helpful for retaining volunteers with full-time jobs and family commitments. The State Fire Commissioner will develop standards. Fire companies asked for this legislation to help retain the declining number of volunteer firefighters.
To help address the rapidly declining ranks of volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania, I will soon be re-introducing legislation designed to make online training more readily available to current and prospective first responders.
Studies on firefighter recruitment and retention challenges in Pennsylvania have consistently shown that volunteers often point to training requirements and fundraising demands as factors that take a big toll on their time, money and availability to respond.
In the 1970’s, Pennsylvania had more than 300,000 volunteer firefighters; today we have fewer than 40,000. Firefighters –and especially younger, tech-savvy firefighters-in-training –have often requested that a portion of their training be offered online, so that they have the opportunity to learn vital skills from the convenience of their own homes, at times most suitable for them and their busy schedules.
Pennsylvania revenue collections have soared to a healthy surplus, thanks in part to Republican economic policies that have focused on holding down spending and rejecting proposed tax increases. The state’s General Fund collections through April are $828.5 million above estimate, and the state should end the year with a healthy surplus, which will help the state build up its weak Rainy Day Fund. Continued spending restraint is critical.
Senate Bill 440 – Flexible Instructional Days Option
The State Senate today approved legislation that would give school districts the option to implement flexible instructional days in the event of a school closure.
Senate Bill 440 makes permanent a pilot program that the Pennsylvania Department of Education opened up to a dozen school districts across the commonwealth. The pilot program is set to expire later this year.
This legislation paves the way for any public school entity to use up to five flexible instructional days in special instances such as weather-related closures, building or infrastructure problems, or if threats are made against buildings.
A flexible instructional day could be used to cover necessary coursework, including English, math, social studies and science. School districts have the option to use technology for the purposes of fulfilling the coursework.
Schools eligible to apply to the Pennsylvania Department of Education include public school districts, intermediate units, vocational-technical schools and charter schools. Approved applications would be valid for three years, when the school would need to reapply.
The legislation moves to the House of Representatives for its consideration.
Road Construction Season is Underway in PA
Open the 511PA maps legend and select “Active Roadwork”. Locate and click on any construction symbols you may encounter for confirmation of effected roadway and pinpoint details allowing you to plan for the delay or choose an alternate route. Confirm any potential delays due to heavy traffic (red) or stop and go (black) patterns of travel.
Morning, noon, or the middle of the night, 511PA reflects up-to-date information on traffic delays, weather forecasts, traffic speed information, and more than 860 traffic cameras. Additional details on projects are available by clicking on the Regional Offices map and selecting one of eight.
Spring Showers Bring Thoughts of Floods and Insurance
Spring showers bring thoughts of flood insurance, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance. Flooding is the most frequent and damaging natural disaster occurring in Pennsylvania and is typically not covered by homeowners or renter’s insurance.
When choosing between the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), licensed insurance companies, and surplus lines, note that switching from NFIP to private flood insurance could trigger a premium increase if the choice is made to return to NFIP coverage. Private flood insurance may also preclude you from certain hazard mitigation grant programs if your property is located in a flood prone area.
Interested homeowners are encouraged to complete and submit an application for flood insurance as soon as possible, keeping in mind there is a waiting period for approval. Contact the NFIP Help Center at 800-427-4661 for further assistance.
Angling for a Free Fun Family Adventure
Introduce the family to a free day of fishing along a Pennsylvania waterway on one of two upcoming holiday weekends. The first Fish-for-Free Day falls on Sunday, May 26, 2019, with the second scheduled for Thursday, July 4, 2019.
While no license is required on Fish for Free Days, all other fishing regulations apply. Review a copy of the 2019 PA Fishing Summary for laws and regulations, regional office locations, and bait, tackle, and equipment recommendations. Contact the Fishing Tackle Loaner Program to borrow a rod, reel, and tackle box.
Continue your household’s flow of information on fishing, conservation, and safety with a subscription to Pennsylvania Angler & Boater. Each magazine contains the latest edition of the PA League of Angling Youth (PLAY) newsletter geared toward those 8-12 years of age. Previous online PLAY newsletters are filled with titles like, Freaky Fish of Pennsylvania and an Introduction to Amphibians.
Please contact me to provide input on any state-related matter, or to receive help in dealing with a state agency.