In this Update:
Resources Relating to the Canadian Wildfires
With smoke from Canadian wildfires impacting our area, I wanted to share a few sites that allow you to track air quality and protect your health. For the Air Quality Map, click here. For information on what the numbers/colors mean, click here. For an overview and health tips, click here.
June is National Dairy Month!
On Wednesday, in honor of National Dairy Month, I shared with my colleagues the value the PA Dairy Industry holds here in the Commonwealth and the importance of continuing to support not only our dairy farmers, but our agricultural industry as a whole.
As a past dairy farmer myself, I can tell you that farming is the backbone of our nation, and I encourage everyone to keep our farmers in mind when shopping at your local grocery store.
PUC Urges Consumers to Check for ID Before Any Conversations with Energy Salesmen
With the weather getting warmer comes the higher possibility of encountering door-to-door energy sales & marketing. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) urges all consumers to Check For ID before any conversation. Know who you are dealing with & understand Pennsylvania’s important consumer protections to help avoid deception and scams! For more information, click here.
Congratulations to the Beaver Valley Regional Police Department
This past weekend, I was glad to have witnessed the swearing in of police officers for the newly created Beaver Valley Regional Police Department (BVRPD) which represents the consolidation of Baden, Conway and Freedom Borough police departments. The department officially began its operations on Sunday, June 4!
Thank you to all our men and women in blue who dedicate their time to keeping our communities safe!
Non-Profits Can Still Sign Up for Our Grant Education Seminar on June 14
My office will be hosting a virtual grant education meeting on Wednesday, June 14, from 9:30-10:30 a.m., via Zoom for area non-profits. We will be providing funding updates, and information about available state, federal, and foundational grants. You can sign-up at this link http://bitly.ws/FDNc.
Senate Committee Advances Vogel’s Dog Law Modernization Bill
On Tuesday, the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee unanimously approved my Dog Law Modernization Bill (Senate Bill 746)!
The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement’s primary operating funds come from the licensing and kennel fees administered through the Dog Law and with the absence of fee increases, which have not happened in 58 years, the Bureau has been financially suffering and has reported staff shortages – all of which have hindered them from efficiently performing their duties.
I want to thank my colleagues and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture for their support of my legislation and seeing the dire needs of the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. My bill would return the bureau to solvency and provide additional updates to modernize the Dog Law.
My bill now goes before the full Senate for consideration. For more information on my bill, click here.
Looking to Change Agency’s Culture, Senate Approves Bill to Rename DEP
The Senate approved legislation to rename the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to the Department of Environmental Services. Senate Bill 691, which now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration, will have no effect on the jurisdiction or current statutory or regulatory authority of the department.
The word “protection” in the department’s name carries a law enforcement connotation rather than that of an environmental resource and partner to the citizens of Pennsylvania. Emphasizing that the department is focused on services will be a major step forward in instituting a needed culture change.
DEP is charged with administering the laws of the commonwealth as enacted by the General Assembly. The General Assembly, through these legislative enactments, is responsible for ensuring the protection of the commonwealth’s environment and natural resources.
Protecting Pennsylvanians from Unauthorized Tracking Devices
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed legislation to protect Pennsylvanians from the unauthorized use of electronic tracking devices. The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
While tracking devices have been used for decades, the release of the Apple AirTag has resulted in a low-cost proliferation of such technology. Rather than using them to locate commonly misplaced items, some people place them in people’s purses or on their vehicles when unaware. Current law is vague on criminal culpability.
Senate Bill 159 would make it a misdemeanor of the second degree to use such devices to track another person without consent. Exceptions include law enforcement agencies conducting investigations and parents keeping tabs on their children.
Simplifying Government, Ensuring Adequate Funding for Roads and Bridges
Legislation sponsored to replace Pennsylvania’s Alternative Fuels Tax on electric vehicle owners with a flat fee was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee. It would simplify the process for electric vehicle owners and ensure all drivers are contributing toward the maintenance of roads and bridges.
Currently, owners of electric vehicles are required to file monthly statements with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and remit the alternative fuel tax on how much electricity their vehicle uses. However, most electric vehicle owners do not do this, or are inconsistent at doing so, due to the cumbersome process or simply being unaware.
Senate Bill 656 would exempt electric vehicle owners from the tax and replace it with a flat annual fee of $290. The fee was calculated based on the average annual gas taxes paid by owners of gas-powered vehicles. Like the gas tax, the revenue from the flat fee will be deposited into the Motor License Fund for highway maintenance and construction.
Bill Ensuring Educational Opportunities for Military Children Receives Committee Support
Legislation to reduce the educational challenges faced by children of PA National Guard and Reserve members was approved by the Senate Education Committee and is before the full Senate for consideration.
Military families face frequent reassignments, posing educational challenges for children transitioning between schools in different states.
Senate Bill 209 would give children of National Guard and Reserve members the same help provided to those of active-duty military families through the Military Interstate Children’s Compact. The compact provides a consistent set of policies that make getting started in a new school, joining extracurricular activities and meeting graduation requirements as easy as possible for military children.
Please contact me to provide input on any state-related matter, or to receive help in dealing with a state agency.