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In this Update:
- Harrisburg Highlights
- Area Veterans Can RSVP for Our Veterans Breakfast Nov. 9!
- Governor Signs Dog Law Modernization Bill into Law
- Senate Passes Bills Empowering Parents
- Senate Votes to Extend and Improve Program to Protect Students
- Grants Available for Organizations Helping Veterans
- Apply to Vote by Mail by Oct. 31 for the November Election
- Recognizing Pennsylvania’s First Responders
Congratulations to Ava Tsao who was the Division 2 first place winner in the 2023 PA School Bus Poster Contest! Her poster along with the other 1st place division posters will be sent to the national competition which will be judged next month. Good Luck, Ava!
Area Veterans Can RSVP for Our Veterans Breakfast Nov. 9!
I encourage area veterans to join us on Thursday, Nov. 9, at 9 a.m. at the Community College of Beaver County, 1 Campus Dr, Monaca, PA 15061, for our Veterans Breakfast as we honor and thank them for their service to our country. Veterans can each bring one guest and will be served a free breakfast.
RSVP by Nov. 3 by calling 724-480-3554 or emailing Marketing@ccbc.edu.
We hope to see you there!
Governor Signs Dog Law Modernization Bill in Law
This past Monday, the governor signed my Dog Law Modernization bill (Senate Bill 746) into law. This bill has been in the works for several years at this point, and with the diligent discussions with the Department of Agriculture and stakeholders, as well as with the support of my colleagues in both Chambers, I am glad to see this legislation get over the finish line. This new law will go into effect in 90 days.
My legislation focuses on modernizing various aspects covered under the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement (BDLE) to improve its overall functionality and efficiency such as simplifying licensing for dog owners, enhancing public safety and animal welfare protections; and improving customer service. Learn more about it here: https://bitly.ws/YmUP.
Senate Passes Bills Empowering Parents
The Senate approved legislation that would empower parents to protect their own child from accessing sexually explicit content at school, without impacting the books available to other students. Senate Bill 7 would require schools to:
- Identify sexually explicit content in school curriculum, materials and books.
- Create an opt-in policy that would:
- Notify parents of the sexually explicit content by including a list of the book titles on the form.
- Give parents the opportunity to review the materials.
- Require parents to give direct consent for their children to be provided or have access to sexually explicit content.
- Provide children with non-explicit alternatives if their parents do not opt in.
Senate Bill 7 was crafted after a non-partisan, thorough two-year process – including conversations with parents, school administrators, teachers and librarians. It would not ban any books from Pennsylvania school curriculum or libraries, but rather empower parents to control only what their own children have access to in school.
The Senate also approved legislation requiring schools to make public curriculum information available online, including a link or title for every textbook and course syllabus used for classes. Other measures passed this week would require schools to display the United States Constitution and display the Pennsylvania Constitution. Empowering parents and families is a priority of Pennsylvania Senate Republicans.
Senate Votes to Extend and Improve Program to Protect Students
Building on recent legislation to improve school bus safety, the Senate approved legislation extending and improving the school bus stop-arm automated enforcement program. The measure is set for enactment into law.
The program was first authorized in 2018 and includes nearly 40 participating school districts that equipped 2,500 school buses with cameras to record vehicles that don’t stop for school buses. More than 4,000 violations have been recorded.
The program was set to expire this week. Senate Bill 851 makes the program permanent, improves interaction with law enforcement and streamlines the appeals process. If a driver illegally passes a stopped school bus, the school district will send the car owner a police-vetted violation in the mail. The owner must pay the $300 fine or make an appeal for a virtual or in-person hearing overseen by a PennDOT official. The driver may petition a magisterial district judge after PennDOT’s decision.
Grants Available for Organizations Helping Veterans
The Veterans’ Trust Fund is accepting grant applications for programs and services benefiting Pennsylvania veterans. Nonprofit organizations, veteran service organizations and county directors of veteran affairs may apply by Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 2 p.m.
Find more information about the grant opportunity and how to apply here.
The trust fund is supported by Pennsylvanians who donate when applying for or renewing their driver’s licenses, photo IDs or motor vehicle registrations; purchase veteran-specific license plates; or make private donations. Tax-deductible donations can be made online.
Apply to Vote by Mail by Oct. 31 for the November Election
The deadline is approaching for anyone who would like to vote by mail for the Nov. 7 election. Your county election board must receive your application for a mail-in or absentee ballot no later than Tuesday, Oct. 31, at 5 p.m.
Any registered voter may request a mail-in ballot. Absentee ballots can be requested by voters with disabilities or an illness that prevents them from going to their polling place on Election Day, or those who will be absent from their municipality on Election Day.
You can apply for a mail-in ballot online, by mail or in person at your county election board’s office or other designated locations. Learn more here.
Recognizing Pennsylvania’s First Responders
Saturday, Oct. 28, is National First Responders Day. Police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians care for us during some of life’s worst moments. They are true heroes, and I am proud to honor their brave and selfless efforts.
My Senate colleagues and I have passed legislation to address the serious shortage of volunteer firefighters in the commonwealth. The number dropped from about 300,000 in the 1980s to less than 38,000 today, so they need our support. Without enough volunteers, communities across Pennsylvania face longer wait times when minutes make the difference between life and death.
contact me to provide input on any state-related matter, or to
receive help in dealing with a state agency.