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In this Update:
- Mastriano and Senate Committee Pass Legislation to help Veterans
- Mastriano Announces More Than $10 Million in Funding for Water Infrastructure Improvements in Adams and Franklin Counties
- Senate Votes to Let Citizens Decide Voter ID, Legal Relief for Sexual Abuse Victims, Regulatory Reform
- Senate Approves Bill to Eliminate Gas Tax Increase, Help Pennsylvanians at the Pump
- Virtual Job Fair Set for Wednesday, Jan. 18
- Assistance Available for Local Historic Preservation
- Anti-Litter Contest Open to K-6 Students
- Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day
HARRISBURG – In the first meeting of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee since Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-33) was appointed to serve as chairman, he and other members of the committee voted on Tuesday to advance two bills to benefit veterans and recognize strategic allies abroad.
Senate Bill 126 would exempt 100% of a veteran’s federal disability compensation benefits or pension from income calculations for Commonwealth programs. It also would extend the exclusion of the veteran’s compensation benefits to his or her unmarried surviving spouse.
“This measure is very important as it will ensure that these rightfully earned federal payments will no longer be used to potentially disqualify a disabled veteran for Commonwealth assistance programs or rebates,” Mastriano said.
Senate Bill 141 would permit the awarding of military decorations to members of strategic allies, like Lithuania. Pennsylvania has had a thirty-year relationship with Lithuania through the National Guard’s State Partnership Program.
“As military tensions arise across the globe, it’s important for us to be able to recognize strategic allies, like Lithuania, and the exemplary service that they have provided to our Commonwealth,” Mastriano said. “This legislation allows us to additionally honor the brave Korean soldiers who fought alongside the Americans in Vietnam.”
Both bills were passed with unanimous bipartisan support from members of the committee and now head to the full Senate for consideration.
Click HERE for a link to the video of the hearing.
CHAMBERSBURG – Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-33) today announced more than $10 million in state funding has been awarded to improve the water systems in Bear Valley and Biglerville Borough.
“One of the limited roles of government is to ensure residents have access to clean drinking water,” Mastriano said. “This investment will help deliver clean drinking water to residents in Bear Valley and Biglerville Borough for years to come.”
The first project was awarded $8.5 million to pay for three drinking water wells and 15,000 feet of water main at the Fort Loudoun Water Treatment Facility in Peters Township.
The current water system cannot reliably meet the demand of local residents. The system produces approximately one million gallons per day, while the average daily use was 1.2 million gallons per day. The system is connected to and can receive water from the Borough of Chambersburg. That water, however, is not available when the borough needs it for its own users.
“The project in Peters Township will increase production so the water system is able to meet the demands of local residents,” Mastriano said.
The project is set to start in May with an anticipated completion date in the beginning of November 2024.
The second project was awarded $2 million to help the Biglerville Borough Authority replace 3,350 feet of water main and 1,250 feet of pipe along East York Street. The project also calls for the replacement of five fire hydrants.
The project is necessary because the system’s cast iron pipe is at the end of its useful life. The aging system has experienced water main leaks that caused service disruptions for local residents.
“The Biglerville Borough project will replace an aging water pipe system and provide more reliability for local consumers,” Mastriano said.
The Biglerville project is scheduled to begin in March and be completed at the beginning of 2024.
Funding for the projects is being provided through loans made available by PENNVEST, the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority. The $8.5 million low-interest loan awarded to the Bear Valley Franklin County Pennsylvania Joint Authority will cover the entire cost of the project in Peters Township. The Biglerville Borough Authority will benefit from a $2 million low-interest loan from PENNVEST. The loan together with a more than $110,000 grant provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) will cover the total $2.1 million cost of the project.
Senate Votes to Let Citizens Decide Voter ID, Legal Relief for Sexual Abuse Victims, Regulatory Reform
The Senate passed legislation this week that will let voters decide whether the Pennsylvania Constitution should be amended to create a voter ID requirement, provide sexual abuse victims with a way to sue their abusers and reform the state regulatory review process.
Thirty-five states, the world’s developed countries and many developing ones have voter photo ID requirements, and a 2021 Franklin and Marshall College poll found that 74% of Pennsylvania voters said the commonwealth should join them in making elections more secure.
Senate Bill 1 also includes a proposed constitutional amendment that will create a two-year window to allow sexual abuse victims to sue their abusers. Victims of sexual abuse who were abused as children have been unable to seek justice after the age of 30 due to a statute of limitations provision in Pennsylvania law.
In addition, Senate Bill 1 includes a separate proposed amendment that would allow the General Assembly to reject a regulation by majority approval, as opposed to a two-thirds vote, in both legislative chambers.
Under Pennsylvania’s current regulatory review process, the executive branch has circumvented the General Assembly and the normal legislative process, ignoring any legislative or public input that runs counter to executive branch regulatory goals.
The General Assembly previously approved the amendments in the 2021-22 legislative session. Approval of Senate Bill 1 this session would let voters have their say.
Senate Approves Bill to Eliminate Gas Tax Increase, Help Pennsylvanians at the Pump
Taking significant action to protect Pennsylvanians’ wallets, the Senate approved a bill to stop the automatic gas tax increase for 2023. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives.
For the first time, the average wholesale price of gasoline exceeded $2.99 per gallon last year, triggering an automatic increase in Pennsylvania’s gas tax that went into effect Jan. 1.
Senate Bill 35 would eliminate the automatic gas tax increase for 2023 moving forward, preventing what would produce the second-highest gas tax in the nation behind California, and permanently set the average wholesale price at $2.99 per gallon. The bill also requires the Department of Revenue to reassess this year’s gas tax structure.
Projections indicate the average Pennsylvania household will spend nearly $2,500 at the gas pump in 2023. This includes approximately $380 per driver in gas taxes alone.
Virtual Job Fair Set for Wednesday, Jan. 18
The Pennsylvania National Guard Associations will be holding a virtual job fair Wednesday, Jan. 18.
Jobseekers should be prepared to interview online with hiring managers and recruiters from top hiring companies. This online chat will connect the public directly with organizations.
After signing in, participants will be able to explore the available information and opportunities and participate in live one-on-one, text-based chats with representatives from participating organizations. Participants may also visit the job fair before and after the live event to continue making connections with top employers.
Assistance Available for Local Historic Preservation
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission is now accepting applications from nonprofit organizations and local governments for the Keystone Historic Preservation Grant Program.
Grants support projects that identify, preserve, promote and protect historic and archaeological resources in Pennsylvania for the benefit of the public and community revitalization.
Two categories of grants – construction and planning – are available for historic resources in Pennsylvania that are listed, or eligible for listing, in the National Register of Historic Places. Applicants may apply for only one type of grant. Prospective applicants for construction grants can attend a webinar on Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 1 p.m. A planning grant webinar will be held Thursday, Jan. 19 at 1 p.m.
Anti-Litter Contest Open to K-6 Students
Entries are now being accepted for the Litter Hawk Youth Award Program, a way for students in kindergarten through sixth grade to promote anti-littering efforts through art, words or video.
Two entries will be selected as winners in each grade level. First place will receive a $50 gift card. First runner-up will receive a $25 gift card. All participants will be recognized with certificates. The deadline to participate is Jan. 31. Winners will be announced in April.
Kids can participate individually or as part of a lesson initiated by schools, home-schools, scout troops, 4-H clubs, environmental clubs or other organized groups. More information and entry forms are available here.
Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Nearly 60 years after he shared his dream in an Aug. 28, 1963, Washington, D.C. speech, Martin Luther King Jr.’s wish is shared by the overwhelming number of Americans of all backgrounds. We must defend this unifying ideal for the well-being of our children and nation.