In this Update:
On Tuesday, my staff and I met with State Correctional Institution (SCI) Mercer Superintendent Melinda Adams to get an overview and tour of the facility. SCI Mercer has one of the five Veterans Service Units in PA and the only one with an American Legion Post. We met with Members of American Legion Post 110 – listening to their stories and learning about their efforts to change and ultimately make a positive impact in society.
Mastriano Introduces Legislation to Allow School Staff to Defend Their Classrooms in Active Shooter Situation
HARRISBURG – Senator Doug Mastriano (PA-33) has introduced legislation that would have Pennsylvania join 31 other states who have added an extra layer of security in the classrooms by allowing school staff to carry firearms. SB 632 will allow Pennsylvania school employees to be armed while on school property.
An employee carrying a firearm on school property will be required to possess a valid Pennsylvania concealed carry permit, complete a rigorous firearms course, and be certified as proficient with the firearm the employee intends to carry on school grounds.
To be certified, training must include courses on protection of students, interactions with first responders, tactics for denying classroom entry to intruders, safe handling and storage of weapons and proficiency with defensive weapons under duress.
Additionally, those certified to carry in school would provide their name and photograph to the local municipal police department and the Pennsylvania State Police. This will allow law enforcement to know who is certified to carry should they need to enter the building in an active shooter situation.
Senate Bill 632 would not be a mandate but would give school staff the option to be a last line of defense if they choose.
“Mass murderers are often attracted to soft targets where they know victims are not armed,” said Mastriano. “According to the Crime Prevention Resource Center, there has not been a single mass shooting in a school where staff were permitted to carry a firearm or an incident of lost or stolen firearms where school employees are permitted to carry. Overwhelmingly, those with concealed carry permits have proven themselves trustworthy for decades.
“Citizens across the nation and in Pennsylvania have long been pressured to trade their liberty for security. One cannot exist without the other. We can do better at protecting our kids in schools without infringing upon the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Pennsylvanians.”
SB 632 has been referred to the Senate Education Committee for consideration.
Growing Greener Watershed Grant Program Opens Friday
Beginning Friday, April 21, organizations involved in water resource restoration and protection can apply for the next round of Growing Greener grants through the Department of Environmental Protection’s Growing Greener Plus Grants Program.
Growing Greener grants are designed to improve or protect this Commonwealth’s waters from nonpoint source pollution associated with agricultural activities, acid mine drainage, stormwater runoff, energy resource extraction and streambank and shoreline degradation.
Counties, municipalities, municipal authorities, county conservation districts, watershed organizations, councils of governments, educational institutions and other organizations dedicated to water clean-up and preservation can apply. The application deadline is June 23.
How to Apply for a Veterans ID Card
Many former service members are unsure how to prove they are a veteran to take advantage of discounts offered by businesses. These include restaurants, hotels, stores, recreational activities, home improvement and more.
The easiest way is to apply for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans ID Card (VIC), which is a digital photo ID you can use to get those discounts. Since September 2022, all new Veterans ID cards have been digital. A veteran with a physical ID card can continue using it to get discounts. The VIC is separate from the VA health care ID, which a veteran receives when enrolling in VA health care.
Find out how to apply for a card here. If you have any questions or need help, email VA’s VIC program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keystone State ChalleNGe Academy for At-Risk Youth Accepting Applications
The Keystone State ChalleNGe Academy (KSCA) is accepting applications for its third class of cadets, which begins in July. KSCA is designed to give academically challenged teens a second chance at obtaining their basic education, as well as learning leadership, self-discipline and responsibility.
The program is open to 16- to 18-year-old male and female Pennsylvania residents who are failing to progress in high school or may not be on a clear path to graduating. Applicants must be willing to be drug free, free of felony convictions and voluntarily commit to the program. The program lasts for 17 months, with the first five months consisting of residential training at Fort Indiantown Gap in Lebanon County, followed by a year of mentorship back in the community.
Learn more about eligibility requirements and begin the application process here. Anyone who prefers to have an application mailed or would like to talk with someone about the program may contact the academy by emailing RA-MVPAChallenge@pa.gov or calling 717-861-7767 or 717-861-8831.
Check Out a State Park Near You
Now that spring has arrived, the nicer weather will allow Pennsylvanians more opportunities to explore our state’s 124 beautiful state parks, operated by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Pennsylvania’s state parks system manages more than 300,000 acres for popular recreation activities, such as hiking, picnicking, camping, fishing, hunting and boating.
Pennsylvania state parks do not charge an entrance fee; however, fees do apply for some activities.
If you like to enjoy the outdoors with your dog, 56 of our state parks offer dog-friendly campgrounds. Learn more or find a park nearby here. Make reservations online here to secure campsites, cabins, picnic pavilions, whitewater boating launch time permits and more.
Recognizing the Vital Role of Volunteers
The strength of America is found not in the relationship between citizens and government, but between citizens themselves: Neighbors helping neighbors through the act of volunteering.
An estimated 23.2% of Americans or more than 60.7 million people formally volunteered with organizations between September 2020 and 2021. For everyone who steps up and gives time, effort and more, you have my deep appreciation.
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