Senator Mastriano E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Bill Introduced to Defund PA-Taxpayer-Funded Colleges and Universities that Support Antisemitism
  • Chambersburg Pedestrian and Bicycle Route Benefits from $735,000 Investment
  • Recent Developments Underline Need to Prevent Gene Therapy in Food Supply
  • Senate Acts to Meet PA’s Power Needs 
  • Bill to Improve Safety, Combat Illegal Street Racing Passes Senate
  • Senate Approves Bill to Get Pennsylvanians Off UC and Back to Work
  • Celebrating Historic Breast Cancer Screening Law
  • Grants Available to Capitalize on Tourism
  • Beware of Ticks and Lyme Disease

Bill Introduced to Defund PA-Taxpayer-Funded Colleges and Universities that Support Antisemitism

With pro-Hamas and anti-Israel encampments being set up at higher education institutions in Pennsylvania and across the United States, I introduced legislation this week to suspend state funding for state-owned or -related colleges and universities in the commonwealth if they support antisemitism.

I introduced Senate Bill 1185 as pro-Hamas and anti-Israel protests and encampments recently took root at the University of PennsylvaniaUniversity of Pittsburgh and other Pennsylvania colleges and universities that benefit from state tax dollars. My bill would end taxpayer support for any state-owned or -related universities that authorize, facilitate or otherwise support any event promoting antisemitism on campus. Higher education institutions that support antisemitic events would be disqualified from receiving state funding for the following academic year.

The campus protests come following the Oct. 7, 2023, Operation Al-Aqsa Flood attack by Hamas in several Israeli communities, where more than 1,000 Israelis were killed and approximately 250 people were taken hostage.

Israel responded by defending itself through retaliatory air strikes and a large-scale ground invasion in portions of Gaza, with additional operations in the West Bank. The now six-month-long war between Israel and Palestine has resulted in a total of more than 35,000 casualties, with more than 34,000 Palestinian deaths and approximately 1,400 Israeli deaths.

Learn more about my bill by reading the rest of this article on my website.

Chambersburg Pedestrian and Bicycle Route Benefits from $735,000 Investment

I recently announced nearly $735,000 has been awarded for a pedestrian and bicycle route project in Chambersburg.

The project involves permanently closing two street blocks to vehicular traffic adjacent to the former Southgate Shopping Center to create a pedestrian and bicycle-only route. The project will create direct pedestrian access from the neighboring senior housing and residential blocks to a new medical facility while establishing greater bicycle and pedestrian connectivity to the Southgate neighborhood and existing rail trail.

Learn more about the project by reading the rest of this article on my website.

Recent Developments Underline Need to Prevent Gene Therapy in Food Supply

The creation of “Sequivity,” an RNA-based vaccine developed by Merck Animal Health that recently became commercially available, marks a significant development in the pork industry. With its newfound accessibility, there’s a possibility that pork products may now be treated with this vaccine.

I released the following statement in response to this development:

“Injection of gene therapy into the food supply would result in Pennsylvanians unknowingly and unwillingly consuming gene-altering mRNA technology. This is why I introduced Senate Bill 883 to clearly state that gene therapy products are banned from being integrated into any part of the food supply in the commonwealth.”

Senate Acts to Meet PA’s Power Needs

Acting to establish a sweeping, new energy framework for Pennsylvania, the Senate approved legislation this week creating the Independent Energy Office (IEO) and Pennsylvania’s Opportunity with Energy Reliability (POWER) Board. The bill moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Under Senate Bill 832, the IEO will provide data-driven analysis and ensure lawmakers have the reliable information necessary to review and implement current energy strategies as well as be on the forefront of new innovative technologies. The POWER Board will be a public clearinghouse for energy development in Pennsylvania and allow residents to see public accountability on decisions that impact energy prices in Pennsylvania.

The federal government has passed legislation to provide funding for states to grow solar, wind, hydro and nuclear capacities. Pennsylvania must apply for these funds and provide a framework to distribute funding throughout the state. The General Assembly has not yet established this framework, and statutory authority is needed.

Bill to Improve Safety, Combat Illegal Street Racing Passes Senate

To address how the erratic driving of illegal street racers endangers the safety of other motorists and pedestrians, the Senate passed legislation that would increase street racing fines for first offenses to $500 and all additional infractions to $2,000. Senate Bill 998 also calls for impoundment orders for vehicles used in the offense and would hold event organizers accountable using fines, suspension of driving privileges, classification as habitual offenders, impoundment of vehicles and imprisonment.

Additionally, the bill would impose penalties for drifting on highways or trafficways and for organizing street racing or drifting events. Drifting is a driving technique that involves steering a car to make a controlled skid sideways through a turn.

Senate Bill 998 is part of the Senate Republican effort to improve community safety across Pennsylvania. It now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Approves Bill to Get Pennsylvanians Off UC and Back to Work

Unemployed Pennsylvanians who engage in job dodging by sabotaging their own efforts to get hired would jeopardize their Unemployment Compensation benefits under a bill approved by the Senate.

Job dodging is the process used by some Unemployment Compensation recipients to avoid obtaining a job and to continue to collect benefits. Job dodgers may skip a job interview or refuse employment or a referral for employment to continue receiving Unemployment Compensation benefits.

Senate Bill 1109 is intended to prevent Unemployment Compensation recipients who apply for a job from unreasonably discouraging their own hiring. It would require the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to create or update forms enabling employers to report Unemployment Compensation claimants who discourage their own hiring through job dodging. The bill moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Celebrating Historic Breast Cancer Screening Law

One year ago, a first-of-its-kind in the nation comprehensive breast cancer screening bill was signed into law as Act 1 of 2023. Senate Republicans supported the bill that eliminated out-of-pocket costs associated with BRCA-related genetic testing and counseling as well as supplemental screening such as breast MRI and ultrasound for women at high risk.

High-risk conditions covered by the law include dense breast tissue, personal history of breast cancer, family history of breast cancer, genetic predisposition and prior radiation therapy.

Act 1 covers individuals whose insurance is state-regulated, including plans purchased through the Pennie marketplace or employer-provided insurance. The law takes effect for many plans between 2024 and 2025. All state-regulated plans must be in place before the end of 2025. Learn more.

Grants Available to Capitalize on Tourism

To draw sporting events and the associated tourism to Pennsylvania, grants are available to municipalities, local authorities, nonprofit organizations and legal entities that meet specific criteria. Learn more and apply by June 30 using the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Electronic Single Application.

The Sports Marketing and Tourism Program was created to attract high-quality, amateur and professional sporting and e-sports events to Pennsylvania. Hosting a major event increases sales to small and large businesses in the area, which boosts the local economy.

The last round of grants benefited Philadelphia Soccer for the 2026 World Cup in Philadelphia, the United States Golf Association for the 2025 United States Men’s Open in Oakmont and the 2024 United States Women’s Open in Lancaster.

Beware of Ticks and Lyme Disease

Pennsylvania leads the nation with the number of Lyme disease cases. While we are lucky to have access to the many outdoor recreational opportunities in the commonwealth, they come with the risks of tickborne diseases.

National Lyme Disease Awareness Month is an opportunity to learn how to protect your family and pets against Lyme. Use insect repellent when spending time outdoors, treat your clothing and gear with permethrin and conduct a tick check when you come inside.

There are three stages of Lyme disease with distinct signs and symptoms occurring in each stage, including a bullseye rash, headaches, nerve pain, heart palpitations and fever. If you discover a tick, safely remove it, put it in a plastic bag and mail it to the Pennsylvania Tick Research Lab for free testing. Within three business days, you will know if the tick carried Lyme disease and other diseases – valuable information for you and your health care provider.


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