In this Update:
Voters Approve Constitutional Amendments to Improve Emergency Response
In Tuesday’s primary election, Pennsylvania voters approved four ballot questions, including two constitutional amendments that will improve the way the state responds to emergencies.
The primary election results demonstrate our system of government works better when we work together. Pennsylvanians want to see more collaboration and better results from state government when responding to emergencies.
Also on Tuesday, voters elected small business owner Chris Gebhard to represent the 48th Senatorial District, which includes all of Lebanon County and parts of Dauphin and York counties.
With the addition of Senator-elect Gebhard, voters have given Senate Republicans a 28-21 majority in the State Senate, with one independent member who caucuses with Senate Republicans.
Citizens can Comment on PennDOT Plan to Toll Highway Bridges
Residents can use an upcoming telephone town hall to voice their opinion on PennDOT plans to toll bridges on Pennsylvania interstate highways.
PennDOT will hold a telephone town hall on the plan Tuesday, May 25, beginning at 6 p.m. To join the town hall, register here to receive a phone call to join at the start of the meeting or call (855) 756-7520, Entry Code Extension 73539#.
In addition to the telephone town hall, citizens can comment:
If you have a comment or question about a specific bridge tolling project, you can access each project’s comment form by visiting the project websites here.
On February 18, PennDOT unveiled a plan to toll nine bridges:
Last month, the Senate approved Senate Bill 382, which would reform the Public-Private Transportation Partnership (P3) statute and to void the PennDOT Pathways Major Bridge P3 Initiative. It is now before the House Transportation Committee.
Recent Seminar on Concealed Carry
I recently hosted a virtual concealed carry seminar designed to help all firearm owners learn more about how to responsibly carry their firearms.
A Plan for Property Tax Relief for Pennsylvania Seniors
I have introduced Senate Bill 619 which eliminates property taxes imposed by a political subdivision on residents that:
According to the latest census data, residents over the age of 65 represent over 18% of Pennsylvania’s population. Additionally, over 8% of that 65+ population lives below the poverty line. As more baby boomers reach the age of retirement, these numbers will continue to rise.
Our state’s senior citizens are living on fixed incomes, and many have their mortgages paid off. However, property taxes continue to rise. Some seniors throughout the state have told me they have to work a part-time job just to afford skyrocketing property taxes.
Our senior citizens worked their entire lives and should be able to enjoy their golden years, without the fear of losing their homes.
Social Media Accountability Bill
I have worked with Senator Scott Hutchinson to introduce Senate Bill 604 which will further protect people’s speech from undue restriction and censorship.
Our legislation would mandate that social media companies inform their users – in writing – why their accounts were banned or disabled within 30 days and require those companies to offer users recourse to restore their account.
Freedom of speech is fundamental for both individuals and a healthy, free society. The tendency of Big Tech to limit or censor speech is gravely concerning.
Senate Holds Two Public Hearings on 5G Deployment in Pennsylvania
The Senate Communications and Technology Committee recently held two public hearings to review the deployment of 5G wireless technology in Pennsylvania.
5G is the fifth-generation technology successor to 4G broadband cellular networks, which provide connectivity to most current cellphones. Cellular phone companies began deploying 5G worldwide in 2019.
The first hearing featured wireless providers and local government representatives. The second hearing heard from state agencies and labor unions involved in wireless infrastructure. You can view hearing video, agendas and testimony at the links.
Capitol Hunger Garden Breaks Ground on 11th Season
The Capitol Hunger Garden, which grows produce for food banks and draws attention to the need for food donations statewide, recently broke ground for its 11th season.
The garden, which is overseen by the bipartisan legislative Hunger Caucus and tended to by the Penn State Master Gardeners, is located on a 1,000 square-foot plot adjacent to the State Capitol Building.
Since its inception, the garden has annually produced between 700 and 800 pounds of vegetables that are donated to food banks, pantries and local soup kitchens.
Observing National EMS Week
Over the past year, we witnessed how Emergency Medical Services personnel are ready to serve their communities and patients, even when facing an unprecedented global pandemic, and despite the risks to their personal health and safety.
EMTs, paramedics and other EMS practitioners serve as healthcare professionals, social workers, crisis counselors, consolers and caregivers. For this national EMS Week, we honor the many roles of EMS professionals and the people behind the scenes who support them.
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