In this update:
Mastriano Supports Legislation to Empower Parents in Education
HARRISBURG – Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-33) voted on three bills today that prioritize parents’ role in fostering their children’s education.
Mastriano joined six other members of the Senate Education Committee in approving the following bills:
“Both SB 1277 and SB 1278 empower parents to ensure their children are not exposed to sexually explicit materials and bizarre discussions about gender identity,” Mastriano said. “Just this week, I had a visitor to my office who showed me some of the explicit materials found in her child’s school library. It was shocking to say the least. Schools need to be focused on educating – not indoctrinating – our students. The classroom needs to be a place for learning, not a place for gender theory lessons and grooming.”
On HB 2169, Mastriano stated that expanding school choice offers a pathway to success for children assigned to failing districts.
“Families shouldn’t have to sacrifice their children’s future simply because their zip code binds them to an untenable public school,” Mastriano said. “The money should follow the child, not a system. HB 2169 allows children to escape the worst performing public schools in our commonwealth.”
All three bills now move to the full Senate for consideration.
Senator Mastriano has also introduced SB 996 which creates a parental right statute to ensure parents have the final say over directing the upbringing, education, care and welfare of their child.
Senate Committee Approves Mastriano Bill to Improve Drug Overdose Tracking and Response
HARRISBURG – The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee unanimously voted to approve legislation by Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-33) that will drastically improve how the commonwealth tracks and responds to drug overdoses.
SB 1152 will require law enforcement and emergency medical services agencies to report all overdose incidents within 72 hours to the statewide Overdose Information Network (ODIN) or any other platform approved by the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) to capture real-time overdose reporting.
The PSP will be required to document the numbers, trends and patterns associated with known and suspected overdoses and issue an annual report available in an online format for reference by public officials and the general public.
Access to real time data will help public officials ensure that adequate overdose reversal drug supplies are available, substance use outreach efforts are enhanced and law enforcement investigations are undertaken to interrupt sources of deadly substances.
There were over 100,000 fentanyl and opioid related deaths nationwide in 2021, a 15% increase from 2020. Pennsylvania now ranks third in the nation for overdose deaths. Heroin and opioid overdose are now the leading cause of accidental death in Pennsylvania.
“While real-time tracking of overdose data has improved over the years, there is still a significant gap between what is reported and the actual statewide total incidents of overdoses,” said Mastriano. “While real-time tracking of overdose data has improved over the years, there is still a significant gap between what’s reported and the actual statewide total incidents of overdoses. Pennsylvania currently lags behind other neighboring states in accurately capturing and mapping real-time data. SB 1152 will drastically improve how our commonwealth tracks, maps, and responds to overdose incidents. The enactment of this legislation will help save lives as we continue to combat the overdose epidemic.”
Legislation Preparing Students for Tomorrow’s Jobs Approved by Senate
The Senate approved legislation to improve workforce development initiatives and better prepare Pennsylvania students for jobs that will be in demand after they graduate.
House Bill 723 would bring state law in compliance with the federal requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act by updating state and local workforce development board membership requirements and making other changes. The state and federal acts work in concert to help train individuals for family sustaining jobs.
This bill also requires the state Department of Labor and Industry to collect data on emerging and projected future employment sectors in Pennsylvania and send it to educational institutions. Schools would be required to use the information to develop career education programs and for providing career guidance to students. The amended bill will return to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Acts to Reduce PA Lyme Disease Cases
With Pennsylvania leading the nation in the incidence of Lyme disease, the Senate approved legislation to require insurance coverage for testing and treatment, and raise awareness of tickborne diseases.
Senate Bill 1188 also requires the Department of Health to work with the Tick Research Lab of Pennsylvania at East Stroudsburg University to develop an electronic database to better track possible cases and provide access to the latest research. The measure will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Early diagnosis is crucial to preventing the persistent symptoms of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Left untreated or improperly treated, Lyme disease can lead to debilitating symptoms, which include fevers, arthritis, joint aches and more. If treated within the first 30 days, 10% or fewer patients will progress to severe symptoms.
Bill to Curb Welfare Abuse Passed by Senate
A bill to halt wasteful spending in the Medical Assistance and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) programs was approved by the Senate and sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 1124 requires the Department of Human Services to check death certificates with the Bureau of Vital Statistics so that the payments can be halted immediately when a recipient’s death is recorded.
An audit by former Auditor General Eugene DePasquale found that the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services paid benefits to 2,324 dead people. In one case, $800 in benefits intended for a woman who passed away was used by another individual for a shopping spree.
Regional Transportation Projects Open to Review
Pennsylvanians have until June 30 to participate in a comment period on the draft 2023 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).
The draft 2023 STIP reflects the first four years of the 12-Year Program. It lists prioritized projects identified for federal, state, local and private funding in each federal fiscal year between 2023 and 2027.
The draft 2023 STIP can be viewed on the Talk PA Transportation website. Citizens can view projects by county and comment by filling out the online comment form or emailing RA-PennDOTSTC@pa.gov. You can also call PennDOT at 717-783-2262 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Older Mobile Phone Services Shutting Down
Mobile carriers are shutting down 3G and other older services to make room for 5G and other more advanced network services.
The Federal Communications Commission says T-Mobile’s 3G UMTS and Sprint 4G LTE services will be shut down by the end of June and Verizon’s 3G by Dec. 31.
If your device uses the 3G wireless spectrum, you will not be able to make 911 calls on the device after the 3G phase out occurs. In addition to older mobile devices, some home security systems, life/medical alert systems, vehicle SOS services, and other tablets that rely on 3G are also impacted. More information and help can be found here.
National Dairy Month and PA Dairy Farmers
Pennsylvania is second only to Wisconsin in the number of dairy farms in America, with 5,200 throughout the state.
The commonwealth’s 474,000 cows produce more than 10 billion pounds of milk annually. Pennsylvania dairy production is critical to our commonwealth and nation, and keeping it strong is a top priority.
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