In this Update:
District of Character
The “District of Character” is an initiative I created to enhance character development and promote daily reminders for residents of the 40th Senatorial District about how we can create a stronger community without policy changes. No one is perfect, but we can always work to improve our character daily.
February word of the month is, respect: “Due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.”
My personal belief on respect: “You must always display respect if you expect to receive and gain respect. It doesn’t just go one way.”
Pennsylvania: Black History Month
This month, we will be highlighting African American history throughout Pennsylvania. Last week, we learned about the first black member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, Harry W. Bass. You can revisit that here.
The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safehouses established in the United States during the early to mid-19th century. These routes were used by enslaved blacks to escape into free states. Pennsylvania, the first free state north of the Mason-Dixon line, had many access points for the Underground Railroad. Portions of this system existed in Stroudsburg. Learn more about the Underground Railroad throughout Pennsylvania here.
Brown Thanks Governor Shapiro for Back to Work Order
It is well overdue to call the governor’s administration back to in-person work. I applaud Gov. Shapiro on his order just weeks after being sworn into his new role as governor. During the last three years many legislative offices and state employees moved to remote work for an extensive and unnecessary amount of time – causing major delays in communication with constituents and an inability to properly assist them during extremely challenging times.
I am grateful for my dedicated staff – my offices remained open and accessible, with only a few weeks of remote work at the beginning of the pandemic.
View my full release here.
Brown States Concerns Regarding Unusually High PPL Bills
Over the last several weeks, my office has fielded many calls related to high electric bills, particularly PPL customers. This is continued evidence of the importance of energy policy – and the priority of these policies to the 40th Senate District. I share your concerns and would like to relay what I am aware of related to this situation.
First, according to PPL, a technical issue caused customer meter data to be temporarily unavailable for PPL’s bill generation system. Due to this, bills between Dec. 20th and Jan. 9th were estimated bills, and based on historical usage that may have been higher or lower than the actual usage. This billing issue initiated a PUC (Public Utility Commission) comprehensive investigation into the accuracy and integrity of PPL’s billing practices.
Separate from the billing issue, but related to increased costs, PPL customers also may be noticing the impact of PPL’s increase in their default rate for electric supply, which took effect of Dec. 1st. As a reminder, consumers can shop for their electric supplier by visiting www.PaPowerSwitch.com to review options. Please be sure to read the fine print for rates and timeframe. I am also inquiring further regarding the justification on these increases within the PUC.
As your State Senator, I appreciate your communication with my office, and please always feel welcome to contact us with your concerns. Affordable energy is as much a priority to me, as it is to you. I will continue to focus on energy policy, as we can see how it directly impacts our households.
PUC’s Bureau of Consumer Services: 1-800-692-7380
PPL Bill Help: 1-800-DIAL-PPL
New Law Targets Growing Number of Fentanyl Overdose Deaths
Fentanyl-laced heroin and counterfeit pills are killing an increasing number of Pennsylvanians. Legislation enacted by the General Assembly is now in effect to prevent overdose deaths by legalizing fentanyl test strips for personal use.
Effective Jan. 1, Act 111 of 2022 amended the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act of 1972 to no longer define fentanyl test strips (FTS) as drug paraphernalia in Pennsylvania, making them a legal, low-cost method to prevent drug overdoses.
The Pennsylvania departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs, Health, and Human Services, along with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, created a survey for substance use disorder stakeholders to gauge demand for FTS while work is underway to make them available across the commonwealth. The survey contains questions on currently available trainings and materials, preferred brands and current distribution methods.
Help Available to Boost Security at Nonprofits and Religious Institutions
Applications are being accepted for state Nonprofit Security Grants for nonprofit organizations and religious institutions.
Administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the program provides grants to nonprofit organizations that principally serve individuals, groups or institutions that are included within a bias motivation category for single bias hate crime incidents as identified by the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics publication.
Grant awards can range from $5,000 to $150,000 for a wide variety of eligible items, including:
The application period closes March 2.
Extra SNAP Payments Set to End
During the COVID-19 emergency, the federal government allowed states to issue additional SNAP food assistance payments that increased the maximum available for households by at least $95 each month.
These extra payments will be ending after February and SNAP recipients will only receive one regular SNAP payment starting in March.
If you or someone you know needs help, there are food assistance programs available in your community. Visit the Department of Human Services or Department of Agriculture for information on food assistance programs and where to find local resources. Additionally, if recipients currently have extra funds on their cards, they will still be available. SNAP benefits only expire if cards are not used for nine months.
To ensure households are receiving the maximum SNAP benefit based on their individual circumstances, Pennsylvanians are encouraged to report changes to their household size, income or expenses online at dhs.pa.gov/COMPASS via the myCOMPASS PA mobile app or by calling 877-395-8930.
2023 Adult Trout Stocking Schedule Available
The 2023 adult trout stocking schedule is now available. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will stock approximately 3.2 million adult trout in 697 streams and 126 lakes open to public angling.
The trout stocking schedule is searchable by county, lists the waterways in alphabetical order, and indicates stocking dates, meeting locations for volunteers, and the species of trout that are planned to be stocked at each location. Pennsylvania’s statewide Opening Day of Trout Season is April 1. A single, statewide Mentored Youth Trout Day will take place March 25.
Trout to be stocked will include approximately 2.3 million Rainbow Trout, 707,000 Brown Trout and 168,000 Brook Trout. As with past practice, the average size of the trout produced for stocking is 11 inches in length with an average weight of .58 pounds.
Around the 40th District
Thank you, Dave, owner of Kasa’s Pizza, for a delicious heart-shaped pizza as we approach Valentine’s Day! Every year, Kasa’s Pizza in Cresco, offers heart shaped pizza all day on Valentine’s Day, February 14th. My staff and I enjoyed a little early this year ! Reminder to aways show appreciation and gratitude for your loved ones.
It was such a pleasure to be the host of the 4th Annual Poconos Great Talent Event last weekend at the Sherman Theater. This event supports the Fine Arts Discovery Series and all the amazing talented artists we have in our area. As a child who was heavily involved in singing, music, theater, band and more, I truly value the arts and all it brings to both the performers, the audience and the community.
The 80’s theme and dress was fun and brought me right back to my high school days!
Special thank you to Fusia Dance and thank you to this year’s winners! Amazing talent from all the 19 finalists.