In this Update:
District of Character
March | Responsibility
re·spon·si·bil·i·ty | Basing decisions on practical wisdom and good sense, being dependable in carrying out commitments and duties, and being accountable for one’s words, behavior, and actions.
CATCH PHRASE: Think before you act; finish what you begin; take responsibility and accountability for yourself.
Governor Makes His Budget Address
Gov. Josh Shapiro started the 2023-24 state budget process this week with the introduction of his spending plan.
One of my favorite pieces of Governor Shapiro’s budget address was a fairly basic reminder, what is needed to pass a state budget in Pennsylvania: 102 State Representatives, 26 Senators, and 1 Governor. An important reminder this process is a collaborative effort from both legislative chambers and the executive branch.
His budget addressed many shared concerns, and I appreciate his attention to several key areas: addressing the workforce shortages, increased funding to mental health, and supporting our police.
As a member of the Senate Appropriation Committee, I look forward to reviewing the budget in detail, particularly Pennsylvania’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. This would burden Pennsylvanians with an annual tax on electricity of nearly $670 million.
This is just the beginning of the budget process. The Senate Appropriations Committee will begin a series of public hearings on the proposal March 20, after which work will continue to create a final spending plan. I will work with my colleagues to enact a responsible budget that respects taxpayers and funds essential services by the June 30 constitutional deadline.
My Telephone Town Hall is NEXT WEEK!
March 15th, I will be hosting a telephone town hall for residents of the 40th Senatorial District on Wednesday, March 15th, beginning at 11:00 AM. The program will focus on constituents’ questions and concerns, as well as some legislative priorities. Sign up for m telephone town hall here.
Historic Breast Cancer Screening Bill Unanimously Passes Senate
The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 8, a comprehensive breast cancer screening and genetic testing bill. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The bill eliminates out-of-pocket costs associated with BRCA-related genetic testing and counseling, as well as supplemental screening such as breast MRIs and ultrasound for women at high-risk. High-risk conditions covered by the bill include dense breast tissue, a personal or family history of breast cancer, genetic predisposition and prior radiation therapy.
The legislation expands on Act 52 of 2020, which required insurers to cover breast MRIs and ultrasounds for women with high-risk factors. Senate Bill 8 is step two, eliminating costs including co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance for those screenings and BRCA-related genetic testing and counseling.
Transportation Hearing on East Palestine Derailment
As a member of the Senate Transportation Committee, the committee held a Public Hearing to collect testimony on “Hazardous Materials Transported by Rail”. Prompted by the tragic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio – directly on the border of our Commonwealth – the hearing focused on the safe movement of rail freight throughout our state, particularly that of hazardous material. View the full hearing here https://transportation.pasenategop.com/trans-022723/
Senate Acts to Protect Citizen Data with State Employee TikTok Ban
The Senate approved legislation to shield citizen data from unauthorized access by prohibiting state-owned devices and networks from downloading and using TikTok. The bill now advances to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Pennsylvania state government holds sensitive information in the form of birth certificates, driver’s licenses, occupation certificates, taxes and more.
Senate Bill 379 would mandate that all state agencies, departments and commissions remove the application from state networks. It would also require that policies are put in place to block application installation, as well as network-based restrictions to prevent its use and access.
Across the nation, both Democrats and Republicans have voiced growing concerns about the security and potential manipulation of the popular social media app TikTok. At least 29 states have addressed the risk to government systems posed by TikTok, and Congress prohibited its use across a wide array of federal agencies and departments.
Senate Approves Legislation to Increase PA National Guard Health Care Providers
The Senate approved legislation that would allow more health professionals to participate in the Medical Officer Health Incentive Program, helping to ease the shortage of medical specialists in the Pennsylvania National Guard.
The Medical Officer or Health Officer Incentive Program was created in 2014 to provide a tuition reimbursement incentive to those who qualified through their time in the armed services. Even though the program was successful in attracting health care providers into National Guard service, some health professionals, like dentists and physician assistants, were inadvertently left out of the program.
Senate Bill 162, which fixes that oversight, now heads to the state House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Honors 20th Anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom
The Senate marked the upcoming 20th anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom with a resolution this week.
In 2003, the United States and coalition forces began the mission to liberate Iraq from dictator Saddam Hussein and extend freedom and democracy throughout the region. On March 20, 2003, the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom was marked with airstrikes on Saddam Hussein’s presidential palace.
Operation Iraqi Freedom ended on Dec. 15, 2011.
Around the 40th District
This Wednesday was Women’s Day – where we recognize the contributions, advancements, and hard-work of women across our society. I am pleased to celebrate the dedicated women I have by my side, who help me every single day in service to the 40th senatorial district.
Please join me in wishing Spiros a happy 80th birthday! I was pleased to present him with a Senate Citation for this great milestone!
Earlier this week, Kristine from my office attended the grand opening of BK Lobster in East Stroudsburg. Please join me in congratulating the owners on this new venture! Thank you for investing in our community and wishing you great success.
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