Senator Brown E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • District of Character
  • Harrisburg Update
  • Senate Bill Fights Porch Pirating
  • Senate Approves Expanding Access to Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners
  • Women Veterans to Benefit from Health Care Task Force
  • Around the 40th

District of Character

Harrisburg Update

Two of my legislative initiatives saw movement this week – both in support of families who tragically lost their loved ones.

On Monday, my bill, Senate Bill 375, passed unanimously out of the Senate’s Education Committee. Senate Bill 375 would require schools to have an automatic external defibrillator (AED) present at all school and athletic events and would require a detailed emergency plan in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest. This initiative has been a long-time passion for me, in response to the tragic passing of Greg Moyer of East Stroudsburg who passed at the age of fifteen from Sudden Cardiac Arrest during a high school basketball game. There were no AEDs present at the school, and the availability of one may have saved his life.

On Thursday, my bill, Senate Bill 37, passed the full Senate and now heads to the House for consideration. This legislation enhances roadway safety and would prohibit drivers from holding their cellphone while driving. Distracted driving hit a 10-year high in 2022 and an AAA safety study found 87.5% of drivers believe distracted driving has outpaced all other traffic-related issues.

I have been working on this issue for over 10 years, along with the help of many advocates, including Paul and Eileen Miller who lost their son, age 21, to a distracted driver.

This bill is reasonable, fair, and enforceable. If enacted, this bill will:

  1. Provide a grace period of 12-months, issuing only warnings for offenses.
  2. After the grace period, the penalties include a tiered monetary fine for subsequent offenses within a 60-month period. There are no points or suspension.
  3. The bill requires training for State Police on effectively enforcing distracted drivers regardless of age, sex, race, or ethnicity.
  4. The bill also requires individuals with a learners permit to review educational materials on the dangers of distracted driving.
  5. The bill adds distracted driving awareness to the Pennsylvania driver’s license exam.

Senate Bill Fights Porch Pirating

Legislation cracking down on “porch pirating” was approved by the Senate this week.

In Pennsylvania, theft of mail – also known as porch pirating – is currently charged under other theft offenses based solely on the value of the item taken. The average cost of a package stolen in Pennsylvania is $43, and nearly 2 million Pennsylvanians have been victimized by a porch pirate.

Senate Bill 527 would implement specific penalties for theft of mail, which includes a package, bag or letter. The grading of this offense would increase if the person had prior convictions for theft of mail.

Senate Approves Expanding Access to Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners

To provide comprehensive, trauma-informed quality care to survivors of sexual assault, the Senate passed Senate Bill 414 to improve access to Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs).

SANEs collect critical forensic evidence when a sexual assault survivor seeks medical attention after an attack. In addition to conducting forensic exams or rape kits, SANEs may provide expert testimony if a case goes to trial.

There are less than 50 certified SANEs across Pennsylvania despite the state having about 280 hospitals. Most hospitals do not offer access to a SANE.

The bill would improve SANE availability as it identifies a funding stream for hospitals to establish and maintain operation of SANE programs; and directs the Department of Health to compile a list of all hospitals in the commonwealth that offer SANE services and to make that information available statewide.

Prioritizing Workforce Development and Job Opportunities

The Senate has approved legislation to help establish Pennsylvania as an international leader in the development, testing and implementation of cutting-edge technologies.

Senate Bill 497 establishes the Max Manufacturing Initiative Act, which provides grants and loans to state universities so they can partner with engineering entities to enhance research capabilities, promote business alliances, produce high-value products and create family-sustaining jobs.

Advanced manufacturing is the use of innovative technologies to create and enhance products and is utilized in most industries. The manufacturing industry in the United States produces more than $4 trillion annually and thousands of job opportunities in the commonwealth.

Women Veterans to Benefit from Health Care Task Force

To provide care for the unique health needs of women veterans, the Senate approved a measure establishing the Task Force on Women Veterans’ Health Care in Pennsylvania.

The task force will study health issues facing women veterans and make recommendations to the governor and General Assembly. The panel will be composed of individuals with relevant specialties, including the chair of the State Veterans’ Commission and health care providers.

Senate Resolution 46 would also pave the way for Pennsylvania to potentially receive additional federal funding to address women veterans’ health care issues.

Around the 40th District

While in Harrisburg this week, I was pleased to see several visitors from the 40th Senatorial District.

Pleasure to see Olivia Descipio (to my immediate right) from Moscow in Lackawanna County. Olivia is a member of Keystone Girls State – a program focused on responsible citizenship, leadership, and government. Such a pleasure to meet you and wishing you a wonderful senior year!

Pleasant Valley Student, Lucas Carver, was my guest this week to explore his interest in Political Science. Lucas is an honor roll student, student athlete, and is actively involved with the Pleasant Valley Assembly of God’s youth group. Wishing Lucas all the best in his future endeavors – I am confident you will succeed in any path you pursue!

Ran into Franklin VanHouten (pictured right), a 40th Senate District constituent who is visiting the Capitol with Keystone Boys State – an organization dedicated to leadership and public service. Franklin attends Pocono Mountain West and will be a Senior this fall. Great to see you!

Welcoming Goodwill to East Stroudsburg! This week, they hosted the grand opening of their newest retail store at 156 Eagle Glen Plaza. Goodwill is a community driven non-profit focusing on eliminating barriers to employment and helping people reach their full potential. Kristine from my office presented their CEO, Kate Dempsey Jones with a plaque in recognition of their opening.

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