Senator Brown E-Newsletter

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Updates on the Route 611 Closure

I want to share some insights into the ongoing discussions regarding the prolonged closure of Route 611 in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, which has been closed since December 6, 2022.

The devastation this extended closure has had on our community cannot be overstated. To put it simply, this project involves multiple government agencies with competing interests, which has severely stagnated a path forward. Finding middle ground has not been easy. PennDOT has serious public safety concerns about this roadway, while the National Park Service has a mission to maintain the park’s resources. These interests often conflict, especially when there are limited options. The work needed to address the safety concerns requires a permit from the National Park Service. The two agencies and other stakeholders are speaking frequently but have yet to reach a consensus.

I wish I could snap my fingers and make this happen individually, but I have been extremely vocal and active in pushing each entity to be a team player and think of the greater good and the needs of our community. I do believe the agencies are close to a creative solution to alleviate this closure. The key government agencies include the National Park Service, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Federal Highway Administration, and Indigenous Tribal Leaders.

Route 611, owned and maintained by PennDOT, traverses the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, which is managed by the National Park Service. Initially closed in April 2022 due to heavy rains washing out sections, it reopened after repairs. Subsequently, another rockslide occurred months later, prompting the need for enhanced safety measures. PennDOT’s plan originally proposed removing 2,500 cubic yards of rock along a mile stretch to prevent further incidents. Following onsite evaluations with stakeholders, PennDOT reduced this to 125 cubic yards, the minimum amount deemed sufficient to safely open a single lane.

Stakeholders are scheduled to meet again late next week.

Brown’s Landmark Distracted Driving Legislation

A month ago today, my bill, Senate Bill 37 was signed into law. Senate Bill 37, named Paul Miller’s Law, works to make Pennsylvania roadways safer by limiting the use of cell phone use behind the wheel.

Paul Miller Jr. lost his life to a distracted driver on Route 33 in Stroudsburg. His mother, a tireless advocate, was with me every step of the way through this process, ensuring her son’s legacy will be a beacon of protection for every driver in Pennsylvania.

Driving requires 100% of your attention 100% of the time. View my full press release from this bill signing here.

State Budget Update

As budget negotiations continue in Harrisburg, I remain committed to delivering a state budget that respects the taxpayers and empowers Pennsylvania now and in the future. We are working diligently towards a consensus. As needed, we are adding session days to complete the budget as quickly as possible.

You can learn more about this process here.

Bill Limiting Smartphone Use in Schools Passes Senate

The Senate this week approved legislation to improve students’ mental health and academic performance by limiting their use of smartphones in school.

Since the early 2010s, there has been a steep decline in mental health in children, and their academic performance is suffering. Children’s compromised mental health, social skills and academic performance directly correlates to the rise of smartphones and social media apps.

Senate Bill 1207 would establish the Cell Phone Lockable Bag Pilot Program until Dec. 1, 2026. The School Safety and Security Committee would award grants to purchase secure, lockable smartphone bags in which students would deposit their mobile devices until the end of the school day.

The bill would also require schools participating in the program to create and post online a policy prohibiting the use of smartphones during school time. It must include exemptions for students who have a documented medical condition – such as diabetes – that requires the use of a phone.

See you at the Senior Expo!

My annual Senior Expo is just a few weeks away! Looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday, July 23 at the Pocono Mountain Swiftwater Elementary Center. The event is from 9 AM – 1 PM and offers something for everyone. There is no admission cost, and we will be offering door prizes, health screenings, food, and dozens of exhibitors.

Coolbaugh Municipal Park’s 50th Anniversary

Last weekend, Coolbaugh Township’s municipal park celebrated its 50th anniversary. Thank you to the township’s leaders, past and present, for your commitment to community recreation and wellness. Wishing you many more years of enjoyment and memories!


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