Senator Brown E-Newsletter

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Brown Successfully Enacts Mental Health Study

This week, I worked with Senate leadership to expand language in House Bill 1300 to direct a study on Pennsylvania’s suicide and crisis hotline. As chair of the Mental Health caucus and from conversations with constituents, Fe and Gareth Hall, we successfully enacted this proposal. The Halls unfortunately lost their son – Christian Hall – to a mental health crisis on Dec. 30th, 2020.

This is the first step to ensure the effectiveness of our state’s suicide and crisis hotline, particularly its interoperability into our current 911 system. A review of its operation is necessary and important to our work as policy makers – especially as we work to build mental health services across our state.

These efforts direct the Legislative Budget and finance Committee, in conjunction with the Joint State Government Commission and the Local Government Commission to study and make recommendations on:

  • The integration of the 988 suicide and crisis hotline into the 911 system.
  • Protocols to support the effective communication and coordination of first responders.
  • Standards and procedures which should be followed when a behavioral health crisis is routed to 988.

You can view more details and the full press release here.

Pennsylvania Finalizes 2023-24 State Budget

The Senate on Wednesday finalized the 2023-24 state budget by approving two major bipartisan budget implementation bills, which have now been enacted into law.

A large portion of the 2023-24 state budget was completed in August with enactment of the General Appropriations Act. However, several important components still required additional budget implementation language to be passed by both the Senate and House and signed by the governor.

House Bill 1300 (Fiscal Code amendments) and House Bill 301 (School Code amendments) make major investments in the future of Pennsylvania and achieve many of the principles and priorities identified by Senate Republicans as a focus in March.

House Bill 1300 includes several important and time-sensitive measures, including reauthorization of funding for county 911 systems, expansion of a tax credit helping parents seek and maintain employment, and allocation of funding for an additional 100 Pennsylvania State Police troopers to help make our communities safer. House Bill 301 includes many provisions to expand education empowerment and access and increase school safety. Read more.

Passenger Rail Between NEPA and NYC

Monday, I spent the morning in Scranton at Congressman Matt Cartwright’s press conference offering an update on the restoration of passenger rail between NEPA and NYC. A project of this magnitude requires support across the aisle and across all levels of government – which today’s event certainly demonstrates.

In my selfie you can see – it includes Democrats and Republicans, local and state officials, from Lackawanna, Monroe, and Luzerne Counties – all agreeing and working for this investment to our region.

The events attendees included: U.S. Senator Bob Casey; Secretary of Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Mike Carrol; Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau, Chris Barrett; and several state and local officials across northeast Pennsylvania.

Enjoying the Capitol During the Holidays

Our state Capitol is beautiful year-round – but taking an extra moment to appreciate it during the holiday season!

The Olsen Christmas Wish: Supporting Families During Christmas

Olsen Christmas Wish’s “elves” were busy wrapping gifts for families Thursday afternoon. I was so pleased to stop in this afternoon to join the festivities. Olsen Christmas Wish (started by Stroud Area Regional Police Department) fundraisers throughout the year to ensure every child has a wonderful Christmas. What started to support the family of one of their fallen officers (Jeff Olsen) has grown into supporting hundreds of local families. This week – volunteers gathered to wrap all the gifts in preparation for distribution. Thank you to the officers, the volunteers, and all who have donated!


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