Sen. Dush Offers Reminder that PA Game Commission Will Meet Jan. 27 & 28

HARRISBURG – Sen. Cris Dush (R-25) reminded interested individuals that the Pennsylvania Game Commission will be meeting Friday, Jan. 27, and Saturday, Jan. 28, at the agency’s Harrisburg headquarters, located at 2001 Elmerton Ave., just off the Progress Avenue exit off Interstate 81 in Harrisburg, Dauphin County.

The meeting on Jan. 27 will begin at 1 p.m. with the purpose being for the board to hear reports from staff. Public comment will not be accepted during this meeting.

Public comment – limited to five minutes – will be accepted during the Jan. 28 meeting on a first-to-register, first-to-speak basis. Registration begins when doors to the Harrisburg headquarters open at 7:45 a.m. The meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. PowerPoint presentations are not permitted during public comment periods.

Following the conclusion of public comment, the board will take up its regular agenda and then discuss new business. The agenda for the January meeting is available here

Those unable to attend the meeting can watch much of it from home. The meeting is scheduled to be live-streamed Friday and again on Saturday, following the conclusion of public comments. The livestream can be viewed on the agency’s YouTube channel.

 

CONTACT:           Zack Ankeny

Sen. Dush Urges 25th District Organizations to Apply for DCNR Community Conservation Partnerships Program Grants

HARRISBURG – Counties, municipalities and municipal agencies, pre-qualified land trusts, non-profits and other eligible organizations interested in applying for conservation, recreation, trail and riparian buffer grants through the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) may do so now, according to state Sen. Cris Dush (R-25).

“The Community Conservation Partnerships Grant Program helps advance collaborative multi-municipal or large-landscape recreation, conservation and heritage projects,” Dush said. “Local governments and organizations in the 25th District would greatly benefit from these grants, which can help our communities better develop and manage their outdoor resources.” 

Dush added that during the past 20 years, the Community Conservation Partnerships Program has funded more than 4,000 projects that have helped, plan, acquire, and develop parks, recreation facilities, trails, and conserved critical conservation areas and watersheds; supported education and training on conservation and recreation topics; and built conservation, heritage and recreation partnerships.

Applications will be accepted through April 5th, 2023. Online tutorials are available to aid eligible organizations in the application process.  For more information, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ae3NZNlTOuA

The DCNR recreation and conservation grant program is funded with a variety of state and federal funding sources including Pennsylvania’s natural gas impact fee.

For more information on the grant program, visit: https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/Communities/Grants/Pages/default.aspx

For more state-related news and information, constituents can visit Dush’s website at www.senatorcrisdushpa.com or follow him on Facebook @SenatorCrisDushPA.

 

CONTACT:           Zack Ankeny

Sen. Dush to Chair Senate State Government Committee

HARRISBURG – Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-39) today appointed Sen. Cris Dush (R-25) to several standing Senate committees for the 2022-23 Legislative Session.

Dush will serve as chairman of the Senate State Government Committee, a committee on which he served as vice chairman during the 2021-22 session.

The State Government Committee has broad oversight over the executive branch, including the Office of the Governor, the Departments of State and General Services, as well as the Civil Service, Historical and Museum, and State Ethics Commissions. The committee is also responsible for developing and approving legislation relating to campaigns and elections, ethics and transparency in state government, constitutional amendments, and state procurement and land sales.

The senator will remain on the Intergovernmental Operations Committee, but as vice chairman. Dush was chair of that committee during the 2021-22 session following his appointment in August 2021. He oversaw an investigation of the integrity of the 2020 election in Pennsylvania, which served to better inform the legislature about potential future actions to be considered to improve the state’s election system, with that effort focused on being legally sound and proceeding in a careful, thoughtful and transparent manner. The committee will continue its efforts to review proposals to restructure and streamline all aspects of state government.

He will also return as a member of the Game and Fisheries and Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness committees, on which he was a member during the 2021-22 session, and the Local Government Committee, for which he was chairman during the prior session.

Additionally, he will serve as a member of the Appropriations and Judiciary committees during the 2022-23 session.

The Appropriations Committee reviews all legislation for its fiscal impact and plays a crucial role in negotiating and developing the state budget. Each year, the panel holds a series of public hearings with leaders of state departments and agencies to study the governor’s budget proposal and ensure taxpayer dollars are being utilized properly.

The Judiciary Committee considers a wide range of issues pertaining to Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system.  The committee examines and addresses a heavy load of legislative proposals which are referred, and engages in efforts that increase justice, fairness, and the protection of fundamental rights. The committee works closely with matters that involve the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, Office of Victim Advocate, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, Board of Pardons, Pennsylvania Parole Board, Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing, and Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. The senator’s newfound position on this committee will allow him to better advocate for his upcoming anti-human trafficking efforts.

Dush responded to the appointments saying: “I’m honored and humbled by the confidence Sen. Ward has shown in me by these appointments. The addition of the Appropriations and Judiciary committees to my plate, I feel, are a reflection of my commitment to the fiscal stewardship of the people’s money and to the constitutional responsibility to protect the people of the commonwealth.”

 

CONTACT:           Zack Ankeny

Rail Freight Assistance Program Grants Awarded in 25th District

HARRISBURG – State Sen. Cris Dush (R-25) announced state Rail Freight Assistance Program grant funding has been awarded for several projects within the 25th Senatorial District.

“The investment in rail freight infrastructure is focused on preserving essential rail freight service where economically feasible, as well as preserving or stimulating economic development through the generation of new or expanded rail freight service,” said Dush.

Recipients of the grants include:

  • Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad LLC (Cameron County) was awarded a $1.4 million grant for its Buffalo Line Rehabilitation project, which seeks to rehabilitate approximately 23 miles of track with ties and track surfacing.
  • SEDA-COG – Joint Rail Authority (Centre County) was awarded a $955,000 for Nittany & Bald Eagle Capital Track and Turnouts Capital Improvements project, which will rehabilitate track and re-align a wye (triangular junction) near Bellefonte Yard and replace a switch on the main line.
  • Pine Creek Seed Holdings, LLC (Clinton County) was awarded a $1.9 million grant to provide new rail access.
  • South Avis Realty Inc. (Clinton County) was awarded a $559,000 grant for its project to rehabilitate industrial park yard tracks as well as raise a section of track to improve transloading.

And while parts of these projects are also located outside the 25th District, a portion of the grants will be used for sections of track located within the 25th District:

  • A $2.6 million grant for Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad, Inc.’s Power Switch Reliability Project, which will rehabilitate approximately 20 miles of track with new ties and upgrade radio control switches (Clearfield, Elk, Jefferson and McKean counties).
  • A $3 million grant for the RJC Track Rehabilitation project by R. J. Corman Railroad Company/Pennsylvania Lines, which will rehabilitate three sections of track (a total of approximately 24 miles of track) with tie replacement and track surfacing (Cambria, Clearfield and Clinton counties).

 

CONTACT:           Zack Ankeny

Jefferson, McKean County Projects Receive Nearly $5 Million in RACP Grants

HARRISBURG – Three Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grants, with a combined total of nearly $5 million, have been awarded to projects in Jefferson and McKean counties, according to Sen. Cris Dush (R-25) and Reps. Brian Smith (R-66) and Martin Causer (R-67).

In Jefferson County, a $1.1 million grant was awarded to the Jefferson County Dubois Area Vocational Technical School (Jeff Tech), located in Winslow Township, for a project to construct, equip and furnish a new facility to house Jeff Tech’s Farm-to-Refrigerator training program, which is intended to address a shortage of skilled meat processing manpower in our region. The new facility will serve both secondary and adult students seeking to acquire skills for employment in the meat processing industry.

“The Jeff Tech project will help reduce an identified bottleneck in the local meat supply chain as well as provide area secondary and adult students with new, marketable skills in a resilient industry within the region,” Dush said. “Increasing employment opportunities and helping address challenges faced by our region’s meat processing industry will benefit our local communities as well as enhance the economic sustainability of family farms in the region.”

“Congratulations to everyone at Jeff Tech on qualifying for this highly competitive grant funding for the 66th Legislative District, throughout northwestern Pennsylvania, and most importantly; the high demand, family-sustaining jobs of both today and tomorrow,” said Smith. “If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it highlighted the need to stabilize food sources across the United States. For the first time in many of our lifetimes, all Pennsylvanians grappled with food insecurity. With this funding, we are investing in the production piece between ‘farm to table’ and stabilizing our food supplies, particularly in the meat processing industry.” 

“Jeff Tech would like to thank state Rep. Brian Smith and state Sen. Cris Dush for coming through in support of Jeff Tech’s RACP Grant for $1,100,000 for its Farm-to-Refrigerator training facility,” Jeff Tech Director Barry Fillman said. “This contribution will pair with the federal appropriations received due to the support of U.S. Congressman Glen Thompson totaling $1,125,000 to allow us to begin construction.”

“This state-of-the-art facility will be used to train butchers and meat cutters for the entire region,” said Fillman, later adding, “The long-term vision of this project is for people in our community to grow, butcher, sell, purchase and eat regionally sourced meat products and grow the economy of our entire region while providing long term, family sustaining career opportunities for adult and secondary students in our area.” 

In McKean County, the Lutheran Home at Kane, located in Kane Borough, was awarded a $2.44 million grant for the addition of an Alzheimer’s/Dementia unit to the facility as well as redesign access to the facility to account for varying degrees of patient acuity, creating separate entrance routes for air ambulance (helicopter), ground emergency transport vehicles (EMS) and private vehicle traffic.

“The Lutheran Home at Kane provides high-level care across a broad spectrum of programs including independent living, personal care and long-term care, all of which benefit the community,” Dush said. “Not only will these upgrade all the facility to improve the care, safety and quality of life for those residing in the facility, it will also allow The Lutheran Home to increase its number of employees from the 138 current employees to 148 during the next three years.”

Also in McKean County, the Bradford Regional Medical Center (BRMC) in Bradford City was awarded a $1,071,250 grant to begin to improve the facility’s roof, emergency drop off area lots, HVAC system, two elevators and wi-fi capabilities.

“Every small, rural town can benefit from a fully functioning hospital, and Bradford is fortunate enough to have one that not only provides quality, needed care, but also serves as one of the area’s largest employers and a positive factor in attracting other employers to the region,” said Dush. “With the planned upgrades, BRMC will enhance its ability to both serve the Bradford area and be an integral part of McKean County’s future.”

Added Causer: “It is important we continue to invest in our health care and long-term care facilities to meet the needs of our residents. I was pleased to support this much-needed funding for our communities.”

“All three projects are focused on improving the lives of those living in Jefferson and McKean counties, whether by increasing employment opportunities and the availability of skilled meat processors, or through the expansion of health care facilities to ensure accessible quality health care for our rural communities,” Dush said. “I’m happy to have supported these important investments in the 25th District.”

RACP is administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvement projects. RACP projects are authorized in the Redevelopment Assistance section of a Capital Budget Itemization Act. They must have a regional or multi-jurisdictional impact and generate substantial increases or maintain current levels of employment, tax revenues, or other measures of economic activity.

 

CONTACT:           Zack Ankeny

 

Senate Sends Governor Significant Health Care Reform Measure

HARRISBURG – The Senate of Pennsylvania sent Gov. Tom Wolf a measure that would standardize and streamline the process of prior authorization and step therapy for medical services, according to Sen. Cris Dush (R-25).

The legislation would create standards and timely feedback for commercial health insurance plans, as well as Medicaid plans, when health care providers seek prior authorization approval from insurers. The bill also reforms step therapy protocols.

Prior authorization is the process in which health care providers obtain advance approval for purposes of payment coverage and reimbursement from an insurer before a specific procedure or service is delivered to the patient. Step therapy allows insurers to recommend different drug treatment option(s) to patients to address costs.

Senate Bill 225 would create specific timelines for approval of health care services between physicians and insurers before services and treatment plans are rendered to the patient. The measure would also create guidelines for step therapy for prescription drugs.

According to a recent survey of physicians by the American Medical Association, 91% of doctors found prior authorization delays can lead to negative clinical impacts on patients, and 78% of doctors said that prior authorization delays can lead to their patients abandoning treatment plans.

The governor has 10 days to sign, veto or allow the bill to become law without his signature.

 

CONTACT:    Zack Ankeny

Causer, Dush Announce $490,000 in Grants for Local Communities

BRADFORD – Sen. Cris Dush (R-25) and Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter) today announced $490,000 in funding has been awarded for three recreation projects in McKean County.

“These grants represent important investments in our communities and quality of life across the region,” Causer said. “I applaud our local leaders for taking the initiative to pursue these initiatives and am pleased to support these projects.”

“The organizations that have been awarded these funds have been working diligently to improve the quality of life in their communities,” Said Dush. “It’s rewarding to stand with them to ensure the tax dollars the state collects for these projects are coming to deserving communities.”

Tuna Valley Trail Association was awarded $250,000 to construct a new trailhead in the Marilla Reservoir area in Bradford Township. The project will consist of a new gravel parking lot with a 36- by 60-foot open air pavilion with lighting and electric. The pavilion will also provide a prefabricated concrete restroom for patrons to use.

Mt. Jewett Borough was awarded $120,000 to create the Main Street Plaza Pocket Park. The project will involve rehabilitating a vacant lot downtown to include an outdoor amphitheater,

accompanied by a patio/seating area. A comfort station with restrooms will also be installed for use by local patrons. The goal is to bring people downtown and encourage the development of other vacant buildings nearby.

Smethport Borough was awarded $120,000 for the next phase of accessibility improvements to Hamlin Lake Park. The project includes installing an ADA-compliant kayak launch with

parking area; replacing the existing restroom facility with an ADA-compliant prefabricated

restroom building; and installing ADA-compliant parking near the restroom building.

 “Outdoor recreation is one of the greatest assets in our region, and these projects will only improve these opportunities for residents and visitors alike,” the lawmakers said.

The grants were awarded by the Commonwealth Financing Authority through the Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program, which is supported by revenues generated by Act 13 of 2012.