In this Update:
Johnsonburg’s Own at Tokyo Olympics
2012 Johnsonburg Area High School graduate, Michael Shuey, took the Tokyo Olympic stage Tuesday in the preliminary round of the javelin. He is the son of Bill and Donna Shuey.
Michael started his Track and Field Career at the Johnsonburg School District while in the Junior High as a high jumper. He began to throw competitively during his sophomore year and won the state title for javelin his senior year. Michael attended Penn State and is a two-time Big Ten Champion in Javelin and a two-time NCAA Big Ten First Team. After Penn State, he trained at the Elite Training Center in Chula Vista, California, for the Olympics.
Sadly, he hurt his knee while competing in Tokyo and withdrew from the competition. He posted on Facebook “Hey everyone thank you so much for your support. I’m sorry to make you wait another 3 years for the next Olympics. Unfortunately I tore something in my right knee on the first throw. Tried to continue but my body didn’t hold up. It’s a tricky sport, but it will be a good turning point going into the world championship year. I have already qualified for worlds so we get this knee fixed and come back better. Love you all and I look forward to seeing you all when I come home. It won’t be the last Olympics so don’t feel too bad.”
Sen. Dush stated, “Competition at a world class level takes more determination and dedication than most people can grasp. To put that much effort into training for a single day and to have such a freak injury put you out of the competition would be devastating to most people. Michael’s spirit and positive attitude have gotten him this far and from the sound of his statements to his followers it will carry him through the World Championships and on to the next Olympics. I pray for a rapid and full recovery for him.”
We are looking forward to watching him compete in the Olympics, again!
Legislative Review: Strengthening Health Care
The pandemic underscored how fragile good health can be, and how important access to high-quality care is for Pennsylvania communities. The Senate passed several measures aimed at strengthening health care, including:
Act 11 of 2021 creating the Living Donor Protection Act.
Act 23 of 2021 giving individuals renewing either their vehicle registration or driver’s license an option to donate to the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition.
Act 56 of 2021 dedicating additional Medicaid funding for ventilator and tracheostomy services.
Act 60 of 2021 recognizing Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists under Pennsylvania statute to prevent them from leaving Pennsylvania because of designation issues.
Act 68 of 2021 authorizing Pennsylvania to join the Nurse Licensure Compact recognizing mutual agreement in the requirements for nurse licensing and providing easier transfer of licenses.
Senate Bill 74 allowing companies to apply for a tax credit after donating to a Pennsylvania pediatric cancer research hospital.
Senate Bill 323 extending the moratorium on increases in income due to a Social Security COLA for PACE and PACENET enrollees for two additional years until Dec. 31, 2023, benefitting 17,800 seniors.
Senate Bill 397 & Senate Bill 398 modernizing state law to encourage more physician assistants to stay and practice in the Commonwealth, resulting in a wider range of medical professionals across the health care delivery system.
You can find a full list of bills of note passed by the Senate in 2021 here.
Latest from the Legislative Reapportionment Commission
On July 29, the commission held a public hearing featuring presentations from representatives of National Conference of State Legislatures, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, and the Legislative Data Processing Center. You can view the hearing and access written testimony here.
On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, the panel heard feedback from PA citizens regarding the reapportionment process as a whole and specific issues that may exist in their districts. You can see what citizens had to say here and here.
State Government Committee Begins Series of Hearings on Congressional Map Drawing
While the Legislative Reapportionment Commission draws new lines for the state House of Representatives and Senate following the census, congressional maps are drawn by the General Assembly. On Wednesday, the Senate State Government Committee held a public hearing on congressional redistricting. You can find testimony and hearing video here.
It is important to ensure our congressional lines are drawn according to the federal and state constitutions. There are groups who also want something called “communities of interest” included in the consideration of drawing these maps. Before any attempt is made to formally include this concept it is incumbent on us to ensure that the idea is something which can be clearly identified and “nailed down” in its meaning and application. We will be hearing more about this concept as well as how the process has been applied and what you, The People, would like to see applied to the process going forward.
This hearing was held in the smallest geographic district in the Commonwealth, Senator Sharif Street’s 3rd Senatorial District in Philadelphia. We are working to host the next one in the 25th District which I represent and is geographically the largest in Pennsylvania. Once the venue, time and date have been worked out we will let you know through this newsletter, social media and media releases.
Annual PennDOT Highway Safety Survey
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is seeking motorists’ input on traffic safety and driving behaviors through its annual online Highway Safety Survey. The survey is available through August 23 and should take about five minutes to complete. All responses, including the “comments” fields, are anonymous.
Nearly 8,000 people responded to last year’s survey, answering questions about safety habits such as seat belt use, impaired driving, speeding and distracted driving. Notably, nearly 91% of respondents said they always wear a seat belt and approximately 88% said they never drive while impaired. When asked how often they choose to exceed the posted speed limit, nearly 84% said they speed at least some of the time.
COVID-19 Vaccines Coming to the County Fair
Residents heading to the county fairs for corn dogs, funnel cakes and fried pickles can now add the COVID-19 vaccine and educational resources to their list of things to find at the fair. The state Department of Health is partnering with the Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs to offer free, walk-up vaccinations and educational materials.
Every Pennsylvania resident age 12 and older is eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Use Vaccine Finder to find a COVID-19 vaccine provider near you.
August is ABLE to Save Month
Thanks to the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014 and the Pennsylvania ABLE Act of 2016, Pennsylvanians with disabilities and their families now have the tools they need to save for the future without losing critical benefits they rely on like Supplemental Security Income or medical assistance.
PA ABLE offers various savings options including an interest-bearing checking account with an accompanying debit card. All of the options come with generous tax benefits including no federal or state income tax on savings growth or withdrawals for qualified expenses, state income tax deductions for contributions up to $15,000, and exemption from state inheritance tax.
Pennsylvanians with disabilities and their families have opened more than 5,000 accounts and saved nearly $60 million since the program opened in 2017. Pennsylvanians with disabilities can save for costly expenses such as assistive technology or modified vehicles – or for necessary day-to-day needs like groceries and housing. Families can also use PA ABLE to save for their loved one’s future care.
For more information about eligibility for PA ABLE, qualified expenses and savings options, visit paable.gov or call 855-529-2253.
Saturday is Purple Heart Day
The Purple Heart, awarded to those killed or wounded while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, is the oldest military award still given to U.S. military members.
To shed blood for one’s country is a price few would pay, and to die on behalf of fellow citizens is the ultimate sacrifice. On August 7, please think of those killed and wounded in defense of this great and decent nation.
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