Senator Cris Dush E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee holds First Public Hearing of Election Investigation
  • 9/11- 20 Years Later
  • Streamlining Improvement of PA Neighborhoods
  • Filing Claims and Avoiding Scams After a Storm
  • Suicide Prevention: Help is Available 
  • September is National Prostate Health Month
  • Hammond Lake Improvement Project
  • Register for a Virtual Conversation on Coal Community Revitalization

Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee holds First Public Hearing of Election Investigation

The Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee held the first public hearing of its investigation into the 2020 General Election and the 2021 Primary Election this week. Hearing Video & Testimony 

Pennsylvania Department of State officials were invited to testify at the hearing regarding last-minute guidance provided to counties and its impact on the 2020 General Election. Department officials refused to attend.

Because there have been false claims out there that neither the Senate nor this committee have the authority to conduct this investigation, I began this process by laying out the Constitutional and Legislative authority as well as the authority under Senate Rules and Masons Manual of Legislative Procedure (which has been recognized and often quoted by both the United States and Pennsylvania Supreme courts citing it as the guidance on legislative authority in the U.S. and Pennsylvania).  Should anyone raise such questions in the future all one has to do is direct them to the link above where the questioner can learn for themselves where the authority is derived.

The panel also heard from Stewart Ulsh, chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners and Board of Elections, who described the confusing and sometimes contradictory guidance issued by the Department of State. The committee also received written testimony from County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania Executive Director Lisa Schaefer, who testified that counties struggled to keep up with guidance issued by the Department of State and election-related lawsuits. CCAP recommended several reforms to prevent the confusion of the 2020 election from reoccurring.

The committee has created a webpage for Pennsylvania residents to submit testimony regarding problems they have experienced with the state’s election system. Voters are encouraged to come forward if they have witnessed voter fraud or other election improprieties firsthand. State residents are urged to share their stories at intergovernmental.pasenategop.com/electioninvestigation/ to help guide the investigation and develop potential improvements to state law to bolster election security.

Only firsthand testimony is being requested, and only from Pennsylvania residents. Members of the public should submit testimony if they are comfortable signing an affidavit and potentially testifying under oath at a Senate committee hearing under penalty of perjury.

The investigation is expected to include public hearings, subpoenas for relevant election information and a detailed audit of the 2020 General Election and 2021 Primary Election.

Of special note to a common question regarding subpoenas; The demand from many that I issue them immediately and for specific items has been heard.  What those who are making these demands need to realize is that we are starting a process (one which I agree should have been started months ago) that leads to those subpoenas when we don’t receive the information this committee requests in a timely fashion.   The threats of the Attorney General and the willingness of this Supreme Court to issue edicts in contravention of the law requires this committee to have every “I” dotted and every “t” crossed to not give them even a crack in the door to bring this investigation to a stop.  This committee will be diligent in preventing that crack in the door.

9/11- 20 Years Later

It was 20 years ago this week that terrorists carried out a coordinated attack on the United States, killing nearly 3,000 Americans. It was an atrocity that would shake the nation’s confidence and test its resolve.

Amid the tragedies playing out in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Somerset County, Pennsylvania, there were stirring acts of courage and bravery. From the shock and mourning emerged a unified people.

The effects of the events of September 11, 2001 continue to reverberate. Many of those who died left behind children who were so young they never got to know their parents. A new generation has grown up over the past two decades with few, if any, memories of those they lost. Some 1,106 victims, or 40% of those who died, remain unidentified.

The best way to honor those killed 20 years ago is to renew our commitment to unity and to overcoming the challenges we face today.  I’m asking everyone who remembers that day to reflect on the unity we had here in America and to do their part in restoring it.  That is the best legacy we can provide to those who have fallen.

Streamlining Improvement of Pennsylvania Neighborhoods

The Neighborhood Improvement District Act was enacted in 2000 to spur economic development in Pennsylvania communities. A Senate hearing this week focused on modernizing and streamlining the process to meet current challenges.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in devastating consequences for tourism and hospitality employers throughout the Commonwealth. The Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee discussed Senate Bill 797, which would simplify the process for NID authorization and provide counties and municipalities with tools to enhance economic growth.

The panel took testimony from tourism experts, business leaders and economic development specialists. You can find the hearing video and written testimony here.

Filing Claims and Avoiding Scams After a Storm

Homeowners and business operators impacted by the recent strong storms can access useful information on how to file insurance claims for damages and tips to avoid repair scams.

The After the Storm brochure from the Pennsylvania Insurance Department includes such tips as:

  • Contact the insurance company as soon as possible after the storm.
  • Save all receipts.
  • Take photographs or video before cleaning or making repairs.
  • Individuals can verify someone is licensed as a public adjuster at Find an Insurance Professional.
  • Ask for and check references before hiring a contractor.

In addition, keep in mind that flood damage is not covered by most homeowners’ insurance policies, and a separate flood insurance policy is required to pay for damage caused by flooding.

Suicide Prevention: Help is Available  

National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month is a good time to note that for anyone with depression or thoughts of suicide: you’re not alone.  Find someone to talk to.  If they try to find help for you go along and seek the help.

If you are concerned that someone you know is contemplating suicide it’s a good sign you should ask them if they are!  Asking absolutely does NOT increase the likelihood that someone will commit suicide.  What it certainly can do is let that person know that someone cares when they don’t feel anyone does.

According to a 2018 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the country and is one of only three that are on the rise. In Pennsylvania, suicide rates have increased by 34% since 1999.

Military veterans are 1.5 times more likely to die by suicide than Americans who never served in the military. Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All calls are confidential:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1

You can find more information about mental health services in Pennsylvania here.

September is National Prostate Health Month

One in nine men, mostly men 65 or older, will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. The good news is the death rate is relatively low. 

Prostate cancer usually progresses slowly, so some type of screening is likely to catch it in time to act. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says men should discuss the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening with their doctor.

Hammond Lake Improvement Project

PFBC worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Tioga County Bass Anglers on a fish habitat improvement project at Corps’ Hammond Lake.  Wooden structures were constructed at PFBC’s State College facility and filled with concrete blocks (to sink) and leaves/small branches (for predator fish hiding places).  The structures were loaded onto boats and placed at select locations (either side of natural drainage of the feeder streams) on the lake marked with buoys.  It is expected that the structures will begin to fill with fish by the end of the day (the structures provide hiding places on an otherwise barren mud lakebed .PFBC does this, where requested, at sites throughout the state, and volunteers are usually present to assist.

PFBC should be commended at being resourceful in adapting an old boat (and one obtained from DCNR) for loading, transporting, and dumping the structures.

The locations must have permits (from PFBC, PA DEP or County Conservation District, Army Corps) to ensure proper placement and what is being dumped into the lake.  Years ago, this was a one-page application.  Today it is 40-pages long and takes about a month for reviews (sometimes more).  Information provided and what is evaluated has not changed.  What has changed is the amount of staff time it takes to prepare this application, which detracts from getting additional work accomplished.

Register for a Virtual Conversation on Coal Community Revitalization

ARC is partnering with President Biden’s Interagency Working Group on Revitalizing Coal and Power Plant Communities (IWG) to host New Opportunities for Coal Communities on Thursday, September 16, 9:30 am-12:00 pm.

This virtual event will bring Matewan, West Virginia – a community in the heart of coal-impacted Appalachia – to attendees through videos and ideas shared by community members themselves.

Following this virtual tour, 10 ARC POWER partners from West Virginia and Kentucky will share best practices and exchange ideas to help local leaders, nonprofits, and community members across the entire Region continue strengthening and diversifying coal-impacted economies.

Finally, they will be announcing ARC’s 2021 POWER Initiative award recipients.

Understand that I am, and will remain, behind our coal and associated industries.  I’m passing this information on to our local communities as a means to provide you with information which may benefit the communities as well as to give those closest to the impacts of Governor Wolf’s and President Biden’s efforts to shut those industries down the means to get information and then provide me and other elected officials information which may help us in the fight to protect their livelihoods.

A full agenda will be available soon. For now, register and mark your calendar for September 16! Register here: https://appalachianregionalcommission.formstack.com/forms/new_opportunities_for_coal_communities

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