Senator Cris Dush E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Senate Approves Measures to Support Police and Crime Victims
  • Senate Acts to Add Sex Traffickers to Sex Offender Registry
  • Measure to Improve Notification of Government Data Breaches Sent to Governor
  • Sintergy Inc. Celebrates Major Expansion in Reynoldsville
  • PennDOT Invites Businesses to Prepare for NEVI Grant Program, Join Informational Webinar
  • LIHEAP Will Begin Accepting Applications on Nov. 1 for its 2022-23 Season
  • The 2022 Fall Edition of the McKean County Conservation District’s Conservation Times
  • Health Care Reform Measure Receives Final Approval
  • Mail-In Ballot Application Deadline is Nov. 1
  • Recognizing the Contributions of First Responders
  • Time for Trick or Treaters

Senate Approves Measures to Support Police and Crime Victims

Taking further action to stem the rise in violent crime in Pennsylvania, the Senate this week passed measures to support law enforcement and crime victims.

House Bill 103 seeks to better protect our law enforcement officers against harassment by strengthening penalties against criminals who intentionally spit on or throw bodily fluids at officers.

House Bill 1546 further protects law enforcement officers by prohibiting the release of a public safety official’s home address or telephone number.

While criminal prosecutions punish offenders, restitution for crime victims often falls short. When that happens, victims often turn to the civil justice system.

The Senate passed House Bill 2525 to make it easier for crime victims to obtain relevant information learned by law enforcement during the investigation of the crime. Crime victims can then use that information in civil legal actions to recover damages for their injuries.

In addition, the Senate approved House Bill 140 to help fight rampant crime in Philadelphia. It requires the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute crimes committed within its mass transit system.

These efforts build on the work that has been accomplished over the past two years to protect crime victims, prevent human trafficking and strengthen penalties for criminals who seek to elude officers.

Senate Acts to Add Sex Traffickers to Sex Offender Registry

A measure requiring offenders convicted of a sex trafficking-related crime to register as sex offenders received final legislative approval this week.

Senate Bill 118 adds these crimes to the reporting requirements of Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law. The law requires the State Police to maintain a public, online registry of persons who reside, work or attend school in the Commonwealth and who have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to certain sexual offenses in Pennsylvania or another jurisdiction.

Most defendants in the FBI’s human trafficking cases had prior criminal records and are prone to recidivism. The Megan’s Law Registry has proven to be a deterrent to subsequent sexual offenses committed by those who are on it. The bill was sent to the governor for enactment.

Measure to Improve Notification of Government Data Breaches Sent to Governor

Legislation requiring that state agencies, their contractors and local governments provide timely notification to victims of a data breach received final approval.

Breaches involving personally identifiable information must be reported within seven days of such a breach being determined, under Senate Bill 696.

In addition to timely notification, the measure requires the state Attorney General to be notified of a state-level breach and county district attorneys to be notified of county, municipal and school district breaches. The bill was sent to the governor for enactment.

Sintergy Inc. Celebrates Major Expansion in Reynoldsville

Last week, Sintergy Inc., a world-class manufacturer of custom-engineered, powder metal components located in Reynoldsville, Jefferson County, celebrated a major expansion of its facility.

This expansion brings the size of the facility to 87,600 square feet, which is more than double what the company’s initial goal (of 42,000 square feet) was when the land was purchased in 2009. Sintergy first began operations in 2004 in Punxsutawney, operating out of a 7,000-square-foot building.

The new building will be used for machining and milling the metal parts made in the powdered metals part of the facility.

Even with the new addition, Sintergy still has the ability to add another 28,800 square feet to the existing site.

Sintergy has been an important part of Jefferson County’s employer landscape for nearly two decades and a big contributor to our regional economy. They embody their mission statement and this expansion will allow them to continue to “make it happen” into the future.

PennDOT Invites Businesses to Prepare for NEVI Grant Program, Join Informational Webinar

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has announced resources are available to help businesses and organizations in preparation for the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Notice of Funding Opportunity announcement.

The NEVI announcement is anticipated for late December/early January and will provide PennDOT with $171.5 million in funds to distribute for electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. The money will be disbursed during a five-year period, with $25.4 million available for the first year. NEVI grants will require the grantee to provide a minimum 20% match.

PennDOT will host an informational webinar about the 2022 NEVI Grant Program on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022, between 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Register here to attend the webinar.

This webinar is intended for all audiences interested in applying for PennDOT NEVI grant program. This webinar will provide an overview of the PennDOT NEVI grant program, as well as information on eligibility, types of projects funded, how to apply, eligible and non-eligible costs and application best practices.

In addition, NEVI stakeholder sessions are being held around the state. These sessions will include a presentation portion followed by an opportunity to network and expand professional connections and partnerships. Interested parties can register for a session of interest here.

LIHEAP Will Begin Accepting Applications on Nov. 1 for its 2022-23 Season

Inflation is creating a crisis for many of our Pennsylvania residence when it comes to heating their homes.  The price of everything has gone up, including, in some cases, a more than 30% increase in electrical costs.  The Department of Human Services (DHS) released its final State Plan for the 2022-2023 Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) season and the increased grants offer some help.

There are a few changes of note:

  • The minimum LIHEAP cash grant was raised from the proposed $250 to $300;
  • The maximum LIHEAP crisis grant was raised from the proposed $800 to $1,000;
  • The LIHEAP season was extended from the proposed April 7, 2023 to April 28, 2023 and
  • DHS will eliminate the “cash first” policy. When an applicant seeks Crisis assistance to stop a pending termination or to reconnect to service before applying for a cash grant, they will no longer be required to use their cash grant to resolve the crisis before crisis grant funds are applied. That applicant will be able to choose whether to designate their cash grant to the same or a different vendor. 

LIHEAP’s 2022-23 season opens for new applications on Nov. 1, 2022, and preseason mailers and applications for prior LIHEAP recipients have already gone out. 

As it does annually, the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project will hold a LIHEAP webinar. This year’s webinar is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 31st from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. The webinar will walk participants through changes to the program, answer common LIHEAP questions and provide advocacy tips for helping households access assistance through the program. Webinar speakers will include Lauren Berman, staff attorney for the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project; Lydia Gottesfeld, managing attorney for Community Legal Services of Philadelphia’s Health & Independence Unit; and Ria Pereira, supervising attorney for the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project.

You will need to register prior to the webinar to attend. You can register here.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

The 2022 Fall Edition of the McKean County Conservation District’s Conservation Times

The McKean County Conservation District’s Fall 2022 Conservation Times is now available – you can read it here.

Health Care Reform Measure Receives Final Approval

The Senate gave final approval of a measure that would standardize and streamline the process of prior authorization and step therapy for medical services.

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.

A recent survey of physicians found that 91% of doctors said 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.

Senate Bill 225 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. The bill was sent to the governor to be signed into law.

Mail-In Ballot Application Deadline is Nov. 1

Tuesday, Nov. 1, is the deadline to apply for mail and absentee ballots for the Nov. 8 General Election. 

Applications can be requested online or you can download the form and return it to your County Voter Registration Office no later than 5 p.m. on Nov. 1.

Instructions for preparing and returning your ballot can be found here. Ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Recognizing the Contributions of First Responders

We sometimes take for granted the sacrifice and dedication of first responders, without whom our communities could not safely function.

Thank you, police officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel and everyone else who answers the call, anytime, day or night.

Time for Trick or Treaters

Communities will be holding Halloween nights between now and Oct. 31. In addition to stocking up on candy, please keep an eye out for distracted children crossing streets and scurrying about.

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