In this Update:
The Pennsylvania Senate: Looking Back and Ahead
The end of the year brings a final look back on the 2021-22 legislative session, when Senate Republicans led the effort to transition Pennsylvania from COVID-19 pandemic response to helping residents and employers get back to normal, productive lives.
On the economic front, Senate-passed budgets not only shielded Pennsylvanians from tax increases, they cut the Corporate Net Income Tax to attract employers to Pennsylvania, modernized expense deductions allowing small business owners more flexibility and tax planning opportunities, and provided tax incentives for small businesses to grow and invest in Pennsylvania.
Recognizing that economic prosperity is threatened in unsafe communities, we held public hearings over the summer of 2022 examining rising crime rates and hearing from law enforcement officers on ways to restore order.
Our schools were greatly impacted by the pandemic and lengthy closures, and some of the more important education measures we passed were those that got students back into the classroom after the pandemic, expanded educational opportunity and better prepared students for success. Read more of the 2021-22 recap here.
It’s the duty of legislators to stand between Pennsylvania families and an overreaching, overtaxing executive branch. I will proudly take up that responsibility in the new session and offer our fellow citizens an alternative vision of freedom and prosperity.
The past year has been full of activity, both in Harrisburg and back home in the 25th Senatorial District. For a review of the 2022 activity, you can access my past mission reports here.
Leading the Way with Anti-Human Trafficking Actions
As you may know, human trafficking is the second largest business in the world and projected to become the number one business within the world during the next ten years. As such, I have taken on the fight to prevent this scourge from becoming the number one business in Pennsylvania.
I introduced a three-pronged approach to dealing with human trafficking during the Anti-Human Trafficking conference at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown in October 2022. This approach includes communications/education of human trafficking, rescuing victims and restoration/reintegration of body and soul of survivors. This requires both funding and legislation to support these goals.
January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and I have produced a series of interviews (four) that will be released, one per week, during January 2023. Every Thursday, I will have on my website a background discussion on human trafficking, a short bio of the Anti-Human Trafficking CEO that I am interviewing and a five-minute interview with this human trafficking expert.
Watch my web page and Facebook page for these informative interviews discussing one of America’s greatest plagues. Become a supporter by supporting my agenda and let’s fight united against this terrible plight aimed at our children.
2023 RAISE Grant Program Now Accepting Applications
Grant funding for 2023 is now available through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grant program, which helps communities around the country carry out projects with significant local or regional impact.
RAISE discretionary grants help project sponsors at the state and local levels, including municipalities, Tribal governments, counties and others complete critical freight and passenger transportation infrastructure projects. The eligibility requirements of RAISE allow project sponsors to obtain funding for projects that are harder to support through other U.S. Department of Transportation grant programs.
Prospective projects are rigorously reviewed and evaluated on statutory criteria of safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life, mobility and community connectivity, economic competitiveness and opportunity including tourism, state of good repair, partnership and collaboration, and innovation.
The Notice of Funding Opportunity is available for review here. The deadline for applications is 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 28, 2023 and selections will be announced no later than June 28, 2023. You can see what projects were awarded grants in 2022 here.
Call for Projects to Improve Communities in North Central Region
New Visitors Center for Centre, Clearfield Counties
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Friday, Dec. 16, for the opening of the Moshannon Valley Heritage Center, which is a visitors center joint venture of both Visit Clearfield County and Centre County’s Happy Valley Adventure Bureau.
Located at 22 N. Front Street in Philipsburg, Centre County, the center will not only serve as a launching pad for “finding adventure” in Centre and Clearfield counties, but also a learning destination, teaching visitors about both counties’ pasts through displays of artifacts from both counties.
Ribbon Cutting for New Benner Pike GIANT Supermarket in Benner Township, Centre County
My Bellefonte Field Representative Brandy Reiter was up bright and early to attend the Dec. 16 ribbon cutting ceremony for the new GIANT supermarket located on the Benner Pike in Benner Township, Centre County.
The Benner Pike Mall is a brand-new shopping center that will be home to several businesses, including a retail building and restaurant.
State Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-171) and former state Sen. Jake Corman (R-34) worked together to pass legislation to transfer this 15-acre parcel of formerly untaxed state-owned land, that was once part of the State Correctional Institution at Rockview, to the Centre County Industrial Development Corporation (CCIDC). CCIDC in turn worked with Pennsylvania-based Land of Paradise LLC to develop the property and bring the GIANT store to the shopping center to serve as the mall’s anchor store.
The GIANT store, managed by Thomas Woodring and assistant manager Summer Stauffer, will operate from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week.
Commonwealth University Receives Grant to Help Transferring Students Recover Class Credits
Commonwealth University (Bloomsburg, Lock Haven and Mansfield universities) was selected as one of nine recipients nationwide for a catalyst grant in the first round of funded projects by the National Association of System Heads (NASH).
Commonwealth University’s Transfer Team developed an “Earn What you have Earned” initiative which undertook a transcript audit of all transfer students to ensure they were awarded credit they had earned through the application of the newly revised Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Student Transfer Policy.
The audit of the transcripts of all students who transferred in 30-59 credits was done to identify those who may have already fully satisfied general education requirements. Based on the fall 2022 audit, 456 students were able to receive a total of 2,414 additional transfer credits. Additionally, these changes positioned several students to graduate earlier than previously anticipated, reducing their total cost of attendance through shortening their time to degree completion.
For more about the grant and its use, read a story from The Express (Lock Haven).
New Guide to PA Unemployment Benefits Available
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has published an updated Unemployment Compensation Handbook, a guide to unemployment benefits.
Unemployment Compensation is a program designed to provide temporary income between jobs to workers who lost their job through no fault of their own: for example, due to a layoff, plant closure or lack of available work.
The handbook was designed to be easier to understand than previous versions and includes links to additional information on the Labor and Industry Department website.
Older Drivers and Safe Driving
Nearly a quarter of Pennsylvania’s licensed drivers are 65 years of age or older, and resources are available to help with the unique challenges faced by older drivers.
Signs that can indicate it may be time to limit or stop driving altogether include:
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Seniors Driving Safely publications help older drivers assess their abilities and offer guidance on next steps if their medical condition is reported to PennDOT. The series also includes a publication designed to guide family and friends of older drivers in what can sometimes be difficult conversations about deciding to stop driving, as well as information for health care providers on PennDOT’s medical reporting program.
Friday Deadline for Communities to Apply for Boating Facility Grants
Friday is the deadline for communities to apply for state grants to help realize the positive social and economic impacts of providing convenient boating access along their local waterways.
The Boating Facility Grant program provides grants for planning, acquisition, development, expansion and rehabilitation of public boating facilities located on the waters of the Commonwealth.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission encourages townships, boroughs, and municipal and county governments to apply. Nonprofit groups – including land trusts, conservancies and watershed associations – are also eligible to apply. Private businesses and service clubs are not eligible for direct funding but are encouraged to partner with their local county or municipality.
Wishing All in the 25th Senatorial District a Happy and Blessed New Year!
The picture above, taken at my new Bellefonte district office during our recent 25th District Christmas party, includes me (in the center) with my wife Traci (on my right) along with Brookville Field Representative Penny Pifer; Bellefonte Field Representative Brandy Reiter and family; Chief of Staff Joseph Foust and family; Terry Lengenfelder, wife of Brookville Field Representative Doug Lengenfelder; and Harrisburg Administrative Assistant Jules Bellock and son. Not pictured: District Director Zack Ankeny and Brookville Field Representative Doug Lengenfelder.
From my family to yours, have a Happy and Blessed New Year!
For anyone who hasn’t already signed up to receive my mission reports, you can get on the e-newsletter mailing list here.
If you do not wish to receive this email, click here to unsubscribe.