In this update:
Celebrating 85 Years of Jimmy’s Hot Dogs in Hazleton
Congrats to Jimmy’s Quick Lunch in Hazleton for 85 years of operation. Rep. Dane Watro and I visited yesterday to celebrate Jim and the Grohol family for this incredible accomplishment. Many of my meetings in Hazleton end with a jalapeno hot dog at Jimmy’s!
My New Role on the Board of Governors for PASSHE
This week, I was appointed to serve as one of the Senate’s representatives on the Board of Governors for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
I come from a family of PASSHE graduates – my mother graduated from Bloomsburg and my father and grandfather Argall graduated from Kutztown – so this appointment is very significant to me. I look forward to assisting our ten state universities in meeting the many challenges now before them.
In Schuylkill, Carbon, and Luzerne Counties, there are 2,618 currently enrolled students and 20,083 alumni from PASSHE universities.
This role, as well my responsibilities as Senate Education Committee Chair and as Senator for the 260,000 people of Carbon, Luzerne, and Schuylkill Counties, will keep me very busy in 2023-24!
Voter ID: Time for PA to Catch Up with Other States, Nations
A proposed constitutional amendment passed by the Senate earlier this month to require ID verification at polling places remains in the House of Representatives. Its approval is needed to let voters have a say through a ballot question in the spring primary election.
Pennsylvania’s failure to enact this key component of election integrity has put us behind not only a vast majority of states and most developed countries, but behind many developing nations as well.
Every excuse used to block this rational election reform has been shown to be false. Requiring proof of identification before voting does not suppress turnout, and acceptable IDs are not difficult to obtain.
Nationally, the calls for voter ID come from Democrats and Republicans alike. Eighty percent of Americans favor voter ID as do 74% of Pennsylvanians. Now is the time to pass Senate Bill 1 and let the voters decide.
Legislative Survey: Voter ID
I want to hear from you! Do you think the people of Pennsylvania deserve the chance to decide whether voters should be required to present identification at the polls? Visit this link to cast your vote.
Restoring Checks and Balances in Pennsylvania Government
In addition to letting citizens decide whether voters should be required to show ID, Senate Bill 1 includes a proposed constitutional amendment allowing the people’s representatives in the General Assembly to overturn any government regulation that conflicts with the will of the people.
The need for this change was made clear by the Wolf administration’s unilateral decisions during the pandemic, closing businesses and schools with no input from the people. Despite the clear design of our government with three co-equal parts, the executive branch elevated itself above the legislative and judicial branches in an obvious violation of the checks and balances afforded by the Pennsylvania Constitution.
No governor of any party should be permitted to wield such unchecked power again. If the House of Representatives follows the Senate’s lead and passes Senate Bill 1, voters will be empowered to restore this crucial balance of power.
AGAIN, Commissioner Halcovage Urged to Resign
On Monday, the Times News published an opinion by Bruce Frassinelli of their editorial staff calling for Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage to resign.
An investigation by the Schuylkill County solicitor’s office and human resources office determined that if Commissioner Halcovage was a county employee rather than an elected commissioner, they would have recommended that he be terminated.
The PA House, at the urging of the three local State Representatives last session, has voted unanimously to investigate the allegations leveled against Commissioner Halcovage. The House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts is continuing the investigation by issuing subpoenas and interviewing witnesses.
If the House votes to impeach Commissioner Halcovage, the Senate will then be required by the state constitution to hold a trial to consider whether he should be removed from office.
Rebates for Property Taxes and Rent Available to Seniors, Pennsylvanians with Disabilities
Older adults and Pennsylvanians with disabilities can apply now for rebates on property taxes or rent paid in 2022. If you need assistance with filing, please call any of my local offices to set up an appointment.
The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded. Spouses, personal representatives or estates may also file rebate claims on behalf of claimants who lived at least one day in the claim year and meet all other eligibility criteria.
The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975. You can find more eligibility and application information here. Eligible applicants can visit mypath.pa.gov to electronically submit their applications.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day
78 years ago, Allied forces liberated Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Every year since, we have commemorated January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
When my son was studying in Germany several years ago, my family and I visited the site of the Dachau concentration camp in Bavaria to pay our respects and to learn more about this terrible time in our history.
We must never forget the millions of victims of the Nazi Holocaust, including its more than six million innocent Jewish casualties.
“To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time” – Elie Wiesel.
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