New Congressional Map Vetoed by the Governor
This week, as required by the constitution, the House and Senate sent a new Congressional map to the Governor, which he has now vetoed.
Although not all sides were able to come to an agreement, I was pleased to hear the Democratic Leader Senator Costa (D-Allegheny) and the Democratic Chair of the Senate State Government Committee Senator Street (D-Philadelphia) thank me for my efforts in this bipartisan process in guiding this bill through our committee.
This vetoed map was far better than those proposed in the past. This is also the first time that a map has been developed by a private citizen as opposed to legislators.
As I noted in my comments on the floor of the Senate, there is no such thing as a perfect map, someone is always going to have a complaint with the outcome. Watch my comments above.
You can view the submitted map in detail here.
Rep. Jerry Knowles to Retire at the End of 2022
Rep. Jerry Knowles has announced that he will not seek reelection to the state House of Representatives. He has represented the people of Schuylkill, Berks, and Carbon Counties well for the past thirteen years.
In addition to his tenure in the House, Jerry has served as a police officer, borough council member and mayor in Tamaqua, as well as a Schuylkill County commissioner and a valued member of my staff when I served in the State House.
Jerry Knowles is more than a colleague. He’s been a trusted friend since the 1980s and I will really miss him at the Capitol.
Read more about his retirement here.
Senate Approves Funding for Hospitals, Health Care Workers
The Senate voted this week to provide $225 million to hospitals and frontline health care workers. The bill requires that the funding be directed to staff on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic – hospital executives and administration are not eligible for these payments.
A portion of this funding will be directed to the Student Loan Relief for Nurses Program, to help encourage these critically important professionals to begin their careers here in Pennsylvania.
Our local health care workers have sacrificed so much to keep us all safe throughout the pandemic. Watch an interview I did with WFMZ on this news here.
Touring Reading CollegeTowne: A Preview of What’s to Come in Pottsville
Last week, I had the chance to tour Alvernia’s Reading CollegeTowne campus. This location in the heart of downtown Reading has been a huge success for the community and serves as a blueprint for the Pottsville CollegeTowne campus that is currently in development.
I was honored to work with Rep. Joe Kerwin, Rep. Tim Twardzik, and Rep. Jerry Knowles to support a $3 million state grant for this project that will positively impact Pottsville for decades to come.
Pictured above starting on the back left moving forward: Rep. Barry Jozwiak, Speaker of the House Rep. Bryan Cutler, Stacy Rowlands, Alvernia President John Loyack. Then starting in the back right moving forward is Alvernia Trustedd Barry Schlouch; Rodney Ridley, dean of Alvernia’s Engineering Department; me; and Thomas Minick from Alvernia.
More on this next week!
Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Rate Lags Behind Other States
Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate fell slightly this month to 5.4%, but still remains significantly worse than the national average. Our state now ranks 41st in the country on this important economic indicator.
The states with the lowest unemployment rates in the country are Nebraska, Utah, Oklahoma, Idaho, and Montana. The states with the highest are California, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and New Mexico.
Four states have actually fully recovered from the job losses seen in the early days of the pandemic: Texas, Arizona, Utah, and Idaho.
Read more about this news here.
Applications Being Accepted for PennDOT Summer Employment Program
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) offers a summer employment program for students who are registered as full-time college students for the Fall 2022 semester.
The deadline for receiving summer applications is Feb. 18, so I encourage anyone interested in the program to contact my office.
In addition to contacting my office, those interested must also fill out an online application with the PennDOT College Student Summer Worker posting under the open summer jobs section of the website.
The hourly rate is $14.61. Applicants must be enrolled as a full-time college student for the Fall 2022 semester, have a valid PA driver’s license and be 18 years of age before beginning work.
Breathing New Life into Older Communities
The January edition of my local TV program focuses on the bipartisan work of addressing blight and revitalizing communities across Pennsylvania.
This month’s edition focuses on a recent presentation which explained how Jim Thorpe changed from a distressed community in the 1960’s and 70’s to a top tourist destination in the region. I also highlight a recent roundtable hosted by the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania where I gave remarks along with Rep. Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster).
In some towns, the ongoing revitalization looks like a miracle, given the terrible conditions these communities faced years ago. Fighting blight seems to have done what many consider to be impossible in our current political climate – bring Republicans and Democrats together to work to find solutions to this problem that has plagued our communities for too long.
You can also watch this edition and all previous editions here.