In this update:
My Bills to Fight Blight, Ensure Competency of PA Executive Branch Passed in Committee
While everyone can agree that we should tear down vacant, decaying, rat-infested (or tree infested as can be seen in this picture from Shenandoah) buildings in our communities, finding the dollars necessary can be difficult. By continuing this support for county demolition funding programs, we’re bringing real change to neighborhoods across Pennsylvania.
25 counties including Schuylkill County have chosen to join this program, raising millions of dollars to tear down dilapidated buildings. According to recent reports, Carbon County is also considering this option to fund their fight against the spread of blight.
My bill to ensure the competency of the governor and the lieutenant governor after they are incapacitated by a health emergency was approved with unanimous support in the Senate State Government Committee.
When Lt. Governor Fetterman failed to properly disclose the severity of his stroke last year, he could have caused a constitutional crisis had the governor also been incapacitated by a medical issue.
I’m thankful this important fix to our laws has won strong bipartisan support.
The Lingering Impacts of Covid School Closures
The New York Times recently discussed the incredibly harmful impact of school closures during the covid-19 pandemic on our students. According to the story, “it is clear that extended school closures were a mistake – they harmed children while having no measurable effect on the pandemic.”
Student scores in reading, math, and other subjects were substantially impacted. There was also a significant increase in cases of depression in students. As we continue to consider how best to prepare our students for productive careers, it’s important to address the harm they’ve been caused by the policy failures of recent years.
Carbon County Community Safety Day – Featuring Oakley!
Photo by Ron Gower/Special to the Times News
It was great to see over 450 people in attendance at Community Safety Day last weekend. One of the highlights for me was Oakley – he’s a Landseer Newfoundland who’s trained for water rescue missions and can even jump out of helicopters!
Thank you to Carbon County Kids Zone for helping to put together the event with my office, PA State Rep. Doyle Heffley, and the Carbon County Commissioners.
How Can We Clean Up Acid Mine Drainage?
I recently visited the Jeddo Tunnel near Hazleton, one of the worst examples of acid mine drainage in all of Pennsylvania, with Senator Lynda Culver and Rep. Mike Cabell. As you can see from the pictures, the water from the tunnel is bright blue due to aluminum from long-abandoned coal mines. We discussed several different potential solutions to this longstanding issue with experts in mine reclamation during our visit.
Due to new funding sources, now is the best chance in decades to fix this pollution that has plagued the Little Nescopeck Creek for 128 years.
Rural School Districts Hit Hard by School Closures
While some rural school districts face financial difficulties that make closing school buildings necessary, the impacts of closures can be severe for local communities. A recent article from Spotlight PA highlighted the extent of this problem in Pennsylvania.
I’ve seen the impact of this problem: this old school in Mahanoy City closed years ago and now sits abandoned. I’ve helped many communities find money to demolish old school buildings that sat vacant and became blighted. Others have been returned to productive use: Lehigh Carbon Community College’s Morgan Center in Tamaqua was once the junior high school where my parents taught.
I will continue to look for new and innovative ways to assist with demolishing or reusing closed schools in my role as the chair of the Education Committee.
No Emissions Test for Luzerne County Drivers?
The Senate is currently considering a bill that would exempt all Luzerne County drivers from having to schedule a costly emissions test every year. A report by the nonpartisan Joint State Government Commission found that seven counties could be removed from this requirement by the Environmental Protection Agency without worsening air quality.
Schuylkill and Carbon County are NOT required to complete this test.
I voted in favor of this bill when it was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee and will continue to support it to bring relief to Luzerne County from this burdensome regulation.
May Argall Report: Local Music in the State Capitol Building
The May edition of my local TV program features recent performances from three local schools at the State Capitol Building.
As part of “Music in our Schools Month”, the Schuylkill Haven Area Middle School Chorus, the North Schuylkill High School Wind Ensemble, and the Shenandoah Valley High School Band all performed. I even dusted off my tenor saxophone and joined the North Schuylkill High School Wind Ensemble for a performance of Eternal Father, Strong to Save (The Navy Hymn).
The students also joined me, Rep. Dane Watro, Rep. Tim Twardzik and Rep. Jamie Barton for a question-and-answer session to discuss our every-day work in state government.
Celebrating Mother’s Day
To all the women who put their family first, thank you for being such a source of strength and support in our communities. Happy Mother’s Day!