In this email update:
Podcast: News & views
This week’s edition of the new News & Views podcast is a quick, helpful rundown of events in the Capitol and in local communities. You can tune in to this week’s episode here.
No Tax Increase Budget/ Good News for Local Coal Plants
This week, we overwhelmingly approved a spending plan for 2019-20 that controls spending increases while investing in vital state programs and NOT RAISING TAXES.
I supported the plan because it included increases in funding for agriculture and education, while rejecting some of the Governor’s most costly proposals.
On the topic of agriculture, dairy farmers have been affected by challenging market conditions in the past year and we did part to support them and their families.
Basic education saw a budget increase of $160 million, and the Governor’s proposed multi-million budget cuts to the Safe Schools program were restored. Non-public schools will also receive a significant increase in school security aid funding, due to an effort I introduced earlier this session.
I also sponsored a successful budget measure to support local coal waste to energy facilities. With the closing of the NEPCO plant at McAdoo, after many decades of operation, we had to do something–I have a very simple goal with this bill – to protect local jobs and to continue to help them to remove the waste coal piles and fill the abandoned strip mines. This progress which we have seen in the past few decades is only possible through a public-private partnership. To continue this effort, our local coal refuse power plants need to survive.
The spending plan goes to Governor Wolf for his approval. Here is a video with more details.
92% agree on Medicaid Work Requirements
I recently asked the residents of the 29th District where they stand on the issue of work requirements for non-elderly, non-disabled Medicaid recipients. Here is the question we asked: Do you believe that some sort of work requirement should be placed on non-elderly, non-disabled recipients to continue to receive Medicaid assistance?
With 322 responses, you can see those results below:
Talking Welfare Reform with Greater Reading Chamber Alliance
Last week, a legislative discussion was hosted by the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance. My main subject was the urgent need to address our spiraling human service/welfare costs.
Honoring the PA National Guard and Lithuanian Armed Forces
2019 marks the 26-year anniversary of an important and strategic partnership between the Pennsylvania National Guard and the Lithuanian Armed Forces. Thousands of PA National Guard members and their Lithuanian counterparts have strengthened Lithuanian capabilities including planning, crisis management, civilian-military disaster response and have advanced joint efforts in Afghanistan.
I was proud to sponsor Senate Resolution 189 which recognizes June 2019 as “Lithuanian Partnership Month” in Pennsylvania. I am co-sponsoring this with the new Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33). Senator Mastriano was a Colonel in the Army and fought in combat during Operation Desert Storm. I look forward to working with him more in the future!
The first time I saw the Lithuanian flag was as a very young Cub Scout, when I asked, “what is that?” The sponsors of the Cub Pack at Sts. Peter and Paul Lithuanian Catholic Church in Tamaqua were very quick (and proud) to answer my question, which I have never forgotten!
Introducing our new staffer, Berks County’s own: Jim Brugger
Jim Brugger is our new Legislative Assistant at the Capitol. Jim grew up in Wyomissing and graduated from Penn State University in May with a degree in finance. He is an Eagle Scout with Troop 413 in Wyomissing and was an active volunteer for the Penn State Dance Marathon (THON) while in college, which led to him being elected to represent his organization at the main event in February and to stand for 46 straight hours! With this kind of stamina, the legislature should be easy even on longest days and nights. In his free time, Jim enjoys reading Stephen King novels and spending time with his friends and family. Welcome, Jim!
Preparing to celebrate Yuengling’s 190th anniversary
The Yuengling brewery is one of the most iconic and historic sites in Schuylkill County and Pennsylvania. This year, Yuengling will be celebrating its 190th anniversary. Family-owned since 1829, you can read more about the Yuengling story and its employees here.
For the 190th anniversary, Yuengling will hold a celebration on July 13th featuring live music from the band Better Than Ezra. There will be food, beer, and fireworks as well. The proceeds of the event will benefit the effort to revitalize Pottsville. More information can be found here. This will be the party of the year!
Remembering the Good Ol’ Days at Eckley Miners’ Village
Beth and I enjoyed a quiet Sunday afternoon at the Eckley Miners’ Village Patch Town Day near Hazleton. The Miners’ Village is a historic site that shows what life was like in the old coal towns of Pennsylvania. If you’d like more details regarding this PA Historical & Museum Commission site, here’s the link.
My favorite exhibit was the 1940s miner’s house, which reminded me of my visits to grandparents’ homes, in St. Clair and Middleport. Ah, the “good ol’ days.”
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