In this update:
House Committee to Consider Impeachment of Commissioner George Halcovage
The House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts will hold a hearing on the conduct of Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage on September 15th to determine whether to proceed with the process of impeachment.
An investigation by the Schuylkill County solicitor’s office and human resources office determined that if Commissioner Halcovage was an employee, they would have recommended that he be terminated. Almost every single state and county elected official representing Schuylkill County has called for his resignation.
Read more about this news here.
Giving Voters a Voice in Election Integrity
I wrote an op-ed about recent efforts by the Senate to improve election integrity.
We advanced two potential constitutional amendments that will allow the people to decide whether additional safeguards are necessary. The amendments would create voter ID standards and provide for election audits. We also banned “Zuckerbucks” and other outside money from the administration of our elections.
If we want people to trust the process again, we must show that we’re willing to make changes. Most importantly, we must the voters part of the reform process and allow them to vote upon these important issues.
Working with Schools to Provide a Safe Learning Experience
As the new school year gets underway, students and teachers in many districts across the state are returning to classes made safer by actions taken by the General Assembly.
We have worked together on bipartisan legislation that gives our schools the tools they need to identify potential threats early, provide mental health services and safeguard our classrooms.
Landmark legislation created the School Safety and Security Grant Program which allows schools to hire school police officers, resource officers and counselors; implement safety plans and violence prevention initiatives; and purchase equipment and physical upgrades to boost student safety.
We allocated $60 million to that program initially and then another $60 million in 2019 and $95 million more in 2022.
Additionally, we passed legislation creating an anonymous school threat reporting system to help schools and law enforcement be prepared for any potential violent incidents. The Safe2Say program has generated more than 80,000 tips since its inception in 2019, not only for school safety concerns, but also for student safety issues like bullying and self-harm.
The public hearings which I conducted across the state on this issue stressed that this must be an ongoing process. I’m committed to providing schools with the tools they need to keep students and staff safe.
Pennsylvania Employers Face Serious Labor Shortage
A recent article from the Morning Call highlights the severity of the labor shortage facing employers in Pennsylvania. According to the Independent Fiscal Office, Pennsylvania currently has an “unusually high demand for 105,000 additional workers.”
The industries with the biggest declines in employment in the past three years include nursing homes, which lost 27,500 employees, full-service restaurants, which lost 20,300 employees, and manufacturing, which lost 13,000 employees.
This shortage is contrasted with Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate, which ranks 44th out of the 50 states and has not yet fully recovered from the Governor’s shutdown of the economy.
Roundtable Features Past and Present Schuylkill County Legislators
The Schuylkill County Chamber and the Schuylkill County Historical Society will be hosting a first-time-ever roundtable legislative breakfast on September 15th featuring many past and present members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly from this area, with Representatives who have served since the 1960s.
We’ll be discussing the ways that Harrisburg has changed over the years and how this evolution has affected the Schuylkill County community. If you’re interested in joining us, please contact the Schuylkill Chamber, as noted above.
September Argall Report: Pennsylvania’s State Parks
The September edition of my local TV program features a tour of Locust Lake State Park.
As part of this year’s state budget, I supported new funding for Pennsylvania’s parks and outdoor recreation programs. A new state grant program totaling $100 million will support the repair, rehabilitation and development of state parks and forest areas AND local and regional projects promoting greenways, trails, open space, and heritage areas to increase public access to nature.
Pennsylvania has been a bipartisan leader in conservation for more than one hundred years, since the days of President Theodore Roosevelt. Our beautiful state parks are an important part of those conservation efforts, which we need to continue so that Pennsylvania’s natural beauty will be accessible for generation to come, for our future grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Visit Hamburg for the Annual Taste of Hamburg-er Festival!
Visit downtown Hamburg on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for their 19th annual Taste of Hamburg-er Festival. The event will feature 40 hamburger vendors, live music, burger eating competitions, and much more! This annual event is an important part in Hamburg’s ongoing community revitalization efforts, a successful campaign to breathe new life into this beautiful old town.
Visit their website for more information.
Drought Watch Declared by DEP
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection declared a drought watch for many counties across Pennsylvania, including Schuylkill, Carbon, Luzerne, and Berks. Residents are encouraged to be mindful about their water use until further notice.
Happy Labor Day
I hope you have a great Labor Day weekend with family and friends. Enjoy the day off and the waning days of summer.
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