In this email update:
Tackling the opioid crisis: Meeting in Pine Grove September 19
Next Wednesday, I will host an event with Representative Mike Tobash (Schuylkill/Dauphin) in western Schuylkill County to discuss the ongoing opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania. The event will take place beginning at 6 p.m. at the Pine Grove Hose Hook and Ladder at One Orchard Street, Pine Grove, PA.
In 2016, it was estimated that more than 4,600 Pennsylvanians died from opioid addiction. That equates to 13 people each day that lose their life to this crisis. In January, the Governor signed a statewide disaster declaration to combat the heroin and opioid overdose epidemic. If you are interested in learning what continues to be done at the state and local level, be sure to attend.
If you or someone you know is experiencing opioid addiction, feel free to contact the Opioid Addiction Hotline at 1-800-662-HELP.
Keeping our school children safe
This past week, I chaired several meetings of the Senate Majority Policy Committee where the subject of school safety was discussed. Hearing from a variety of stakeholders, officers and safety professionals, we discussed what the state can do to better ensure the safety of our youth as well as initiatives that could be undertaken at the state level.
Three additional meetings are set to take place next week on:
You can view all of this week’s roundtable discussions on my website through this link.
A great recap of the Downingtown hearing on Tuesday appeared in the Daily Local News here.
Hearing from you – Hubley Township town hall meeting
On Wednesday, I held a town hall meeting with Representative Mike Tobash (Schuylkill/Dauphin) at the Sacramento Community Fire Company. Discussions involved school property taxes, welfare reform, blight, local road issues, and school safety.
These town halls are very helpful to me and I take your concerns to the state Capitol.
Senior expo features Schuylkill transportation info
Last Friday, I met with Krista Riedel and Joan Breslin from the Schuylkill Transportation System, one of the many exhibitors who offered information for older community residents at Rep. Mike Tobash’s senior expo in Pine Grove. More information about STS is available by calling them toll free at 800-832-3322.
Congrats to Rep. Tobash on another educational and well-attended event!
Mystery illness in state prisons linked to contraband drugs
All of Pennsylvania’s state prisons were placed on lockdown nearly two weeks ago following a mysterious illness that impacted staff and inmates. The Department of Corrections recently announced that the symptoms were linked to airborne exposure to drug contraband.
Because our region is home to two State Correctional Institutions, this situation has caused a great deal of anxiety in local communities. Information is available here from the PA Department of Corrections regarding the lockdown and the implementation of additional security measures to protect against similar incidents in the future.
Additional information on the circumstances surrounding the lockdown is available in a report from the Associated Press here.
Helping students understand college debt
With students back in the classroom, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is encouraging both students and their families to visit MySmartBorrowing.org in order to learn how informed choices can avoid unmanageable or unnecessary student loan debt after graduation.
There are 44 million student borrowers in the United States that owe more than $1.3 trillion in student loans. More than 1 million borrowers struggle to repay $100,000 or more in student loan debt. Resources from MySmartBorrowing.org are both free and easy to use in order to understand how different career, school and financial decisions can influence the cost of an education and a student’s ability to repay student loans after graduation.
Medical cannabis research moves forward
A 2016 law that legalized the use of medical cannabis for vulnerable patients also included a research component that could allow Pennsylvania to become a national leader in improving treatment for patients.
My colleague Senator Mike Folmer, who was the leading voice in the Senate for the legalization of medical cannabis, recently offered an update on the availability and research of this medicine. You can read his op-ed on the topic here.
Honoring our Eagles
Last Saturday, I attended the Eagle Scout ceremony for Kevin Koch of Troop No. 423 in Wernersville. For his scout project, Kevin built an altar at the outdoor chapel at St. Johns (Hain’s) Church while also doing some landscaping work.
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