In this email edition:
Senate Committee Approves Bill regarding Pottsville Revitalization Site
This week, the Senate Local Government Committee approved a bill I sponsored to address the question of Pottsville’s vacant Giant supermarket.
Senate Bill 1296 would require local government approval for the purchase of property by a county government. This bill was crafted after the Schuylkill County Commissioners announced plans to buy the vacant Giant supermarket property in downtown Pottsville with the intent of turning it into a prerelease center or a warehouse. This move is strongly opposed by city and school district officials and business, medical, and civic leaders from the local community.
Officials from the City of Pottsville, Representatives Mike Tobash (R-125) and Neal Goodman (D-123), and local businesses including the Yuengling Brewery have been working on a bipartisan basis to revitalize downtown Pottsville. That effort is now endangered by our county government, which is just wrong.
I crafted this bill in the hopes that local people in Pottsville will have the opportunity to decide on the future of their downtown.
This bill now advances to the floor of the Senate.
Governor Vetoes High School Sports Bill, Override Vote Failed
Despite, bipartisan votes in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, Governor Wolf has vetoed a bill that would give local school boards the authority to set crowd limits for K-12 school sporting events.
On Wednesday, the House veto override failed by 4 votes.
New Judge in Schuylkill County
The Senate voted to confirm Magisterial District Judge Christina Hale to the Court of Common Pleas in Schuylkill County. She will fill the vacancy caused by the retirement of Judge John Domalakes.
It was a pleasure to strongly recommend Judge Hale to the Senate. She has a wealth of experience in both civil and criminal cases. I could not think of a better candidate to sit on the Court of Common Pleas.
You can read more about her career and nomination here.
Left to Right: Senator Lisa Baker- chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Hale family, and me
Joint Senate & House Policy Hearing on Natural Gas Jobs
The House and the Senate Majority Policy Committees hosted a joint hearing on the implementation of the Local Resource Manufacturing Tax Credit Program on Thursday in Kingston.
People in Schuylkill and Berks Counties tell me that their number one priority is jobs, jobs, jobs. This tax credit was approved after a long, bipartisan effort by Senator John Yudichak (I-Carbon/Luzerne) and Representative Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne) and will help deliver crucial energy jobs to Pennsylvania.
My friend and colleague Senator Lisa Baker, who represents a large portion of northeastern PA, perfectly summed up this legislation when she described it as an effort to encourage greater use of a state resource to expand manufacturing capabilities and bolster employment.
Legislation to Protect Nursing Home Residents Earns Senate Approval
Residents of assisted living facilities and other long-term care homes would be better protected against disease outbreaks under a bill approved by the Senate.
It seems like a given that we should do all we can during times of crisis to protect our most vulnerable populations, but that is not what our Secretary of Health did with nursing homes at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation will help ensure that older Pennsylvanians are protected in any future public health crises.
Senate Bill 1189 would require the Secretary of Health to ensure long-term care facilities follow and implement disease prevention and control guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
You can read more about this bill which I support here.
Visiting the Schuylkill Technology Center
Last Friday, I toured the Schuylkill Technology Center (STC). I had the chance to experience both the high school and adult learning programs. It was fascinating to see the practical nurse simulation lab with their life-like patient simulators. We were hosted by the Director of STC Dr. Gregory Koons, Assistant Director Shannon Brennan, and Practical Nursing Coordinator Kim O’Neill.
Restaurant Self-Certification Process Now Open
The Department of Community and Economic Development announced that restaurants can now access the online self-certification form on PA.gov/COVID. The recently announced self-certification process enables restaurants, private social clubs and food service businesses that serve dine-in, sit down food in a regular, non-event capacity to increase indoor occupancy to 50 percent while adhering to mitigation efforts.
I supported a bill this week that would relax some of the most onerous restrictions placed by the Wolf Administration on bars and restaurants, while ensuring health and safety measures are still carefully observed.
Argall Report: Supporting Our Rural Hospitals
This month’s local TV program focuses on a recent workshop discussion conducted by the Senate Majority Policy Committee on the challenges facing Pennsylvania’s rural hospitals. The workshop discussion took place in Monongahela, Pennsylvania at the request of Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-Beaver/Greene/Washington).
You can watch the program here.
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