In this email edition:
Supporting PA Agriculture and Honoring a Local Hero
I recently attended a meeting with Congressman Dan Meuser (US-9th) at the JC Hill Tree Farm to discuss issues impacting farmers in Berks and Schuylkill counties and to review the new tools offered to the agriculture community through the Farming First initiative, as well as federal programs to support family farms throughout the state.
Later that day, we dedicated a 4-mile stretch of State Route 183 in front of the Reading Regional Airport as the Trooper Wayne C. Ebert Memorial Highway. Trooper Ebert was a Pennsylvania State Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty while directing traffic for an event. Former trooper and current State Representative Barry Jozwiak (R-Berks) coordinated this well-deserved honor from start to finish.
I had the pleasure of attending the dedication ceremony with Capt. Thomas Tran, commander of Pennsylvania State Police Troop L, David Kennedy, president of the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association and Rep. Barry Jozwiak.
Bipartisan Effort to Overturn Governor’s Restaurant Restrictions Fails
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, I have consistently voted to support our restaurants and bars who are struggling under the Governor’s unilateral restrictions. Our most recent attempt would have allowed them to reopen at a minimum of 50 percent capacity as long as they continued to follow both federal and state safety guidelines.
The bill initially passed the House of Representatives with a vote of 145 to 56 and passed the Senate with a vote of 43 to 6. Despite these overwhelming and bipartisan votes, the Governor vetoed the bill on Friday, October 16.
This week, the House of Representatives failed to override the Governor’s veto. Even though the veto override received strong, bipartisan support (109 Republicans and 24 Democrats), 12 Democrat Representatives changed their votes. As a result, the bill narrowly failed to receive the necessary 2/3 majority.
Although this vote is a bitter disappointment for these small businesses and their dedicated employees, we will continue to search for ways to help our bars and restaurants continue to remain in business in the face of these extraordinary challenges.
Former Schuylkill County Clerk of Courts Sentenced to Prison
Stephen Lukach, former Schuylkill County Clerk of Courts for 27 years, has been sentenced to serve time in federal prison. He pled guilty to falsifying documents and committing mail fraud by creating a fake bank account. You can read more here.
Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Numbers Improving, but Still Lag Behind Other States
The Pennsylvania unemployment rate has fallen from 10.3 percent to 8.1 percent according to the US Department of Labor. Pennsylvania currently has the 15th highest unemployment rate out of all 50 states as employers and employees continue to struggle under the restrictions of Governor Wolf. You can review the rankings here.
Clean Energy Advocacy Group Announces Awards
I was honored to be recognized this month as one of Conservatives for a Clean Energy Future’s 2020 Clean Energy Champions. The award is given to state and local leaders who have shown consistent and exceptional support for competitive, free-market policy initiatives that promote the development and deployment of clean energy.
From my earliest days, I learned the value of appreciating and respecting our environment. I appreciate this recognition and look forward to exploring new ways that we can work together to pass a stronger and more vibrant Pennsylvania to the next generation.
State Universities Face Major Challenges
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) faces major challenges in the weeks ahead. The layoffs come after PASSHE enrollment has declined by approximately 20%. You can read more about the challenges here.
The Senate Education and Appropriations Committee held a Joint Hearing this week on the PASSHE schools and their future plans, which can be seen here.
Senate Approves Bipartisan Bills to Boost Fire and EMS Services Throughout PA
This week, the Senate approved a comprehensive package of bipartisan reforms to improve the delivery of fire and EMS services throughout the state.
Fire and EMS workers have been among the bravest of frontline employees throughout COVID-19, putting themselves at risk of potentially contracting the virus every single time they answer an emergency call. They are always there to help us in the most dangerous times of our lives. I supported this legislation because we should be there for them now as they face the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can learn more here.
Past Senators: William Audenreid
William Audenreid was born in Kutztown and was the son of Swiss immigrants. His family then moved to Pottsville. He was appointed to serve as a justice of the peace in a section of Schuylkill County at the age of 23 and shortly after was commissioned as a lieutenant-colonel of the Pennsylvania militia. He also spent time buying and selling real estate, farming, and operating lumber mills on the Schuylkill and Little Schuylkill River.
In 1824, he was elected to the State Senate where he represented Schuylkill and Berks counties. While serving in the State Legislature, he introduced a resolution calling for a convention to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to allow voters to elect their own justices and other officers. This amendment was later approved and remains in effect today. He championed legislation that helped fund the public-school system in Pennsylvania, despite significant opposition. His proposal was eventually passed, but only after Audenreid had retired from the Legislature.
You can read more about him here.
New Argall Report: Local Veterans and Service Organizations Struggle with Shutdown
The newest edition of the Argall Report focuses on a recent workshop discussion conducted by the Senate Majority Policy Committee on the challenges facing Pennsylvania’s veteran and service organizations as a result of COVID-19 and the Governor’s shutdown. The workshop discussion took place at the request of Senator Doug Mastriano (R-Adams & York).
You can watch the report here.
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