In this email edition:
Senator Argall Appointed Chairman of Senate State Government Committee
I have been appointed by President Pro Tempore Jake Corman to chair the Senate State Government Committee for the 2021-22 session. I will also continue to serve as a part of the Senate Majority leadership team during this session, the first Senator from the 29th Senate district in Schuylkill and Berks Counties to serve in Senate leadership since the 1860s.
It is an honor to serve as the new Chairman of the Senate State Government Committee. In the past, in the House and Senate, I have chaired bipartisan committees to consider budget, conservation, and blight issues and I look forward to the major challenges facing this new assignment to reform our state government and hold it accountable to the citizens of Pennsylvania.
The State Government Committee has broad oversight over the executive branch, including the Office of the Governor, the Departments of State and General Services, as well as the Civil Service and State Ethics Commissions. The State Government Committee is also responsible for developing and approving legislation relating to elections, ethics in state government, constitutional amendments, and redistricting.
In recent months, the Senate State Government Committee has approved bills which delayed the primary election due to COVID-19, froze legislative, court, and cabinet salaries during the pandemic, and a constitutional amendment to reform how the Lieutenant Governor is elected in Pennsylvania.
You can learn more here.
New Argall Report: Returning to Civil Discourse in Politics
This month’s edition of the Argall Report focuses on a recent discussion hosted by Kutztown University students on civil discourse in politics that I participated in along with Senator Judy Schwank (D-Berks).
In the Senate of Pennsylvania, you need to listen to many different views, including those who may not agree with you. Anytime you turn on the news, you’ll see that civil discourse is often missing at all levels of government – both in our federal government and here in Pennsylvania. The purpose of this discussion was to search for common ground as elected officials, college students, and constituents and to share some success stories of bipartisan cooperation that produced positive results for the people of this region.
This edition of the Argall Report features the first half of the discussion hosted by Kutztown University students. Part two of the discussion will be released as next month’s edition of the Argall Report.
You can watch more here.
Rebuilding Downtown Shenandoah, Lot by Lot, Building by Building
A state grant will support the new Center for Education, Business and Arts (CEBA) in establishing an innovation center where entrepreneurs and community members can acquire education, business space, and the resources they need to start and grow their business.
I’ve worked with many local volunteers to make sure that CEBA will receive $1.5 million in funding from state RCAP grants for this project. Our new State Rep. Tim Twardzik (R-123) stated: “Projects that help to revitalize our downtowns play a key role for the entire community. This investment in CEBA is a much-welcomed jump start to Shenandoah and vote of confidence to DSI and the volunteers who worked diligently to bring back “The Only Wild West Town in the East.”
The following images are of the current lot where the CEBA facility will be located, and an illustration of what the final building could look like once it is constructed.
The currently empty lot where CEBA will be built.
An approximation of what the completed building could look like.
Saving our Communities from Floods
The Department of Environmental Protection has announced the latest recipients of the Growing Greener grant program, including two projects in Schuylkill County and four projects in Berks County that will receive a total of almost $1.8 million in grants to help clean up waterways in the area.
These projects are exactly the kind I envisioned when I initially supported the Growing Greener funding as a cosponsor – even as the program faced significant opposition. This funding will be an effective tool in the longstanding and dedicated effort by our local public-private partnerships to clean up our waterways.
The effect that these projects can have on our communities was recently highlighted in a story in the Republican Herald that discussed how another initiative funded by the Growing Greener program helped save Pine Grove from flooding during the heavy rainstorm on Christmas Eve. By restoring a floodplain to provide more natural drainage during storms, Pine Grove was saved from what would have been 12 inches of flooding. Now that’s a success story!
You can read which other projects received the funding here.
The Urgent Need to Stop Prison Transfers Due to COVID-19
I sent this letter to Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel calling for him to stop unnecessary prison transfers at state correction facilities. The Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association (PSCOA) has told me the Department of Corrections is continuing with unnecessary prison transfers, which has led to COVID-19 spreading to officers. Tragically, two officers have passed away due to COVID-19 symptoms, and many more have been infected.
I am calling on Secretary Wetzel to stop these unnecessary transfers and protect our corrections officers and their families.
Security Grant Applications Available Now for Nonprofit Groups
Nonprofit organizations that serve groups at the greatest risk of being targeted for hate crimes can apply now for grants to complete security enhancements. Applications for the Nonprofit Security Grant Fund Program are available through February 3.
Eligible uses of grants include safety and security planning, the purchase of security equipment and technology, security training, threat awareness and response training, threat assessments and other safety or security-related projects.
Vaccine Distribution Plan for Pennsylvania
The PA Department of Health released this graphic detailing who is eligible for the vaccine. We are currently in phase 1A.
Paycheck Protection Program Reopens
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been reopened by the U.S. Small Business Administration for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The SBA will forgive loans if all employee retention criteria are met, and the funds are used for eligible expenses. Ask your local lender about participation. More information is available here.
Honoring the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
On Monday, the nation will pause in remembrance of one of the nation’s greatest civil rights icons –Martin Luther King, Jr. As a result of the critical role he played in the struggle for justice in the 1960s, he became the first modern private citizen to be honored with a federal holiday. Dr. King’s writings, advocacy and peaceful activism continues to inspire Americans today, more than 50 years after his assassination in 1968.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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