In this email edition:
Senate Panel to Begin Holding Hearings on Election Integrity
The bipartisan Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity will hold its first hearing on Monday, March 15th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The first hearing of this committee will focus on reviewing strategies and best practices other states have used to ensure the security of their election systems. To watch this hearing, visit this link.
The Special Committee will focus on reviewing a variety of aspects of the 2020 General Election, including the security of the vote before, during and after Election Day; the accuracy and security of the election process, particularly during the pre-canvassing and canvassing stages; the uniformity of the election processes across the state; and the impact and role of the judiciary and Secretary of the Commonwealth on our election process. The Special Committee is anticipated to produce a report that will be presented to the General Assembly with legislative recommendations.
The committee will be chaired by Senator Wayne Langerholc (R-Bedford/Cambria/Clearfield), who was previously an Assistant District Attorney for Cambria County before being elected to the Senate. Other members include Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne/Pike/Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming), Senator John Gordner (R-Columbia/Luzerne/Montour/Northumberland/Snyder), Senator Mike Regan (R-Cumberland/York), Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks), Senator Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton/Lehigh), Senator Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia), and Senator Lindsey Williams (D-Allegheny).
Additionally, if you are interested in sharing your experiences with the 2020 election or general thoughts on changes you would like to see Pennsylvania pursue regarding our election process, visit this link and fill out the online form to leave a comment. Your comments will be reviewed by members of the committee as they go through this extensive dive into our state’s election.
Budget Hearings Highlights
This week kicked off the Senate Appropriations Committee’s annual hearings to review the Governor’s budget proposal. This week featured hearings from the Independent Fiscal Office, the Department of Revenue, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Department of Human Services, the Department of State, and the Department of Environmental Protection.
I asked the Director of the IFO about how many people will be affected by the massive income tax increase proposed by the Governor. He stated that 39% of Pennsylvanians would likely pay more in taxes under this new proposal!
I asked Secretary of Revenue Dan Hassell how the Governor’s requirements that 85% of his state employees work from home during the pandemic has affected the work schedule and customer service needs of his Department.
I asked the Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources about our Heritage Parks Program and why the Governor’s proposal recommended cutting this program by 50%.
I asked the Secretary of the Department of Human Services about government-sponsored assistance programs. These programs should move people out of poverty, not trap them in it.
I asked the Secretary of the Department and Environmental Protection what the state is doing to speed up the clean-up of coal mining waste sites.
I asked the Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth if data from the 2020 election will be preserved and what changes she would propose to improve the election process in Pennsylvania.
COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP)
A new grant program to support Pennsylvania’s hospitality industry is now accepting applications. Many of our local restaurants, hotels, and other entertainment venues faced some of the most severe economic impacts due to the pandemic and the long-term shutdown of our economy. To support the recovery of these important employers, the COVID-19 relief bill passed by the legislature and signed into law provided $145 million in grants to be administered by counties and delivered to applicants who have been impacted most. To apply for this grant program, visit this link for the Berks County program and this link for the Schuylkill County program.
Letter to Governor Wolf: Support Minor League Baseball
A bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives recently sent a letter to Governor Wolf asking him to consider increasing the capacity limits for the eleven Minor League Baseball teams that operate in Pennsylvania. These programs, including the Reading Fightin Phils, are a source of pride for their communities and a source of affordable, family-friendly entertainment. Many of these programs are currently in difficult financial straits due to the pandemic and long-term shutdown of our economy.
Berks and Schuylkill Election Offices: Return Vote by Mail Applications
The Berks and Schuylkill County Elections Offices are encouraging voters to return their completed permanent vote by mail annual application. Those who receive such forms indicated previously they wanted to get an absentee or mail-in ballot. If voters don’t want to receive ballots for this year, they can simply discard the form. Online applications can be completed by mail or online at this link. If you have any questions about this process, call 570-628-1467 for the Schuylkill County Election Office or 610-478-6490 for the Berks County Election Office. For more information from Berks County, visit this link.
Information for COVID-19 Vaccines for Veterans
A new, unique telephone number has been created for veterans to call and schedule an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. If you are enrolled in VA healthcare and are over the age of 65, call 717-228-5965 to schedule your appointment at the closest VA clinic to you.
If you do not wish to receive this email, click here to unsubscribe.