In this update:
Bipartisan Bills to Fight Blight Advance in the House
I was invited to speak at a press conference this week after the House Urban Affairs Committee approved six different bills to fight blight in communities across Pennsylvania, including House Bill 1791, sponsored by local state Rep. Tim Twardzik (R-Schuylkill), as well as my Senate Bill 439.
Blight is not a red or a blue issue, it doesn’t care if a neighborhood votes Republican or Democrat. These bills all received bipartisan support and would give local governments more tools to address blighted, decaying, rat-infested buildings.
You can watch the full press conference here.
Eliminating Drop Boxes and Dark Money Grants for Elections
After I chaired three recent hearings of the Senate State Government Committee reviewing security concerns with drop boxes and dark money grants funneled to select counties, the Senate voted on Wednesday to prevent the future use of unsecured ballot drop boxes and ban the use of private money to fund election operations.
Senate Bill 982 would ban any state employee or county from accepting money from outside groups to pay for the administration of elections in Pennsylvania. The bill received strong bipartisan support on the floor of the Senate, passing with a vote of 37-12.
Senate Bill 1200 would require mail-in ballots that are not returned in the mail to be returned only to the County Board of Elections office, effectively eliminating drop boxes in Pennsylvania. There have been many documented cases of misuse of ballot drop boxes since they were created by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court just months before the 2020 election. Watch my remarks in support of this bill below.
Learn more about these bills and the hearings I chaired reviewing them on the Senate State Government Committee’s website.
Celebrating New Federal Funding for the North Schuylkill Center for Education, Business, and Arts
Last week, I joined U.S. Senator Bob Casey and Eric Mika and Karen Kenderdine of Downtown Shenandoah, Inc. to announce new federal funding for the North Schuylkill Center for Education Business, and Arts (CEBA) located in downtown Shenandoah. This project, which will likely break ground within the year, will turn a previously vacant, blighted building into an entrepreneurship hub on Main Street.
This project is the keystone of dedicated community efforts to revitalize downtown Shenandoah, which is why I worked to secure a total of $2.5 million in state grants to support the project. Read more about the event here.
Curbing Waste and Abuse in State Government
Two bills I introduced to prevent waste and fraud in Pennsylvania’s medical assistance and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) were approved by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee this week.
These bills will ensure that taxpayer dollars are going to those in genuine need of assistance, not to bad actors trying to take advantage of the system or mistakenly to people who don’t need it. Visit these links to learn more about Senate Bill 1121 and Senate Bill 1124.
Groundbreaking Marks Beginning of Major Traffic Upgrades in Sinking Spring
I was invited to speak at a groundbreaking event in Sinking Spring marking the start of a major project to realign the intersection at Penn Avenue, Columbia Avenue, and Cacoosing Avenue. This project was awarded a series of state grants, which shows the unwavering determination of the borough council and other community members to breathe new life into their downtown.
Watch the video above to see me using an excavator at the ceremony!
Meeting with Orwigsburg Business Leaders
From left to right: Schuylkill County Commissioner Gary Hess, me, Ben Forbes, Chamber Representative Jamie Barton, President and CEO of the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce Bob Carl, Orwigsburg Borough Manager Randy Miller
I was invited to speak at an event last week with local business leaders from Orwigsburg. Working with employees and employers is an important piece of representing the people of the 29th Senatorial District.
Attend the Schuylkill Chamber’s Summit for Business Success!
To all local business leaders: attend the upcoming Summit for Business Success on Wednesday, April 20 at the Walk in Art Center! The Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce has put together its first Summit to help businesses and nonprofits – including resources for workforce development, decreasing operating expenses, combatting inflation, making sure your organization is protected before it’s too late, and talent recruitment. Learn more about this event here.
Happy Passover and Happy Easter!
To all of those celebrating tomorrow, Happy Easter! To those who continue to observe Passover, Chag Sameach!
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