In this update:
Honoring I-81 Disaster First Responders
Photo by David McKeown / Staff Photographer for the Republican Herald
Schuylkill County officials gathered at the Wegman’s Distribution Center near Pottsville this week to honor the over 50 first responder organizations who put their safety on the line to respond to the disastrous accident on I-81 during a snow squall on March 28th.
To our dispatchers, police officers, volunteer firefighters, emergency medical technicians, flight nurses, and hospital systems – thank you for your commitment to our community. On March 28th, during one of the most tragic local events in recent memory, we truly saw the best of Schuylkill County.
I presented the organizations with an official plaque from the state Senate. Congressman Dan Meuser (R-9) and the Schuylkill County state House delegation also presented official certificates in commemoration of their heroic efforts. Learn more about this event here.
The Staffing Crisis in Pennsylvania Prisons
The staffing crisis in many Pennsylvania prisons was the topic of a recent op-ed by John Eckenrode, the President of the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association. Many officers have struggled with the extra stress of excessive mandatory overtime on top of the pandemic – in a job that is physically and emotionally demanding to begin with.
I asked Acting Secretary George Little of the Department of Corrections about many of the same staffing issues Mr. Eckenrode discussed in his article earlier this year. The acting secretary and I discussed ways to improve the pay scale and decrease mandatory overtime. You can watch this full clip above.
I will work to defend our brave officers who put their lives on the line to keep the rest of us safe from violent criminals during this year’s budget process.
How Were Luzerne County Mail-In Ballots Delayed?
I chaired a hearing of the Senate State Government Committee in Hazleton this week reviewing an error that caused 300 voters’ mail-in ballots to be delayed.
We need to ensure that the mistakes made during the special election for the 116th state House district are not repeated in the future. Learn more about the issue here.
The committee then reviewed Senate Bill 690, sponsored by Senator Dan Laughlin (R-Erie), which would allow over 911,000 registered voters with no party affiliation to participate in Pennsylvania’s primary elections. The Committee of Seventy testified in support of the bill and featured a pre-recorded message from Vietnam veteran and former Pittsburgh Steeler Robert “Rocky” Bleier, which you can watch above.
Why Ban “Zuckerbucks”?
After last week’s strongly bipartisan vote of 37-12 in the Senate to ban the use of private funding for election administration in Pennsylvania, I wrote an op-ed for Broad + Liberty about why passing this bill is so important to ensuring the integrity of our elections.
Preventing Flooding in Pine Grove
I joined the Schuylkill Conservation District and officials from Pine Grove and Frailey Township this week to view the progress of a project to reduce the devastating floods that have afflicted Pine Grove and Tremont for years. The project aims to reconnect the creek to its natural floodplain, which would provide a place for the floodwaters to drain away from the homes and businesses of the area.
The ongoing, dedicated efforts to reduce the impact of the flooding that has plagued the people of the region is another inspiring example of what can happen when dedicated members of a community work together towards a common goal. Learn more about this effort here.
Witnessing the Progress of Minersville Revitalization
Miner’s Lofts Before
Miner’s Lofts Now
I was invited to Minersville this week to tour many of the sites of local projects that aim to breathe new life into the town. The results of one of these projects can be seen in the pictures above. What was formerly a vacant and blighted garment factory is now Miner’s Lofts, an apartment building for senior citizens supported by a LIFE Geisinger senior care facility. This project is an outstanding example of how public-private partnerships can transform a community.
The tour also showcased the Minersville Veterans Memorial Park, new and improved sidewalks on Sunbury Street, and the sites of four buildings that were demolished through the Schuylkill County land bank.
Congrats to Representative-Elect Robert Schnee!
Robert Schnee was elected as the new state Rep. for the 116th district in southern Luzerne County in a special election held earlier this month. Representative-Elect Schnee replaces Tarah Toohil, who now serves as a judge on the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas.
I look forward to working with Representative-Elect Schnee on issues important to our region in the coming months. Learn more here.
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