In this update:
Are Ballot Drop Boxes Secure?
The controversial guidance that created drop boxes for ballots was the focus of a hearing I chaired of the Senate State Government Committee this past week.
This action taken by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court at the last-minute to create ballot return sites, WITHOUT legislative approval, raised many questions as to whether these sites were secure or not, and whether they should be used at all during future elections.
Catherine Engelbrecht, the Founder of True the Vote, and Gregg Phillips, the CEO of OpSec Group testified about activists visiting multiple drop boxes on the same day, contrary to state law.
Lisa Schaefer, the Executive Director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, testified about the change to ballot return sites most needed by county election staff. Senate Bill 878, a bipartisan bill which I have sponsored with Senator Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia), would fulfill the most requested changes by requiring that drop boxes are stationary and monitored by 24/7 video surveillance.
To learn more about this hearing, visit the Senate State Government Committee’s website.
Is Russia Funding Fake Environmentalists?
As more counties move to sanction Russia for their unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the debate over energy independence intensifies, a recent article highlighted past comments from world leaders, including Hillary Clinton, tying Russian money to supposed environmental groups. While these groups denied these ties, the former prime minister of Denmark and a NATO official both raised concerns about disinformation campaigns encouraging activists to fight against non-Russian energy projects.
I will continue to support efforts to boost funding for natural gas projects and pipelines in Pennsylvania. This international crisis has made it abundantly clear that energy independence is necessary for our national security, and Pennsylvania has the potential to be a huge player in making this a reality.
To this end, I am cosponsoring a proposal by Senator Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) encouraging energy independence, which you can learn more about here.
RGGI Carbon Tax Could Quadruple Electricity Rates
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which proposes a tax on carbon emissions in Pennsylvania, could nearly quadruple electricity rates for consumers in Pennsylvania, according to analysis by the impartial Independent Fiscal Office.
Governor Wolf’s unilateral efforts to join RGGI would effectively create a new tax for Pennsylvanians – without the approval of the General Assembly.
Instituting a carbon tax is just the latest in a long line of policies that have been destructive for small business job creators and entrepreneurs in Pennsylvania. The governor’s actions have been met with a wave of opposition from groups across the state, many of whom testified at a hearing of the Senate Community, Economic, and Recreational Development Committee I attended.
Learn more about the hearing on the committee’s website.
Investigation into Philadelphia Democratic Committee finds Wrong Addresses, Weak Voting Records
A recent article by the Philadelphia Inquirer shed light on the complicated world of Democratic committee people in Philadelphia. The people who serve in this elected position are responsible for motivating their fellow voters and help choose the leaders of the party – yet an investigation found that many of them don’t live at the addresses they are registered at or haven’t voted for years.
Read the full article here.
U.S. Faces Unprecedented Housing Shortage
A recent article from NPR highlighted some of the main causes of the spike in home prices recently seen throughout Pennsylvania and across the country. A combination of factors including the fallout of the 2008 housing bubble crash causing lots of workers to leave the industry and the supply chain strain created by the pandemic has left the supply of homes drastically low – just as many millennials begin looking to settle down.
Read the full story here.
Banning Companies who Work with Russia and Belarus from Receiving State Funds
My newest bill proposes to prevent companies from receiving state contracts, grants, or tax credits if they do business with Russia or Belarus.
The citizens of Ukraine are suffering often untold horrors because of the unprovoked invasion of their country. As the state Senator who represents some of the most concentrated communities of Americans with Ukrainian ancestry in the United States, it is my responsibility to stop our state government from supporting anyone conducting business with these war criminals.
Learn more about this bill here.
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