Senate Special Committee releases report on election reforms
The bipartisan Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform released a report this week detailing its findings and recommendations to strengthen Pennsylvania’s election system.
The committee was created to review all aspects of the November 2020 election. The panel held a series of hearings in March and April to review election security and best practices in other states, state and local perspectives on the administration of elections, and the management of elections in Allegheny and Philadelphia counties.
Now that the bipartisan report has been approved, the Senate State Government will aggressively pursue legislation regarding voter access and voter integrity. This final report from the Special Committee gives us a realistic blueprint to push forward.
After 450 days, the governor’s disaster declaration is over
After over 450 days, Governor Wolf’s emergency declaration has finally been ended. The House and the Senate used their new powers, on a bipartisan vote, under the State Constitution to pass a resolution that limits the Wolf Administration from using never-ending emergency powers to close employers, limit occupancy, suspend state laws, or issue stay-at-home orders.
Pennsylvania was the first state in the nation to move to check the power of the executive branch in this manner. Read my article in the Reading Eagle on this topic here.
The fight against blight
Picture by Donald R. Serfass
I recently sat down for this interview on CBS 21 about my fight against blight.
State Government Committee passes bills establishing voter ID, training for Department of State employees
The Senate State Government Committee, which I chair, met this week to pass a constitutional amendment sponsored by Senator Judy Ward (R-Blair) that would require voters to provide ID to vote in an election. Senator Ward stated that she introduced this bill as a constitutional amendment to give the voters of Pennsylvania the opportunity to weigh in on this issue.
The second bill the committee passed was Senate Bill 764, which I introduced. This bill would require employees of the Department of State to have formal training on their legislative responsibilities. I introduced this bill after a report from the Office of the Inspector General stated that some Department of State staff did not fully understand the legislative process. This contributed to the egregious mishandling of a constitutional amendment that would have brought justice to victims of childhood sexual assault, a situation which ultimately led to the resignation of former Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar.
Last Friday, Rep. Jerry Knowles and I visited Orwigsburg after a storm caused flooding that damaged multiple homes in the town. We met with Mayor Barry Berger, Borough Manager Randall Miller, and members of the Orwigsburg Borough Council about how the state government can help prevent situations like this in the future.
Read more about the flooding here.
Berks Legislators discuss priorities
Last Friday, I attended the annual Greater Reading Chamber Alliance State Legislature Breakfast to discuss some of my legislative priorities and hear from members of the Berks County community. I was joined by Senator Judy Schwank, Rep Jerry Knowles, Rep. Barry Jozwiak, Rep. Mark Gillen, and Rep. Ryan Mackenzie. I discussed this year’s budget and my efforts to pass meaningful redistricting reform.
New small businesses flourish in Hamburg despite pandemic
A recent article written by Deena Kershner, the Executive Director of the Our Town Foundation in Hamburg, highlighted some of the new small businesses that have opened their doors in downtown Hamburg in the last year. It was refreshing to read about new, small employers finding success in Berks County despite all the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and the long-term shutdown of our economy.
Visit this link to read the full article.
New Eagle Scout in Gordon
On Sunday, I attended an Eagle Scout Court of Honor for Jacob Sachleben of Gordon with Schuylkill County Commissioners Gary Hess and Barron “Boots” Hetherington. Congratulations to Jacob on his hard work and service to the community!
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