Controversy Surrounding Critical Race Theory Continues in Berks County
Parents and school board members at Wilson School District continued the debate over a proposed equity policy this week. Concerned parents and members of the community raised concerns that the policy would usher in the teaching of critical race theory. This discussion is taking place shortly after Tulpehocken Area School District passed a resolution banning the teaching of critical race theory and other divisive concepts. Read more about the controversy here.
Legislation is likely to be considered on this issue this fall in the State House and Senate. Learn more about the bill here.
Labor and Business Groups Continue to oppose the Governor’s New Taxes on Energy
The “pink slip” my great grandfather received in 1932
This week, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, on a 3-2 vote, approved Governor Wolf’s efforts to unilaterally join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a tax on many energy producing employers in the state. Labor and business organizations have argued that joining this program will have the same effect as giving a “pink slip” to thousands of local workers in Berks and Schuylkill County, similar to what happened to my great grandfather Howells in the New Philadelphia area during the Great Depression.
One of my colleagues in the Senate, Senator Joe Pittman (R-Indiana), spoke out very powerfully against joining this program due to the impact it will have on many of his constituents and the local economy of the area he’s lived and worked in his entire life, noting the unusual level of opposition to the Governor’s plans from both labor and business groups. Watch his full remarks below.
Senate Committee holds First Hearing Investigating 2020 General and 2021 Primary
On Thursday, I participated in the first hearing of the Intergovernmental Operations Committee investigating both the 2020 General and the 2021 Primary elections. I asked Fulton County Commissioner and chairman of their Board of Elections Stewart Ulsh about what the Pennsylvania Senate can do to restore the faith in our elections. As I stated in my remarks, I’m not about to ignore the questions many of my constituents continue to have, because they deserve to have them answered.
This was just the first of many planned hearings reviewing how these elections were conducted and the impact the Department of State had on the process. This hearing focused on the Department of State’s last-minute guidance that caused confusion for counties across Pennsylvania in the days leading up to the 2020 general election. Learn more about the hearing here.
The Intergovernmental Operations Committee also recently created a website for Pennsylvania residents to submit sworn testimony regarding problems they personally experienced with our elections. Learn more about this new website here.
As we approach the 20th anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Somerset County, it’s important to remember not just all those who lost their lives, but also the sacrifices made by many of our first responders on that tragic day.
Last week, I had the honor of meeting Frank Siller, who founded the Tunnel to Towers Foundation after his brother, who was a firefighter, sacrificed his life responding to the terrorist attacks in New York City 20 years ago. This year alone, the foundation has provided 200 mortgage-free homes to families of lost military and first-responders.
In honor of all those who sacrificed their lives and their families, Mr. Siller is walking 537 miles from the Pentagon to Ground Zero. I had the chance to meet him when he passed through Hamburg on his journey. Read more about this inspirational story of perseverance here, and watch my interview with him below.
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11, I have been invited to speak along with Rep. Jerry Knowles and Schuylkill County Commissioner Gary Hess at a memorial service hosted by Stokes Ministry at 6 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Tamaqua on Saturday, September 11 at 6p.m. The public is invited. Read more here.
The best way to honor those killed 20 years ago is to renew our commitment to unity and to overcoming the challenges we face today.
Next Monday: Celebrating LCCC’s new nursing opportunities in Tamaqua
Coming Monday: Another expansion for LCCC’s Morgan Center
On Monday, September 13, I have been invited to celebrate Lehigh Carbon Community College’s (LCCC) brand new Scheller Nursing Simulation Center in Tamaqua. As one of the original team leaders which transformed a vacant junior high school where my parents once taught into LCCC’s Morgan Center in Tamaqua, this has been one of the most successful local revitalization efforts I’ve ever witnessed. Every state dollar invested in this local college has paid incredible dividends in helping the number of local high students moving on to college to skyrocket. Those state budget dollars have been greatly assisted by large, continuing donations from the Scheller family, the J.E. Morgan foundation, and many other private sector partners.
Read more about next week’s celebration here.
Roundtable in Pine Grove Discusses Opportunities for Growth
I travelled to Pine Grove this week with Congressman Dan Meuser and Rep. Joe Kerwin for a community roundtable on opportunities for cultivating growth for small businesses and residents of the town. After a productive discussion, we toured many of the local businesses in the area.
The impact of community improvement efforts was on display last week when Hurricane Ida swept through Pennsylvania. Residents of Pine Grove have struggled to deal with frequent floods for many years, but fortunately the heavy rains of last week did not result in severe flooding in the area. This is due to the hard work of many local officials and residents who have cooperated on a variety of projects to reduce the impacts of the floods on the town. Read more about these efforts here.
From left to right: Me, Julie Stump, Rep. Kerwin, Hallie Wolfe, Ann Louise Weaver, Congressman Meuser
Promoting Safe Driving for Teens at Schuylkill Valley High School
On Tuesday, I was invited to participate in an event at Schuylkill Valley High School where signs were placed in front of the school reminding local teenagers about safe driving. Car crashes involving teen drivers are the number one killer of teenagers in the United States. It is very important to discuss with new drivers the importance of following traffic laws and driving responsibly. Read more about the event here.
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