In this update:
Empowering Poll Watchers in Pennsylvania
What the heck is the opposition to election integrity afraid of?
The Senate approved a commonsense bill to allow poll watchers to properly execute their important duties and increase election transparency. Under the proposal, the number of permissible poll watchers will be raised from two to three and penalties will be increased for interfering with a poll watcher.
Improving transparency in our election process is something that everyone – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – should welcome. This is one in a series of bills approved by the Senate to begin to restore faith in Pennsylvania’s elections.
Former Philadelphia Congressman Guilty of Voter Fraud
Former U.S. Congressman Michael “Ozzie” Myers of Philadelphia has pleaded guilty to a voter fraud scheme for Democratic candidates from 2014-18. According to his guilty plea, Myers bribed two Judges of Elections to add votes to candidates he supported, some of whom hired Myers’ services.
As chair of the Senate State Government Committee, I will continue to pursue election integrity policies and ensure that we make it easier to vote and harder to cheat in Pennsylvania.
Read the full story here.
Former Philadelphia Mayor: Defunding the Police “Worst Message Ever”
A recent article by the Philadelphia Inquirer noted how some Philadelphia Democrats have changed their tone on calls to defund the police after the recent surge in violent crime in the city. The city is set to approve a $24 million budget increase for policing.
Recently, former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter stated that defunding the police is the “worst message ever,” and that most people do not want to decrease the number of police officers in their communities. He’s not the only one: the mayors of New York City and San Francisco are also shifting to support their police forces to reduce crime in their cities.
Limiting Exposure of Sexually Explicit Content in PA Schools
Two bills that would give parents a voice in discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation in Pennsylvania schools were passed by the Senate. As the son of a school librarian, I will continue to support bills that ensure parents have a say in their children’s education.
Senate Bill 1277 would require districts to identify sexually explicit content in school curriculum and materials and notify parents that their child’s coursework includes such content. Senate Bill 1278 would prohibit classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation for pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students.
The proposals are in response to concerns of parents that age-inappropriate conversations about these sensitive topics are occurring prematurely and without parental knowledge in elementary school classrooms around the state.
Protecting the Integrity of Women’s Sports
Women should not be forced to compete against biological males in sports. I voted to send Rep. Barb Gleim’s Fairness in Women’s Sports Act to the governor this week.
The bill passed with bipartisan support and will preserve the increased athletic opportunities female students have gained over the past half century in this country.
Watch an interview I did with WFMZ on the bill here.
PA Court Blocks Wolf’s Bridge Tolls
With inflation and rising gas prices causing significant hardship for many Pennsylvanians, the last thing drivers need is another new fee.
The Commonwealth Court blocked the Wolf Administration’s plan to toll 9 bridges today, including the Lenhartsville Bridge on I-78 and bridges that cross the Lehigh River on I-80. This plan was created WITHOUT legislative approval and has faced opposition from PA drivers, businesses, and local and state government officials.
Curbing Wasteful Welfare Spending
Why would anyone be against removing the dead from the welfare rolls?
My bill to halt wasteful welfare spending was approved by the Senate this week by a vote of 30 to 20. I introduced it because we should ensure SNAP and Medical Assistance benefits go to those in genuine need – NOT dead people.
An audit by former Auditor General Eugene DePasquale found 2,324 deceased Pennsylvanians were paid $693,151 in taxpayer dollars. I’m disappointed that so many Democrats declined to support this important bill, especially considering a former Democratic Auditor General highlighted this waste and abuse in our welfare system.
Read more about the bill here.
More Natural Gas Funding for Local Projects?
Marcellus Shale impact fees brought in over $230 million in 2021, the second highest total ever. The money collected funds many important programs in Pennsylvania, including the Growing Greener program, water and sewer infrastructure grants, soil and water conservation districts, and county and municipal governments where shale gas development occurs.
This money will help support many important projects across Pennsylvania, including the ongoing efforts to clean up the Schuylkill River (pictured above), which was once one of the dirtiest, most polluted waterways in the country before funding like this and dedicated volunteers restored it to its former glory. Learn more here.
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