In this Edition
Budget Hearings Offer a Glimpse of State Government Performance
One of the most critical parts of the budget process is the three-week series of hearings that allow lawmakers to directly question the heads of various departments and agencies about all of the programs under their purview. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I used the budget hearings as an opportunity to question what the state is doing to safeguard taxpayer dollars and ensure public money is used as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Some of the highlights are available below.
Medicaid is one of the fastest-growing expenses to taxpayers in the state budget. I questioned the sustainability of Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program and expectations for recipients during a hearing with the Department of Human Services. I have introduced legislation along with Senator David Argall that would create work requirements for able-bodied, non-elderly Medicaid recipients:
During a hearing with Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera, I discussed proposals I authored to improve school safety and provide resources for students who face an extended absence from school:
I questioned Gaming Control Board Executive Director Kevin O’Toole about monitoring video game terminals (VGTs) via a central control system, as well as legislation I am sponsoring with Senator Ryan Aument that would allow municipalities to opt out of truck stop VGTs:
I raised serious concerns regarding the Governor’s plans to create a new tax on municipalities that do not have a full-time police department. Most State Police assistance occurs in municipalities with full-time police departments, and PSP services benefit all cities, townships and boroughs in PA:
I told Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Chairman Tim Holden that workers should have a choice to join or not join a union, and should be informed of their rights. I have introduced legislation that would repeal statutes that allow unions to collect fair share fees in Pennsylvania in order to bring state law into compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME:
During a hearing with the Department of Labor & Industry, I discussed the need to update apprenticeship ratios for skilled labor positions. I also questioned how the state can better connect unemployed individuals with unfilled jobs:
I questioned DCED Secretary Dennis Davin about massive tax incentives offered to Amazon, but the rejection of local projects pertaining to PA businesses:
During the budget hearing with the Department of Corrections / Office of Probation and Parole, I questioned what the Legislature can do to make it easier for those leaving prison to obtain employment and stop the revolving door of our current justice system:
I also questioned how the state could better provide services for veterans, including mental health services, during a hearing with the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs:
I look forward to putting all of the information gathered during these hearings to good use as we work to create a fiscally responsible budget in the months ahead. Video and summaries of all of the hearings are available here.
Telephone Town Hall Scheduled for March 18
Telephone town halls are an excellent way for community residents to express their opinions and get answers to questions regarding some of the most important issues facing Lancaster County and Pennsylvania. I invite community residents to join me for my next telephone town hall on March 18 beginning at 6 p.m.
Details about how to participate in the telephone town hall are available here.
Legislation Would Support Pediatric Cancer Research
Pennsylvania has come a long way in recent years in making more resources available to support pediatric cancer research, including the enactment of a law I wrote that allows state residents to voluntarily donate $5 to the Pediatric Cancer Research Fund when electronically renewing a driver’s license, photo identification card or vehicle registration.
I recently introduced another bill that would help generate up to an additional $100 million for pediatric cancer research over the next decade. More information about my bill is available here.
Proposal Aims to Protect Student Sexual Assault Victims
I recently learned of a troubling case regarding a student who had been sexually assaulted by a classmate and was still forced to attend school with her attacker on a daily basis. In the near future, I will introduce a bill that would prevent similar circumstances from occurring again.
My proposal would require the expulsion of any student who is convicted or adjudicated delinquent of sexual assault against a student in the same K-12 school district, at the victim’s request. More information about this legislation is available here.
New Committee Appointments Offer Leadership Opportunities
In recent weeks, I have been appointed to serve on a number of panels designed to provide oversight and recommendations to lawmakers. I appreciate the chance to help find solutions to some of the issues that face our communities.
In addition to my normal Senate committee assignments – including serving as Chair of the Senate Local Government Committee – I have been appointed to the following panels: