Senator Pennycuick E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Shielding Pennsylvanians from Cybersecurity Attacks
  • Budget Hearings Begin This Week Examining Massive Shapiro Spending Plan
  • Tax Time? We’ve Got You Covered!
  • Pennsylvania Legislators Experience Lehigh Valley’s Growing Tech Industry
  • Pottstown Area Progress Luncheon
  • Camp Freedom: Healing Heroes Through Nature
  • Need help starting a VA claim?
  • Now Accepting Applications: The Dr. Frank E. Boston Black Justice Fund
  • PA Parks Offer Free Events for People of All Ages
  • Protect Your Money by Investing Wisely
  • Student Art Contest Raises Lyme Disease Awareness

Shielding Pennsylvanians from Cybersecurity Attacks

The Senate approved legislation to improve cybersecurity defenses by setting cybersecurity standards for IT procurement within state government.

Cyberattacks and data breaches – experienced by multiple state agencies – highlight the need for increased cybersecurity measures to protect the valuable data of every Pennsylvanian.

The bill would require any acquisition of computer hardware by the state to adhere to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidelines for computer security. NIST’s comprehensive approach includes standards, guidelines and best practices to effectively manage cybersecurity-related risks.

Budget Hearings Begin This Week Examining Massive Shapiro Spending Plan

State spending would increase by more than $3.2 billion, or about 7.1%, under Gov. Josh Shapiro’s new budget plan. This level of increase will make it virtually impossible to balance future budgets without deep spending cuts and massive tax increases within the five-year planning period.

The process of finding ways to rein in this spending includes three weeks of budget hearings held by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Hearings begin Tuesday with appearances by the Independent Fiscal Office, Department of Corrections and Pennsylvania Parole Board, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Department of Community and Economic Development, Department of Labor and Industry and Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Livestreams of the hearings and daily recaps will be available here, and I will share updates on this important process each week.

The hearings will be used to review Gov. Josh Shapiro’s spending plan and ask administration officials about the need for any proposed expenses. From there, a budget that more appropriately reflects the needs of taxpayers can be developed before the constitutional deadline of June 30.

Tax Time? We’ve Got You Covered!

Tax season is here! Federal and state forms are now available in my Red Hill office. We also have available the 2023 PA Property Tax Rent Rebate booklets! Pick yours up today!

Pennsylvania Legislators Experience Lehigh Valley’s Growing Tech Industry

As part of the Pennsylvania Senate committees visiting the Lehigh Valley on February 8, I was excited to experience firsthand the region’s resurgent technology scene. Touring a semiconductor production facility and engaging in discussions with industry, education, and workforce leaders gave us invaluable insights into fostering business growth and new jobs in this key strategic industry. Full article here.

Pottstown Area Progress Luncheon

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Pottstown Area Progress Luncheon, hosted by the TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce and Pottstown Area Economic Development. It was a valuable opportunity to connect with over 200 community members, hear about the borough’s undeniable progress, and gain key insights from industry leaders. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for this vibrant community!

(Photographed from left to right: Neil Makhija (Vice Chair), Tom DiBello (Commissioner), Rep. Joe Ciresi, Peggy Lee-Clark (PAED Executive Director), myself).

Camp Freedom: Healing Heroes Through Nature

I recently visited Camp Freedom and was deeply moved by their mission! They offer incredible year-round outdoor adventures for disabled Veterans, First Responders, their families, and Gold Star families. ‍

Instead of clinical settings, Camp Freedom provides a healing environment of nature, filled with activities like hunting, shooting sports, fishing, hiking, biking, and more.

These adventures not only promote physical well-being but also foster social connections and camaraderie through shared experiences. So grateful for organizations

like Camp Freedom that empower our heroes!

Need help starting a VA claim?

Attention veterans! An accredited service officer will be at the VFW Post 5954 (Red Hill) on Thursday, February 29, from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Email Commander Thomas Sally to schedule an appointment and get the support you deserve. Don’t miss this chance!

Now Accepting Applications: The Dr. Frank E. Boston Black Justice Fund

HealthSpark Foundation is now accepting applications to the Dr. Frank E. Boston Black Justice Fund, through March 21, 2024.

The Dr. Frank E. Boston Black Justice Fund addresses the historical exclusion of Black leaders and Black community-serving organizations from tackling the challenges and opportunities facing Montgomery County residents. In honor of its namesake Dr. Frank E. Boston, a Black medical doctor and social entrepreneur who created a hospital and ambulance corps in Lansdale nearly a century ago, the Fund invests in emerging Black leaders in Montgomery County, supports positive storytelling of Black communities across the County, and builds community infrastructure and power in Black communities to advance justice and liberation for all County residents

Eligible applicants to the Dr. Frank E. Boston Black Justice Fund must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a viable 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization or have a fiscal sponsor.
  • Be Black-led.
  • Serve Montgomery County.
  • Focus on power-building, leadership development, and/or positive storytelling in the Black community in Montgomery County.
  • Organizations whose annual budget is equal to or less than $750,000, will be given priority.

Detailed information on the Fund’s purpose, a copy of the grant application questions, the application scoring rubric, and information on how to apply online are all available on their website.

Any interested organization, individual, civic group, or neighborhood is encouraged to reach out for help in applying if they are interested in doing so. Questions on the Fund can be directed to Akshara Vivekananthan, Program Officer at

PA Parks Offer Free Events for People of All Ages

As people start to feel a bit of cabin fever this time of year, it can be a great time to take advantage of recreational opportunities offered at Pennsylvania state parks.

There are free or low-cost seminars to interest people of all ages. Some examples include a winter photography walk, an introduction to cross country skiing, make and take tree cookie crafts, a cast iron cooking lesson and even a full moon hike.

Find a full calendar of events, including some that are virtual, and sign up here.

Protect Your Money by Investing Wisely

Trying to research financial services, products or companies can be confusing, but investing without first investigating can be a costly mistake.

The Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities (DoBS) offers free information about how to research people, companies and investments. If you’re not sure where to start, call the department at 1-800-600-0007.

Learn more about the free and confidential help DoBS provides.

Student Art Contest Raises Lyme Disease Awareness

Pennsylvania has one of the highest counts of Lyme disease cases in the nation. Symptoms often initially include fever, headache and extreme tiredness. If the disease is untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system.

First- through sixth-graders can help spread the word about preventing this tick-borne illness by entering the Pennsylvania Department of Health Lyme Art Contest. They are encouraged to submit a poster or video showing how to avoid exposure to ticks, check for ticks and/or remove ticks safely by March 15 at 5 p.m.

Find more information, including how to apply, here.


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