In this Update:
We Stand With Israel
As we come together to support the nation and the people of Israel, we hold in our thoughts and prayers those killed and wounded, and the Israeli forces in their ongoing efforts to protecting Israel and their people. Today, the U.S. and the Commonwealth flags will fly at half-staff across Pennsylvania to honor the lives lost.
Operation Enduring Freedom Ceremony
Thank you to PA Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Chair, Senator Doug Mastriano, for hosting a ceremony to remember and recognize the heroic sacrifices made by U.S. military men and women during Operation Enduring Freedom. Operation Enduring Freedom was the U.S. led military response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Oct. 7, 2001, less than one month after the attacks of 9/11, Operation Enduring Freedom signaled the start of the Global War on Terror. The conflict would last 13 years, during which the Pennsylvania National Guard mobilized and deployed over 4,200 airmen and 4,470 soldiers. 10 PA National Guard members were killed during this time. Together, we recognized the anniversary of the operation, its significance, and its effect on so many Pennsylvania veteran’s lives and their families.
Operation Enduring Freedom Ceremony
Pennycuick Announces State Grant for William Penn State Forest Addition
Today I announced the awarding of a $884,700 state grant for an addition to William Penn State Forest. Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources approved the grant for the Natural Lands conservation organization. It will put the grant toward the acquisition of approximately 679 acres along Upper Ridge Road in Marlborough and Salford townships. William Penn State Forest is a natural treasure that protects and conserves unique ecosystems. I’m very happy to announce this state assistance for a project that will expand the forest’s local footprint and preserve natural resources in our area. Read more here.
The Korean American Association of Greater Philadelphia
Recently, the Korean American Association of Greater Philadelphia commemorated the 70th anniversary of The Mutual Defense Treaty signed between The Republic of Korea and the United States of America. The success of this treaty is demonstrated by its longevity, and the continuing relationship of cooperation and respect between our two countries. The Korean American Association of Greater Philadelphia has made admirable contributions to our collective vision of a hopeful and optimistic future in our region. We look forward to celebrating the relationship between the Republic of Korea and the United States alongside this organization for many years to come.
Ursinus College Visits the Capitol
Last week, I welcomed Brieanne Berry, an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Ursinus College, and 17 members of her environmental policy class to our state Capitol. As part of their course, they will spend the semester exploring the complexities and tradeoffs associated with environmental policy in the United States. We briefly spoke about my experience in the policy process, particularly on how they relate to local environmental issues. It was a real pleasure speaking to the young students about their future goals and career paths. I commend you all in taking an interest in your state government! A bright future awaits you all!
Introduction of Ursinus Guests
St. Gabriel’s Good Shepherd Learning Center Visit
In honor of World Teachers Day, I decided to be one for the day! This morning, I received a warm welcome from St. Gabriel’s Good Shepherd Learning Center. During my visit, I got the opportunity to take a tour of the school and read to the students a few fall favorites. Education is the surest way to set children on the path of realizing their potential, and I commend all of our great teachers for the impact they have on our children. Thank you St. Gabriel’s for welcoming me into your classroom!
Veteran’s Appreciation Breakfast
I am excited to announce that I will be hosting my 1st Veteran’s Appreciation Breakfast as Senator, on Saturday November 4! Our commonwealth is home to one of the largest veteran populations in the nation, and because of this, we have an obligation to honor their service and contributions. So let us serve you. Veterans are invited to enjoy a morning of fellowship, appreciation, and information gathering from community resources. Interested in attending? RSVP here.
FREE License Plate Replacement Event
I will be hosting a License Plate Replacement event on Thursday, October 12 from 4:00pm to 6:00pm at Upper Gwynedd Township Police Department. Need a new license plate? Register NOW!
Teletown Hall Meeting
Please join me for my upcoming Tele-Town Hall meeting on Tuesday, October 24 at 6:00pm. This is a great opportunity to discuss state-related issues and voice your opinions on public issues right from the comfort of your own home. I look forward to connecting with you! Register NOW!
Mobile Office Hours
FY23 Veterans’ Trust Fund Grant Opportunity
DMVA is pleased to announce the FY23 Veterans’ Trust Fund Grant Opportunity. Please find the Grant Package at Veterans Trust Fund (pa.gov). Applications are due by 2 PM on Wednesday, November 8th by email to RA-MVVETTRUSTFUND@pa.gov.
Shapiro Administration Announces Funding to Expand Veterans Employment Program Across the Commonwealth
Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Nancy A. Walker announced the availability of $800,000 in grant funding to support Veterans Employment Program (VEP) projects committed to connecting veterans with competitive job opportunities and helping address barriers to gainful employment.
The VEP initiative is designed to help veterans, members of all Reserves units and the Pennsylvania National Guard, and spouses of veterans and service members translate their military skills to civilian life. Eligible applicants include local workforce development boards, non-profit and non-governmental entities, community-based organizations, education and post-secondary institutions, labor organizations, business associations and economic development groups.
“Pennsylvania is home to more than 700,000 veterans – the fourth largest veteran population in the nation. Because of their sacrifice, we must ensure these individuals have access to every opportunity they need to successfully transition back into civilian life,” said Secretary Walker. “VEP funding is not only an investment in veterans and their families – it helps employers reach an untapped labor pool that will ultimately strengthen Pennsylvania communities and the Commonwealth’s economy.”
Governor Josh Shapiro has identified workforce development as a top priority of the Administration through an expansion of job-training, career and technical education, and apprenticeship programs that give Pennsylvanians, including veterans and their families, the freedom to chart their own course.
According to the Coordination of Veterans Services In Pennsylvania: A Task Force and Advisory Committee Report, in March 2021, many veterans choose to engage in educational pathways after separation from the armed forces but do not complete the education due to PTSD and/or financial problems. In addition, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, active-duty military spouses earn approximately 26.8 percent less than their non-military spouse peers and 63 percent are underemployed, due to barriers such as interview bias, skills gaps, and licensing requirements.
“The transition from military service to civilian life is challenging. Our servicemembers and their families deserve every advantage we can offer to ensure a stress-free and successful transition,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “These grants will reduce the stress of the transition process and provide veterans one less thing to worry about as they begin their new career. We are grateful to L&I and the Shapiro Administration for recognizing the exceptional skills veterans bring to the workplace, and for helping them find meaningful employment.”
One grant will be awarded to a program serving only Delaware County, a region with a disproportionately high number of veteran residents than in other Pennsylvania counties while three other awards will be provided across Pennsylvania.
Successful applicants will identify opportunities for new and innovative projects to expand veteran employment opportunities, close funding gaps, or supplement existing initiatives for more comprehensive services. Applicants also need to demonstrate how they would bring together businesses, education, workforce, community, and other partners to achieve employment support for veterans.
Applications are due by 4 p.m. on November 15, 2023.
Senate Favors Harsher Penalties for Drug Dealers
The Senate voted to enact harsher penalties for drug dealers who sell products that lead to the poisoning death of a victim, including drugs laced with fentanyl.
Senate Bill 235 would establish a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a minimum $15,000 fine for anyone convicted of selling or distributing drugs that result in a death. Under current guidelines, drug dealers who poison victims with fentanyl can be back out on the streets in two years or less.
The bill would not apply to drug users who share drugs with family members or friends, or those who seek medical help for individuals who overdose.
Bill to Provide New Career Paths for Individuals in Recovery Passes Senate
Individuals in recovery for substance use disorder would be able to maintain meaningful employment and chart a new path under a pilot program approved by the Senate.
Senate Bill 69 would create a Recovery to Work pilot program to connect individuals in recovery with high-priority occupations through local workforce development boards. The boards would work with the treatment and recovery community as well as local employers and training providers to find job training and employment opportunities.
The pilot program would be led by the Department of Labor and Industry with the assistance of the departments of Health, Community and Economic Development, and Drug and Alcohol Programs, as well as the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
Senate Votes to Improve Bridge Maintenance and Safety
This week, the Senate passed legislation to make state funding available for local bridge projects.
Currently, state Motor License Fund dollars are made available for the construction and repair of county bridges. While the funds are used to repair county-owned bridges, spending guidance fails to note how the funds could be used for bridges owned by municipalities within the counties. As a result, municipal bridges suffer and go without repair while remaining funds go unused due to ambiguous guidance.
Senate Bill 799 would give counties the flexibility they need to fund local bridge projects.
Recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Every October, we recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, but early detection can drastically increase the survival rate. Take action by scheduling regular clinical breast exams and mammograms.
Of course, my colleagues and I work throughout the year to support people facing breast cancer. We passed comprehensive breast cancer screening legislation earlier this year that eliminated out-of-pocket costs for necessary BRCA testing and screening for high-risk Pennsylvanians.
This week, we also supported a resolution highlighting metastatic breast cancer – stage four when cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Despite advancements in medical science, metastatic breast cancer remains incurable.
Stocking PA’s Waters with Trout
Pennsylvania’s waterways are being restocked with approximately 117,500 hatchery-raised adult Rainbow, Brown and Brook Trout in 119 stream sections and lakes. The effort, which began this week, will continue through mid-December.
The stockings will replenish popular fishing spots across the state and provide ice fishing opportunities. Review the trout stocking schedules here. They are subject to change because of water temperature fluctuations and hatchery logistics.
Trout that are stocked during fall and winter can be fished for immediately. Anglers ages 16 and older must have a valid Pennsylvania fishing license and trout permit. You can buy 2023 fishing licenses and permits online or at a retail license issuing agent.
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