Senator Baker E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • 2023 Review: Empowering Parents with Their Children’s Education
  • 2023 Review: Supporting Pennsylvania Veterans
  • Pennsylvania Flood Insurance Premium Assistance Task Force
  • PA Youth: Become a Litter Hawk
  • Helping First Responders Access Federal Dollars
  • Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day

2023 Review: Empowering Parents with Their Children’s Education

Just as Senate Republicans led efforts to help students, we also focused on increasing parents’ involvement in the education of their children. After all, the people who know their child best and love them most should not be barred from playing an active role in their lives in any environment.

We passed a bill to empower parents to protect their own child from accessing sexually explicit content at school, without impacting the books available to other students. Schools should not have the ability to show our children content adults are barred from viewing at their jobs if their parents don’t support it. Another bill would expand parents’ access to what students are learning.

A new law makes it easier for parents to enroll their children in school when they move because of the family’s involvement in the military. It would help students avoid delays that can require them to take summer classes or graduate later than expected.

2023 Review: Supporting Pennsylvania Veterans

Our military members and veterans made the selfless decision to serve our country and preserve the American way of life we hold so dear. The Senate passed several measures in 2023 to support military families and veterans.

Act 13 of 2023 ensures Pennsylvanians entering military service can retain professional licenses and certifications. Previously, veterans had a much more challenging transition from military life to civilian life because certain skills they obtained during the service were not recognized. Now, veterans don’t have to waste time duplicating the training they already received.

Senate Resolution 46 establishes the Task Force on Women Veterans’ Health Care, which will study the unique health care and access issues facing female veterans and make recommendations to the governor and General Assembly for action.

Other measures we passed exempt disabled veterans’ benefit payments from income eligibility calculations for government programs, provide educational support for children of National Guard and Reserves members, establish the Veteran-Owned Business Loan Guarantee Program and more.

Pennsylvania Flood Insurance Premium Assistance Task Force

I have been appointed to serve as a member of the Flood Insurance Premium Assistance Task Force (the Task Force) established by Act 22 of 2023 to study flood insurance issues and make recommendations to help improve affordability and expand access to coverage.

Pennsylvania is one of the most flood-prone states in the country. This damages structures and facilities and requires time and resources to repair. In recent years, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) updated its flood mapping to include many properties that previously did not require flood insurance. Meant to mitigate the financial harm and help lessen the emotional devastation caused by floods, more and more Pennsylvanians require assistance with their flood insurance coverage due to rising premiums. As a result, many communities are at risk of reduced property sales and values.

For more than a decade, an increasing number of severe weather events have done serious damage in communities across the commonwealth. Insurance coverage and costs developed in different times are no longer providing the levels of protection people need. At the same time, rising premiums make coverage less affordable for too many families. Because states like California and Florida are in much worse situations due to devastating wildfires and hurricanes, we can draw on their experience as well as our own to design remedies that will repair the system today and prepare for the challenges of tomorrow.

The Task Force is currently seeking public input on the accessibility and affordability of flood insurance.  Comments may be sent to ra-in-policyoffice@pa.gov or to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department’s Director of Policy Planning at:  Office of the Insurance Commissioner, 1326 Strawberry Square, Harrisburg, PA  17120, and must be received by February 5.  

Within the next six months, the Task Force must prepare a report to include recommendations:

  • Identifying programs to provide flood insurance premium discounts and incentives for local governments to undertake or continue flood mitigation efforts.
  • Implementing changes in state law and relating to the administration of flood insurance.
  • Educating the public about flooding risks and mitigation techniques.
  • Informing Pennsylvanians about flood insurance options.
  • Increasing the number of flood insurance policies purchased by Pennsylvanians.                     

The task force will expire 30 days after creating the report.

PA Youth: Become a Litter Hawk

Kids in grades kindergarten through sixth grade who want clean places to live and play are invited to become litter hawks to help people see how litter and trash hurt the environment through art, words or video.

Individuals, school classrooms, homeschoolers, scout groups, clubs and other organized groups are all welcome to participate. Prizes will be awarded to two entries per grade. Categories are poster (K-4), essay (5) and video (6). Apply online by Jan. 31, and winners will be announced in May.

Helping First Responders Access Federal Dollars

Federal assistance grants are available to support firefighter and emergency medical service organizations, but only a fraction of the first responders who apply do so successfully.

Giving organizations the information they need to access this critical funding for vehicles, gear and more will help local governments avoid raising taxes to cover the costs associated with keeping our communities safe.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers free webinars about how to apply for funding under the Assistance to Firefighters grant program and workshops covering the Assistance to Firefighters grant program, Fire Prevention and Safety grant program and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grants. Learn more.

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a time for reflection on his peaceful contributions to the civil rights movement. Many people also spend time honoring Dr. King’s legacy by participating in community service to better their neighborhoods. No matter how we spend the day, let us remember his desire to unify our country as he shared in his historic speech in Washington, D.C. more than 60 years ago.

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