Senator Baker E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Shielding Pennsylvanians from Cybersecurity Attacks
  • Budget Hearings Begin Next Week Examining Shapiro Spending Plan
  • PA Parks Offer Free Events for People of All Ages
  • Protect Your Money by Investing Wisely
  • Leadership Wyoming Government Day
  • Student Art Contest Raises Lyme Disease Awareness
  • Happy Presidents Day!

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 Next Week Examining 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.

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.

Leadership Wyoming Government Day

The Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce recently held its Government Day for participants in the Leadership Wyoming professional development program.  Participants include leaders from government, nonprofits, and businesses who have stepped forward to get involved in their community.  I joined Rep. Tina Pickett for a roundtable discussion on our legislative priorities and to listen to issues and concerns.

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.

Happy Presidents Day!

On Monday, Feb. 19, we recognize Presidents Day and reflect on the effort it takes to guide our country in the right direction. Originally, the holiday was to honor our first president – George Washington – but it has since been expanded.

Because of the holiday, my offices will be closed with normal business hours resuming on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

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