In this Update:
Senate Acts to Keep Outside Money Away from PA Election Process
By a potentially veto-proof vote of 37 to 12, the Pennsylvania Senate passed Senate Bill 982 to safeguard the integrity of Pennsylvania’s elections. I firmly believe that the administration of elections is a core function of government, which is why I joined my colleague, Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill, in introducing Senate Bill 982.
Our bill offers a direct, straight-forward clarification to the Pennsylvania Election Code, simply stating what all of us understood to be fact – government should pay for elections.
We must live up to our promises, and those in the state Constitution, to make voting as universal and accessible as possible. Although private funding seems to be a creative response, that does not render it good policy or conducive to restoring public faith in elections free from outside influence and manipulation.
Our latest press release here, includes more information about this and other election integrity legislation measures advanced by the Senate this week.
Senate Boosts Crime Victim Protection and Support
The Pennsylvania Senate has overwhelmingly passed a package of four bills, designed to assist crime victims by providing stronger protections, increasing support, and improving access to services.
As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, protecting children and adult victims of abuse has been a focus of the Judiciary Committee for the last several sessions. The measures advanced by the full Senate this week address some of the pressing needs voiced by many victims and advocates.
Senate Bill 1179 was legislation that I introduced with Senate Ryan Aument. Our bill extends the address confidentiality provisions of the ‘Domestic and Sexual Violence Victim Address Confidentiality Act,’ to include the victims of child abduction and the victims of human trafficking. In addition to the expansion of this coverage, the bill updates the Act to allow for applications for address confidentiality to be submitted electronically. Learn more about all four bills here.
Celebrating the 5th Anniversary of the PA ABLE Savings Program
On Monday, I was pleased to join Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity, The Arc of Pennsylvania, The Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation, The Pennsylvania School for the Deaf and AHEDD to highlight the 5th anniversary of the PA ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Savings Program. In 2017 we launched the ABLE program, a landmark tax-free state savings account to help alleviate some of the financial challenges faced by families raising or caring for those with disabilities.
PA ABLE provides a way to save without losing access to important means-tested benefits. More than 6,200 Pennsylvanians have opened PA ABLE accounts and saved more than $71 million for disability expenses. This is a firm foundation on which we can expand eligibility and build the benefits available to more individuals, particularly as we underscore how this program can meet the unique challenges of our veteran population.
There is a larger message that can come from recognition of this anniversary. The ABLE program is an illustration of how government is supposed to work. The starting point was a clearly identified need among a vulnerable population, and cooperation at both the federal and state levels played a positive role in helping numerous individuals and their families.
Legislation to Aid Rural Remote Working Passes Senate
Legislation to help more rural Pennsylvania communities establish remote workplace facilities was approved by the Senate. It now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 962 would create the Rural Co-Working and Innovation Centers Grant Program within the Department of Community and Economic Development to help rural communities create facilities equipped with high-speed broadband, furniture, and security systems for teleworkers. Across the 20th Senatorial District individuals, entrepreneurs or anyone needing an office space, could benefit from this program.
Senate Approves Measure to Encourage Responsible Solar Development, Protect Property Owners
The Senate approved a proposal that would establish decommissioning and financial requirements for solar generation projects going out of service and offer better protections for landowners.
Senate Bill 284 includes a graduated, phase-in process for financial assurances, setting up five-year benchmarks using third-party professional engineers to assess and calculate fair market value of the project and costs to decommission it.
The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Have a Happy and Blessed Easter
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