Senator Baker E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Senate Acts to Meet PA’s Power Needs 
  • Bill to Improve Safety, Combat Illegal Street Racing Passes Senate
  • Senate Approves Bill to Get Pennsylvanians Off UC and Back to Work
  • Celebrating Historic Breast Cancer Screening Law
  • Grants Available to Capitalize on Tourism
  • Senate Maternal and Infant Health Caucus Visits Shepherd’s Maternity House
  • Beware of Ticks and Lyme Disease

Senate Acts to Meet PA’s Power Needs

Acting to establish a sweeping, new energy framework for Pennsylvania, the Senate approved legislation creating the Independent Energy Office (IEO) and Pennsylvania’s Opportunity With Energy Reliability (POWER) Board.

Under Senate Bill 832, the IEO will provide data-driven analysis and ensure lawmakers have the reliable information necessary to review and implement current energy strategies as well as be on the forefront of new innovative technologies.

The POWER Board will be a public clearinghouse for energy development in Pennsylvania and allow residents to see public accountability on decisions that impact energy prices in Pennsylvania.

Because energy capacity and reliability are key considerations in just about every aspect of our lives, we should have a coherent energy policy in place.  We must make sure that the addition of alternative and renewable energy sources does not subtract from the jobs and commercial impact realized from conventional sources.

Pennsylvania’s electricity exports are the largest in the region and a massive economic engine. Capitalizing on this status will create greater energy independence and good-paying jobs. We can learn a great deal from the successes and failures of other states on the energy front.  Given our position as a large producer and consumer of various forms of energy, our policy must be unique to our economic and environmental circumstances.

NEPA, as much as any region, has seen the rise and decline of energy companies.  We have also seen the high cost and degree of difficulty of fixing legacy contaminated properties, and there is still work ongoing. At the same time, we have figured out ways to turn reclaimed properties into productive sites once again.  These lessons can be well applied as our commonwealth undergoes an energy expansion, more than a transition.

At various times, weaknesses in our energy grid have become apparent.  The development of energy intensive enterprises tied to technology means we cannot delay expanding the grid. Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee hearings established that

Pennsylvania’s destabilized power grid will not be able to meet the commonwealth’s energy needs in the near future. There must be an all-of-the-above strategy that recognizes the only way the grid maintains itself is by having all available energy sources complement each other.

Bill to Improve Safety, Combat Illegal Street Racing Passes Senate

To address how the erratic driving of illegal street racers endangers the safety of other motorists and pedestrians, the Senate passed legislation that would increase street racing fines for first offenses to $500 and all additional infractions to $2,000. Senate Bill 998 also calls for impoundment orders for vehicles used in the offense and would hold event organizers accountable using fines, suspension of driving privileges, classification as habitual offenders, impoundment of vehicles and imprisonment.

Additionally, the bill would impose penalties for drifting on highways or trafficways and for organizing street racing or drifting events. Drifting is a driving technique that involves steering a car to make a controlled skid sideways through a turn.

Senate Bill 998 is part of the Senate Republican effort to improve community safety across Pennsylvania. It now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Approves Bill to Get Pennsylvanians Off UC and Back to Work

Unemployed Pennsylvanians who engage in job dodging by sabotaging their own efforts to get hired would jeopardize their Unemployment Compensation benefits under a bill that was approved by the Senate this week.

In recent years, Pennsylvania has taken a series of steps to remove bottlenecks and glitches from the UC system to make sure that eligible recipients receive their benefits in a timely fashion. These measures have improved the situation, but do not address every flaw in the process. Unfortunately, there are always people who seek to take advantage of the system, which puts extra costs on taxpayers and diminishes public trust. This bill reinforces the purpose of the system, encouraging people to make every effort to get back on the job. Our intent is to provide the efficiency and accountability that people expect from benefit programs.

Senate Bill 1109 would reform Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Compensation system by prohibiting recipients from engaging in job dodging to include skipping a job interview, and refusing employment or referrals for employment, in order to continue receiving benefits.

The bill now heads to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

Celebrating Historic Breast Cancer Screening Law

One year ago, a first-of-its-kind in the nation comprehensive breast cancer screening bill was signed into law as Act 1 of 2023. Senate Republicans supported the bill that eliminated out-of-pocket costs associated with BRCA-related genetic testing and counseling as well as supplemental screening such as breast MRI and ultrasound for women at high risk.

High-risk conditions covered by the law include dense breast tissue, personal history of breast cancer, family history of breast cancer, genetic predisposition and prior radiation therapy.

Act 1 covers individuals whose insurance is state-regulated, including plans purchased through the Pennie marketplace or employer-provided insurance. The law takes effect for many plans between 2024 and 2025. All state-regulated plans must be in place before the end of 2025. Learn more.

Grants Available to Capitalize on Tourism

To draw sporting events and the associated tourism to Pennsylvania, grants are available to municipalities, local authorities, nonprofit organizations and legal entities that meet specific criteria. Learn more and apply by June 30 using the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Electronic Single Application.

The Sports Marketing and Tourism Program was created to attract high-quality, amateur and professional sporting and e-sports events to Pennsylvania. Hosting a major event increases sales to small and large businesses in the area, which boosts the local economy.

The last round of grants benefited Philadelphia Soccer for the 2026 World Cup in Philadelphia, the United States Golf Association for the 2025 United States Men’s Open in Oakmont and the 2024 United States Women’s Open in Lancaster.

Senate Maternal and Infant Health Caucus Visits Shepherd’s Maternity House

I had a wonderful time with Senators Rosemary Brown and Judy Ward touring Shepherd’s Maternity House in East Stroudsburg, which provides shelter, care, counseling, and education to pregnant women ages 18 and older. During their stay the mothers are given much needed support in a loving family atmosphere. I have supported this program from the very beginning when Sister Pat first reached out to me to share her vision for offering resources for at-risk mothers. It was nice to be back to see all they have accomplished in the last 18 years providing a nurturing place for babies to call home in the first months of their lives.

Beware of Ticks and Lyme Disease

Pennsylvania leads the nation with the number of Lyme disease cases. While we are lucky to have access to the many outdoor recreational opportunities in the commonwealth, they come with the risks of tickborne diseases.

National Lyme Disease Awareness Month is an opportunity to learn how to protect your family and pets against Lyme. Use insect repellent when spending time outdoors, treat your clothing and gear with permethrin and conduct a tick check when you come inside.

There are three stages of Lyme disease with distinct signs and symptoms occurring in each stage, including a bullseye rash, headaches, nerve pain, heart palpitations and fever. If you discover a tick, safely remove it, put it in a plastic bag and mail it to the Pennsylvania Tick Research Lab for free testing. Within three business days, you will know if the tick carried Lyme disease and other diseases – valuable information for you and your health care provider.


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