In this Update:
Providing Support for EMS
I was pleased to join with fellow members of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee at the State Capitol, for a press conference to emphasize the importance of legislation that addresses issues faced by the emergency medical services (EMS) community. It is especially critical for our rural communities that we extend a COVID-19 wavier to allow certified emergency personnel – such as first responders with specific first aid, CPR and emergency vehicle training – to drive ambulances with an emergency medical technician (EMT) on board.
House Bill 2097 would implement the wavier extension, and enable emergency responders to help more people. The measure was unanimously passed by the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, and has been sent to the full Senate for consideration.
Senate Approves Poll Watcher Empowerment Act to Increase Election Oversight, Integrity
The Senate approved the Poll Watcher Empowerment Act to ensure election laws are strictly adhered to and improve confidence in Pennsylvania’s elections.
Senate Bill 573 would allow all registered Pennsylvania voters to be eligible to be a poll watcher in any precinct in the state and ensures poll watchers can clearly observe the pre-canvassing and counting of all ballots.
The bill would stiffen penalties against any election official who blocks, impedes or otherwise intimidates a poll watcher on Election Day. It would not change any duties, powers or responsibilities of poll watchers. Senate Bill 573 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The bill is the third election integrity measure passed by the Senate this year, along with the elimination of controversial ballot drop boxes and prohibiting third-party funding of elections.
Senator Lisa Baker Voices Opposition to Costly Bridge Tolling Plan
This week I joined the ‘No P3 Bridge Tolls Coalition’ and other members of the General Assembly, to oppose the Wolf administration’s plan to toll interstate bridges in Pennsylvania.
Governor Tom Wolf’s tolling plan applies to nine major bridges across the state, including a nine-mile stretch along Interstate 81 in Susquehanna County, and the Nescopeck Creek bridges on Interstate 80 in Luzerne County. The bridge tolling initiative would cost the average commuter an additional $1,000 per year and was moved through the process without legislative input nor approval.
One of the most pressing issues that constituents of the 20th Senatorial District are expressing to me, is the rising cost of gas and the immense strain it is having on families’ budgets. Area residents, local officials, and business owners, rightly have deep concerns about the unwarranted additional hardship these tolls would impose on motorists and shippers. Learn more here.
Joint Hearing on Government Data Breach Notification
Legislation requiring timely notification to victims of a state or local government data breach was the topic of a joint Senate/House public hearing.
The Senate Communications and Technology Committee and the House State Government Subcommittee on Government Information Technology and Communication held the gathering to review Senate Bill 696.
The panels heard from representatives of the Department of General Services, the State Privacy and Security Coalition, and the Cybersecurity Association of Pennsylvania. You can view the hearing and read testimony here.
Scammers are Stealing Military Pensions
Pennsylvania veterans and their advocates should be aware of an increase in scammers looking to poach their VA pensions, warns the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA).
“Pension poaching” occurs when scammers or dishonest financial planners charge veterans or their beneficiaries for help in applying for or submitting applications for VA pensions. The scheme often involves financial maneuvers such as advising claimants to hide their assets in trusts or annuity products sometimes resulting in lost investments and lucrative fees paid to the advisor.
The DMVA says veterans and their advocates should remember to never share their VA login information, or deposit VA benefits directly into a third-party bank account unless the person is court appointed or a VA accredited fiduciary. More on avoiding pension poaching, and what to do if you know someone who was targeted, can be found here.
National Fishing and Boating Week
Pennsylvania has multiple settings for fishing and boating, whether you’re an expert or a beginner.
HuntFishPA.com is a good place to start to find out what you need to enjoy angling. The PA Fish and Boat Commission can help you find the best waters for fishing and information on fishing licenses, fishing seasons and more.
Boating Safety Education Certificates are required to operate a personal watercraft and for persons born on or after Jan. 1, 1982, to operate boats powered by motors greater than 25 horsepower. People who successfully complete an approved boating course are issued a Boating Safety Education Certificate good for a lifetime.
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