In this update:
Working to Support Military Families
Our existing unemployment compensation law in Pennsylvania is unfair to military spouses who relinquish their job as part of a transfer to a new duty station. I’m pleased to have introduced legislation and to be working with my Senate colleagues to close a loophole preventing military spouses from collecting unemployment. Currently, if an active duty member of the Armed Forces is transferred, and if, as a result, his or her spouse is forced to resign their employment, it is possible, under Pennsylvania law, that the resignation would be considered voluntary and they may not qualify for benefits. Nearly every state provides protection for a spouse caught in this difficult situation. Regrettably, Pennsylvania is one of the few lacking this sensible protection. Supporting the brave men and women in uniform who serve our country, must also include addressing the challenges that arise for their families.
This week the Senate unanimously advanced Senate Bill 1083, which clarifies that a spouse’s move to follow his or her active duty spouse will not be considered voluntary if the Department of Labor & Industry determines that continued employment would be impractical or unreasonably difficult. The cost of doing this is not large. But the cost is not the compelling consideration here; it is the principle. Senate Bill 1083 now advances to the House of Representatives for consideration. Learn more here.
Keystone Girls State & Keystone Boys State
Students participating in the 2022 Keystone Girls State (KGS) and Keystone Boys State (KBS) youth leadership programs, spent some time at the State Capitol this week. It was great to have several bright and driven rising high school seniors stop by my office, including Madison Meagher from Wayne County, Ashley McGrory from Delaware County, Aiden Dierksen from Pike County, and Jamie Heid from Lackawanna County.
KGS and KBS are educational programs sponsored by the American Legion, to offer high school seniors from across Pennsylvania, the opportunity to learn about leadership and civic engagement. At the end of the week, these young leaders are asked to return to their communities with what they learned and to be a force of good in their hometowns.
Legislation Preparing Students for Tomorrow’s Jobs Approved by Senate
The Senate approved legislation to improve workforce development initiatives and better prepare Pennsylvania students for jobs that will be in demand after they graduate.
House Bill 723 would bring state law in compliance with the federal requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act by updating state and local workforce development board membership requirements and making other changes. The state and federal acts work in concert to help train individuals for family sustaining jobs.
This bill also requires the state Department of Labor and Industry to collect data on emerging and projected future employment sectors in Pennsylvania and send it to educational institutions. Schools would be required to use the information to develop career education programs and for providing career guidance to students. The amended bill will return to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Acts to Reduce PA Lyme Disease Cases
With Pennsylvania leading the nation in the incidence of Lyme disease, the Senate approved legislation to require insurance coverage for testing and treatment, and raise awareness of tickborne diseases.
Senate Bill 1188 also requires the Department of Health to work with the Tick Research Lab of Pennsylvania at East Stroudsburg University to develop an electronic database to better track possible cases and provide access to the latest research. The measure will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Early diagnosis is crucial to preventing the persistent symptoms of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Left untreated or improperly treated, Lyme disease can lead to debilitating symptoms, which include fevers, arthritis, joint aches and more. If treated within the first 30 days, 10% or fewer patients will progress to severe symptoms.
Bill to Curb Welfare Abuse Passed by Senate
A bill to halt wasteful spending in the Medical Assistance and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) programs was approved by the Senate and sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 1124 requires the Department of Human Services to check death certificates with the Bureau of Vital Statistics so that the payments can be halted immediately when a recipient’s death is recorded.
An audit by former Auditor General Eugene DePasquale found that the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services paid benefits to 2,324 dead people. In one case, $800 in benefits intended for a woman who passed away was used by another individual for a shopping spree.
Regional Transportation Projects Open to Review
Pennsylvanians have until June 30 to participate in a comment period on the draft 2023 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).
The draft 2023 STIP reflects the first four years of the 12-Year Program. It lists prioritized projects identified for federal, state, local and private funding in each federal fiscal year between 2023 and 2027.
The draft 2023 STIP can be viewed on the Talk PA Transportation website. Citizens can view projects by county and comment by filling out the online comment form or emailing RA-PennDOTSTC@pa.gov. You can also call PennDOT at 717-783-2262 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Older Mobile Phone Services Shutting Down
Mobile carriers are shutting down 3G and other older services to make room for 5G and other more advanced network services.
The Federal Communications Commission says T-Mobile’s 3G UMTS and Sprint 4G LTE services will be shut down by the end of June and Verizon’s 3G by Dec. 31.
If your device uses the 3G wireless spectrum, you will not be able to make 911 calls on the device after the 3G phase out occurs. In addition to older mobile devices, some home security systems, life/medical alert systems, vehicle SOS services, and other tablets that rely on 3G are also impacted. More information and help can be found here.
National Dairy Month and PA Dairy Farmers
Pennsylvania is second only to Wisconsin in the number of dairy farms in America, with 5,200 throughout the state.
The commonwealth’s 474,000 cows produce more than 10 billion pounds of milk annually. Pennsylvania dairy production is critical to our commonwealth and nation, and keeping it strong is a top priority.
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