Senator Baker E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Maneuver By Gov. Shapiro Changes Motor Voter Process Without Your Input
  • Emergency Alert Test Scheduled for Oct. 4
  • Senate Welcomes Retired Pfc. U.S. Army Jessica Lynch in Honor of POW/MIA Recognition Day in Pennsylvania
  • Fiscal Restraint Means More Good News for PA’s Financial Position
  • Look Out for Surprise Hotel Fees, Larger Bills
  • Apply Now to Enhance Pennsylvanians’ Safety
  • Men, Take Care of Yourselves with Healthy Habits

Maneuver By Gov. Shapiro Changes Motor Voter Process Without Your Input

A recent maneuver by Gov. Shapiro has immediately changed your experience at PA Driver License Centers from an “Opt In” to an “Opt Out” motor voter registration process, when a new application or renewal of your driver’s license is processed. This motor voter registration change was a unilateral decision made by the Executive Branch and without input by the General Assembly.

The truth is there is no necessary reason to make this abrupt change in our voting process. Since 1993, federal law has been in place and already required state departments of transportation to provide the opportunity for simultaneous voter registration for federal elections when applying for or renewing a driver’s license and a photo ID.

Strengthening election integrity and access in Pennsylvania remains a key focus, as we firmly believe the foundation of a healthy and vigorous republic requires free, fair, and secure elections. Over the last few years, we have been actively working to address election concerns raised by Pennsylvanians from across the political spectrum, by increasing transparency, implementing a ‘Zuckerbucks’ ban, mandating continuous counting of ballots on election nights, and passing legislation which would implement Voter ID.  

Senate Republicans are committed to continuing to look out for the millions of Pennsylvania voters who are lawfully eligible to vote, and reviewing the changes to determine the best next steps for Pennsylvanians.  

Emergency Alert Test Scheduled for Oct. 4

There will be a national test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on Wednesday, Oct. 4, at approximately 2:20 p.m. The test is to ensure the systems continue to effectively warn the public about emergencies, particularly those on the national level.

The WEA portion of the test will be directed to all consumer cell phones. The EAS portion will be sent to radios and televisions.

In case the Oct. 4 test is postponed due to widespread severe weather or other significant events, the back-up testing date is Oct. 11.

Senate Welcomes Retired Pfc. U.S. Army Jessica Lynch in Honor of POW/MIA Recognition Day in Pennsylvania

In honor of POW/MIA Recognition Day in Pennsylvania, the Senate welcomed retired Pfc. U.S. Army Jessica Lynch to the Senate floor.

While serving in Iraq, Lynch was captured on March 23, 2003, and was held captive by Iraqi forces after her unit was ambushed, leaving her severely injured. She was initially listed as missing in action. After some time in the custody of the Iraqi army regiment that had captured her, she was taken to a hospital in An Nasiriyah. Sen. Devlin Robinson’s unit aided in her search mission and subsequent rescue.

Twenty years ago, the Marines of Task Force Tarawa entered an obscure city on the Euphrates River called An Nasiriyah. They were told resistance would be minor, but the intelligence was wrong. Twenty-one Marines and eleven soldiers were killed in heavy fighting in and around the city. By the time dust settled, troops learned six soldiers from the 507th Maintenance Company were taken prisoner by Iraqi Forces and the mission had changed to search and rescue.

Forces went door-to-door to search for evidence of their whereabouts and were met with resistance from Sadaam’s Fedayeen militia and Ba’ath party soldiers. After nine days of tireless operations, they finally received actionable intelligence and a special forces operation launched a rescue for Pfc. Jessica Lynch, becoming the first successful POW rescue since World War II. Two weeks later, the remaining soldiers were rescued by the Marines in Baghdad.

Since Iraq, Lynch continued her education, became a mother and teacher, starred in a film, and wrote a book.

Fiscal Restraint Means More Good News for PA’s Financial Position

Pennsylvania has been upgraded from stable to positive regarding debts issued, according to S&P Global Ratings. The state maintains its A+ rating on its general obligation bonds.

S&P highlighted the well-established priority of repaying debts and adding to the Rainy Day Fund as reasons for the improved rating. My Republican colleagues in the Senate and I knew these efforts would benefit the state and its residents, which is why we insisted on making the responsible decision even as others wanted to spend the money we had and even take on additional debt.

This promising news follows a similarly encouraging rating improvement by Moody’s Investor Services when it recently revised the state’s financial outlook from stable to positive.

Look Out for Surprise Hotel Fees, Larger Bills

As a way to win business, some hotels have employed practices like “drip pricing,” which is when fees are gradually disclosed to consumers as they go through the online booking process. Customers are lured to the hotel or online travel agency with a competitive rate and don’t know the actual cost until the final page of the online booking process – or not even until they check in at the hotel.

People deserve to have access to accurate pricing upfront so they can make appropriate decisions for their budget. However, Choice Hotels – which owns Quality and Comfort hotels – was making that nearly impossible.

Pennsylvania, as well as a handful of other states, reached a settlement with Choice. The company has now committed, by the end of this year, to prominently disclosing the total price of a hotel stay, including room rate and all other mandatory fees, on the first page of its booking website as part of the total room rate.

Apply Now to Enhance Pennsylvanians’ Safety

Because of legislation the Senate supported, $5 million is available in nonprofit security grants and applications will be accepted until Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 11:45 p.m.

Eligible applicants must be a nonprofit based in Pennsylvania and serve individuals, groups or institutions that are included in a bias motivation category, such as religion, sexual orientation, race, disability and gender.

Grants can be used for the purchase of equipment and security-related technology, trainings, threat assessments and specialty-trained canines. Learn more and apply here.

Men, Take Care of Yourselves with Healthy Habits

The Senate voted to designate September 2023 as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in Pennsylvania to raise awareness and encourage men to complete recommended screenings.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer for Pennsylvania men. One in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

While there is no way to completely prevent prostate cancer, men can reduce their risk by choosing a low-fat diet filled with fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising most days of the week.

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