In this Update:
Regan Presides Over Senate Session; Is Reappointed Chair of Law and Justice Committee
Today the Senate convened for a brief session, during which I served as the presiding officer, for the purpose of officially announcing committee assignments for the 2023-2024 legislative session. I am pleased to have been reappointed by Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward to once again serve as the Chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee.
The Committee, which I have chaired for the last two years, oversees issues pertaining to the Pennsylvania State Police, other law enforcement matters, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), as well as matters involving the Office of Medical Marijuana.
As a formal US Marshal, one of my top legislative priorities is ensuring our law enforcement officers are protected and have the resources they need to fully do their jobs. I have also been a champion of medical marijuana since my time in the House of Representatives, and it is important that we keep working to improve our medical program for patients and operators alike. The same goes for our state-run liquor system, which should be focused on consumer access to in-demand products rather than price hikes for the purpose of increasing the PLCB’s revenue coffers. (Click here for a recent PennLive article in which I share my opinion on liquor price hikes taking effect this month.)
For the new session, I have also been reappointed as Vice Chairman of the Local Government Committee and as a sitting member of the following committees: Community, Economic & Recreational Development, Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure, Judiciary, and Rules & Executive Nominations.
Mechanicsburg Resident Nominated by Regan, Confirmed as New Senate Secretary
On Tuesday, the Senate convened for the first time in the 2023-2024 legislative session, as is constitutionally required for the first Tuesday of the year.
One of the primary orders of business before us was to appoint a new Senate Secretary and Parliamentarian, and I had the honor of nominating – and the Senate confirmed – Mechanicsburg resident Mike Gerdes for this position, which he has held in an interim capacity since November.
Mike is a graduate of Trinity High School in Camp Hill and Georgetown University Law Center, and he has been serving the Commonwealth since 2002. He has been with the Senate since 2015, and during that time he has served as counsel to the previous two Senate majority leaders, advising them on Senate rules and parliamentary procedures, which made him the natural choice for this new position.
PA Farm Show Set for Jan. 7-14
The 107th Pennsylvania Farm Show – the largest indoor agricultural exposition under one roof in the nation – takes place this Saturday to Jan. 14 in Harrisburg. It features nearly 4,000 animals, 12,000-plus competitive events and exhibits, 245 commercial exhibits, and hundreds of educational and entertainment programs.
Admission is free but there is a fee for parking, which this year must be paid with a debit or credit card. Some vendors will also be operating on a cashless system.
The visitor’s guide will help you plan your day, with information on hours, parking, exhibitors, food and more. For over a century, the PA Farm Show has celebrated Pennsylvania’s rich tradition of farming and agriculture’s key role in the state economy.
Assistance Available for Organizations Aiding PA Veterans
Nonprofits, veteran service organizations and county directors of veterans affairs have until Jan. 19 to apply for Pennsylvania Veterans’ Trust Fund grants for programs and services benefiting Pennsylvania veterans.
Grants will be considered in the following areas:
The Veterans’ Trust Fund is funded by Pennsylvanians who voluntarily donate when applying for or renewing driver’s licenses, photo IDs or vehicle registrations; purchase Honoring Our Veterans or Honoring our Women Veterans license plates; or make private donations.
New Initiative Supports County Home Repair Programs
County governments can apply now for funding through the Whole-Home Repairs Program, which will provide eligible homeowners and landlords across the state with critical home repair and weatherization assistance.
The new program aims to help low- and moderate-income homeowners and small landlords with needed repairs up to $50,000, fight blight, improve energy efficiency in homes and provide construction-related workforce development.
To apply for funding, counties or designated nonprofits must submit an application online through the state Department of Community and Economic Development’s Single Application for Assistance website by Jan. 31.
Students Invited to Compete in Transportation Innovations Contest
Students are invited to participate in the sixth annual PennDOT Innovations Challenge, which encourages students to use their problem-solving, creative and strategic-thinking abilities to resolve real-world transportation challenges in a competition among their peers.
For this year’s challenge, students are asked to develop ideas to help address the shortage of commercial truck parking along major interstate corridors in Pennsylvania. Trucks parking on highway shoulders and ramps is common during overnight hours and presents a significant safety issue.
The Innovations Challenge is open to all students in grades 9-12, regardless of their school’s learning model. Regional Innovations Challenge winners will be selected and invited to present their solutions to the PennDOT secretary and a panel of judges, who will determine the statewide cash prize winner. The submission deadline is Jan. 27.
Law Enforcement Appreciation
Monday, January 9th, is National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. As former law enforcement myself, every day is an appreciation day for my fellow officers who selflessly serve their neighbors and communities. They are the ones that run towards the danger while others flee, and they risk their lives to protect us, never knowing if that day could be their last.
Please take time on Monday to reflect on and appreciate what these brave men and women do for all of us every single day.