In this Update:
Spring Grove State Athletic Champs Recognized in the Senate
On Tuesday, I, along with Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill, had the honor of welcoming some of York County’s finest athletes to the Pennsylvania Senate.
Laila Campbell, a sophomore at Spring Grove High School, won two gold medals during the 2021 Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) 3A track and field competition for her stellar performances in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes. She also went on to win silver at the National Junior Olympics Championship for the 100-meter dash.
The Spring Grove Girls’ Volleyball team likewise joined us at the Capitol in honor of their 2021 PIAA Class 3A State Championship victory.
As a father of student athletes, I know the commitment it takes to achieve this level of success, and I am sure their parents and coaches must be so proud, as are we.
Regan Speaks in Support of Firearm Preemption Bill
This week I voted for and spoke in support of legislation to protect and uphold our Commonwealth’s firearm laws.
House Bill 979, which has been sent to the Governor, prevents Pennsylvania’s 2,500-plus municipalities from adopting regulations on guns or ammunition stricter than existing state law.
This is a commonsense bill that affords innocent, law-abiding citizens the right to carry a firearm in any town or city in the Commonwealth, and this in turn, allows them to protect and defend themselves when visiting cities plagued by violence and ineffective bail reforms. Banning guns in Philadelphia, for example, is not going to stop the lawless monsters who have a complete disregard for human life.
In my 23 years as a federal law enforcement officer, I never once seized a lawfully owned firearm from a criminal. They were always illegally possessed. It is time to stop punishing those who have done nothing wrong for the misconduct of violent criminals.
Senate Passes New Funding for Hospitals, Health Care Workers
The Senate this week approved critical funding for hospitals and frontline health care workers who continue to work tirelessly day-in and day-out despite ongoing challenges. House Bill 253 was sent to the governor and signed into law as Act 2 of 2022.
It allocates a total of $225 million to hospitals and their employees. The additional dollars will be allocated as follows:
The legislation requires the funding to be directed to retention and recruitment programs for staff. Hospital executives and administration, contracted staff and physicians would not be eligible for payments.
Student Loan Relief for Nurses Available through March 1
Applications are being accepted through March 1 for the new Student Loan Relief for Nurses program, which, with the allocation approved by the legislature this week, now has $20 million available.
Qualified nurses working through the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible to receive student loan relief of up to $2,500 for each year of work (beginning with 2020) for up to three years, with a maximum benefit of $7,500.
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency indicates the high volume of applications has slowed the review process, and online applications are not offered. You can learn more about the program and the application process here.
Senate Acts to Improve PA National Guard Health Care
Legislation to increase the number of health care providers in the Pennsylvania National Guard was approved by the Senate. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The legislation improves the Medical Officer or Health Officer Incentive Program, which was created in 2014 to provide an education stipend to those who qualified through their time in the armed services.
This incentive program began to address the lack of health care providers within the Guard. However, some health professionals, such as dentists and physician assistants, were inadvertently left out of the program.
Senate Bill 927 would establish a broader definition of “health professional” to capture those left out of the original program. It would also create education stipend tiers based on the participant’s education level, so that physicians and physician assistants would get a higher reimbursement to help pay down their higher tuition debt.
House Liquor Control Committee Holds Hearing on Privatization
On Monday, the House Liquor Control Committee, chaired by Representative Carl Metzgar, convened a hearing to receive testimony on the issue of liquor privatization.
The hearing was called in response to legislation introduced by Representative Natalie Mihalek proposing a constitutional amendment, which would put the question to the voters as to whether or not our state government should be in the liquor business.
Recall, as Chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, which oversees liquor issues in the Senate, I recently wrote an op-ed on the subject in support of privatization and Representative Mihalek’s approach to addressing this issue.
Video of the House committee hearing can be viewed here.
Congressional Redistricting Map Approved by General Assembly
Legislation to redraw the boundaries of Pennsylvania congressional districts to reflect changes in population was approved by the Senate and sent to the governor, who vetoed the measure.
The U.S. Constitution requires congressional redistricting following the updated census count every 10 years.
The preliminary congressional map was developed after a series of public hearings held by the state Senate and House of Representatives.
National School Choice Week
Pennsylvania families should have a choice in selecting the best education for their children, including traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies and homeschooling.
That is why I am sponsoring Senate Bill 527, which would automatically raise the caps for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Scholarship (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs by 25% annually, so long as at least 90% of the credits were claimed in the year prior.
This is National School Choice Week, a time to stand with parents and recommit to giving parents the power to choose what’s best for their children.