Senator Regan E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Regan Questions Liquor Control Board at Budget Hearing
  • Senate Continues Detailed Review of Shapiro’s Budget
  • Scholarship Grants Available for EMS Professionals
  • Supporting Agriculture, PA’s Top Industry
  • Celebrating “The Star-Spangled Banner”

Regan Questions Liquor Control Board at Budget Hearing

As Chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, which has legislative oversight of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), I was given the opportunity to participate in yesterday’s hearing on the PLCB’s budget proposal.

I opened my line of questioning to members of the Board by calling attention to the fact that they raised prices last year by 4% on 3500 products and followed that up with a question as to why their gross profit margin decreased despite the increases. I also asked them if border-bleed is a problem considering the much lower prices in neighboring states like Maryland and New Jersey. Spirit-based Ready-to-Drink cocktails (RTDs), which I have advocated for being sold where beer and wine are sold, rounded out the rest of my first round of questions, which you can watch here.

I was given an opportunity to ask additional questions, during which I inquired if the LCB can be held accountable if alcohol is sold to a minor at a state store, I expressed frustration with the ongoing problem of stop-and-go entities in Philadelphia, and I called out the cost overages with the creation of the LCB’s new web-based ordering system. Click to watch my second round of questions and the full hearing.

Yesterday’s hearing was one of a series being held by the Senate Appropriations Committee to analyze the governor’s proposed $48.3 billion 2024-25 state budget for Fiscal Year 2024-2025, a $1.3 billion increase over the current year’s budget. Continue reading for an overview of this week’s other budget hearings.

Senate Continues Detailed Review of Shapiro’s Budget

At the Department of Education hearing, officials struggled to answer questions about the governor’s broad higher education concepts and wide discrepancies in K-12 education funding. In particular, the governor has proposed a nearly $1.1 billion increase in Basic Education spending but accounts for no projected future increases – a red flag indicating potential tax increases down the road.

The Department of Agriculture budget hearing discussion included state efforts to combat avian influenza, farming education initiatives and the performance of tax credit programs for PA farmers. The idea of legalizing adult-use marijuana was also discussed in relation to the governor proposing oversight by the Department of Agriculture.

At the hearing for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) and Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), members discussed how to make the most efficient use of existing resources as both agencies have considerable reserves and the PGC’s budget increased from approximately $130 million in 2019-20 to approximately $350 million in 2024-25.

Appropriations hearings continue next week. Click to access the hearing schedule, daily recaps and videos from each hearing, as well as livestream links.

Scholarship Grants Available for EMS Professionals

To recruit and retain emergency medical services (EMS) professionals, a tuition assistance program offers up to $5,000 for reimbursement of EMS state certification training for permanent Pennsylvania residents.

Up to $300 is available for emergency medical responders, up to $800 for emergency medical technicians, up to $1,000 for advanced emergency medical technicians and up to $5,000 for paramedics.

Pennsylvania-licensed EMS agencies are eligible to receive up to $1,250 of recruitment and retention expenses per fiscal year (July 1 to June 30). Reimbursement will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until funding is exhausted. Learn more.

Supporting Agriculture, PA’s Top Industry

To bolster agriculture – the state’s top industry – $500,000 in grants is available to help Pennsylvania farms pursue growth opportunities. Funding will be used to benefit economic development, job creation and innovation.

The Farm Vitality Planning Grant Program will help fund professional services for those planning for the future of a farm. The program is designed to enhance the long-term vitality of Pennsylvania’s farms through sound business planning, efficient transitions of farm ownership, strategic farm expansion, diversification of agricultural production and building a team of financial and technical experts as a resource for the state’s farmers.

The maximum grant amount is $7,500 and is limited to 75% of project costs. Learn more about guidelines and how to apply.

Celebrating “The Star-Spangled Banner”

Sunday, March 3, is National Anthem Day. “The Star-Spangled Banner” shares a message of endurance and perseverance. Francis Scott Key originally wrote his poem during a naval attack on Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. That battle was nearly lost.

It wasn’t until March 3, 1931, that President Herbert Hoover signed a law officially making “The Star-Spangled Banner” our country’s national anthem.

Rather than commemorating victory, our national anthem highlights our ability to withstand attack. Today, we continue to raise our flag and refuse to be defeated.


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