In this Update:
Regan Celebrates Big 33 Football Players and Cheerleaders at Capitol
On Wednesday, I had the honor of hosting an event at the Capitol recognizing the great achievements of the Big 33, which is headquartered in my Senatorial District, as well as honoring the players and cheerleaders representing Pennsylvania in this year’s Big 33 Football Classic to be held on May 28th.
For those unfamiliar with this annual event, it brings together the best from Pennsylvania and Maryland to square off in “The Super Bowl of High School Football,” a name that fits since a Super Bowl has never been played without a former Big 33 participant on a roster.
Law and Justice Committee Advances Nomination, Full Senate Confirms New PSP Commissioner
On Monday, the Senate Law and Justice Committee, which I chair, held a confirmation hearing and advanced the nomination of Major Christopher Paris to be the next commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP). On Wednesday, the full Senate voted in support of his nomination.
Commissioner Paris, now a Colonel in his new position, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the job, having begun his service with the PSP in 1999. One of his most notable career accomplishments thus far was his time as station commander at the Blooming Grove barracks during the 48-day manhunt for domestic terrorist Eric Frien, who attacked the barracks on September 12, 2014.
As former law enforcement myself I have the utmost confidence in Commissioner Paris’ ability to lead the men and women of the PSP, and I look forward to working with him on policy issues and matters affecting state troopers, as well as the operation and functionality of the PSP.
Click here to watch the full confirmation hearing.
Governor’s Budget Proposal Includes Significant Areas of Concern
On Tuesday, the Senate and House convened in a joint session, during which Gov. Josh Shapiro started the 2023-24 state budget process with the introduction of his spending plan, which contains some significant areas of concern.
While the governor’s support for Senate Republican priorities such as workforce development, infrastructure advancement, safe communities and mental/behavioral health are appreciated, the plan still boosts state government spending to unsustainable levels.
The $45.8 billion plan seeks to increase state spending by more than $1.3 billion above the current year’s budget and would almost completely deplete the state’s Rainy Day Fund by 2028.
In addition to the many spending proposals, the budget includes no indication the governor will remove Pennsylvania from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which will burden all Pennsylvanians with an annual tax on electricity of nearly $670 million.
Click here to read a press release I issued in response to the Governor’s budget proposal.
The Senate is now in recess until April 24th in order for the Appropriations Committee to hold a series of public hearings on the Governor’s proposal beginning on March 20, after which work will continue to create a final spending plan to be enacted by the June 30 constitutional deadline.
Historic Breast Cancer Screening Bill Unanimously Passes Senate
The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 8, a comprehensive breast cancer screening and genetic testing bill. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The bill eliminates out-of-pocket costs associated with BRCA-related genetic testing and counseling, as well as supplemental screening such as breast MRIs and ultrasound for women at high-risk. High-risk conditions covered by the bill include dense breast tissue, a personal or family history of breast cancer, genetic predisposition and prior radiation therapy.
The legislation expands on Act 52 of 2020, which required insurers to cover breast MRIs and ultrasounds for women with high-risk factors. Senate Bill 8 is step two, eliminating costs including co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance for those screenings and BRCA-related genetic testing and counseling.
Measure Preserving Community Energy Choice Passed by Senate
Legislation ensuring that state residents have options when it comes to fuel availability was approved by the Senate. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 143, known as Energy Choice legislation, would prevent municipal entities from banning a specific type of fuel source for appliances and heating homes or businesses.
The measure was developed after cities across the nation took steps to ban fuels, such as natural gas and heating oil, in newly constructed buildings. The legislation is an important component of a sound energy policy for Pennsylvania that’s inclusive of all energy options residents may want or need to access.
Senate Approves Legislation to Increase PA National Guard Health Care Providers
The Senate approved legislation that would allow more health professionals to participate in the Medical Officer Health Incentive Program, helping to ease the shortage of medical specialists in the Pennsylvania National Guard.
The Medical Officer or Health Officer Incentive Program was created in 2014 to provide a tuition reimbursement incentive to those who qualified through their time in the armed services. Even though the program was successful in attracting health care providers into National Guard service, some health professionals, like dentists and physician assistants, were inadvertently left out of the program.
Senate Bill 162, which fixes that oversight, now heads to the state House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Honors 20th Anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom
The Senate marked the upcoming 20th anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom with a resolution this week.
In 2003, the United States and coalition forces began the mission to liberate Iraq from dictator Saddam Hussein and extend freedom and democracy throughout the region. On March 20, 2003, the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom was marked with airstrikes on Saddam Hussein’s presidential palace.
Operation Iraqi Freedom ended on Dec. 15, 2011.
Daylight Saving Time Begins This Weekend
Reminder: Daylight Saving Time begins this Sunday, March 12, at 2 a.m. While cell phone and computer clocks usually change automatically, most people move their standard clocks ahead one hour on Saturday night.
It’s also a good time to check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. If the devices are older than 10 years, experts suggest upgrading to 10-year, sealed battery alarms. They don’t require any battery replacement throughout their lifetime. Regardless, it’s still a good idea to press the test button on the alarms at least once every month.