In this Update:
Mechanicsburg High Field Hockey, PIAA State Champs Recognized on Senate Floor
On Tuesday I had the pleasure of welcoming to the Senate the 2022 PIAA Class AA Field Hockey State Champions, the Mechanicsburg Area Senior High School Field Hockey Team.
Click here to watch my floor remarks recapping their success against Palmyra to clinch the state title, the first PIAA state team championship in Mechanicsburg High’s history.
Regan Participates in Afterschool/Youth Development Rally
On Wednesday, I joined afterschool program advocates at a rally on the Capitol steps and spoke in support of efforts by my colleague, Senator Lynda Culver, who plans to introduce legislation to create a new initiative called the “Building Opportunity through Out-of-School Time (BOOST) Program”. This would provide funding opportunities to non-profits that serve school-age youth.
NFL Hall of Famer Visits Senate, Champions Child Reunification Legislation
This week, Pro Football Hall of Famer, Super Bowl Champion, and former NFL Coach Mike Singletary was in the Capitol to advocate for legislation that I am a co-sponsor of to provide parents a tool to help in the event their child goes missing.
Senate Bill 460, approved by the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, would establish The Child Reunification Program and direct the Department of Education to provide identification kits to schools for distribution to parents and guardians of first graders. These kits contain inkless fingerprinting materials and DNA collection swabs, so parents can have identifying information they can provide to law enforcement if their child is missing.
It is a sad and scary fact, but more than 500,000 children – one every 40 seconds – go missing in the US each year. This initiative is one tool to assist in those cases.
Regan Speaks at PA Restaurant and Lodging Association Event
Restaurants continue to feel the effects of COVID and general economic strain, and like many employers, they are having difficulty finding staff. I am committed to doing what we can in the legislature to help this industry, particularly with regard to liquor licensees, seeing as the Law and Justice Committee has oversight of liquor laws and the PA Liquor Control Board.
Safeguarding-Taxpayer Funded Public Assistance from Waste, Fraud and Abuse
A package of bills that I am a co-prime sponsor of, along with Senator Dave Argall and Senator Scott Martin, to better protect taxpayer dollars spent on public assistance from fraud and abuse passed the Senate this week. The bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 243 would ensure that Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medical Assistance benefits are not spent on the deceased. It would require the Department of Human Services to check death certificates with the Department of Health’s Bureau of Vital Statistics. A state audit found 2,324 Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cardholders received benefits after they passed away.
Senate Bill 244 would require the Department of Human Services to compare income and employment records held by the Department of Labor and Industry with recipients of SNAP and medical assistance benefits to prevent fraud. According to the Office of the State Inspector General, 85 Pennsylvanians have been charged with public assistance fraud in 2023.
Senate Bill 245 would update the Public Assistance Integrity Act to require the Department of Human Services to issue a yearly report on its efforts to ensure lottery winners are not receiving cash benefits. The Public Assistance Integrity Act closed a loophole that did not require lottery winnings to be considered as income when determining eligibility for benefits.
Prohibiting Drug Injection Sites in PA Communities
As part of our ongoing effort to strengthen Pennsylvania by advancing policies to foster healthy and safe communities, the Senate passed a bill to prohibit drug “injection sites” in our communities.
Such sites do not help to overcome addiction. They encourage the continued use of illegal – and often deadly – drugs and attract drug dealers who sell to those entering the sites, which operate under a “bring your own drugs” policy. Drug trafficking occurs in plain sight, and drug-related violence increases as dealers protect their turf.
These sites have very poor track records of moving those with substance use disorders into treatment, with some referral rates as low as 1%. They are counterproductive to finding the appropriate strategy to curb the drug abuse epidemic. Rather than sending the incorrect message that illegal drugs can be used safely, we must focus on adequately funding treatment and community-based recovery support services.
Grants to Improve Access to Healthy Food
Schools and childhood education centers may apply for up to $15,000 per school for a PA Farm Bill Farm-to-School Grant for projects to improve access to healthy, local foods. The money can also be used to increase hands-on learning experiences for children in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.
Farm-to-School Grants enrich the connection between families and local producers of fresh, healthy food by changing food purchasing habits in schools. Projects increase access to markets for local farms and expose children early to agriculture, agriculture careers and healthy food choices.
Grant applications must be submitted online here by May 19 at 5 p.m.
Recognizing National Mental Health Awareness Month
Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in the United States since 1949 to fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for policies that support millions of Americans impacted by mental health challenges.
Senate Republicans have pushed for investments in mental health, and that push continued last year as we fought for mental health financial support to schools, funding for more support staff in nursing facilities and workforce recruitment and retention payments for frontline workers. We also worked to pass important legislation last session to allow for greater access to drug and alcohol programs.
My colleagues and I will continue to make mental health funding a priority this legislative session.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health challenges, find resources here.
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