In this Update:
Senate Education Committee Advances Senate Bill 907
On Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee advanced Senate Bill 907, which passed on a party line vote. I introduced this bill to protect our students and teachers by mandating that every school has at least one armed, trained, and vetted school security officer during school hours.
This has been an ongoing battle I have spearheaded for a decade. Recently, I released an Op-ed detailing my findings and a plan to protect our children. This year alone there has been 200 instances where someone was injured or killed on school grounds by a gun. Most of these tragedies are over within a few minutes, before first responders can arrive.
A poll was released early Thursday morning from Franklin and Marshall College poll. In this study we found that a great percentage of the people in the Commonwealth agree that we need to strengthen our school’s security and they would feel safer once the bill is passed to give our children a chance.
To watch the meeting in whole, click here.
Messiah Village Community Members Visit Senate Floor
This week I was honored to welcome guests from Messiah Village in Mechanicsburg and recognize them on the Senate floor. I had the pleasure of visiting the Village over the summer where we were able to partake in great dialogue. After the visit I wanted them to have the opportunity to see the Capitol and be recognized.
Law and Justice Committee Convenes to Consider House Bill 1096
On Tuesday, as Chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, I convened a meeting to consider House Bill 1096. This legislation allows old hotel liquor licenses to be converted to a restaurant liquor license for a fee and provides for additional entities that are eligible for a public venue liquor license.
In committee, this bill was also amended to allow beer wholesalers to select their own e-commerce platforms.
House Bill 1096 now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
9/11 Memorial Trail Meeting
On Monday I attended a meeting about the development of a 9/11 Memorial trail that would traverse across the commonwealth and surrounding states covering approximately 1,500 miles including through the Flight 93 Memorial. I wholeheartedly support the mission to bring this project to help us remember the sacrifices made that day. I will continue to be involved in the discussions on how we can make this vision a reality.
Senate Passes Bills Empowering Parents
The Senate approved legislation that would empower parents to protect their own child from accessing sexually explicit content at school, without impacting the books available to other students. Senate Bill 7 would require schools to:
Senate Bill 7 was crafted after a non-partisan, thorough two-year process – including conversations with parents, school administrators, teachers and librarians. It would not ban any books from Pennsylvania school curriculum or libraries, but rather empower parents to control only what their own children have access to in school.
The Senate also approved legislation requiring schools to make public curriculum information available online, including a link or title for every textbook and course syllabus used for classes. Other measures passed this week would require schools to display the United States Constitution and display the Pennsylvania Constitution. Empowering parents and families is a priority of Pennsylvania Senate Republicans.
Senate Votes to Extend and Improve Program to Protect Students
Building on recent legislation to improve school bus safety, the Senate approved legislation extending and improving the school bus stop-arm automated enforcement program. The measure is set for enactment into law.
The program was first authorized in 2018 and includes nearly 40 participating school districts that equipped 2,500 school buses with cameras to record vehicles that don’t stop for school buses. More than 4,000 violations have been recorded.
The program was set to expire this week. Senate Bill 851 makes the program permanent, improves interaction with law enforcement and streamlines the appeals process. If a driver illegally passes a stopped school bus, the school district will send the car owner a police-vetted violation in the mail. The owner must pay the $300 fine or make an appeal for a virtual or in-person hearing overseen by a PennDOT official. The driver may petition a magisterial district judge after PennDOT’s decision.
Grants Available for Organizations Helping Veterans
The Veterans’ Trust Fund is accepting grant applications for programs and services benefiting Pennsylvania veterans. Nonprofit organizations, veteran service organizations and county directors of veteran affairs may apply by Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 2 p.m.
Find more information about the grant opportunity and how to apply here.
The trust fund is supported by Pennsylvanians who donate when applying for or renewing their driver’s licenses, photo IDs or motor vehicle registrations; purchase veteran-specific license plates; or make private donations. Tax-deductible donations can be made online.
Apply to Vote by Mail by Oct. 31 for the November Election
The deadline is approaching for anyone who would like to vote by mail for the Nov. 7 election. Your county election board must receive your application for a mail-in or absentee ballot no later than Tuesday, Oct. 31, at 5 p.m.
Any registered voter may request a mail-in ballot. Absentee ballots can be requested by voters with disabilities or an illness that prevents them from going to their polling place on Election Day, or those who will be absent from their municipality on Election Day.
You can apply for a mail-in ballot online, by mail or in person at your county election board’s office or other designated locations. Learn more here.
Recognizing Pennsylvania’s First Responders
Saturday, Oct. 28, is National First Responders Day. Police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians care for us during some of life’s worst moments. They are true heroes, and I am proud to honor their brave and selfless efforts.
My Senate colleagues and I have passed legislation to address the serious shortage of volunteer firefighters in the commonwealth. The number dropped from about 300,000 in the 1980s to less than 38,000 today, so they need our support. Without enough volunteers, communities across Pennsylvania face longer wait times when minutes make the difference between life and death.
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