In this Update:
America250PA Brings Keystone Classroom Initiative to Denver Elementary School
It was my pleasure to be a guest reader at Denver Elementary School as part of America250PA’s Keystone Classroom Initiative. As you may know, America’s 250th anniversary is coming up and the Keystone Classroom Initiative is part of an effort to bring stories of Pennsylvania to children throughout the commonwealth.
Along with guest readers, an age-appropriate historical reenactor, storyteller, local celebrity, or mascot will continue visiting children across Pennsylvania to educate them about our shared story. The program also provides children with an America250PA coloring book, swag bag, and PA treats.
To learn more about America250PA, click here.
Report Details Plan to Maintain and Support PA’s Education System
Republican members of the Basic Education Funding Commission shared a report updating the commonwealth’s funding formula for K-12 education as required by law.
The plan would provide greater budget stability for school districts, ensure students will receive at least the same amount as the current year’s historic budget allocations and seek to institute increased accountability for hard-earned tax dollars paying for public education.
To create a plan that benefits students while respecting the taxpayers who foot the bill, the members of the commission gathered testimony from more than 90 individuals at 14 public hearings and received more than 1,000 comments through the public website. Learn more.
Attracting and Retaining the Best Teachers
As Senate Republicans work to ensure all students have the opportunity to receive a quality education that sets them up for future success, one focus is attracting and retaining great teachers.
In addition to a high rate of teachers retiring or switching professions, fewer students are training to become teachers. To fight that concerning trend, we created a teacher stipend program. Through the program, a $10,000 stipend is available for individuals to complete their student teaching requirement. Students may claim an additional $5,000 stipend if they complete their student teaching in schools that don’t traditionally have student teachers and schools with high teacher vacancies.
Another new law reduces barriers for teachers moving to Pennsylvania by entering the state into the Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact. Teachers with eligible certification in other compact states would not be required to complete additional materials, exams or coursework when applying for certification in Pennsylvania. They would still be required to complete background checks and other security clearances.
The Borough of Hamburg to Receive $250,000 to Rehab Community Pool
I was happy to announce the Borough of Hamburg will receive $250,000 of Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) funding to rehabilitate the Hamburg Community Pool.
The grant will be used to replaster the pool, which is a popular summer destination in Etchberger Memorial Park that draws more than 3,500 attendees from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The full cost the project is expected to be $449,000.
Etchberger Memorial Park offers families an affordable option for summer outdoor recreation and even a space to have private parties outside public swim hours. But most importantly, it provides a place to learn the lifesaving skill of how to swim. I’m pleased I was able to help secure funding for this valued community resource so residents can continue to enjoy it.
Borough Council, local organizations and community volunteers have dedicated significant time and energy into enhancing the park, recognizing how recreational opportunities improve the quality of life for those who have access to them.
CFA awarded the funding through its Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program. The program allocates funds for the planning, acquisition, development, rehabilitation and repair of greenways, recreational trails, open space, parks and beautification projects.
Denied a Health Care Claim? Request a Review
Because of legislation passed late in 2022, Pennsylvanians who believe their insurer has wrongly denied a health insurance claim can now request a review of the decision to be completed by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department.
The denial can be for a service, treatment or item. An independent group of experienced doctors and health care professionals will review the case. If the review determines the request should have been covered, your health plan must do so. Independent review decisions are final and binding.
Act 46 of 2022 also streamlined the prior authorization – when physicians and other health care providers must obtain advance approval from a health plan before services and treatment are rendered – and step therapy processes for medical treatment.
2023 Accomplishments: Healthy and Safe Communities
Families, not government, are the heart of our commonwealth. To empower families, we must provide healthy and safe communities.
In 2023, Senate Republicans passed a key health care measure that eliminated out-of-pocket costs for genetic testing of hereditary cancer syndromes and supplemental screenings for women at high risk of developing breast cancer. We also addressed crucial public health needs for emergency medical services, hospitals and nursing homes and ensured Pennsylvanians continue to receive access to needed health care services.
Other new laws provide critical nourishment for medically fragile babies and increase access to licensed addiction treatment programs for people facing substance use disorder.
Fishing and Boating Grants Available Now
Organizations that provide hands-on education for the recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) of anglers and boaters in Pennsylvania have until March 1 to apply for grants.
Education programs play a role in R3 by providing experiences that increase fishing and boating knowledge and skills, facilitate social support, and provide information on fishing and boating opportunities close to home.
The funding must be used for eligible expenses for projects running approximately July 1 through June 30, 2025. Grants require at least a 25% match of total project costs.
January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month
In recognition of January as Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the Senate Majority Policy Committee recently held a hearing to help raise awareness about the complexities of human trafficking crime and to discuss strategies for prevention, victim support and the prosecution of traffickers. Law enforcement, policymakers and people on the front lines of raising awareness about and helping victims of human trafficking joined the conversation.
By way of force, fraud and coercion, human traffickers push their victims into sexual exploitation and domestic servitude. In 2021, 315 victims were identified in Pennsylvania. If you suspect human trafficking, please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or the ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313.
The Senate also passed legislation to ensure sexually exploited children who are human trafficking victims have full access to appropriate services and support. Act 39 of 2023 would ensure that third-party control is never a consideration for access to services, and Senate Bill 45 would eliminate the third-party control requirement to access victim services under the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Notification Act.
Saturday, January 20, 11am-2pm: Kutztown Community Fire Company Pot Pie Fundraiser
Saturday, January 20, 9am: WWA Wreaths Out
Saturday, January 20, 6pm: Owl Prowl
Saturday, January 20, 10:30am-1:30pm: Miller’s Wildlife & Conservation “Birds Of Prey” Live Show
Thursday, January 25-27: 52nd Annual Lebanon Builders Association Home & Garden Show
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