Senator Gebhard E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Senate Acts to Meet PA’s Power Needs
  • “Shall Not Be Questioned” Annual 2nd Amendment Rally
  • State Tax Credit for EMS Volunteers
  • Bill to Improve Safety, Combat Illegal Street Racing Passes Senate
  • Senate Approves Bill to Get Pennsylvanians Off UC and Back to Work
  • Celebrating Historic Breast Cancer Screening Law
  • Grants Available to Capitalize on Tourism
  • Beware of Ticks and Lyme Disease
  • Local Events

Senate Acts to Meet PA’s Power Needs

Acting to establish a sweeping, new energy framework for Pennsylvania, the Senate approved legislation this week creating the Independent Energy Office (IEO) and Pennsylvania’s Opportunity with Energy Reliability (POWER) Board. The bill moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Under Senate Bill 832, the IEO will provide data-driven analysis and ensure lawmakers have the reliable information necessary to review and implement current energy strategies as well as be on the forefront of new innovative technologies. The POWER Board will be a public clearinghouse for energy development in Pennsylvania and allow residents to see public accountability on decisions that impact energy prices in Pennsylvania.

The federal government has passed legislation to provide funding for states to grow solar, wind, hydro and nuclear capacities. Pennsylvania must apply for these funds and provide a framework to distribute funding throughout the state. The General Assembly has not yet established this framework, and statutory authority is needed.

“Shall Not Be Questioned” Annual 2nd Amendment Rally

This week, PA Senate and House Second Amendment Caucus members joined with pro-Second Amendment state lawmakers and law-abiding firearm owners from across the Commonwealth for the 2024 Right to Keep and Bear Arms Rally.

The theme for this year’s rally was “Shall Not Be Questioned”, which comes directly from Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The Senate has, and will continue to, stop measures that would restrict our constitutional freedoms, including our right to bear arms.

I was proud to stand with my colleagues in support of our constitutional rights and will always stand up to measures that aim to restrict them.

The Pennsylvania Constitution states: “The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.”

State Tax Credit For EMS Volunteers

A bill I sponsored with Senator Michele Brooks, to provide a state tax credit for volunteer emergency medical technicians (EMTs), passed out of the Senate Finance Committee with bi-partisan support.

SB 269 will provide a certified EMT who has been active for two years with a $500 tax credit for taxes owned to the state Department of Revenue. It will provide a certified EMT who has been active for six years with a $1,000 tax credit.

Pennsylvania is in a state of crisis in regards to the certified EMT shortage, with the ranks of those available to answer emergency calls dwindling to alarming lows. This tax credit is one way to help attract and keep those willingly and unselfishly serve and protect the people in our communities.

Bill to Improve Safety, Combat Illegal Street Racing Passes Senate

To address how the erratic driving of illegal street racers endangers the safety of other motorists and pedestrians, the Senate passed legislation that would increase street racing fines for first offenses to $500 and all additional infractions to $2,000. Senate Bill 998 also calls for impoundment orders for vehicles used in the offense and would hold event organizers accountable using fines, suspension of driving privileges, classification as habitual offenders, impoundment of vehicles and imprisonment.

Additionally, the bill would impose penalties for drifting on highways or trafficways and for organizing street racing or drifting events. Drifting is a driving technique that involves steering a car to make a controlled skid sideways through a turn.

Senate Bill 998 is part of the Senate Republican effort to improve community safety across Pennsylvania. It now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Approves Bill to Get Pennsylvanians Off UC and Back to Work

Unemployed Pennsylvanians who engage in job dodging by sabotaging their own efforts to get hired would jeopardize their Unemployment Compensation benefits under a bill approved by the Senate.

Job dodging is the process used by some Unemployment Compensation recipients to avoid obtaining a job and to continue to collect benefits. Job dodgers may skip a job interview or refuse employment or a referral for employment to continue receiving Unemployment Compensation benefits.

Senate Bill 1109 is intended to prevent Unemployment Compensation recipients who apply for a job from unreasonably discouraging their own hiring. It would require the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to create or update forms enabling employers to report Unemployment Compensation claimants who discourage their own hiring through job dodging. The bill moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Celebrating Historic Breast Cancer Screening Law

One year ago, a first-of-its-kind in the nation comprehensive breast cancer screening bill was signed into law as Act 1 of 2023. Senate Republicans supported the bill that eliminated out-of-pocket costs associated with BRCA-related genetic testing and counseling as well as supplemental screening such as breast MRI and ultrasound for women at high risk.

High-risk conditions covered by the law include dense breast tissue, personal history of breast cancer, family history of breast cancer, genetic predisposition and prior radiation therapy.

Act 1 covers individuals whose insurance is state-regulated, including plans purchased through the Pennie marketplace or employer-provided insurance. The law takes effect for many plans between 2024 and 2025. All state-regulated plans must be in place before the end of 2025. Learn more.

Grants Available to Capitalize on Tourism

To draw sporting events and the associated tourism to Pennsylvania, grants are available to municipalities, local authorities, nonprofit organizations and legal entities that meet specific criteria. Learn more and apply by June 30 using the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Electronic Single Application.

The Sports Marketing and Tourism Program was created to attract high-quality, amateur and professional sporting and e-sports events to Pennsylvania. Hosting a major event increases sales to small and large businesses in the area, which boosts the local economy.

The last round of grants benefited Philadelphia Soccer for the 2026 World Cup in Philadelphia, the United States Golf Association for the 2025 United States Men’s Open in Oakmont and the 2024 United States Women’s Open in Lancaster.

Beware of Ticks and Lyme Disease

Pennsylvania leads the nation with the number of Lyme disease cases. While we are lucky to have access to the many outdoor recreational opportunities in the commonwealth, they come with the risks of tickborne diseases.

National Lyme Disease Awareness Month is an opportunity to learn how to protect your family and pets against Lyme. Use insect repellent when spending time outdoors, treat your clothing and gear with permethrin and conduct a tick check when you come inside.

There are three stages of Lyme disease with distinct signs and symptoms occurring in each stage, including a bullseye rash, headaches, nerve pain, heart palpitations and fever. If you discover a tick, safely remove it, put it in a plastic bag and mail it to the Pennsylvania Tick Research Lab for free testing. Within three business days, you will know if the tick carried Lyme disease and other diseases – valuable information for you and your health care provider.

Local Events

Friday, May 3, 9am-8pm: Blumenmarkt
611 Orchard Road, Reinholds (Lancaster, PA)
Click here

Saturday, May 4, 11am-5pm: Free Comic Book Day
3940 Penn Ave, Sinking Spring Public Library (Berks, PA)
Click here

Saturday, May 4, 8am: Plant Sale and Garden Faire
Lebanon Expo Center (Lebanon, PA)
Click here

Wednesday, May 8, 9am-2pm: 50 plus Expo
Wyndham Lancaster Resort and Convention Center (Lancaster, PA)
Click here

Saturday, May 4, 9am-1pm: Blooms & More Festival 2024
1 Boyd St, Cornwall (Lebanon, PA)
Click here

Saturday, May 4, 10am-11:30am: Designing a Flower Bed Presented By Penn State Master Gardner
3940 Penn Ave, Sinking Spring (Berks, PA)
Click here

Saturday, May 4, 11am-3pm: Cast Iron Cooking Demonstration
94 Rexmont Road, Cornwall (Lebanon, PA)
Click here

Saturday, May 4: Free Comic Book Day
201 E Main St, Palmyra & 610 Cumberland St, Lebanon (Lebanon, PA)
Click here


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