The Mehaffie Message 7/1/21 - Emailed Newsletter
2021-22 Budget Passes House, Senate

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The $39.8 billion budget approved by the House of Representatives and Senate on Friday invests in early childhood education, public schools, services for those with intellectual disabilities and state police.

The budget allocates an additional $1 billion in federal relief funds to nursing homes, transportation infrastructure, career and technical schools, emergency medical services, and the ongoing pandemic response.

Importantly, we are depositing more than $2.5 billion into the Rainy Day Fund to protect Pennsylvanians in the event of future economic downturns. We also saved some federal relief funds for use in the years to come. Establishing healthy saving habits is not only important for homeowners and renters, but also for the Legislature. The steps we took when crafting this budget protected the fiscal health of the Commonwealth without a tax increase.

The budget plan includes:
  •   a $30 million increase in Pre-K Counts and Head Start.
  •   an additional $300 million for basic education funding and additional $50 million for special education funding.
  •   allocations to serve additional people with intellectual disabilities.
  •   training funds for two new cadet classes for the Pennsylvania State Police.

The budget was sent to the governor’s desk.
Safer Pennsylvania Act

A package of bills was unveiled last week to help ensure victims feel safe and supported after a traumatic experience, and that the criminal justice system is equipped to improve public safety outcomes.

The six pieces of legislation being proposed are as follows:
  •   The Victims of Violence Employment Leave Act would authorize victims of violent crime and their immediate family members to take unpaid leave from work as needed for medical appointments, counseling, court proceedings or other needs.
  •   The Victims of Violence Employment Leave Act would authorize victims of violent crime and their immediate family members to take unpaid leave from work as needed for medical appointments, counseling, court proceedings or other needs.
  •   The Victims of Violence Landlord-Tenant Act would permit individuals to lawfully terminate residential leases when necessary as a result of the crime.
  •   The Victims of Violence Emergency Relocation Act would expand protections to victims of other types of violent crimes, their immediate family or household members, and witnesses to violent crime who are threatened with further violence.  
  •   The Victims of Violence Compensation Act would update the Crime Victims Act to ensure more victims receive the help they need and know their rights.  
  •   The Education Access and Incentivization in Corrections Acts would build on Pennsylvania’s commitment to education in the correctional system as a smart, proven public safety strategy.
  •   The Sexual Assault Testing and Evidence Collection Act would create an exception to reporting identifying information specifically in sexual assault cases where victims wish to remain anonymous.  

The measures have not yet been formally introduced.
Celebrating PA Dairy

June was Dairy Month in Pennsylvania, but there is never a bad time to enjoy an extra dish of ice cream or yogurt, another piece of cheese or tall glass of milk!

Dairy is our Commonwealth’s largest agricultural industry, helping to generate $14.7 billion of economic activity each year. We rank second in the nation in terms of the number of dairy farms, and seventh nationally in milk production. In fact, last year our 482,000 cows produced more than 10.2 billion pounds of milk!

Nearly all of the Commonwealth’s dairy farms – an estimated 99% of them – are family-owned, and the industry supports more than 52,000 jobs statewide.

If you’d like to support Pennsylvania dairy, be sure to check the milk you purchase at the grocery store and look for the PA Preferred logo or milk with a plant code beginning with “42.” Plant codes are usually printed near the top of the container or on the lid, sometimes they’re printed right on the label. The first, and most important, part of the code will always be two numbers (between 01 and 56). This identifies the state where the milk was processed. Pennsylvania’s magic number is 42!

Learn more about the state’s dairy industry here.

Last week, the mass vaccination clinic at Harrisburg Area Community College closed after administering nearly 30,000 doses in recent months. My gratitude to everyone who set up and ran the clinic.

The Lawnton Riders Chapter 998 recently held their 4th Annual Veterans Chili Cook Off at the Lawnton Legion. A great variety of delicious chili options were available, and I think I sampled them all.

Swatara Township Police Chief and Director of Public Safety Darrell Reider helped judge the competition this year. It was an enjoyable afternoon visiting with the participants and those who attended. Proceeds from this event are used to benefit local veterans organizations.

We recently recognized the PIAA Champion Lower Dauphin High School boys volleyball team on the House floor after a Capitol tour. Way to go, Falcons!

Congratulations to Lower Dauphin's Robert K. Schultz for completing Pennsylvania’s Superintendents Academy.

This program was launched five years ago and involves research into the effective policies and practices of the world’s best education systems and aims to help participants transform their own districts based on the insights they gained through research and collaboration.

I was pleased to join supporters of the Hummelstown’s Fireman’s Carnival last week at Herbert Schaffer Memorial Park in the borough. There were games, rides, entertainment, bingo and great food! It’s a wonderful annual event to support the firefighters, volunteers and borough residents.