Jun. 30, 2023

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#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol
Patient Safety Act Gains House Approval

Click here to view video.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives this week approved House Bill 106, legislation I sponsored, to establish safe patient limits under the care of individual nurses in Pennsylvania hospitals. House Bill 106, known as the Patient Safety Act.

Nurses across the state are being assigned an increasing number of patients as staffing levels continue to decline, resulting in nearly 300 surgical patient deaths per year in Pennsylvania. The Patient Safety Act would set appropriate ratios for Pennsylvania hospitals dependent upon the severity of the unit’s patient needs.

The Patient Safety Act seeks to enhance patient monitoring, ensure health care professionals can respond promptly to emergencies when every minute counts, and allow nurses more time to thoroughly assess patients, listen to their concerns and understand their medical history.

We do not have a nursing shortage. We have a shortage of nurses who want to work in hospitals under the current conditions. Establishing safe staffing levels will improve working conditions and bring ready-to-work nurses back to the bedside, thereby addressing our current lack of nurses in our hospitals. Safe staffing levels protect both our patients and our nurses.

This legislation is an important part of keeping hospital patients safe and ensuring they receive the best care possible.

House Bill 106 now goes to the state Senate for consideration.
House Passes Bill to Improve Keystone STARS

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Legislation I sponsored that would make significant improvements to the state’s Keystone STARS program gained passage in the House of Representatives this week.

House Bill 1020, which passed by a voted of 151-52, would require the Department of Human Services to update Keystone STARS to allow child care employees and providers to receive “credit” for years of experience in relation to the staff education component of the program. This change would reward on-the-job experience, which benefits the children and families these providers serve.

Keystone STARS is a quality rating system for Pennsylvania’s child care centers. Child care programs participating in Keystone STARS can earn a rating from a STAR 1 to a STAR 4. At each level, centers must meet certain quality standards in areas such as staff education, learning environment, leadership/management, and family and community partnerships. The higher the STAR level, the higher the quality standards.

The bill would also encourage child care providers to educate families about Keystone STARS by advertising their “STAR Status” on their front doors and website.

The legislation now goes to the state Senate for consideration.
Happy Anniversary!

Last week, I had the opportunity to stop by and speak with Frank Sourbeer Jr. and Sr. and present them with a House citation in recognition of Wilsbach Distributors’ 90th anniversary.

For students planning to enroll in a post-secondary school between July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2024, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is holding two statewide webinars during the month of July to guide college-bound students and their families in completing the 2023-24 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)? process.

Students and families can register to attend one of the upcoming events using the registration links below:
  •   Thursday, July 6, from 6-7 p.m.
  •   Monday, July 24, from 6-7 p.m.

PA State Grant Application: A reminder to students who plan to enroll in a community college; a designated Pennsylvania Open-Admission institution; a business, trade or technical school; a hospital school of nursing; or a two-year program that is not transferable to another institution, it’s not too late to submit a PA State Grant application. The deadline is Aug. 1 for those applying for the 2023-24 academic year. Students must also submit the FAFSA, if they have not already done so. Learn more here. 

PA Forward Student Loans: Pennsylvania residents attending any Title IV school in or out of Pennsylvania can cover their gap balances with PA Forward’s affordable rate options. Whether students are thinking of staying close to home or traveling across the country, PA Forward can assist. Learn more here.    

Fish for Free on Independence Day!

On Tuesday, July 4, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) will host a Fish for Free day to allow anyone (resident or non-resident) to legally fish on all Pennsylvania waterways. No license is required, but all other fishing regulations still apply. This is a great way to expose the next generation of anglers to the outdoors! More information about fishing in Pennsylvania is available here.
We All Scream for Ice Cream!

This summer, you can beat the heat and get a sweet treat by visiting any of the 42 creameries that make up the 2023 Scooped: An Ice Cream Trail.  

Add to the fun by earning a commemorative stainless-steel ice cream scooper by accruing 600 points on your digital passport. Each ice cream shop check-in is worth 100 points. Simply stop in at six shops, make your purchase, and receive a four-digit code to “check-in” and accrue your points this summer.

The trail is a partnership of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and its PA Preferred® program, the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Tourism Office, and the Center for Dairy Excellence. The trail offers a delicious way to support Pennsylvania’s more than 5,200 dairy farm families and the small businesses that source from them while offering a unique opportunity to explore the Commonwealth by the scoop.

A list of participating creameries is available here.
Happy Independence Day!!

I wanted to share a few important reminders as you plan to celebrate our nation’s independence.

Fireworks are a great way to celebrate our independence, but with ongoing drought conditions the elevated risk of wildfires, the Office of State Fire Commissioner and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources are urging us to leave the fireworks displays to the professionals this year.

Low precipitation has dramatically increased the number of wildfires in the Commonwealth. There have already been 1,400 wildfires reported statewide so far in 2023, compared to 1,036 in all of 2022. This year's wildfires have burned more than 8,500 acres, compared to 2,700 acres in 2022. Visit DCNR's website for more information on wildfire danger, maps, forecasts and tips on reducing wildfire risks.

If you are going to set off your own fireworks, be smart, be careful and be considerate of your neighbors. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission offers the following safety tips:

  •   Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  •   Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks, even sparklers.
  •   Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  •   Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  •   Never pick up or try to relight fireworks that have not fully ignited.
  •   Never use fireworks after consuming alcohol or other substances that impair judgement or the ability to act quickly.

For details about the state’s fireworks laws, click here. 

If you are traveling, check out www.511pa.com. Free and available 24 hours a day, the site provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 1,000 traffic cameras. 511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.

PennDOT will close its driver license service centers on Tuesday, July 4. Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services, including all forms, publications and driver training manuals, online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov.

Have a safe and happy July Fourth!