Dec. 29, 2023

 
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#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol
 
In this Edition:
  •   Happy New Year!
  •   Celebrate Agriculture at 108th Pennsylvania Farm Show
  •   Grants in the 106th
  •   Protecting Senior Citizens’ Access to Medications
  •   New Grant Funding Available for Child Care Providers
  •   New Law Will Foster School Dual Enrollment Programs
  •   Will You Be a College Student in 2024-25?
  •   Out and About Photos
 
 
Happy New Year!



I would like to wish you and your family a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

My district office will be closed on New Year’s Day, but will reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 2.

Also, PennDOT Driver License Centers will be closed this Saturday, Dec. 30, and this Monday, Jan. 1, 2024, for New Year’s Day. Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov.
   
 
Celebrate Agriculture at 108th Pennsylvania Farm Show


The Pennsylvania Farm Show – the country’s largest indoor agricultural exposition under one roof – kicks off Saturday, Jan. 6, in Harrisburg. The show will run through Saturday, Jan. 13.

This year’s theme is “Connecting our Communities,” which aims to bring together those who are fed, nourished and enriched by the agriculture industry to those whose lives and livelihoods depend on it.

As always, the show will feature hundreds of competitions and exhibits, as well as animals and products related to the state’s robust agriculture industry. The annual showcase is a family-friendly event with lots to see and do; and don’t forget to stop by the famous food court for a taste of some Pennsylvania cuisine.

Admission to the show is free, but parking is $15 per vehicle. Shuttle service is provided.

I’m looking forward to attending, visiting with exhibitors from the 106th district and hopefully will see you there.

For all the latest news about the Farm Show, follow it on Facebook or visit www.farmshow.pa.gov.
 
 

Grants in the 106th

Because of my municipal background and experience serving on a sewer authority, I understand the importance of working with unfunded mandates of the EPA. It is paramount to assist authorities and municipalities to hopefully prevent them from passing along costs to their residents. I am glad to have worked to bring the important funding listed below to Dauphin County.

H2O Grant Program:
  •   Municipal Authority of Lower Swatara Township: More than $1.4 million to assist an interceptor improvement project.

PA Small Water and Sewer Grant Program:
  •   Municipal Authority of Lower Swatara Township: $401,500 for sanitary sewer improvements.
  •   East Hanover Township: $500,000 for replacement of aging storm sewer pipes in Grantville.
  •   South Hanover Township: $500,000 for construction of a new sewage pump station and conveyance force main.
  •   South Hanover Township: $450,000 for replacement of a sewage force main.
  •   Royalton Borough Authority: $200,000 to fund improvements to the Water Street Pump Station.
 
 
Protecting Senior Citizens’ Access to Medications


Recognizing the challenges many senior citizens face when it comes to affording their medications, we recently passed a law that will preserve their access to the state’s PACE and PACENET prescription drug benefit plans.

Act 62 of 2023 prevents Social Security cost-of-living increases from making seniors ineligible for PACE and PACENET.

Current income eligibility levels for PACE are set at less than $14,500 for a single person and less than $17,700 for a couple. PACENET, which covers those individuals with incomes exceeding PACE maximums, is open to individuals earning between $14,500 and $33,500 and couples with incomes between $17,700 and $41,500. The minimum age to participate in the programs is 65, and they are funded from proceeds of the Pennsylvania Lottery.

Learn more about PACE and PACENET here.  
 
 
New Grant Funding Available for Child Care Providers

The Department of Human Services (DHS) recently announced the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) is accepting applications for Keystone STARS Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) awards. The one-time grant opportunity is now open for all eligible certified child care providers in Pennsylvania to apply. This award includes new flexibilities surrounding eligible expenses to help child care providers use the funds for even more programs and activities. The public comment period is open through Jan. 2, 2024. During this period, anyone interested can review the draft waiver application and provide comment online, in writing via mail, during multiple advisory and stakeholder meetings, or through three upcoming virtual forums.

The Keystone STARS CQI Award is a one-time award, paid to eligible child care programs in good licensing standing with a Keystone STARS 2, 3, or 4 quality designation. The award will be paid through the Early Learning Resource Center directly to the eligible child care program. Eligible providers should expect a Keystone STARS CQI Award Eligibility and Acceptance Letter this month that includes the total grant amount they are eligible for. The deadline to respond is February 15, 2024.

The grant is funded with $12 million of federal Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) funds and will allow child care programs to support and invest in activities that promote quality of care and professional development that will positively impact children in care.

Programs can use the Keystone STARS CQI Award funds for eligible expenses in the following categories:
  •   Staff qualifications and professional development;
  •   Early childhood education programs;
  •   Partnerships with families and communities;
  •   Leadership and management; and,
  •   Accreditation costs.

My legislation, House Bill 1020, which passed the House and awaits Senate consideration, would strengthen the Keystone STARS program by allowing certified child care providers to advertise their STARS rating. The bill also directs DHS to issue guidance establishing a rubric to provide a path for certified child care providers to move up a STAR level by demonstrating their adherence to the above categories. By allowing the advertisement of ratings and clearly showing a path towards improvement, my legislation would incentivize child care providers to improve and allow parents to make educated decisions for their children.

OCDEL is jointly overseen by the Department of Human Services and the Department of Education. Keystone STARS is OCDEL’s quality measurement for certified child care providers that measures and recognizes the work of Pennsylvania’s early learning and school-age programs. OCDEL provides grants and financial supports, such as tiered reimbursement, to Keystone STARS 2, 3, and 4 providers as part of their comprehensive support programs for child care providers in the Commonwealth.

Visit here to learn more about the Keystone STARS CQI Award.
 
 
New Law Will Foster School Dual Enrollment Programs

Recognizing the educational and financial benefits of dual enrollment programs, I was pleased to support a new law that will remove a potential barrier to the programs that allow students to enroll in college-level classes while still in high school.  

Act 52 of 2023 eliminates the requirement that students in dual enrollment programs are removed from their school’s average daily membership. A reduction in a school’s average daily membership negatively impacts the amount of state funding it receives, thus serving as a disincentive for offering dual enrollment.

Allowing high school students to take college-level courses advances their educational opportunities and ultimately reduces the cost of their college education. The law takes effect immediately.
 
 
Will You Be a College Student in 2024-25?

 
The revised Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms for the 2024-25 school year are set to become available by Dec. 31.

FAFSA itself is not financial aid. It simply enables eligible students to qualify for many types of financial aid from several sources, including scholarships, loans which must be repaid, and funding earned through work. Many states and colleges use your FAFSA information to determine your eligibility for state and school aid.

To apply, visit www.fafsa.gov.
 
 
Out and About Photos

Celebrating Brian Foster


I recently presented Brian Foster with a House citation celebrating his retirement from many years of service to the Hummelstown Borough Council and presidency on the council.

Congratulations, Brian, and thank you for all of your leadership and dedication on behalf of the people of Hummelstown!

Visiting Santa’s Reindeer


Last week, I visited Santa at Hersheypark with Gov. Josh Shapiro, PA Department of Agriculture Sec. Russell Redding and PA State Veterinarian Dr. Alex Hamburg, to announce that his reindeer were healthy and cleared for flight on Christmas Eve!

Continuing Tradition

I was glad to join the Pennsylvania State Police last week to celebrate the groundbreaking of their new, 366,000 square feet, world-class training facility in Hershey!

The project is expected to be complete in 2028, continuing a long tradition of training law enforcement in Hershey - since 1924!
 
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