Jan. 05, 2024

Mehaffie Message
#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol
In this Edition:
  •   108th Pennsylvania Farm Show Starts This Weekend!
  •   Receiving an Affordable Higher Education
  •   New Funding Supports Emergency Medical Services
  •   College Students Looking for Work?
  •   Be Prepared for Winter Weather Travel
  •   Enter Now for Litter Hawk Youth Award Program
  •   Out and About Photo
108th Pennsylvania Farm Show Starts This Weekend!

The Pennsylvania Farm Show – the country’s largest indoor agricultural exposition under one roof – kicks off this 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.

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

In the month of January, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is hosting two webinars all about how to achieve an affordable education. Below are descriptions of the two webinars. Anyone interested may register here.

Deep dive into credit related to education funding.

Tuesday, Jan. 9, at noon AND Tuesday, Jan. 23, at 6:30 p.m.

For most families, borrowing for education is part of the equation and can be confusing as families look for the best options to fit their needs. Join Dan Wray and Suzanne Sparrow of PHEAA for a one hour webinar to increase your financial literacy and knowledge on the process of credit, how to maintain or improve ratings and comparison points to help make informed and affordable education borrowing decisions.

Borrowing for education – which loan is right for me?

Thursday, Jan. 11, at 6:30 p.m. AND Thursday, Jan. 25, at noon.

You’ve found the schools you’d like to apply to and after filing the FAFSA, State Grant Form, scholarships and researching higher education costs and calculating the funding gap, you see that education loans are a necessity, but where do you go from here? What loan programs are available? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the various types? Join Suzanne Sparrow and Daniel Wray of PHEAA for a one hour webinar to review the different borrowing options and examine the details associated with each option. Suzanne and Dan will answer your questions as you sort out the information and make decisions that are right for you and your family.
New Funding Supports Emergency Medical Services

The arrival of the new year also brings a much-needed increase in funding for the state’s ambulance companies via a boost in Medicaid reimbursement rates.  

Act 15 of 2023 ties the reimbursement rates to federal Medicare rates and pays whichever amount is higher. As a result, the reimbursement for basic life support ambulance trips increases from $325 to $511.35, and for advanced life support ambulance trips from $400 to $607.23 or $878.88, depending on the nature of the call.

The new law also ensures EMS agencies are reimbursed by Medicaid for 100% of the miles they travel with a patient on board receiving care or transport, finally removing the previous exemption for the first 20 miles traveled. The law increases the mileage reimbursement rate from $4 per loaded mile to $13.20 per loaded mile.

This is another important step to support our EMS personnel and their life-saving work.

The reimbursement increases were scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, pending federal approval.
College Students Looking for Work?

PennDOT is looking to hire college students to supplement its permanent workforce from May through August.

The job typically entails seasonal maintenance work and sign upgrade services, maintenance and custodial services at roadside rest facilities, and laboring and flagging duties in maintenance organizations and highway worksites.

Additionally, there are internships available in the following classifications:
  •   Government Services Intern (GSI) – These are non-engineering internships, available to students of various majors, such as business or public relations.
  •   Engineering Intern (EI) – These are engineering specific internships to assist in the growth and development of engineering majors. First preference is given to students specifically majoring in civil engineering.
  •   Scientific and Technical Intern (STI) – These internships can be for any number of technical related majors, such as geology, information technology, construction management, GIS, or environmental studies.

To be eligible for consideration, candidates must be 18 years of age, enrolled in college for the next semester and have a valid Pennsylvania driver's license.

The hourly rate is $16.67. Interested applicants should contact my office before Tuesday, Jan. 16, and also need to apply online at www.employment.pa.gov. Non-student positions are also available.
Be Prepared for Winter Weather Travel

With some winter weather in the forecast this weekend for many areas of the state, it’s a good time to make sure your vehicle is ready for winter travel.

Consider having your mechanic check the brakes, battery, hoses and belts. Also make sure your fluid levels are full; the heater and defroster are working properly, as well as your radio in order to receive weather and traffic reports; tires are properly inflated and have sufficient tread depth; and wipers and lights are in good working order.

Try to avoid traveling in severe winter weather, but if you have to go, bring a winter emergency travel kit, including a blanket and warm clothes, jumper cables, small shovel, first aid kit, medications for you and your passengers, and water and nonperishable food. A full list of suggested items is available here.

Also, keep these safe winter driving tips in mind: Slow down and increase your following distance; avoid sudden stops and starts; beware of black ice – roads that look wet but are actually frozen; use extra caution on bridges and ramps, as they tend to freeze first; do not use cruise control while driving on snow-covered roads; remove snow and ice from windows and mirrors; and do not pass or get between trucks plowing in a plow line.

Be sure to remove snow and ice from the hood and roof of your vehicle. Under state law, if snow or ice from your vehicle strikes a vehicle or person and causes death or injury, you can be prosecuted.

For more information and resources to help you prepare for and get through the winter safely, visit www.penndot.gov/winter.
Enter Now for Litter Hawk Youth Award Program

Submissions are now being accepted for the 2024 Litter Hawk Youth Award Program, a recognition program for students in kindergarten through sixth grade to share how they help keep Pennsylvania beautiful.

In coordination with the release of the revision of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful’s popular Open your Eyes to Litter series of books for grades K-6, the theme is: Open Your Eyes to Litter – Show Us What You See.

Students in kindergarten through grade 4 are invited to submit a poster, while students in grade 5 are asked to submit an essay and students in grade 6 should submit a video.

First place and second place winners will receive ribbons and a certificate. All participants will receive a litter hawk sticker. The deadline to participate is Wednesday, Jan. 31. Winners will be announced in May in conjunction with a display of winning entries at the Capitol. For more information and an application, click here.
Out and About Photo

Youth and Government


On Wednesday, I spoke with students in Middletown High School's Youth and Government Club about the bill writing process. The club is organized through the YMCA, allowing youth to participate in and simulate government.

It was great to speak with so many engaged students interested in government and the legislative process!