In this Update:
Senate Finalizes 2023-24 State Budget
The Senate on Wednesday finalized the 2023-24 state budget by approving budget implementation bills, which have now been enacted into law.
A large portion of the 2023-24 state budget was completed in August with enactment of the General Appropriations Act. However, several important components still required additional budget implementation language to be passed by both the Senate and House and signed by the governor.
House Bill 1300 (Fiscal Code amendments) makes major investments in the future of Pennsylvania and achieves many of the principles and priorities identified by Senate Republicans as a focus in March.
It includes several important and time-sensitive measures, including reauthorization of funding for county 911 systems, expansion of a tax credit helping parents seek and maintain employment and allocation of funding for an additional 100 Pennsylvania State Police troopers to help make our communities safer.
National Wreaths Across America Day
This year, National Wreaths Across America Day will be held on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023.
However, on Dec. 12, I had the honor of joining some of my Senate colleagues in a wonderful ceremony in the state Capitol rotunda, where we recognized our fallen veterans and joined those from Wreaths Across America.
On Dec. 16, if you can, join the more than two million volunteers and supporters who will gather at more than 4,000 participating locations in all 50 states, at sea and abroad to adorn service members’ grave sites with wreaths. As each wreath is placed upon the site, the name of the service member is spoken aloud, appreciating and remembering the sacrifice they paid.
I’ll be participating in two wreath-laying ceremonies on Dec. 16. I’ll be speaking at the Wreaths Across America ceremony being held at the Marienville North Forest/St. Ann’s Cemetery (Forest County), with that event to begin at 11 a.m. And I will provide the opening remarks for the Wreaths Across America ceremony at Brandon Cemetery on Old Salina Road in Seneca (Venango County), with that event starting at 1:30 p.m.
Learn more about the Wreaths Across America mission here.
Bill to Safeguard Transit Operators Passes Senate
The Senate passed legislation to safeguard transit operators against assault.
Senate Bill 977 would make it a felony of the third degree to interfere with and cause bodily injury to an operator of any public transit vehicle. The offense would be steepened to a felony of the first degree if the intrusion causes serious bodily injury or death.
Senate Votes to Preserve Prescription Benefits for Seniors
Legislation to preserve senior citizens’ access to the state’s PACE and PACENET prescription drug benefit plans passed the Senate and is set for enactment.
Senate Bill 607 would continue a law set to expire this year through Dec. 31, 2025 that 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.
Occupational Therapists Visit State Capitol
This week during session, I had the opportunity to meet with Miranda Virone, professor of Occupational Therapy at Slippery Rock University and a Clarion County Native!
Miranda expressed the importance of the work that OT’s do across the Commonwealth, especially within the mental health field. Thank you for all of the work you do for the profession!
2024 Fishing Licenses, Permits for Sale Now
Fishing licenses, permits and vouchers for 2024 purchased now are valid immediately through Dec. 31, 2024. The price of an annual resident fishing license is $27.97. Multi-year options are also available in increments of three years, five years or 10 years.
They can be purchased through the HuntFishPA online portal on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website, via smartphone by using the FishBoatPA mobile app or by visiting a retail license issuing agent.
Vouchers that can be given as gifts and are redeemable by recipients are also available.
Don’t Get Scammed This Holiday Season
Sadly, just as the holiday season is often a charitable time, there are people hoping to take advantage by scamming others.
From email and text phishing to delivery stealing to credit card skimming and more, there are so many ways to fall prey. Learn more about the common scams criminals use.
Protect yourself and your family by setting up alerts with your credit card company so you know when purchases are made and avoid paying with a prepaid gift card, CashApp or Venmo to buy a gift online. Never use Alexa to find a customer support number and dial for you or click on a hyperlink in an email, social media ad or text message to make a purchase. Instead, go directly to the store’s website.
Celebrating Bill of Rights Day
Friday, Dec. 15, is Bill of Rights Day, when we recognize how the first 10 amendments to the Constitution give us rights that are uniquely American. For 232 years, these amendments have given us the right to speak our mind, defend our families and worship as we see fit.
We hold those liberties – and the others that make up the Bill of Rights – dear and cherish how they impact our daily life as the true framework of our society.
Bill of Rights Day was first observed on the document’s 150th anniversary when former President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a proclamation dedicating Dec. 15 as the day to recognize our God-given rights.
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