Senator Coleman E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Coleman’s Transparency Improvements Adopted by Senate
  • Coleman Votes to Put Voters in Charge of Crucial Reforms
  • Senate Approves Bill to Eliminate Gas Tax Increase, Help Pennsylvanians at the Pump
  • Senate Resolutions Honor Fallen Firefighters Zachary Paris and Marvin Gruber
  • Virtual Job Fair Set for Wednesday, Jan. 18
  • Assistance Available for Local Historic Preservation
  • Anti-Litter Contest Open to K-6 Students
  • Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day

As your newly elected State Senator in the 16th District, I believe strongly in open government and transparency. I’d like to use this e-newsletter to keep you informed on the actions we’re taking in the General Assembly and other information that you mind find useful. You can unsubscribe at any time below.

I’d also like to hear from you. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with your questions and concerns about issues important to our region and our commonwealth.

Coleman’s Transparency Improvements Adopted by Senate  

Changes to Pennsylvania Senate operating rules that I proposed to increase transparency and give senators more time to review legislation were recently adopted by the chamber.

At my request, senators will now be given 10 hours to review amended legislation before it’s brought up for final vote, an increase from six hours. Another rule change requires all amendments offered in committee to be provided to the chair and minority chair of the committee no less than one hour prior to the start of the committee meeting where it is to be considered.

The actions taken by the Senate can affect millions of Pennsylvanians, and we owe it to our constituents to allow enough time for thorough review of each bill that comes before us. I’m grateful that Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman considered my request and added these improvements to the rules governing how the Senate operates.

Constituents can view a complete rundown of Senate operating rules here

Coleman Votes to Put Voters in Charge of Crucial Reforms

I voted for legislation passed by the Senate this week that will let voters decide whether the Pennsylvania Constitution should be amended to create a voter ID requirement, provide sexual abuse victims with a way to sue their abusers and reform the state regulatory review process.

The General Assembly previously approved the amendments in the 2021-22 legislative session. Approval of Senate Bill 1 this session would let voters have their say. 

The citizens of my district and statewide shouldn’t be treated as mere spectators in the debates over these crucial issues, they deserve to have a voice. These issues are not new. For years, legislators have made their opinions known. Now, it’s time for the people to decide.

Thirty-five states, the world’s developed countries and many developing ones have voter photo ID requirements, and a 2021 Franklin and Marshall College poll found that 74% of Pennsylvania voters said the commonwealth should join them in making elections more secure.

Senate Bill 1 also includes a proposed constitutional amendment that will create a two-year window to allow sexual abuse victims to sue their abusers. Victims of sexual abuse who were abused as children have been unable to seek justice after the age of 30 due to a statute of limitations provision in Pennsylvania law.

In addition, Senate Bill 1 includes a separate proposed amendment that would allow the General Assembly to reject a regulation by majority approval, as opposed to a two-thirds vote, in both legislative chambers.

Under Pennsylvania’s current regulatory review process, the executive branch has circumvented the General Assembly and the normal legislative process, ignoring any legislative or public input that runs counter to executive branch regulatory goals.

The process for amending the constitution is a lengthy one, as it should be. A majority of lawmakers supported these amendments in the previous legislative session, and the Senate has taken a step to secure approval in the current session. I urge the House of Representatives to follow suit and give the people the power to finally decide these serious matters.

Senate Approves Bill to Eliminate Gas Tax Increase, Help Pennsylvanians at the Pump

Taking significant action to protect Pennsylvanians’ wallets, the Senate approved a bill to stop the automatic gas tax increase for 2023. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives.

For the first time, the average wholesale price of gasoline exceeded $2.99 per gallon last year, triggering an automatic increase in Pennsylvania’s gas tax that went into effect Jan. 1.

Senate Bill 35 would eliminate the automatic gas tax increase for 2023 moving forward, preventing what would produce the second-highest gas tax in the nation behind California, and permanently set the average wholesale price at $2.99 per gallon. The bill also requires the Department of Revenue to reassess this year’s gas tax structure.

Projections indicate the average Pennsylvania household will spend nearly $2,500 at the gas pump in 2023. This includes approximately $380 per driver in gas taxes alone.

Senate Resolutions Honor Fallen Firefighters Zachary Paris and Marvin Gruber

To ensure that two local heroes are never forgotten, the Senate adopted two resolutions I sponsored honoring fallen New Tripoli firefighters Zachary Paris and Marvin Gruber.

The two men were killed Dec. 7, 2022, when they became trapped while fighting a house fire in West Penn Township in Schuylkill County.

Zachary Paris served as the Assistant Fire Chief with the New Tripoli Fire Department, located in Lehigh County. He previously volunteered as a Junior Firefighter for the Blandon Fire Company. He also worked for the Green Valley Fire Station in Maryland. He was the husband of Elizabeth for 12 years and was the father of two daughters, Lila and Amelia.

Marvin Gruber was a volunteer firefighter with the New Tripoli Fire Department. He volunteered with the fire service since the late 1980’s and served the New Tripoli Fire Department since 2020. In addition to his service with the fire company, he was also the Assistant Director of Public Safety for the Northampton Community College in Bethlehem for the last 22 years. He was the husband of Karen for 35 years, the father to Nicholas Gruber and Jordan Lybarger, and the grandfather to Cole, Lucas and McKenzie Gruber.

On that fateful day, Zachary Paris and Marvin Gruber were carrying on the noble tradition of volunteer firefighting, of neighbors helping neighbors. It’s a great loss for the community and an unimaginable tragedy for their families. I am humbled to play a small part in preserving their legacy.

Virtual Job Fair Set for Wednesday, Jan. 18

The Pennsylvania National Guard Associations will be holding a virtual job fair Wednesday, Jan. 18.

Jobseekers should be prepared to interview online with hiring managers and recruiters from top hiring companies. This online chat will connect the public directly with organizations.

After signing in, participants will be able to explore the available information and opportunities and participate in live one-on-one, text-based chats with representatives from participating organizations. Participants may also visit the job fair before and after the live event to continue making connections with top employers.

Assistance Available for Local Historic Preservation

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission is now accepting applications from nonprofit organizations and local governments for the Keystone Historic Preservation Grant Program.

Grants support projects that identify, preserve, promote and protect historic and archaeological resources in Pennsylvania for the benefit of the public and community revitalization.

Two categories of grants – construction and planning – are available for historic resources in Pennsylvania that are listed, or eligible for listing, in the National Register of Historic Places. Applicants may apply for only one type of grant. Prospective applicants for construction grants can attend a webinar on Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 1 p.m.  A planning grant webinar will be held Thursday, Jan. 19 at 1 p.m.

Anti-Litter Contest Open to K-6 Students

Entries are now being accepted for the Litter Hawk Youth Award Program, a way for students in kindergarten through sixth grade to promote anti-littering efforts through art, words or video.

Two entries will be selected as winners in each grade level. First place will receive a $50 gift card. First runner-up will receive a $25 gift card. All participants will be recognized with certificates. The deadline to participate is Jan. 31. Winners will be announced in April.

Kids can participate individually or as part of a lesson initiated by schools, home-schools, scout troops, 4-H clubs, environmental clubs or other organized groups. More information and entry forms are available here.

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Nearly 60 years after he shared his dream in an Aug. 28, 1963, Washington, D.C. speech, Martin Luther King Jr.’s wish is shared by the overwhelming number of Americans of all backgrounds. We must defend this unifying ideal for the well-being of our children and nation.

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