In this Update:
Coleman Keeps Promise and Refuses Taxpayer-Funded Pension
Sen. Coleman signs paperwork with the State Employees’ Retirement System refusing the taxpayer-funded pension plan offered to lawmakers.
One of the ways we can restore the people’s faith in our institutions is to keep our promises. I told the residents of the 16th District that, if they elected me, I would refuse to collect the taxpayer-funded pension. I have kept that promise. Families are facing increased costs and workers are struggling to fund their own retirements; they don’t need to be paying for those of legislators, too.
The paperwork refusing the defined-benefit pension was filed with the State Employees’ Retirement System, which maintains the pension plans of lawmakers and state employees.
Senate Approves Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Teacher First Amendment Rights
Following the swearing in of the governor and lieutenant governor on Tuesday, the Senate began the new legislative session in earnest Wednesday by passing several pieces of legislation, including Senate Bill 84.
The measure would eliminate the prohibition on teachers from wearing any dress, mark, emblem or insignia reflecting their faith or denomination.
It would align Pennsylvania with every other state in the nation in preserving and protecting First Amendment rights for educators. The measure was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
16th Senate District Hospital Recognized for Excellence in Patient Safety
St. Luke’s Hospital – Allentown Campus is being recognized by the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) as one of the leading hospitals in Pennsylvania for protecting patient safety by reducing health care-associated infections.
St. Luke’s – Allentown is of 21 being honored as a top-performing hospital through HAP’s Excellence in Patient Safety Recognition program.
The association identifies the top-performing hospitals using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Healthcare Safety Network. To be recognized, hospitals must perform better than the mean standardized infection ratio in three key measures: central line-associated bloodstream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections and Clostridioides difficile infections.
Congratulations to all of the dedicated professionals at St. Luke’s Hospital – Allentown Campus for earning this honor.
Senate Acts to Help Farmers Meet Rising Demand for Home Delivery
Legislation to help farmers meet the rising demand for farm products delivered to homes was approved by the Senate.
The current vehicle code allows for home deliveries via a commercial vehicle registration, but prevents the commercial vehicle from being registered as a farm vehicle. As a result, a farmer needs to purchase, register and maintain a separate commercial vehicle for at-home delivery, while also maintaining a farm vehicle to deliver agricultural commodities to places of business.
Senate Bill 95 would remove this duplicative, unnecessary and overburdensome requirement. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives.
Measure to Boost Volunteer Fire Company Membership Approved
To address the serious shortage of volunteer firefighters across Pennsylvania, the Senate passed legislation to create a pilot program giving interested high school students training in firefighting.
Senate Bill 114 would award grants to one higher education school each in eastern, central and western Pennsylvania to establish fire training programs for students in high school, with the hope they will remain firefighters for years to come.
The number of Pennsylvania volunteer firefighters has plummeted from 300,000 in the 1970s to fewer than 37,000. Senate Bill 114 was sent to the House of Representatives.
PennDOT Job Openings Posted for College Students
Summer PennDOT jobs are available to full-time college students registered for the Fall 2023 semester.
Jobs include assisting in seasonal maintenance work, crash system input and analysis, and maintenance and custodial services at roadside rest facilities. Many students also perform laboring and flagging duties in maintenance organizations and at highway worksites. The pay is $15.49 per hour.
Students majoring in engineering or a related scientific or technical field might be interested in engineering internship opportunities at PennDOT’s Central Office (Harrisburg) or at one of its statewide engineering district offices.
Veterans: Now is a Good Time to Review and Update Benefits
The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) says that the start of the year is a good time for veterans to meet with an accredited veteran service officer to ensure they are receiving or maximizing the benefits they have earned through their service and sacrifice while in uniform.
Safeguarding military paperwork – especially the DD-214, which is used to verify military service – is an important first step for securing benefits. Filing these documents for free at the county courthouse is an easy way to secure them until needed, which can often be decades into the future. Anyone needing assistance locating their military documentation can call the DMVA at 800-547-2838 or e-mail RA-REQ@pa.gov.
Blood Donation is Easy and Safe
Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs donated blood. Blood donors help accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, those battling cancer and others.