In this Update:
Senate Approves Bill Giving Parents Choices About Sexually Explicit Materials in School
Pennsylvania parents should have the final say about whether their children have access to sexually explicit content at school. That’s the sentiment behind a bill I voted for that was approved this week by the state Senate.
Parents are able to control the content their children see on television, in movies and on their computers, so they should be able to control whether their children see sexually explicit materials in school.
Senate Bill 7 would enable parents to protect their own child from accessing sexually explicit content at school without affecting the materials available to other students.
This legislation gives parents the ability to choose for their own children without enabling them to force their own standards onto other people’s children.
Senate Bill 7 would require schools to identify sexually explicit content in school curriculum, materials and books.
Schools then would create an opt-in policy by notifying parents of the sexually explicit content by including a list of the book titles on the form, giving parents the opportunity to review the materials and requiring parents to give direct consent for their children to be provided or have access to the content.
Schools would provide non-explicit content alternatives to children whose parents choose not to allow access to the sexually explicit materials.
This bill puts the final decision in the hands of the parents, where it belongs.
Senate Bill 7 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The Senate also approved legislation requiring schools to make public curriculum information available online, including a link or title for every textbook and course syllabus used for classes. Other measures passed this week would require schools to display the United States Constitution and display the Pennsylvania Constitution. Empowering parents and families is a priority of Pennsylvania Senate Republicans.
Share Your Opinion: Should PennDOT Share Your Driver’s License Information?
I recently raised concerns about a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and Pennsylvania Department of State practice of sharing driver license information with an outside vendor.
I want to know what you think.
Please take a few moments to fill out the one-question survey on my website to share your opinion about PennDOT sharing your driver’s license information with private companies.
Senate Votes to Extend and Improve Program to Protect Students
Building on recent legislation to improve school bus safety, the Senate approved legislation extending and improving the school bus stop-arm automated enforcement program. The measure is set for enactment into law.
The program was first authorized in 2018 and includes nearly 40 participating school districts that equipped 2,500 school buses with cameras to record vehicles that don’t stop for school buses. More than 4,000 violations have been recorded.
The program was set to expire this week. Senate Bill 851 makes the program permanent, improves interaction with law enforcement and streamlines the appeals process. If a driver illegally passes a stopped school bus, the school district will send the car owner a police-vetted violation in the mail. The owner must pay the $300 fine or make an appeal for a virtual or in-person hearing overseen by a PennDOT official. The driver may petition a magisterial district judge after PennDOT’s decision.
Grants Available for Organizations Helping Veterans
The Veterans’ Trust Fund is accepting grant applications for programs and services benefiting Pennsylvania veterans. Nonprofit organizations, veteran service organizations and county directors of veteran affairs may apply by Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 2 p.m.
Find more information about the grant opportunity and how to apply here.
The trust fund is supported by Pennsylvanians who donate when applying for or renewing their driver’s licenses, photo IDs or motor vehicle registrations; purchase veteran-specific license plates; or make private donations. Tax-deductible donations can be made online.
Apply to Vote by Mail by Oct. 31 for the November Election
The deadline is approaching for anyone who would like to vote by mail for the Nov. 7 election. Your county election board must receive your application for a mail-in or absentee ballot no later than Tuesday, Oct. 31, at 5 p.m.
Any registered voter may request a mail-in ballot. Absentee ballots can be requested by voters with disabilities or an illness that prevents them from going to their polling place on Election Day, or those who will be absent from their municipality on Election Day.
You can apply for a mail-in ballot online, by mail or in person at your county election board’s office or other designated locations. Learn more here.
Recognizing Pennsylvania’s First Responders
Saturday, Oct. 28, is National First Responders Day. Police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians care for us during some of life’s worst moments. They are true heroes, and I am proud to honor their brave and selfless efforts.
My Senate colleagues and I have passed legislation to address the serious shortage of volunteer firefighters in the commonwealth. The number dropped from about 300,000 in the 1980s to less than 38,000 today, so they need our support. Without enough volunteers, communities across Pennsylvania face longer wait times when minutes make the difference between life and death.
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