In this Update:
Honoring Those Who Gave All this Memorial Day
I hope you will join me in taking time this weekend to remember our fellow citizens who gave their lives for our nation. Even with everything that has occurred throughout the last year, we can say we live in the greatest nation on earth. Our independence was hard-won, and defended by those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Let us never forget what they did for us.
Martin Bill Providing New Resources for Pediatric Cancer Research Clears House Committee
After passing the Senate last month, a bill I introduced to expand cancer research funding was approved by the Finance Committee in the House of Representatives. During the next 10 years, we could raise up to $100 million in private donations to support childhood cancer research. I am grateful for the support from the members of the House Finance Committee and especially from committee Chairman Michael Peifer for bringing the bill up for consideration so quickly.
Senate Bill 74 would create a tax credit program for qualifying donations to a Pennsylvania pediatric cancer research hospital. The program would be capped at $10 million per year over the next 10 years.
A cancer diagnosis is every parent’s worst nightmare. Providing the opportunity for additional private funding for research gives each of us the opportunity to support these cancer warriors in their fight.
I also authored a law in 2018 that allows Pennsylvanians to donate $5 to the Pediatric Cancer Research Fund when electronically renewing a driver’s license, photo identification card or vehicle registration, in addition to a law that makes telepresence technology available to help homebound students participate in classroom activities and learning with their peers.
According to the American Cancer Society, more children die from cancer than any other disease. Currently, the National Cancer Institute spends less than 4 percent of its research dollars on pediatric cancer.
The bill will now go to the full House for consideration.
Senate Approves Regulatory Reform Measures to Spur Job Creation
With Pennsylvania’s employment rate lagging behind those of other states emerging from the pandemic, the Senate approved several bills this week to rein in job-stifling regulations.
The bills increase legislative oversight of a process too often influenced by unelected bureaucrats, adding special scrutiny for the costliest proposed regulations.
The bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Martin Highlights May EDS Awareness Month In PA
I took to the Senate floor to highlight May as Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS) awareness month in Pennsylvania. This horrific disease was first brought to my attention by a grieving Lancaster County family who lost their beautiful, young daughter to this condition. In her memory, I hope to draw attention to EDS in order to help increase attention towards research in combatting the condition.
EDS is characterized as a group of genetic disorders affecting connective tissue in the body. While not commonly known, about 200,000 cases of EDS are diagnosed each year in the United States.
The disease manifests itself with individuals appearing to have loose skin, instability, constant dislocations of joints and fragile often hyper-elastic skin that bruises, scars and tears easily. In some cases, EDS can cause unpredictable arterial and organ ruptures that can lead to acute pain, excessive internal bleeding, shock, strokes and unfortunately premature death.
I hope people fighting this disease know that there is a network of EDS support groups out there to help.
Measures Aimed at Improving Broadband Access Approved
The Senate approved two measures aimed at bringing high-speed broadband service to more areas of Pennsylvania.
One bill would remove regulatory barriers to broadband deployment for landline telecommunications providers. The legislation would require the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to waive certain regulations, review regulations every three years and eliminate those that are no longer necessary or in the public interest.
A second measure would fund access to broadband by using revenue from renting excess wireless capacity on towers, land, and assets owned by the Commonwealth. The bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Reminder: Changes Coming to Unemployment Compensation System Next Week
The state’s Unemployment Compensation system will complete a major upgrade next week that will require changes in the way that claimants will file for benefits. It is critical for claimants to understand the timeline and new process to file for benefits to avoid any interruption in payments.
The Unemployment Compensation system will be offline from May 30 through June 7 to allow data to be moved from the old system to the new one. No new claims will be processed during this time, and some services will not be accessible during this time. Claimants who are eligible to file a bi-weekly claim from June 3-7 can file May 30 through June 2.
Beginning on June 8, claimants must file for benefits and initial claims at benefits.uc.pa.gov following the same schedule as before. There will no longer be paper forms available; claimants will be required to create a Keystone ID to log into the new UC system. Claimants will still be able to file by phone starting June 10.
More information is available on the Department of Labor and Industry’s FAQ page.
Work Search Requirement for Unemployment Benefits to Resume
The Department of Labor and Industry announced that work search requirements for individuals receiving unemployment benefits will restart the week of July 11, with individuals to begin certifying on July 18 that they have looked for work during the previous week.
As pandemic business closures rocked the job market last year, the department suspended the requirement that claimants actively search for work and register with the PA CareerLink database. In January, without legislative approval or input, the department then extended the suspension indefinitely.
With the pandemic easing and employers desperate for workers, the Senate Labor and Industry Committee approved legislation to reinstate the job search and CareerLink requirements earlier. The bill was sent to the full Senate for consideration.
I highlighted these efforts during an interview with ABC 6 out of Philadelphia. You can watch that story here: https://6abc.com/society/small-businesses-continue-to-struggle-to-fill-jobs/10695174/
Tips for Safe Boating
This is National Safe Boating Week, time for some friendly reminders on how to have fun on the water this summer: wear a lifejacket, check the weather forecast, let someone know you’re heading out, and don’t drink and boat.
You can find everything you need to know about boating in PA, including boat titling/registering, boating basics, regulations, safety courses and more here.
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