In this Update:
Senator Martin Introduces Legislation in Response to the Governor Bypassing the General Assembly and Emergency Declaration Process Approved By Voters
After months of saying he supports local control of decision-making over masks, Governor Wolf announced that masks will be required in all Pennsylvania public and private schools, as well as childcare facilities.
Unlike an emergency declaration, which is now subject to a 21-day limit before evaluation for renewal, because of my constitutional amendment, which was passed by the voters on May 18th, there is no such time limit to this mandate.
The actions of the Governor and the Acting Secretary of Health are disappointing, but they are not surprising. He has chosen to ignore the will of the voters and bypass the checks and balances of the General Assembly through his Acting Secretary of Health.
It is for this reason that I have been working for weeks drafting legislation to address a crisis such as this. That legislation, which is currently being finalized, would clarify that the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health’s powers to respond to emergencies stem only from an existing public health disaster emergency declaration. I began circulating a co-sponsor memo and have asked my colleagues in the Senate to join me in passing this legislation.
Pennsylvania Senate Expense Reports Now Posted Online
Pennsylvania Senate expense reports are now available to the public online, increasing transparency in state government.
The reports, available at www.pasen.gov/RTKL/monthlyExpenses.cfm, detail all expenses for each individual senator’s office and institutional offices. Expense reports for July 2021 were posted this week, and the system will be updated with new reports every month going forward. You can also access the reports through my website.
Categories of expenses available in the reports include:
Expenses for each caucus service office are listed under the respective leader reports. Other categories of information are already available online, including:
Free Webinars Connect Military Veterans with Agriculture Business Funding
A free webinar series begins this month to connect military veterans who are considering starting or expanding an agriculture business with resources, funding and planning tools they need to succeed.
The first session will be held Sept. 14 from 7-8 p.m. and will cover grants, business planning and other resources. A web link or phone number to join the session can be obtained by contacting PA Preferred Program Manager Gwyn Rowland at RA-AgPaPreferred@pa.gov.
Future sessions will explore the PA Preferred Homegrown By Heroes program, which gives military veterans tools to brand their PA-made and PA-grown agricultural products for consumers who want to buy local and support veterans in their communities; sustainable agriculture opportunities through the PA Preferred Organic program; and other resources for transitioning, diversifying and expanding agricultural businesses.
National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Childhood cancers take many forms, from blood disorders to various types of tumors and rare genetic diseases.
Throughout my years in the Senate I have fought alongside children battling cancer, their families, parents who lost their beloved angels and other advocates. We began with passing and implementing my legislation that allows people to donate $5 when electronically renewing their driver’s license and car registration.
Recently, my legislation, Senate Bill 74, to create a tax credit program for qualifying donations to Pennsylvania pediatric cancer research hospitals was altered and amended into HB 1348 and will be funded by the Tobacco Settlement Fund in the amount of close to $10 million dollars, annually. It is my belief that we need to provide the opportunity for additional research funding to support these cancer warriors in their fight to find treatments that are more appropriate for kids and hopefully someday, a possible cure.
Have a Happy Labor Day
Workers across Pennsylvania and the U.S. had their lives disrupted during the pandemic, and many are still striving for a return to normalcy.
I hope you have a wonderful Labor Day weekend, as we celebrate the past contributions and hopeful future of the American worker.
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