Senator John R. Gordner E-Newsletter

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November 7, 2019

Another Successful Tele Town Hall

My most recent Tele Town Hall event took place on the evening of October 16, 2019. It was a great way to interact with a large number of constituents at the same time and have discussions about state issues that are important to them.

In all, nearly 3,600 residents of the 27th Senatorial district participated in the event. Some stayed on the line for part of the Town Hall and others stayed on the line for the entire hour. Callers were allowed to ask questions of me on issues that are important to them and we talked about a broad range of state government-related topics.

Also during the hour, I posed 4 different poll questions, which callers could answer from their phone. The results are in:

Question 1: Should Governor Wolf close the White Haven and Polk Centers for people with intellectual disabilities? 8% said Yes. 84% said No. 8% had no opinion on the subject.

Question 2: Should the Governor expedite the pardon process for those with marijuana convictions? 43% said Yes. 50% said No. 7% were undecided.

Question 3: Should the General Assembly spend time studying the cyber charter school system? 46% said Yes. 44% said No. 10% were undecided.

Question 4: Should we move the date of the Presidential Primary up to the 3rd Tuesday of March? 11% said to keep it where it currently occurs in April. 76% said to move it up to March. 13% had no opinion.

I really enjoyed getting to interact with so many of you on the 16th and I am looking forward to do it again!

I was pleased to recently be featured on the “On the Issues” show broadcast by the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

Recent Senate Action of Note

Last week, the Senate passed several important pieces of legislation. I’d like to take this opportunity to update you on a few of them.

Senate Bill 421, Sponsored by Senator Lisa Boscola (D-18) amends the Election Code in several ways. This is the first comprehensive election reform in over 80 years. Highlights of the bill include:

  • Authorizing a state bond issuance of up to $90 million to assist counties in paying for new voting machines mandated by Governor Wolf
  • Elimination of straight-party voting
  • Reformation of the absentee ballot process, to make the process easier for registered voters
  • Prohibiting the decertification of 50% or more of voting machines statewide unless the General Assembly is given at least 180 days notice
  • Reducing the number of paper ballots required to be printed from 110% of registered voters to a number based upon previous comparable election turnout

The bill was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on October 31, 2019.

Another important piece of legislation that was passed by the Senate last week was Senate Bill 857, sponsored by Senator Elder Vogel (R-47). This bill would establish the Telemedicine Act, which would allow for the delivery of health care services through telemedicine technologies by a licensed health care practitioner in another location. This would be an especially important opportunity for those living in rural and underserved areas. It is now awaiting consideration by the House of Representatives.

In addition, the Senate passed Senate Bill 836, which would establish what is known as Peyton’s Law. This bill was sponsored by Senator Mike Regan (R-31). SB 836 would require the Departments of Health and Education to take certain steps to help educate student athletes, parents and coaches about the dangers of sudden cardiac arrest. It also gives the parents an option to have an electrocardiogram included as part of the pre-participation physical examination, at a cost incurred by the parent. The bill is awaiting consideration by the House of Representatives.

I was a co-sponsor of SB 857 and was pleased to support all three of these important bills.

It was an honor to recently celebrate local Department of Human Services employees for their current or former military service.

Youth Agricultural Grant Program Now Open

The Department of Agriculture recently announced the opening of the Agriculture and Youth Organization Grant Program made possible by the PA Farm Bill that was passed by the General Assembly earlier this year. The Ag and Youth Grant Program will provide $500,000 to fund projects such as agricultural education and workforce development programs, seminars and field trips, agricultural safety training, capital projects, or equipment purchases that will help to build a strong future workforce for Pennsylvania’s leading industry. Interested applicants can apply at www.esa.dced.state.pa.us/login.aspx. The application period closes on November 29, 2019.

The Ag and Youth Grant Program is designed to address the 75,000 person workforce deficit the industry is expected to face in the next decade. It is open to any youth organization designed to promote agriculture, community leadership, vocational training, and peer fellowship; it includes, but is not limited to, Pennsylvania FFA, 4-H, Ag in the Classroom, Career and Community Leaders of America, and vocational education programs.

PA Home Energy Assistance Program Accepting Applications

Pennsylvania’s 2019-2020 Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is accepting applications to help income eligible families, whether renting or owning a home, to pay their heating bills.

Enter your fuel type and county into the LIHEAP Benefit Table to access benefit amount by household size. You do not have to be on public assistance or have an unpaid heating bill to be eligible.

Apply online, by paper application, or through your County Assistance Office between November 2019 and April 10, 2020 for cash or crisis grants.

Will You Need Real ID?

Will you need Real ID beginning October 1, 2020?  Do you typically fly for the holidays and vacations? Does your job require flying? Will you need to access services inside a federal courthouse or military installation?

Consult the list of Frequently Asked Questions to determine your needs and required documents to obtain a federally accepted Real ID. The Real ID online wizard can help you decide your need to apply. Those with a U.S. Passport, military ID, or other federally-accepted forms of ID may board a commercial flight or visit a secure federal building on or after October 1, 2020.

If you will require a Real ID, begin by selecting from each subcategory of documents for required proof to obtain a Real ID:

  • S. Citizenship Identity or Lawful Permanent Resident – One of eight documents.
  • Social Security – An original card.
  • Pennsylvania Residency – Provide two of seven options.
  • Legal Name and Date of Birth – Marriage certificate, name change court orders, and original or certified copy of an amended birth certificate showing a name change.
  • Gender designation – Certified, amended birth certificate with a raised seal and a completed DL-32 form.

Applicants may pre-verify documents, apply online if verification is complete, or go to one of eleven Real ID Centers located across the state to have verification completed and receive a Real ID at the time of service. Locate a convenient Driver License Center that will accept and process your documents to receive your Real ID within 15 days, according to PennDOT.

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