In this Update:
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.
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.
Majority Policy Committee Hearing on Energy Access and Affordability
The Senate Majority Policy Committee, which I chair, will hold a public hearing about energy access and affordability on Friday, Jan. 20, starting at 10 a.m. at Boilermakers Local 154, located at 1221 Banksville Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15216.
The hearing will highlight Pennsylvania’s unique position as an energy producer across various sectors and explore governmental or regulatory hinderances to providing affordable access to consumers in the commonwealth.
You can watch the hearing live here.
Legislative Survey: Reducing the Size of the PA House of Representatives
Please take my legislative survey and help me better understand where my constituents stand on important state-related issues.
Currently, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has 203 members. Would you favor reducing the size to 150 members, increasing the size of the House districts by approximately a third, and bringing the ratio of lawmakers in Pennsylvania more in line with other states?
Click here to answer the survey: https://www.senatorlaughlin.com/survey-2.
This Week’s Hot Jobs in Erie County
Check out Erie County Hot Job listings at PA CareerLink.
For more information on the postings below, type in the job number at https://www.pacareerlink.pa.gov/jponline/.
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.
A complete list of accredited county directors of veterans affairs and their contact information can be found here. Contact information for accredited veteran service officers can be found here.
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.
Please take the occasion of National Blood Donor Month to consider providing this lifesaving gift. You can find the nearest blood drive here, and learn more about the process here.
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