In this Update:
Medical Marijuana Home Cultivation Bill
I will be joining Sen. Sharif Street (D-3) in sponsoring important legislation to help those who rely on medical marijuana to address their health needs.
Since the passage of Act 16 in 2016, Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana (MMJ) program has offered lifesaving medicine to communities across the Commonwealth. However, there are still inefficiencies around MMJ that are well known, especially as it relates to cost and access.
In some cases, patients have to travel more than two hours to reach a dispensary. And for many people with serious medical conditions – such as cancer patients and the terminally ill – medical expenses, a lack of insurance coverage for medical marijuana and a reduced ability to work make it difficult for individuals to afford dispensary-purchased medical marijuana.
To address both access and cost, our legislation would allow Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana patients to grow a limited number of cannabis plants from their home for personal use. For some people who would benefit from medical marijuana, securely cultivating it at home is the only solution.
It is critical that policy meet people where they are, and by allowing medical marijuana patients to grow cannabis plants at home, we can help ease the cost and accessibility burdens for this important medicine. This legislation would go a long way towards helping everyday Pennsylvanians meet their health needs and ensuring everyone is treated equitably and fairly under Act 16.
Senate Acts to Increase Campaign Finance Transparency
All candidates for office and political action committees in Pennsylvania would be required to file campaign finance reports online under legislation recently approved by the Senate.
Senate Bill 140 would require all candidates for office and political action committees in Pennsylvania to electronically file their campaign finance reports using the Department of State’s online filing system.
Currently, candidates and committees have the option of filing their campaign finance reports through paper submission, which aren’t visible online until uploaded by staff. Citizens wishing to view the reports in a timely manner have to travel to Harrisburg or pay for copies to be sent by mail.
The bill also increases penalties for late filings. Senate Bill 140 now moves to the House of Representatives for its consideration.
Update on the Legislative Reapportionment Commission
The Legislative Reapportionment Commission held its latest public hearing this week in Harrisburg.
The commission took input from an expert panel about citizen mapping efforts. You can watch the hearing and view testimony here. It has held nine public hearings, receiving input from a total of 29 experts and 51 citizen witnesses, in addition to 490 written submissions by citizens.
As dictated by the Pennsylvania Constitution, the Legislative Reapportionment Commission redraws the lines of Senate and House of Representative districts every 10 years to reflect changes in the U.S. Census.
Senate Committee Receives Input on Congressional Redistricting
The effort of redrawing the boundaries of Pennsylvania Congressional districts continued with the third public hearing on the issues by the Senate State Government Committee.
The panel discussed maps created by citizens and took testimony regarding the process behind it. You can access hearing video and testimony here.
As with state legislative districts, congressional boundaries are redrawn following each census to reflect population changes. Because Pennsylvania’s population has been outpaced by growing states, it will drop from 18 to 17 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives for the 2022 elections.
Unlike state Senate and House reapportionment, congressional redistricting is done through the legislative process, beginning at the committee level.
Erie County Projects Receive State Grant Funding
The Commonwealth Financing Authority this week awarded nearly $800,000 in grants to two Erie County projects.
Fairview Township received a $675,000 grant through the Multimodal Transportation Fund to make streetscape improvements along State Highway 20, from Franklin Road to the highway’s intersection with Avonia Road. The work planned for the roadway includes resurfacing, replacement of catch basins, under drains, ADA complaint ramps, sidewalks, curbs, directional signage and installation of street lighting.
And a $100,000 grant was awarded to Millcreek Township, through the Watershed Restoration and Protection Program, to assist with the restoration and stabilization of the banks of the Wilkins Run Stream, which flows into Lake Erie.
Webinar for First-Time Environmental Grant Applicants
Organizations, municipalities, businesses and farmers can register now for a free webinar on applying for state environmental grants.
The webinar is geared toward first-time applicants and based on survey feedback, and will cover the essentials of applying. It will also look at seven grant programs and answer questions.
Hosted by the Department of Environmental Protection, the webinar will be held Thursday, Dec. 2, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. You can find more information and register here.
Apprenticeship Week: Information for Employers and Job Seekers
National Apprenticeship Week is a reminder apprenticeships play a critical role in producing a skilled workforce by connecting aspiring workers with employers in need, and that resources are available to make that connection happen.
According to state Labor and Industry Department estimates, nearly nine out of 10 apprentices are employed after they complete their apprenticeship, and the majority take jobs with a starting salary of $60,000 a year or more. Apprenticeships also allow Pennsylvanians to graduate with little to no student debt.
There are 1,585 apprenticeships registered with the state, along with 74 pre-apprenticeships. You can learn about the different kinds of apprenticeships, how to secure one and more here.
November is American Diabetes Month
More than 1.1 million Pennsylvanians, or 11.1% of adults, have diagnosed diabetes. An additional 303,000 have diabetes but don’t know it.
More than 34% of the adult Pennsylvania population have prediabetes with blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
Complications from diabetes include heart disease, stroke, amputation, end-stage kidney disease, blindness and death. American Diabetes Month is an opportunity to learn about the risks, how to manage diabetes, and more.
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