In this Update:
Share Your Opinion about Broadband in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority (PBDA) recently announced public input will be gathered from community members – including residents, businesses and organizations – on the draft five-year action plan to expand internet access across the commonwealth using $1.16 billion in funding through the federal Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) plan. The new online survey is available through Aug. 8.
Office Hours Available in Beaver Springs Beginning Aug. 3
To provide continued convenient access to state services for district residents, my office will host regular hours beginning Aug. 3 on the first Thursday of each month from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Beaver Springs Senior Center, located at 55 Elm St., Beaver Springs.
We will provide the same services at the Beaver Springs Senior Center that are available at our other offices, including assistance with Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program applications, unemployment compensation claims and PennDOT paperwork. Staff also will offer complimentary notary services, provide information about state legislation and make referrals to agencies to resolve state-related matters.
Residents should call the Shamokin Dam District Office at 570-743-1918 to reserve time with staff during the Beaver Springs outreach hours.
Ann Kaufman, deputy district director for U.S. Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson, also will be available at the Beaver Springs Senior Center on Aug. 3, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., to help residents with federal government issues. Kaufman can meet with residents who need assistance from federal agencies, such as the Social Security Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Internal Revenue Service.
Visit to TableTrust Brands Hatchery
I recently visited the TableTrust Brands hatchery in Beaver Springs and participated in a hands-on tour of its facility. TableTrust Brands is a producer of both naturally raised and kosher-processed poultry. While there, I also had the opportunity to meet some of the employees and discuss the company’s plans to expand its operations in the future.
Ralpho Township Public Library Celebrates 50th Anniversary
I recently presented a Senate citation to Dean Slusser, director of the Ralpho Township Public Library, honoring its 50th anniversary. The Ralpho Township Public Library has been a cornerstone of the community since its founding in 1973. It provides books to readers, hosts summer reading programs for children, organizes a story hour for kids and hosts bridge clubs. The Ralpho Township Public Library continues to provide exceptional services to our community. Congratulations to the Ralpho Township Public Library and its staff.
Connecting PA Veterans with the Benefits They Earned
Ensuring Pennsylvania’s 700,000 veterans get all of the benefits they have earned is an important mission of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) and state lawmakers.
My office hosts veterans’ outreach hours with the American Legion to assist veterans with issues they may be having accessing benefits and services from the state or U.S. Veterans Administration.
American Legion Department Service Officer Bill McGovern will be at our Mount Carmel office on Aug. 18, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Veterans or their family members can call our office at 570-339-5937 to schedule an appointment. Our Mount Carmel office is located at 10934 State Route 61.
We will host veterans assistance hours with McGovern at the same time on the third Friday of each month.
Veterans are encouraged to sign up for the DMVA’s Veterans Registry to get timely information about state benefits, programs and services.
DMVA also offers two Mobile Veterans Outreach Vans that travel the state to give veterans one-on-one assistance so they can learn about and apply for the benefits they have earned. Each van is staffed with accredited veterans service officers and is wheelchair accessible. Learn more about the vans and schedule one for a community event here.
PA State Universities Hold the Line on Tuition
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) board of governors voted to freeze tuition for the fifth consecutive year, a decision made possible by the financial support provided in state budgets passed by the General Assembly.
The budget passed by the House and Senate would provide an increase of $33 million, or 6%, to PASSHE universities. Offering Pennsylvanians education empowerment and access has been and will continue to be a Senate Republican priority.
The cost for students, had it kept pace with inflation since 2018, would be 21% higher today. In addition to keeping in-state undergraduate tuition at $7,716 for the sixth year, PASSHE students will receive $125 million in university-funded financial aid to help them afford their education.
REAL ID Extension Allows Access Through May 2025
Pennsylvania residents will be able to use their current driver license to access federal facilities through May 7, 2025, under an extension granted by the federal government last week.
REAL ID is a federal law that affects how states issue driver’s licenses and ID cards if they are going to be acceptable for federal purposes, such as boarding a domestic commercial flight, or entering a military installation or federal facility that requires ID.
REAL ID-compliant driver licenses and identification cards are available now to consumers who wish to obtain them. Learn more, including whether you need a REAL ID and what information you must provide if you do, here.
Free Help Available to PA Small Businesses
There are 15 Small Business Development Centers in Pennsylvania that provide free, confidential consulting and low-cost training to small businesses across the state. Trainings cover a range of business issues including testing a new business proposition, shaping a business plan, investing funding opportunities and more.
Whether you have an idea for a new business, want to improve your existing business or would like to buy or sell a business in Pennsylvania, experienced business consultants are available to help you. Read more here.
Observing World Day Against Trafficking in Persons
Sunday, July 30, is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. By observing this solemn day, we hope to raise awareness of this disturbing exploitation and how to spot trafficking in action. If you suspect human trafficking, please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or the ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313.
The Senate unanimously voted to help child human trafficking victims by granting them full access to appropriate services and support. Tragically, under current Pennsylvania law, any minor who is exploited for commercial sex must identify their third-party perpetrator to be considered a victim of human trafficking, unless their purchaser is charged as a trafficker.
Senate Bill 44 would ensure that third-party control is never a consideration for access to services, and Senate Bill 45 would eliminate the third-party control requirement to access victim services under the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Notification Act.
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