Senator Yudichak Comments on Act 13 Decision

Nanticoke, September 29, 2016 − State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) issued the following statement on yesterday’s state Supreme Court decision that struck down parts of Act 13 of 2012, regarding oil and gas drilling.

“I applaud the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to strike down many of the provisions from Act 13 that usurped too much responsibility from local governments and prohibited health care professionals from having access the pertinent information related to chemicals used in the drilling process.

“The General Assembly, with the passage of Act 13, squandered an important opportunity to enact a responsible natural gas development policy that should include a modest severance tax and sensible environmental protections that enable the natural gas industry to grow in Pennsylvania while vigorously protecting our residents’ rights to clean air and water.

“With this ruling, it is my hope that the legislature will come together to take the necessary action to craft a more balanced law that supports the growth and success of the gas industry without compromising health and safety.”

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Committee Approves Yudichak Bill that Protects Emergency Responders on State Game Lands

Harrisburg, September 26, 2016 – The state Senate Committee on Labor and Industry today unanimously approved Sen. John Yudichak’s (D-Luzerne/Carbon) legislation that would provide state coverage of workers’ compensation benefits to municipal first responders who suffer injuries while providing help during emergencies on state game lands.

“I’m pleased by today’s unanimous, bipartisan vote,” Yudichak said. “No municipality should be footing the bill when one of their emergency responders are injured while volunteering their efforts on any state property.”

Under the Yudichak bill (Senate Bill 1363), the state workers’ compensation insurance would cover volunteer firefighters, volunteer ambulance corps personnel and volunteer rescue squad members who suffer injuries while providing assistance on state game lands.

The lawmaker said the legislation was prompted by several emergency incidents at the Glen Onoko Trail state game lands located in Jim Thorpe, Carbon County. It’s estimated that there have been between 10-20 incidents where first responders have been injured while making rescues.

Even though the volunteers were responding to emergencies on state game lands, their local municipal insurance plans were saddled with covering their injuries.

“This is about fairness,” Yudichak said. “The system shouldn’t penalize municipalities when their first responders help out – and the system certainly shouldn’t discourage or deter any first responder from taking action during emergencies on state game lands.”

Mark Nalesnik, director for the Carbon County Emergency Management Agency, added, “Our volunteers are on state game lands all the time for search and rescue missions. It makes sense that state coverage be provided when these first responders suffer injuries while serving the public.”

Nalesnik pointed out that it is contradictory that injuries on some state property are covered, but denied on others. For example, he said first responders are covered when they respond to emergencies on property managed by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), but not on state game lands.

Over the past five years, Yudichak said DCNR – which manages 2.2 million acres of state forest land — has paid a total of 17 new injury claims from volunteer first responders that would have otherwise been cover by municipal workers’ compensation policies. He said there are 1.5 million acres of state game lands in Pennsylvania managed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

The legislation now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

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Vietnam Veterans Recognized in Walk of Honor Ceremony

Nanticoke, September 24, 2016 State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) joined other state and local officials this morning at a special ceremony to honor more than sixty veterans of the Vietnam War and commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the War.

The ceremony, which was held in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs recognized each veteran and presented them with a Vietnam Veteran Lapel pin.

A 50th anniversary commemorative plaque honoring local veterans of the Vietnam War was also unveiled on the Luzerne County Community College Walk of Honor in Nanticoke.

 

“We stand here today to participate in a long overdue national ceremony to pay tribute to Vietnam Veterans who served their nation with honor and distinction,” said Senator Yudichak. “Like many veterans, they do not seek recognition or accolades, but the veterans of the Vietnam War most certainly deserve it.”

In 2008, an act of Congress, the National Defense Authorization Act empowered the Department of Defense to facilitate commemorative programs across America to honor and thank the more than 9 million veterans who served on active duty during the Vietnam War between 1955 and 1975.

In Luzerne County, more than 11,000 men and women served in Vietnam.  The Luzerne County Vietnam Veterans Memorial Monument lists 83 servicemen and women who were killed during the war and 6 servicemen listed as prisoners of war or missing in action.

Steve Biernacki, a decorated Vietnam Veteran from Ashley, who earned (2) Bronze Stars, (2) Army Commendation Medals, the Combat Infantry Badge and the Vietnam Service Medal was one of the veterans recognized during the ceremony.

“I have never heard Steve dwell on his accomplishments…he served his country and he performed his duty,” said Senator Yudichak.  “It’s that simple. Steve’s thoughts, and his heart, remains not with the medals he has earned, but with his brothers in arms.  Those who served with him …and the millions more who have answered the call of their nation in a time of war.”

Thomas Leary, President of Luzerne County Community College, and James Spagnola, Director of the Luzerne County Veterans Affairs Office also offered remarks.

State Representatives Gerald Mullery (D-119th), Eddie Day Pashinski (D-121st), Aaron Kaufer (R-120th) and Nicholas Gilliland, CSM, PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs also participated in the ceremony.

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Senator Yudichak Issues Statement on 9/11 Anniversary

Nanticoke, September 11, 2016 − State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) today issued the following the statement on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attack:

“On the fifteenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks that took thousands of innocent American lives and tried to destroy the very values that make us Americans, I am moved by the resilience of the American people who have refused to allow their lives to be diminished by terrorism and who have worked to make us a safer and stronger nation.”

“Locally, through the efforts of surviving families like Phyllis Carlo, who lost her son Firefighter Michael Carlo as he battled the blaze at the World Trade Center, we have built the Luzerne County Community College Walk of Honor to remember and memorialize the heroism of that fateful day and to ensure the families and the first responders of September 11, 2001 are never forgotten.”

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Luzerne County Small Business Loan Program: A Flood Recovery Success Story

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West Pittston, September 9, 2016 – State Sen. John Yudichak joined state lawmakers, local officials and Wyoming Valley residents to mark the 5th anniversary of the 2011 flood recovery efforts that began in the aftermath of the devastation wrought by Tropical Storm Lee on communities from West Pittston to Shickshinny.

“From the depths of that devastation and the despair of that moment, I am proud of how the Wyoming Valley rallied and how local leaders pulled together to get this region back on its feet,” said State Senator Yudichak.

The flooding in the fall of 2011 left forty-six businesses and one hundred eighty-four homes completely destroyed in Luzerne County, while another eight hundred homes and business suffered major damages.

President Barack Obama signed an emergency disaster proclamation and directed FEMA and its state counterpart, PEMA, to get assistance to home owners in the path of the flood. While homeowners were soon getting some flood mitigation assistance, small business owners impacted by the flood found that few if any federal or state programs would help them rebuild.

“Working with Commonwealth Finance Agency, the entire Luzerne County State Delegation and with both Chambers of Commerce in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre – we developed the Luzerne County Small Business Loan program to assist flood impacted business with quick access to a new $4 million loan program that offered loans of $100,000 per business at a 1% interested rate,” said Yudichak.

The Luzerne County Small Business Loan Program, administer by the MetroAction organization, aided twenty-two businesses with $1.6 million in assistance that helped them rebuild and preserve over two hundred family sustaining jobs.

Recognizing the value of a job creating investment tool in Luzerne County, a county that struggles with higher than state average unemployment, the Luzerne County Small Business Loan Program is now a permanent resources for our economic development partners to foster entrepreneurship and spur the creation of family owned small businesses. In the past two years, the Luzerne County Small Business Loan Program has invested an additional $1.7 million in thirty-three businesses that have created or retained over two hundred jobs in Luzerne County.

“The credit for the Luzerne County Small Business Loan Program’s early success goes to business owners, like Mike LaNunziata of Crest Cleaners, who demonstrated that not hell or high water is going to keep them from rebuilding their businesses and the communities they call home,” said Yudichak.

President of the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce and Secretary of MetroAction added, “As we mark the five-year anniversary of the devastating floods of September 2011, MetroAction celebrates the success of the Luzerne County Flood Recovery Program. Nearly $3.5 million worth of capital has been deployed to small businesses in our region. Not only did the loan fund assist businesses with rebuilding after the disaster, in many cases the fund has allowed businesses to expand and thrive.”

Joining Yudichak and Durkin at the ceremony were: Representative Eddie Day Pashinski, (D-121st), Joseph Boylan, Vice President, Economic Development, Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry, and Mike La Nunziata, owner of Crest Quality Cleaners in West Pittston.

Luzerne County businesses can apply at: http://www.metroaction.org/small-business-loans/

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