Senator John Yudichak Announces $1 Million Award for Demolition of Coxton Bridge

WILKES-BARRE, June 28, 2017 — Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced that the Department of Community and Economic Development (“DCED”) has awarded $1 million to finance the demolition of the Coxton Bridge.

The funds will be provided through the 2013 Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (“CDBG-DR”) Program, which provided federal disaster relief funds to Pennsylvania to revitalize communities damaged by Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene in 2011.

“Demolishing the Coxton Bridge eliminates a clear and present danger to the community,” said Senator Yudichak. “We cannot risk the collapse of the bridge that could dam the Susquehanna River, which would threaten surrounding properties in Exeter and Duryea.”

“With the $1 million award, the Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority can act swiftly to remove the dilapidated bridge from the river,” said Andy Reilly, Executive Director of the Redevelopment Authority. “The Redevelopment Authority is pleased to partner with DCED and the Department of Environmental Protection on this project.”

Senator Yudichak also thanked Representatives Aaron Kaufer and Mike Carroll for their support of the project as well as Mike Bedrin, Northeast Regional Director for DEP, for his help on identifying potential funding sources.

“It is undisputed that the Coxton Bridge has to be demolished as soon as possible,” said Mike Bedrin. “Protecting the integrity of the Susquehanna River is one of the highest priorities of DEP and because of governmental cooperation it will soon be down.”

####

Senator Yudichak Statement on Auditor General’s Performance Audit of Penn State

Harrisburg, June 22, 2017— Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) issued the following statement after Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released a performance audit report on Penn State University:

“As a graduate of Penn State, I have long advocated for governance reforms that would make the Penn State Board of Trustees more accountable to students, faculty and the taxpayers of Pennsylvania who established it as our land-grant university. I commend Auditor General Eugene DePasquale for a fair, but tough report on the core issue of accountability. The Penn State Board of Trustees has not only disregarded expert recommendations, they have brazenly taken steps toward less transparency in their actions. While the report acknowledges the Penn State Board of Trustees has made some progress in improving the way they operate, there remains much work to be done. Ensuring background checks are done on employees, improving compliance with the Clery Act, and controlling rising tuition rates all start with a smaller, more fully engaged board.  Penn State should re-engage the General Assembly and advance legislation that would reduce the size of the Board of Trustees.

“Furthermore, I would encourage the Penn State Board of Trustees to consider all the recommendations put forth by the Auditor General in order to become a more transparent and accountable governing body,” said Senator Yudichak.

####

Senator Yudichak Comments on Legislative Activity on Pennsylvania’s Recycling Program

Harrisburg, June 13, 2017 — Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) issued the following statement regarding the public hearing held today by the Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution and Conservation Committee on Act 101 of 1988, which established Pennsylvania’s recycling program:

“The committee heard today that it is imperative for the legislature to eliminate the sunset for the $2.00 tipping fee that provides necessary financial support for local recycling programs – legislation that was fortunately approved by the full Senate today (SB 646).

“Since its creation, Pennsylvania’s recycling program has worked to keep hundreds of millions of tons of recyclable materials out of landfills, support more than 170,000 direct and indirect jobs, and provide necessary revenue to state and municipal governments. Despite this success, we need to continue important conversations and efforts to improve this law to ensure that funding reaches rural and small communities in need of recycling programs, as well as to ensure that important recyclable products that have a market in Pennsylvania – such as glass – are not excluded from this process.”

####

Senator Baker and Senator Yudichak React to Federal Denial for Disaster Declaration Request

Harrisburg, June 13, 2017 — State Senator Lisa Baker (R-20th district) and State Senator John Yudichak (D-14th District) issued a joint statement following today’s announcement that the Commonwealth’s appeal for a federal disaster declaration for the financially crippling snowstorm that hit northeastern Pennsylvania in March was denied.

“After Winter Storm Stella crippled Luzerne County and most of northeastern Pennsylvania, we find ourselves in a position where funding is needed. We never expected to meet the high federal threshold for assistance, despite the extraordinary impact on Wyoming Valley communities. Several years ago, we worked together to create a small disaster assistance program to help counties and municipalities impacted by disasters that do not meet the requirements for federal aid. Budget cuts have zeroed out funding for the program. It is our hope that we can work with our colleagues, Governor Wolf and PEMA to restore funding and provide relief to hard-hit communities.”

# # #

Senator Yudichak Statement on Governor Wolf Signing Pension Reform Bill into Law

Harrisburg, June 12, 2017 — Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) issued the following statement after Governor Tom Wolf signed pension reform (SB 1) into law:

“Pennsylvania took an important first-step today to curtail escalating pension liabilities and demonstrated that Republicans and Democrats can work together for the greater good,” said Senator Yudichak. “Pension reform is an issue of fairness for Pennsylvania’s taxpayers and the tens of thousands of public servants who have earned retirement security after a lifetime of service to the Commonwealth.”

“I voted against, and refused to accept, the pension increase of 2001 that precipitated the multi-billion-dollar pension crisis facing both the Commonwealth and our public school system,” said Senator Yudichak. “I also supported Act 120 pension reforms that rolled back benefits and increased the retirement age to stem growing unfunded pension liabilities. With the passage of SB 1, we are now on a responsible pension fund trajectory that is fair to state employees and protects Pennsylvania taxpayers with public retirement options more aligned with the private-sector.”

“As we turn to state budget negotiations, we need to continue this bi-partisan momentum to pay down the unfunded pension liability, cut property taxes and invest in economic growth strategies that create good-paying jobs all across Pennsylvania.”

####

Senate Approves Resolution Creating Task Force to Investigate Threat of Lead Exposure in Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, June 6, 2017 — Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced that Senate Resolution 33 (SR 33) — which creates a bipartisan task force to investigate the scope of Pennsylvania’s lead exposure problem — was approved unanimously by the full Senate today. The resolution had been approved unanimously by the Environmental Resources and Energy committee at the end of April.

Senator Yudichak introduced the resolution earlier this session because lead exposure can threaten the health and well-being of every Pennsylvanian—especially senior citizens and children. “The task force report will advance cooperative efforts to arm the General Assembly with better information and best practice recommendations to develop new lead abatement programs that more aggressively mitigate lead exposure in Pennsylvania,” said State Senator John Yudichak.

The resolution calls for the Senate to establish a task force on lead exposure comprised of the chairs of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and the Health and Human Services Committee and two members appointed by the Senate President pro tempore and the Minority Leader. An advisory committee of the Joint State Government Commission will conduct a comprehensive review of Pennsylvania law and public policy related to lead exposure and abatement practices and then submit a report to the task force and full Senate within 18-months. The report must assess the age of housing and infrastructure, lead exposure threats, and identify the prevalence of lead in structures where children spend significant time.

# # #

Senator Yudichak Announces Support for Pension Reform Bill

Harrisburg, June 5, 2017 — Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon), long an advocate of pension reform, voted in favor of the Senate’s pension reform bill (SB 1) because it responsibly protects the retirement security of state employees, while reducing the financial risk of taxpayers by saving more than $1 billion over the next several decades.  Pension reform, embodied by SB 1, will allow Pennsylvania to invest budget savings into rebuilding our infrastructure, creating jobs, and protecting the environment. The bill will now move to the House, which is expected to vote on the measure before the end of the week.

“I voted against the pension increase of 2001 that precipitated the multi-billion-dollar pension crisis facing the Commonwealth,” said Senator Yudichak. “And, I supported Act 120 pension reforms that rolled back benefits and increased the retirement age to stem growing unfunded pension liabilities. With the passage of SB 1, we are now on a long-term, responsible pension fund trajectory that is fair to state employees and protects Pennsylvania taxpayers with public retirement options more aligned with the private-sector.”

“Pennsylvania’s state employees are among the most-dedicated in the country and after decades of service, they should earn a fair and reasonable retirement, but their retirement cannot exceed the Commonwealth’s ability to pay or come at the expense Pennsylvania’s seniors and working families.” 

####