Senator Yudichak Hosts Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee Public Hearing on Lead Exposure and Mitigation

PITTSTON, October 30, 2017– The state Senate Environmental Resources & Energy (ERE) Committee held a public hearing today in Pittston on lead exposure and mitigation in Pennsylvania. Testifiers at the hearing offered a regional perspective on lead policy in Northeastern Pennsylvania as well as an overview of services that state agencies provide currently to address lead exposure. 

“Lead exposure can lead to long-term health consequences, especially for children and older adults. In Northeastern Pennsylvania, efforts to mitigate lead exposure like the city of Wilkes-Barre doing biannual testing of its public water system and Pittston leading county-wide efforts to address aging infrastructure through a new municipal land bank authority are laudable,” said Senator John Yudichak.

 

“However, we can do more and we should do more. Today’s committee hearing, along with the work of the Lead Task Force and Advisory Committee will help us establish policies to protect children and vulnerable populations from lead poisoning,” added Senator Yudichak.

Earlier this year, the Senate approved legislation sponsored by Senator Yudichak (SR 33) which creates a Lead Task Force and Advisory Committee that will work with the Joint State Government Commission to study the extent of lead contamination in Pennsylvania and provide recommendations on changes to laws and policies. The Lead Task Force and Advisory Committee is expected to hold its first organizational meeting in December.  

Testifiers at today’s hearing included representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Department of Health, City of Pittston, City of Wilkes-Barre, SGS, Pediatric Associates of Kingston, and Pennsylvania American Water.

The state Senate ERE Committee is chaired by Senators Gene Yaw (R-23) and John Yudichak (D-14).

 

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Media Advisory: Senator Yudichak to Host Public Hearing on Lead Exposure and Mitigation

PITTSTON, October 27, 2017 − State Senator John Yudichak (D-14) will host a public hearing on lead exposure and mitigation in Pittston with the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

The hearing will be held on Monday, October 30, 2017 beginning at 11:00 AM at the John P. Cosgrove Center, Pittston Memorial Library, 47 Broad Street in Pittston, PA.

To watch the hearing online, visit http://www.senatoryudichak.com/live.

The hearing is being held in Pittston to gain a regional perspective from Northeastern Pennsylvania. The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is chaired by Senators Gene Yaw (R-23) and Senator Yudichak.

Those expected to offer testimony during the hearing include Lisa Daniels, Acting Deputy Secretary for Water Programs, Department of Environmental Protection; Dr. Loren Robinson, Deputy Secretary for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Department of Health; Jennifer Berrier, Director, Bureau of Occupational and Industrial Safety; Michael Lombardo, Vice Chair, Pittston Redevelopment Authority; Henry Radulski, Health Director for the City of Wilkes-Barre; Cherie Gudz, Vice President, Environment, Health and Safety, SGS; and David Kaufman, Vice President, Engineering, Pennsylvania American Water.

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Democratic Senators to Gov. Wolf and General Assembly: Make Rebuilding Manufacturing a Priority

Senator John Yudichak

Senator Vincent Hughes

Senator Jim Brewster

Op-ed by state Sen. John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne), Sen. Vincent J. Hughes (D-Philadelphia), Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland)

October 23, 2017 − National Manufacturing Day is the first Friday in October.  While noting the importance of manufacturing on this one day is important, the focus on rebuilding our manufacturing base should be a priority for the governor and the General Assembly each day. 

That is why we’ve joined together to sponsor a comprehensive package of legislation that is designed to address the needs of manufacturers, our workers and the communities where they live, work and raise their families. 

Our legislation seeks to better coordinate policy through the creation of a “Chief Manufacturing Officer;” infuse new dollars into targeted vocational and technical training; expand the Manufacturing Tax Credit and earmark credits to help build manufacturing in distressed communities while aiding disadvantaged, minority, women and veteran-owned businesses.

There is no doubt that manufacturing is a critically important part of our economy. Large employers who drive local economies and small mom-and-pop entrepreneurs are all key aspects.  According to the Center for Manufacturing Research, manufacturing accounts for 12 percent of our gross state product, employs nearly 10 percent of our workers — over 565,000 — and accounts for $33 billion in annual exports. 

The value of manufacturing is even more pronounced in rural areas.  A recent study by the Northeast Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center indicates that manufacturing represents almost 15 percent of non-urban jobs, with average compensation more than 20 percent above the regional worker wage level. 

To ensure that manufacturing remains a viable and valuable force in our state economy, policymakers need to stay up with trends and accommodate changes in the market.   If we fail to work collaboratively, we will face losing more jobs and business opportunities.   According to the state Bureau of Labor Statistics, since 2001 Pennsylvania has lost 264,000 jobs in manufacturing and 5,400 establishments. 

There are a great many challenges that manufacturers face.  A recent study of national manufacturing by Ball State University indicated that manufacturing employment has been affected by three distinct factors: productivity, trade and domestic demand. 

Our workers and our manufacturing establishments have become more innovative, use more technology based systems and require fewer workers per location.  Yet, even with these well-entrenched changes now altering the manufacturing landscape, there is still room for lawmakers to aid large and small manufacturing businesses. 

Senate Bill 923 would create a “Chief Manufacturing Officer” within the governor’s office to provide advice on economic policy and be a singular voice for manufacturers at the highest level.  The measure also establishes a “Manufacturing Competitiveness Board” to help develop manufacturing strategy. 

Another bill (Senate Bill 924) would direct up to $5 million to a grant program for vocational technical schools, vocational programs and equipment purchases.   The legislation would increase the maximum loan amount from $5 million to $7.5 million and authorize loans to retrofit equipment.  This investment would help schools acquire the equipment necessary to produce a skilled workforce that can be employed in state-of-the-art manufacturing operations. 

The third legislative piece in the package would maximize the Manufacturing Tax Credit.  Senate Bill 925 would increase the credit cap to $12.5 million from its current $4 million, expand the credit to include job training costs, and allow small manufacturers to apply jointly for the credit.  A $2.5 million piece of the tax credit would be reserved for businesses located in distressed communities in addition to disadvantaged, minority, women and veterans owned businesses. 

Our legislative work is designed to follow up on a detailed report authored earlier this decade by the Governor’s Manufacturing Advisory Council.  In this sweeping analysis of manufacturing, the blue-ribbon panel recommended several actions that could aid manufacturing.

Specifically, the study reported that 82 percent of manufacturers had a serious gap in worker skill level and 74 percent indicated that the skill-gap hampered the ability to expand.  Meanwhile, 78 percent of manufacturers were negatively impacted by a lack of access to capital. 

Moreover, the report emphasizes the need for a single point of contact in state government to connect manufacturers to solutions.  The report also recommends focusing attention on information sharing to enhance productivity. 

Policy proposals to address each of these needs are key parts of our legislative plan. 

The series of legislative measures that we’ve offered will address the critical needs of manufacturers.  In this month when Manufacturing Day is recognized, it is time for the General Assembly and the governor to focus on policies to rebuild our communities and make our workforce a priority.

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City of Hazleton to Provide Police Coverage to Banks Township

Hazleton, October 23, 2017 —  Hazleton Mayor Jeff Cusat today announced a municipal agreement between Banks Township and the city of Hazleton for the Hazleton Police Department to provide police coverage to Banks Township.

“Today’s announcement shows that the spirit of collaboration and cooperation is alive and well in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Communities cannot tackle all their challenges alone and it is imperative we all work together,” said Senator John Yudichak.

“When neighboring communities work together to help each other out, it doesn’t just benefit those communities, it benefits the whole region. We are pleased to help our neighbors in Banks Township out with police coverage and look forward to working with them in their community,” said Hazleton Mayor Jeff Cusat.

“The Banks Township Supervisors are extremely grateful to Mayor Cusat and Chief Speziale for this unique opportunity. We have been trying to secure police coverage for many years,” said Banks Township Supervisor Joe Clark. “The Pennsylvania State Police have done a tremendous job covering the township, but this opportunity will afford the residents of Banks Township a constant presence. Hopefully, it will be a win-win situation for everyone,” Clark added.

The Hazleton Police Department will cover all of Banks Township, which is 2.2 square miles with a population of 1,250 people. 

 

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Senator Yudichak Lauds Passage of Administrative Code

HARRISBURG, October 19, 2017 — Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) lauded passage of House Bill 118, an omnibus Administrative Code bill that will now go to Governor Wolf for his signature.

House Bill 118 includes language that requires the Department of Corrections (DOC) to hold at least one public hearing prior to the closure of any state correctional institution in Fiscal Year 2017-18.

“I am pleased that language which reforms the prison closure process for the next fiscal year was included in the Administrative Code. While this is a good first step, I will continue to push for passage of SB 748, a comprehensive reform package that establishes a formal process prior to the closure of any public safety facilities owned or leased by the Pennsylvania State Police or the DOC,” Senator Yudichak said. “I want to ensure that no community, family or law enforcement personnel will ever have to endure the stress that was caused earlier this year when DOC announced the imminent closure of two of five state correctional institutions,” added Senator Yudichak.

Also included in HB 118 were two important environmental measures that Senator Yudichak co-sponsored this session that support recycling programs and renewable energy.

HB 118 provides a permanent funding mechanism for municipal recycling grants, which were stalled earlier this year based on uncertainty of future funding. “By providing a permanent funding mechanism, we are not only supporting our local government recycling collection programs, we are also fueling our local economies by aiding markets for waste industry employers and our manufacturing sector, which frequently relies on recyclable materials,” said Senator Yudichak.

The bill also encourages growth of Pennsylvania’s solar energy industry by ensuring that electric systems purchase solar renewable energy credits from in-state sources. “We are making significant progress in our clean energy sector with nearly 70,000 jobs statewide. Renewables are filling energy needs throughout the state, including in Carbon County, which boasts the state’s largest solar park that will ultimately produce enough electricity to fuel 3,000 homes,” said Senator Yudichak.

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Area Lawmakers Host Luzerne County Senior Expo

 

Kingston, October 12, 2017 − Senator John Yudichak (D-14), Senator Lisa Baker (R-20), Representative Aaron Kaufer (R-120), and Representative Gerald Mullery (D-119) hosted the 2017 Luzerne County Senior Expo at the Kingston Armory today.  

Nearly 1,000 seniors attended the event which featured local, state and federal agencies, and other local organizations that provide vital services to area seniors. In addition, attendees were treated to free health screenings and flu shots.

“Every year I look forward to welcoming our area seniors to the Senior Expo. Whether they are here to learn about programs that can assist and protect them, or they are here to get health screenings or their flu shot, we’re glad we can help them out,” said Senator Yudichak.

“There are so many great programs available to help our seniors,” Senator Baker said. “People were lined up before the doors even opened. They told us they appreciate the chance to gather information all under one roof.”

It is great that our seniors have this opportunity today to connect with organizations that stand ready to help them,” said Representative Kaufer. “It’s great to see so much support for our seniors in Luzerne County.”

Many of the area seniors attending the Expo brought non-perishable food items that were distributed to the local food bank. 

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Hughes, Yudichak, Brewster Sponsor Three-Pronged Manufacturing Initiative

Package Designed to Spur Job Creation

Harrisburg – October 11, 2017 – A new legislative initiative designed to spur manufacturing and job creation should be a priority for Senate consideration, according to Sens. Vincent J. Hughes (D-Philadelphia), John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne) and James R. Brewster (D-Allegheny), the prime sponsors of the plan. 

“The new legislative proposals are designed to refocus efforts toward both building up and bolstering the existing manufacturing base and creating new jobs,” said Hughes, who serves as Democratic chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

Yudichak’s bill (Senate Bill 923) will create a “Chief Manufacturing Officer” within the governor’s office to provide advice on economic policy.  The measure also establishes a “Manufacturing Competitiveness Board” to help develop manufacturing strategy. 

“Our manufacturing sector has been, and will continue to be, the steel in Pennsylvania’s economic spine,” Yudichak said, “but, we can do even better if we coordinate policy and bring new ideas forward. 

“Communities across Pennsylvania, big and small, have been impacted by economic shifts which affect our manufacturing sector.”

According to the Center for Manufacturing Research, manufacturing accounts for more than 12 percent of the state’s gross state product.  More than 516,000 Pennsylvanians are employed in manufacturing. 

The senators said that more manufacturing companies need access to additional state financial resources to gain a competitive advantage and keep up with changing technology and job training needs.  To assist manufacturers, Brewster will introduce a bill to fully develop access to the Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund. 

Brewster’s proposal (Senate Bill 924) would direct up to $5 million to a grant program for vocational technical schools, vocational programs and equipment purchases.  

“An important aspect of improving our manufacturing sector, building our job base and retooling manufacturing to serve economic needs for years to come is through enhanced vocational training,” Brewster said.  “This is an important initiative that will open more doors to more workers.”

A second element of his legislation would increase the maximum loan amount from $5 million to $7.5 million and authorize loans to retrofit equipment. 

Another important feature of the package is a measure authored by Hughes to maximize the Manufacturing Tax Credit.  The Philadelphia lawmaker’s bill (Senate Bill 925) would increase the credit cap to $12.5 million from its current $4 million, expand the credit to include job training costs, and allow small manufactures to apply jointly for the credit.  A $2.5 million piece of the tax credit would be reserved for businesses located in distressed communities in addition to disadvantaged, minority, women and veterans owned businesses. 

“Businesses who are engaged in manufacturing should be able to use tax provisions to generate new business opportunities and jobs,” Hughes said.  “The initiative is unique in that it permits small operations to come together in applying for the credit and includes job training costs.

“Our small manufacturers play an incredibly important role in our economy.  Too often our policy focus is on attracting large businesses when we could also be finding new ways to help small operations grow and prosper.”

The Center for Manufacturing Research reports that Pennsylvania manufacturers employ nearly 10 percent (9.6 percent) of the state’s workforce.  Pennsylvania exported more than $33 billion in manufactured goods in 2016.

Hughes noted that “given the need to build a diverse and strong job base, lawmakers should explore every avenue that is available to secure new manufacturing jobs.   The initiative is aimed squarely at helping business create jobs.”

“It is clear, our economic recovery is gaining steam, but it remains uneven,” Yudichak said.  “There are many sectors that are growing but others need new tools to get traction in today’s international marketplace.”

Brewster noted worker’s wages grow when job skills are enhanced and that is the result of additional job training. 

Building the manufacturing sector generates family-sustaining jobs, reinforces a strong middle class, improves wages and helps strengthen neighborhoods and communities, Hughes notes. 

“This fall, I am hopeful that legislative energy can be aimed at aiding the manufacturing sector so that jobs can be generated,” he said.

Hughes said that he expected the legislative package would be introduced within the next two weeks.

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