Senator Yudichak Releases Statement on Signing of Senate Bill 748

Harrisburg, October 24, 2018 — State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) issued the following statement today after Governor Wolf signed Senate Bill 748, the Public Safety Facilities Act:

“I thank Governor Tom Wolf for signing Senate Bill 748, the Public Safety Facilities Act, into law. The bi-partisan legislation ensures a deliberative and informed process will be exercised by the Commonwealth prior to the closure of any state correctional institution or state police barracks. Our state troopers and our correctional officers perform dangerous jobs under stressful conditions. Their families and the communities they serve deserve to be heard before a public safety facility is closed,” said Senator John Yudichak.

Senate Bill 748, bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senators Argall, Baker, Brooks, Fontana and Yudichak requires the DOC or the PSP to notify state and local stakeholders, including local lawmakers at least three months before a planned facility closure announcement. The DOC or PSP must then provide a thorough review of impacts that the proposed closure could have, which includes holding a public hearing in the county where the facility is located. A written report must be produced detailing the recommendations from the stakeholders to the Governor and leaders of the General Assembly. After the written report is submitted, and the DOC or PSP elects to close a public safety facility, they must announce that closure to federal, state and local elected officials where the facility is located, to the employee labor organizations representing employees of the facility, and to the managerial employees of the public safety facility. A public safety facility may close no sooner than four months from the announcement.

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Senator Yudichak’s Lead Testing Bill Passes Senate Health and Human Services Committee

Harrisburg, October 16, 2018 – Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced that Senate Bill 1270 was approved by a unanimous vote today in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

The bill would provide for universal lead testing for children and expectant mothers and require health insurers to cover the testing. The Pennsylvania Department of Health would also be required to develop a statewide electronic confidential registry of patients’ test results.

“By requiring lead testing for two of our most vulnerable populations, we are taking proactive preventative measures to combat the devastating health impacts that can occur when children and expectant mothers are exposed to lead,” said Senator Yudichak. “Developing a more comprehensive lead assessment and remediation strategy in Pennsylvania has been one of my top legislative priorities, and it is my hope that we can continue to work on passing legislative policies that address the risks of lead exposure.”

Lead testing is not mandatory for children in Pennsylvania and there is no dedicated state funding for lead testing or remediation in Pennsylvania. Federal law requires children covered by Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act to be tested.

“Lead exposure should be on every list of serious health concerns. Yet, it tends to receive attention only when there is an expose done or a notorious breakdown in preventive measures surfaces. The key is finding the sources of lead across our communities, remediating these situations, and determining who has been exposed. We must be prudent and purposeful to our approach and the priority we put on solutions,” said Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), the Majority Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee and co-prime sponsor of Senate Bill 1270 with Senator Yudichak.

In June 2017, the Senate unanimously approved Senator Yudichak’s SR 33, which established a Lead Task Force and Advisory Committee under the direction of the Joint State Government Commission. The Lead Task Force and Advisory Committee is studying the scope of lead exposure in Pennsylvania and a report with their findings and recommendations will be produced to the Senate.

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Senator Yudichak Lauds Passage of Senate Bill 748

Harrisburg, October 15, 2018 –  Today, the Pennsylvania Senate unanimously concurred with changes made by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to Senate Bill 748, a bipartisan bill which establishes a clear process for consideration of proposed closures of state correctional institutions by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) and barracks operated by the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP).

 

“Almost two years ago, we received notice that SCI-Retreat and two other state correctional institutions in northeastern Pennsylvania were on the list of state correctional institutions that were being considered for closure. I was proud then of how northeastern Pennsylvania made their voices heard and helped save these prisons from closing, and I am proud that we have been able to pass bipartisan legislation that ensures an open and transparent process when considering any future closure of a public safety facility,” said Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon).

On January 6, 2017, the DOC announced that they would close two prisons from a short list of five and that a decision on which prisons to close would come on January 26. Ultimately, only one prison, SCI-Pittsburgh, was selected to close by the DOC. After that announcement, Senators Argall, Baker, Brooks, Fontana and Yudichak worked with community leaders and the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association to introduce Senate Bill 748.

Senate Bill 748 requires the DOC or the PSP to notify state and local stakeholders, including local lawmakers at least three months before a planned facility closure announcement. The DOC or PSP must then provide a thorough review of impacts that the proposed closure could have, which includes holding a public hearing in the county where the facility is located. A written report must be produced detailing the recommendations from the stakeholders to the Governor and leaders of the General Assembly. After the written report is submitted, and the DOC or PSP elects to close a public safety facility, they must announce that closure to federal, state and local elected officials where the facility is located, to the employee labor organizations representing employees of the facility, and to the managerial employees of the public safety facility. A public safety facility may close no sooner than four months from the announcement.

“We appreciate the support of the Northeast Legislative Delegation, led by Senator Argall in working to get Senate Bill 748 passed. Our local members made their voices heard in January 2017 which helped to prevent the loss of thousands of jobs in the northeast region and today we are sending a bill to Governor Wolf that ensures that any future closure of an SCI will get a thorough and transparent review process prior to any announcement being made,” said Jason Bloom, President of the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association.

 “Any closure of a public safety facility can cause devastating impacts to the state and local economy as well as creating stressful situations for those employed at these facilities. By taking the time to thoroughly review the impact that a proposed closure can have, we are ensuring that all voices are heard prior to any decision being made,” added Senator Yudichak.

The bill will now go to Governor Wolf for his signature. 

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Yudichak Announces Funding for Recycling Programs in the 14th District

Nanticoke, October 11, 2018 – State Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon) announced today, just over $1 million in Recycling Program Development and Implementation Grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for four municipalities in the 14th District in Luzerne County.

The grants reimburse counties and municipalities 90 percent of eligible recycling program development and implementation expenses.

“As Minority Chairman of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, I applaud both the Administration’s and Secretary McDonnell’s investments in our local and county recycling programs. Investing in recycling programs incentivize our municipalities that are struggling financially to pursue these vital programs, which protect our environment,” said Senator Yudichak.

The following municipalities received Recycling Program Development and Implementation Grants:

  • Wilkes Barre City – $350,000
  • Plains Township – $287,093
  • Pittston City – $223,340
  • Hanover Township – $159,791

Examples of eligible projects include operating leaf compost facilities; developing web-based programs on recycling for consumers; expanding recycling processing facilities; installing data collection systems on recycling vehicles; continuing and creating curbside recycling programs; and developing educational materials to encourage residents to properly recycle.

Senator Yudichak worked with State Representatives Gerald Mullery (D – Luzerne), Eddie Day Pashinski (D – Luzerne) and Mike Carroll (D – Luzerne/Lackawanna) to secure this important funding.

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Yudichak and Pashinski Announce Funding for Loomis Park Bridge Replacement Project in Hanover Township

Nanticoke, October 2, 2018 – State Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne) and State Representative Eddie Day Pashinski (D – Luzerne) announced today that Hanover Township will receive $535,357 in funding for the Loomis Park Bridge Replacement Project from the Multimodal Transportation Fund.

The funding will be used to replace the Loomis Park Bridge, which provides pedestrian and vehicular access to the Loomis Park development.

“Hanover Township continues a remarkable period of infrastructure investment that is improving public safety and setting the stage for economic growth in the South Valley Corridor,” said State Senator John Yudichak.

“As always, we’re incredibly appreciative to Governor Tom Wolf and his administration for investing in our communities and helping to increase the safety for vehicles and pedestrians accessing the Loomis Park development,” said Representative Pashinski.

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Over $3.5 Million in Multimodal Transportation Funds Grants Awarded for Two Luzerne County Projects

Nanticoke, October 2, 2018 – It was announced today that two Luzerne County projects received over $3.5 million in funding from the Multimodal Transportation Fund (MTF).

Valley Crest Real Estate, LP received $3 million in funding to alleviate traffic congestion in the area of the former Valley Crest Nursing and Rehabilitation facility, located off business Route 309 in Plains Township. Valley Crest Real Estate, LP is working to complete the Valley Crest Commons Project, which is the redevelopment of the Valley Crest Nursing and Rehabilitation facility. The property would be repurposed to serve as a mixed-use facility for significant retail and entertainment use, in addition to hotel accommodations. The project will create approximately 900 jobs.

In order to successfully complete the project, funding was needed for traffic improvements in the immediate areas surrounding the Wyoming Valley Mall, Wilkes-Barre VA Hospital and Mohegan Sun Convention Center, which will alleviate congestion and provide better access to the proposed Valley Commons Project.

“The Valley Crest Commons Project will transform idle land, create hundreds of new jobs, and invest in critical infrastructure upgrades to the Route 315 corridor that will greatly benefit economic development in Plains Township, Wilkes-Barre, Wilkes-Barre Township, and the greater Wyoming Valley,” said State Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon)

“A critical part of completing this important project is easing the traffic congestion surrounding the Valley Crest property. The funding announced today not only improves the infrastructure in the area, but also creates opportunities for potential economic growth and development,” said State Senator Lisa Baker (R – Luzerne/Pike/Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming).

“We are very pleased that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recognizes that State Route 309 near Mundy and Kidder Streets is in serious need of modernization and expansion,” said Robert Tamburro, Trustee, General Partner for TFP Limited Real Estate and Development Management. “The proposed highway upgrades will provide adequate and safer ingress/egress to and from the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center and Timber Ridge Health Care Center, better traffic flow through Mundy and Kidder Streets and significant economic expansion opportunities at the Former Valley Crest Nursing Home property.”

Along with the funding for Valley Crest Real Estate, LP, Luzerne County was awarded $533,312 for necessary road improvements on North and South Beisels Road, which will include the addition of a bike lane.

The Multimodal Transportation Fund provides grants to encourage economic development and ensure that a safe and reliable system of transportation is available to the residents of the commonwealth.

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