Harrisburg, June 27, 2019 – Senator David G. Argall (R – Schuylkill/Berks) and Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that the Pennsylvania state budget includes a major expansion of the Coal Refuse Energy and Reclamation Tax Credit which will protect over 3,000 energy jobs and continue the successful environmental reclamation work in counties impacted by centuries of coal mining.
The coal refuse industry is Pennsylvania’s private sector partner in producing energy with the environmental benefit of reclaiming over 7,000 acres of abandoned mine land and restoring more than 1,200 miles of polluted streams.
The legacy of coal mining in Pennsylvania persists with over 8,000 acres of abandoned mine lands that contain 220 million tons of coal refuse. The removal of coal refuse piles improves water quality, public health and safety and enables land to be utilized for conservation or economic purposes. It would cost the taxpayers $267 million annually to address the more than 770 coal refuse piles in Pennsylvania without the assistance of the coal refuse industry.
“Pennsylvania must invest with their private sector partners, like the coal refuse industry, to create good energy jobs that help us reclaim lands impacted by the legacy of coal mining which continues to threaten the quality of our land and water,” said Senator John Yudichak.
“The Coal Refuse Energy and Reclamation Tax Credit is a proven economic incentive that has helped set the stage for unprecedented economic growth which has attracted five national companies and created 4,000 new jobs on former abandoned mine land in the South Valley communities of Luzerne County.”
“With the expansion of this tax credit, we can help protect jobs and continue the progress which we have seen over the past few decades,” said Senator Argall. “Growing up, we were surrounded by black mountains of waste coal that polluted our environment. Our children grow up now surrounded by far more green fields and mountains and with the expansion of this tax credit, we hope that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will experience even more green—rather than brown and gray.”
Under the legislation, the Coal Refuse Energy and Reclamation Tax Credit program will extend the current expiration date of the program from 2026 to 2036 and increases the program’s annual cap from $10 million to $20 million.
Harrisburg, June 27, 2019 — State Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon) issued the following statement after passage of the 2019-20 state budget:
“I commend Governor Tom Wolf and the bi-partisan coalition of legislators who fought for significant investments in education and workforce development programs that highlight the $34 billion state spending plan passed by the General Assembly.
“The budget builds upon strong economic growth numbers and contains no new taxes for residents of the Commonwealth while making the most significant deposit into the state’s Rainy Day Fund in more than a decade to guard against future tax increases.
“There are some big wins for northeastern Pennsylvania in terms of workforce development programs and economic development that will help us continue the unprecedented job growth we have experienced in the last two years which has attracted five national companies and 4,000 new jobs to the South Valley corridor in Luzerne County.”
Senator John Yudichak
Harrisburg, June 19, 2019 — Today the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee issued its performance evaluation of two of the largest, most widely used environmental permitting programs with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The report was required by Senator Yudichak’s Senate Resolution 226 which passed the Senate unanimously in 2018.
“I want to commend the staff of the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee for a thorough report on the deficiencies in critical environmental permitting programs administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection,” said State Senator John Yudichak. “While I acknowledge DEP has made strides to reform the permit process, the report clearly demonstrates more management improvements are needed to ensure DEP permits adequately protect the environment and are issued in an efficient, effective and timely manner.”
The performance evaluation identified several areas for improvement in the Department of Environmental Protection’s administration of the Erosion and Sediment Pollution Control (Chapter 102) and Water Obstruction and Encroachment (Chapter 105) programs. The final report is available online at http://lbfc.legis.state.pa.us/
Harrisburg, June 17, 2019 — State Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon) and Representative Eddie Day Pashinski (D – Luzerne) announced a $100,000 Historic Preservation Tax Credit today from the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
The tax credit will be used to rehabilitate the Spring Brook Water Supply Company building in the River Street Historical District for the Mechanical and Electrical Engineering program at King’s College. The project has an estimated construction expenditure of $4.6 million.
“Public-private partnerships are the driving force behind the economic revitalization occurring in downtown Wilkes-Barre. As the engineering program continues to grow at King’s College, students will work toward their future goals while honoring the history of the Spring Brook Water Supply Company building,” said Senator John Yudichak.
The Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, administered by DCED and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission since 2013, has invested more than $18 million to rehabilitate 105 historic buildings leveraging an estimated $1.5 billion in construction expenditures.
“I’m pleased that this competitive tax credit has been allocated and will help King’s College preserve this beautiful building while advancing their Mechanical and Electrical Engineering program,” Representative Pashinski said. “This credit will go a long way to ensure the Spring Brook Water Supply Company building is utilized and enjoyed for generations to come.”
“This state program provides vital support to bring historic buildings such as the Spring Brook Water Company building on Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre back to life and economic usefulness. King’s will have well over 100 engineering students in the facility this fall. It’s great for the city, county and college,” said John R. Loyack, Executive Vice President, King’s College.
Harrisburg, June 11, 2019 – Today, the Senate Labor and Industry Committee unanimously passed Senate Bill 94 which includes language from Senator Yudichak’s Senate Bill 393 from the 2017-18 session to require workers compensation coverage for volunteer firefighters, volunteer ambulance corps personnel and volunteer rescue squad members who suffer injuries while providing assistance on state game lands.
“Our municipalities should not have to incur additional financial burdens when providing assistance on state game lands,” said Senator John Yudichak. “As we have seen at the Glen Onoko Falls in Carbon County, our volunteer responders have risked their lives to save others, and they should receive the same protections as employees of the Pennsylvania Game Commission during emergency work on these state game lands. I’d like to thank Senators Scott Martin and Kristin Phillips-Hill for sponsoring Senate Bill 94 and the chairs of the committee, Senators Bartolotta and Tartaglione for considering the legislation today.”
SB 94, which clarifies the definition of employee under the Workers’ Compensation Act, will now go to the full Senate for consideration.
Harrisburg, June 6, 2019 – Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon) and Senator Tom Killion (R – Chester/Delaware) have introduced the bipartisan Restore Pennsylvania legislation as Senate Bill 725.
Restore Pennsylvania is a major new infrastructure initiative funded by the monetization of a commonsense severance tax. Restore Pennsylvania would inject $4.5 billion over the next four years in infrastructure projects across the Commonwealth.
“I am proud to stand with Governor Tom Wolf, Senator Killion, Representative Wheatley and Representative Murt in support of Restore PA, a bipartisan proposal that imposes a responsible severance tax on natural gas that can fund much needed public infrastructure projects in every Pennsylvania county,” said Senator John Yudichak. “Passing Restore PA will create a 21st century infrastructure system that enhances our roads, our flood and storm water management systems as well as expanding access to essential broadband internet services that improve public safety, health care access, and economic development opportunities for underserved communities throughout Pennsylvania.”
“I am pleased to introduce this important legislation along with Senator Yudichak,” said Senator Killion. “Well-working infrastructure is critical to our economy and job growth. Pennsylvania is the only major gas-producing state that doesn’t tax that finite natural resource. Restore Pennsylvania will revolutionize how critical infrastructure projects are funded, and I am proud to work with the Governor and my colleagues in the legislature to get this done for our communities and working families.”
“We have a real opportunity to make impactful infrastructure investments in Pennsylvania. Restore Pennsylvania is the only plan presented that can actually address the needs in every community,” said Gov. Wolf. “We have an opportunity to provide all of our students internet access, an opportunity to help our municipalities truly address the crippling effects of blight, an opportunity to help families devasted by flooding when the federal government turns its back on them, and so much more. We need to seize this opportunity for all Pennsylvanians.”
Senate Bill 725 has 25 cosponsors. Representatives Jake Wheatley (D – Allegheny) and Thomas Murt (R – Montgomery/Philadelphia County) have introduced the legislation in the House as House Bill 1585.
Harrisburg, June 5, 2019 – State Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that the Carbon/Schuylkill SHINE after-school program and the Luzerne County SHINE after-school program have received 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) grant funding for 2019-2024. The federal funding is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) via the 21st CCLC program.
“The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program is an essential element of the successful academic outcomes for students in the Carbon/Schuylkill and Luzerne County SHINE programs,” said State Senator John Yudichak. “Quality, STEM-based after-school programs, like SHINE, are expanding in northeastern Pennsylvania as a result of the continued support we have received from our federal legislative delegation and critical funding resources from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program.”
SHINE is a nationally recognized after-school program operating in school districts in Carbon, Schuylkill and Luzerne. The Carbon/Schuylkill SHINE program is administered by the Lehigh Carbon Community College and provides academic support. Wilkes University is the educational host for SHINE of Luzerne County, providing administrative and educational support services for the program. Over a thousand students are involved in the SHINE programs in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Lehigh Carbon Community College will receive $2.6 million as part of Cohort 10 of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) grant program for 2019-2024. The funding will be used to expand the SHINE after-school program in Weatherly School District, Palmerton School District and Shenandoah School District.
“The Lehigh Carbon Community College SHINE Program is excited to partner with the Weatherly, Palmerton and Shenandoah school districts and expand our project-based STEAM programming to serve another 175 students,” said Rachel Miller Strucko, Director, Lehigh Carbon Community College, Carbon/Schuylkill SHINE Afterschool program.
Wilkes University will receive $2 million as part of Cohort 10 of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) grant program for 2019-2024. Senator Yudichak and former U.S. Congressman Lou Barletta brought the SHINE program to Luzerne County in 2015.
“The SHINE program at Wilkes University is excited to be chosen by the Pennsylvania Department of Education ‘s 21st Century Community Learning Centers program to receive a Cohort 10 grant. These funds will allow us to continue to provide quality STEM based after-school services to our existing sites as well as offer services to two new sites, Kistler Elementary Center in Wilkes-Barre and an elementary program at Pittston Area. We are truly grateful to the PA Department of Education for recognizing the value of the SHINE program and providing us the resources to continue our mission to provide safe, stimulating after school programming while preparing our students for the careers of the future,” said Carol Nicholas, Director of SHINE of Luzerne County.
Additionally, the Wayne Pike Workforce Alliance will be receiving $2.3 million in 21st CCLC funds for 2019-2024. They will be replicating the Lehigh Carbon Community College SHINE Program for its rural implementation of their successful SHINE program. The program will serve 270 children annually and they will be partnering with the Luzerne SHINE program at Wilkes University for best practices, guidance and support.
“The Wayne Pike Workforce Alliance is proving exceptionally resourceful in efforts to better connect today’s students with the jobs of tomorrow. Putting this sort of extra investment toward bolstering learning outside the classroom, for students who may not receive everything they need to compete from their regular classwork, seems a promising approach based on the results from elsewhere. Leaders across our communities are hoping such innovations will result in better prepared workers, contributing to local economic progress,” said Senator Lisa Baker (R-20).
“I’m pleased to partner with Senator Yudichak and the other stakeholders on the SHINE program. Engaging and empowering our youth is critically important and these efforts will pay dividends for decades to come,” said Representative Jonathan Fritz (R-111). Representative Michael Peifer (R-139) also worked with Senator Baker and Representative Fritz on this funding.
“On behalf of the Wayne Highlands School District, we are honored and excited about the SHINE program being implemented in our District and in Western Wayne & Wallenpaupack Area School Districts. The combined efforts of Workforce Alliance and the community schools is a great demonstration of how great things can happen. Best of all, our students will benefit from this highly regarded program,” said Greg Frigoletto, Superintendent Wayne Highlands School District.
“Having been associated with the SHINE program since 2010, I have seen firsthand the value of investing in our youth. I’m happy to continue the expansion in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Lucyann Vierling, Executive Director of the Wayne Pike Workforce Alliance.
Under the 21st CCLC Cohort 10 grant, PDE awarded 74 new grants for a total of $22 million in 21st CCLC grant funds for 2019-24.
“Twenty-first Century Learning Centers grants provide critical investments for communities to expand educational opportunities for students and families,” Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera said. “This year’s recipients were selected with an emphasis on improving educational equity and expanding the geographic reach of Pennsylvania’s programs. As a result, more students across the state will have access to wellness, literacy, and career and technical education programs, among others.”