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Sen. Yudichak Reports

Legislation Would Significantly Reform Penn State Board of Trustees

PSU press conference
Sen. Yudichak unveiled legislation to reduce the number of voting members of the Penn State University Board of Trustees to 23 members.

For more than a year, I have called for significant reforms to the board governance structure at Penn State University.  The size and composition of the Penn State Board of Trustees, as it is currently structured, is out of step with the majority of public research Universities across the country and is significantly larger than other boards of governance in the Big Ten. While we continue to wait for the members of the Board of Trustees to act on reform, I felt it necessary for the legislature to play a role in reforming the board governance structure at our largest state-related university.

Last week, I announced legislation that would create the Penn State University Board of Trustees Reorganization Act which would enact the necessary board governance reforms to create a Board of Trustees that is more engaged, efficient, inclusive, accountable and ultimately, more effective stewards of the mission of Penn State University.
 
Most notably, my legislation would reduce the board of trustees from the current 30 voting members to 23 voting members.
 
Under my proposal, the Board of Trustees would be composed of eight elected alumni, five Governor appointees, five elected members from the Agriculture industry, and five members from business and industry appointed by a trustee committee comprised of the chairperson and one member from each category. The Pennsylvania Secretary of Education and Secretary of Agriculture would serve as non-voting members of the Board of Trustees. The bill would also prohibit the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and all state row officers from serving on the Board of Trustees.

I am very encouraged by the positive reactions I’ve received from countless Penn State alums and also my Senate colleagues. I am currently in the process of circulating a co-sponsorship memo and hope that the bill moves swiftly through the legislative process.

Penn State alumni can only begin to re-establish their trust in the governance structure at our university with significant reform – and my legislation will certainly begin to right the wrongs of the current structure and put Penn State University back on the path to success and prosperity. I urge the Board of Trustees to recognize the will of its alumni base and embrace meaningful reform.

Violence, Crime at Sherman Hills Apartment Complex Must be Addressed

Sherman Hills (photo courtesy of the Citizens Voice)As a state legislator and lifelong resident of Luzerne County, I take great pride in our region – and most importantly, the safety of our region and our residents.

Legislatively, we have taken steps to address crime by enacting the state’s first anti-gang law and funding the Attorney General’s mobile street crime unit. Locally, Operation Gang Up community forums, engagement of local crime watch groups and securing state funding for training programs for educators and local law enforcement continue to build community partnerships to battle violent crime.

In recent months, I have worked closely with state Sens. Lisa Baker and John Blake to address the dangerous spike in criminal activity and violence at Sherman Hills Apartment Complex in Wilkes-Barre.

On September 6, we sent a letter requesting that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) facilitate a meeting with federal, state and local officials to begin the conversation about ending the cycle of violence at Sherman Hills. HUD responded and informed us that, as a response to our joint letter, the agency conducted a comprehensive Management and Occupancy Review (MOR) of Sherman Hills. The completed MOR report (available online) was forwarded to the owners of Sherman Hills who have until the end of this week, November 30, to respond to the report which cited “possible life-threatening security issues” at Sherman Hills.

Violent crime is a regional issue and it deserves our attention and our willingness to work with both federal and local officials to begin to change the culture of violence that exists at Sherman Hills and similar housing complexes across the Commonwealth.

Sen. Yudichak's Community Corner

Sen. Yudichak & Attorney General Kathleen Kane
Recently toured the new Attorney General's Child Predator Section with AG Kathleen Kane. This will be a great resource to prevent and prosecute child abuse in Pennsylvania. Read more
Operation Gang Up
Partnered with Congressman Lou Barletta to host dozens of law enforcement officials, students and concerned residents to discuss the prevalence and danger of organized gangs at an Operation Gang Up forum at Harrisburg Area Community College
Carbon County Senate Democratic Policy Committee Hearing
I was honored to host the Senate Democratic Policy Committee in Lehighton last month for a panel discussion on proposals to end the current system of property taxes in Pennsylvania. Read more
Sen. Yudichak, Sen. Rafferty and Temple University president
I had a great discussion with Sen. John Rafferty and Temple University president Dr. Neil D. Theobald about his vision for the future of Temple University.
Expo

Senate Democrats Introduce 'Saluting PA Veterans' Plan

Sen. YudichakEnsuring that returning veterans are reacclimated to society and are in a position to succeed in their next phase in life is vitally important to all Senate Democrats. That’s why we introduced a 21-bill Saluting PA Veterans’ legislative package to address many issues of concern to Pennsylvania veterans.

My two Senate bills included in the plan would establish a veterans’ peer-to-peer counseling program and also a veteran-owned business loan guarantee program. Our veterans sacrifice their lives every day to protect our freedoms and this legislative package aims to protect veterans upon their return home to Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 1133 would establish a minimum of four regional peer support programs for veterans to address post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma and rising rates of suicide among returning veterans.

We must take steps to address the serious mental health issues that returning veterans must cope with after serving overseas. This bill would give returning veterans an opportunity to confide in certified peer counselors that have dealt with and overcome similar mental health issues.

My other bill, Senate Bill 215, would add a $5 million veteran-owned business loan guarantee from funding already available through the Second Stage Loan Program administered by the Commonwealth Financing Authority.

We have seen the success locally of low-interest loan programs creating jobs and expanding small businesses, and Senate Bill 215 will ensure that veteran-owned businesses are not lost in the shuffle when applying for state funding to start or expand their business.

For more information on the other bills included in the Senate Democrats' Saluting PA Veterans plan, click here.

Forum Highlights Economic, Job Creation Potential of Shale Industry

Marcellus Shale seminarVery seldom – perhaps once in a generation – does an opportunity come along that can lift communities out from under the cloud of persistent economic hardship; and Marcellus shale presents that opportunity for northeastern Pennsylvania.

Earlier this month, I partnered with state Sen. John Blake and the Marcellus Shale Coalition to host over 150 local leaders in business, energy and education at the Best Western East Mountain Inn in Wilkes-Barre for a forum highlighting the business and job growth potential of the Marcellus Shale industry in northeastern Pennsylvania.

This forum was a great opportunity to discuss how NEPA can leverage the transformational economic opportunity presented by Marcellus shale into the creation of new jobs, new businesses and sustainable economic growth that will finally break the cycle of our region's chronically high unemployment.

Our Marcellus Shale: Business and Job Growth Seminar featured numerous presentations on all aspects of the drilling industry and how local businesses can grow along with the drilling industry to spur job growth and economic development.

I would like to thank everyone that participated in this great event and I hope that together, we can capitalize on this opportunity and bring the positive economic impact from the Marcellus Shale drilling industry into Luzerne County.

For media coverage of the event, click here.

LIHEAPApply Now for LIHEAP Heating Assistance

With the frigid winter temperatures rolling into Northeastern Pennsylvania, it is imperative that everyone has the means to keep warm and heat their homes over the next few months. Applications are now being accepted for Pennsylvania’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, which is a great program that helps low-income residents pay for expensive heating bills.

To be eligible for LIHEAP, the maximum income level to qualify for heating assistance as a single person is $17,235. For two people, $23,265; three people, $29,295; four people, $35,325; and five people, $41,355.

Applications for the federally funded program are now being accepted online at www.compass.state.pa.us and also by stopping in any of my district offices. The deadline to apply for LIHEAP assistance is April 4, 2014.

For more information on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, click here.

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