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Sen. Yudichak Reports

Mobile Street Crime Unit Making Northeastern Pennsylvania Safer

Mobile Street Crime Unit
Sen. Yudichak, Attorney General Kathleen Kane and Hazleton Chief of Police Frank DeAndrea stand next to a display of the drugs, guns and cash seized by the Mobile Street Crime Unit in Hazleton. Click here for video from the Mobile Street Crime Unit press conference at Hazleton City Hall.

Violent street crime is not just a Hazleton problem or a Wilkes-Barre problem; it is a regional problem that demands regional solutions, regional community engagement and an investment of statewide resources. A 2011 US Department of Justice report showed that criminal gangs and drug trafficking organizations were getting a foothold in communities along the 80/81 corridor; pushing drugs into our neighborhoods and making the nature of our street crime, more and more violent.

We all knew we had to do something to keep our communities, our streets and our schools safe; so a few years ago, I partnered with Congressman Lou Barletta and founded Operation Gang Up as a vehicle to build regional solutions and to raise public awareness about the region's growing violent street crime problem. Operation Gang Up has since helped bring together our region through public forums, programs for area schools, local law enforcement training and the enactment of Pennsylvania’s first anti-gang law.

Operation Gang Up has made a great deal of progress but its most important success has been opening the lines of communication among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Working with these front line professionals, we formulated the idea of creating a mobile street crime unit to bring together federal, state and local resources into one powerful, efficient and effective crime fighting weapon to disrupt and dismantle criminal street crime operations.

With the support of many area police chiefs, including Hazleton Police Chief Frank DeAndrea, I sat with Attorney General Kathleen Kane at her kitchen table and laid out our idea for a Mobile Street Crime Unit and she ran with it. The Mobile Street Crime Unit, which has now wrapped up operations in the city of Hazleton, is the ultimate regional crime fighting tool – pooling federal, state and local resources into one focused, force multiplier that ripples across municipal and county boundaries.

With a population of 33,000 but only 38 police officers – Hazleton, which had seen a dramatic increase in violent and drug-related crimes in recent years, was the perfect city to launch the Attorney General’s Mobile Street Crime Unit.

Sen. Yudichak speaks at Mobile Street Crime Unit press conferenceThe Mobile Street Crime Unit is only on its first deployment – but the impact it has had on public safety in the city of Hazleton and across NEPA has been remarkable and the results have been even greater than any of us could have imagined. In only five months, “Operation Rising Star,” in conjunction with 16 local, state and federal agencies, identified numerous drug trafficking organizations in the Hazleton area. To date, the Mobile Street Crime Unit has accounted for over 100 arrests, approximately 35,000 packets of heroin seized and has removed many other drugs, guns and illegal prescription drugs from the streets of Hazleton.

Attorney General Kane and I fought hard to secure $2.5 million in the state budget with tremendous help from a coalition of bi-partisan supporters – and it is proposed at level funding in the governor’s proposed 2014-15 state budget to move the initiative to another city.

I applaud Attorney General Kane for listening to the people of northeastern Pennsylvania; for staring down the critics and the naysayers; and for finding the right partners at the federal, state and local levels to fund, implement and deploy Pennsylvania’s newest and most innovative regional law enforcement weapon – the Mobile Street Crime Unit – right here in NEPA.

To view media coverage from the event, visit the Times Leader and the Standard Speaker. Click here to view a gallery of pictures from the event at Hazleton City Hall.

Budget Proposal Misses Opportunity to Create Jobs, Invest in Higher Ed

PA Lottery/Budget Remarks
Sen. Yudichak recently held a news conference at the Hazleton Senior Center to discuss the proposed 2014-15 state budget and opportunities to grow the Pennsylvania Lottery to further benefit senior citizens.

While our state ranks 48th in the nation in job creation and our region has had the highest unemployment in the Commonwealth for nearly four years now – the governor’s proposed $29.4 billion 2014-15 state budget again ignores initiatives that would create jobs and put struggling local families back to work. The cuts over the past three years to K-12 education and higher education have significantly stunted job growth and put our world-class education systems at a crossroads. This proposed budget continues to mask bigger problems created by the debilitating cuts in the last three budgets and punts millions of dollars in budgetary obligations to future, non-gubernatorial-election-year budgets.

This budget also misses another opportunity to ensure that drilling companies are paying their fair share by enacting a reasonable severance tax on the Marcellus shale drilling industry. My proposal would have generated nearly $875 million through this upcoming year – and with that funding, we could have dedicated over $100 million this year to programs like H2O PA and the Commonwealth Financing Authority to upgrade our crumbling water and sewer infrastructure; these programs will receive significantly less under the governor’s proposal.

It is my hope that from now through the end of June, we are able to craft a budget that better represents the priorities of all Pennsylvanians – job creation, education, human services and public safety. The governor’s budget presents a starting point, but it falls woefully short in areas critically important to our region and our residents.

Sen. Yudichak's Community Corner

Osterhout Library Citation Presentation
Recently joined Senator Lisa Baker to present a citation congratulating the Osterhout Library in Wilkes-Barre on their 125th anniversary!
Lithuanian Independence Day
I was proud to join the Knights of Lithuania Council 143 of Pittston at their Independence Day celebration and flag raising.
Sen. Yudichak meets students at Hazleton crime watch meeting.
I had the pleasure to meet a number of local students at a recent Hazleton Crime Watch meeting at the Hazleton One Community Center.
Fox 56 show
Watch my full interview about the state budget and mobile street crime unit on Volpe on FOX56 this Sunday, March 2 at 10 a.m. FOX56!

Three Local School Districts Receive Safe Schools Targeted Grants

ClassroomI am very proud to announce that three schools in the 14th Senatorial District have been awarded Safe Schools Targeted Grants to establish and implement programs to prevent and reduce incidents of violence. The three districts were among the 110 school districts across Pennsylvania that will receive a total of $2.6 million in grants through the grant program.

In Luzerne County , Pittston Area School District and Wilkes-Barre Area School District both received grants of $25,000. And in Carbon County, Panther Valley School District received $24,690.

I was a co-sponsor of legislation last session that created the Safe Schools Targeted Grants Program and I am very happy to see some of the money we were able to secure for the program returning to Northeastern Pennsylvania.

These targeted grants will help our school districts roll out new initiatives and strengthen others already in place to ensure that our children have a safe learning environment.

For more information on the grant program and for a full list of grant recipients, click here.

Small GamesSmall Games of Chance Updates

In November, we passed several important updates to our small games of chance laws to help our many local clubs and volunteer organizations and to respond to their concerns about the reporting requirements that were passed last year.

I have created a page on my website to better explain all of the changes to the laws. If you have any further questions on the new small games of chance laws, please do not hesitate to contact any of my district offices.

PA 529PA Treasury Hosting Webinar Series on Saving for College

A college education has become a prerequisite for most jobs – and unless we start planning and saving early, our children may never be able to fulfill their dreams of going to college and becoming a lawyer, a doctor or a scientist.

The Pennsylvania Department of Treasury, under the direction of Treasurer Rob McCord, is hosting a series of free webinars this week to help individuals better understand how to create a savings plan during America Saves Week. This webinar series is a great opportunity for anyone with young children or anyone that has a desire to save more money for their own future – to learn the best ways to save.

America Saves Week is an annual event aimed at reaching institutions and individuals to increase awareness of the need to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. The Treasury will be offering a FREE series of online lessons that address saving for life’s predictable events – such as saving for a car and/or house, higher education, and retirement. Each lesson will be presented by a financial professional with extensive knowledge on the subject.

To register for the webinar series, see a complete schedule and learn more about America Saves Week, visit

Commonwealth Summer Internship Opportunities Now Available

CapitolThere are few better ways for students to learn about their majors and potential careers than through an internship. Many state agencies and departments are currently offering internships in a variety of different lines of work. Each internship provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity for interns to learn about state government and a future career in state government.

My staff has compiled a comprehensive packet detailing summer internship opportunities at various state agencies that includes a list of opportunities, background and contact information that will help those who are interested in applying for the positions. In some cases, there are application deadlines so it is important to review the information as soon as possible.

Each agency will make a decision on hiring interns based on their own selection criteria. Please utilize the contact number provided for each agency to learn more about the internship selection process and the status of an application.

Download the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 2014 Summer Internship Programs Packet.

Apply Now for Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program Property Tax Relief

The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is currently accepting applications for the 2013 Property Tax/Rent Rebate program. If you received a rebate last year, you should receive an application in the mail. If you have not received an application, or did not apply last year and wish to apply this year, the applications can be obtained from any of my district offices and my staff would be happy to assist you in preparing your application.

In just the first few weeks that the program has been accepting applications, my staff has helped eligible, local residents apply for over $50,000 in property tax and rent rebates.

The Property Tax/Rent Rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and over; widows and widowers age 50 and over; and people with disabilities age 18 and over. Homeowners with a maximum yearly income of $35,000 and renters with a maximum yearly income of $15,000 are eligible for a rebate. The maximum standard rebate is $650 and the deadline to apply is June 30th.

To view a list of our senior outreach dates, where members of my staff will be in the community helping seniors apply for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program, click here.

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