Senator Yudichak Announces School Safety Grants for 14th Senatorial District

Harrisburg − October 17, 2019 – State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that over $340,000 in school safety grants was awarded for the 14th Senatorial District from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

“The Safe Schools Targeted Grants were created to fund initiatives that will keep our students safe and that will keep violence out of our schools,” said Senator Yudichak. “Receiving this funding will not only help schools across Luzerne County purchase safety and security equipment, it will also assist with training for educators and administrators, so that the threat of violent incidents in our schools is significantly reduced.”

“We are grateful to Governor Wolf and to Senator Yudichak and the Luzerne County Legislative delegation for helping us secure this funding that will assist with making schools across Luzerne County safe and secure for students and faculty,” said Dr. Tony Grieco, Luzerne County LIU 18 Executive Director.

“We want every student to feel safe and secure when they go to school, and these grants will give schools across Luzerne County the resources they need to address any safety issues that arise,” said Joe DeLucca, LIU 18 Director of Federal, State and Non-Public and President, Luzerne County Safe Schools Committee. “I echo Dr. Grieco in thanking Governor Wolf, Senator Yudichak and the entire Luzerne County legislative delegation in making school safety a top priority.”

Equipment Grants for Public Schools:

  • Luzerne IU 18 – $19,393.50
  • Wilkes-Barre Area CTC – $24,959.36
  • Wilkes-Barre Area SD – $22,505.10
  • Wyoming Area SD – $23,500
  • Wyoming Valley West SD – $24,900

Equipment Grants for Nonpublic Schools:

  • Luzerne IU 18 – Cheder Menachem – $14,313.00
  • Luzerne IU 18 – Good Shepherd Academy – $24,548.63
  • Luzerne IU 18 – Holy Family Academy – $24,548.63
  • Luzerne IU 18 – Holy Redeemer – $24,548.63
  • Luzerne IU 18 – Holy Rosary – $24,548.63
  • Luzerne IU 18 – Immanuel Christian – $21,000.00
  • Luzerne IU 18 – St. Jude’s – $24,548.00
  • Luzerne IU 18 – St. Nicholas-St. Mary – $24,548.63
  • Luzerne IU 18 – Wyoming Area Catholic – $24,548.63

Program Grants for Nonpublic Schools:

  • Luzerne IU 18 – Immanuel Christian – $20,000

PDE’s Office for Safe Schools offers four types of safety grants: equipment grants, program grants, School Police Officer grants and School Resource Officer grants. 

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Senator Yudichak Statement on the Closure of the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway in Jim Thorpe

Jim Thorpe October 16, 2019 − “The closure of the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway in Jim Thorpe is a terrible blow for the merchants and taxpayers of Carbon County, who have witnessed an extraordinary growth in the tourism industry as a result of the substantial personal investment Andy Muller and the Reading Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad made in the region,” said State Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon).

“I will work with all parties, especially the business community of Jim Thorpe, in the coming days to do everything possible to keep the passenger excursion train rides of the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway coming to beautiful Jim Thorpe.”

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Senators Call for Probe of DHS Decision to Close State Centers

Harrisburg, PA  October 15, 2019 − A group of Senators has called on state Inspector General Bruce Beemer to investigate the process that led to the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) announced plans to close the Polk State Center and the White Haven State Center.

Senators Scott Hutchinson (R-21), Michele Brooks (R-50), Lisa Baker (R-20) and John Yudichak (D-14) sent a letter to Inspector General Beemer citing a number of troubling issues that led them to question the actions taken by DHS.

“The Department’s decision to close both Polk and White Haven State Centers could have life-or-death consequences for the residents who reside there,” the Senators wrote.  “Due to the seriousness of the issue we believe a full investigation of the Department’s deliberations and decision-making process is warranted.”

The Senators questioned the lack of notification provided to residents of the Centers and their families, significant internal communication problems and potential conflict of interest issues in their letter to the Inspector General.

A copy of the Senators’ letter is can be found here.

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Senators Yudichak, Baker, Hutchinson and Brooks Stand Together to Support Moratorium on Scheduled Closing of Polk and White Haven State Centers

Harrisburg, PA October 4, 2019 − Senator John Yudichak (D-14), Senator Lisa Baker (R-20), Senator Scott Hutchinson (R-21), and Senator Michele Brooks (R-50) will introduce legislation that would institute a moratorium on the scheduled closing of the Polk State Center and White Haven State Center.

“The unilateral decision made by the Department of Human Services to close Polk and White Haven State Centers is forcing the families who call these Centers home to make unimaginably difficult decisions about the quality of care for their loved ones,” Senator John Yudichak said. “During this challenging time, the hard-working employees of the Centers, who also face an uncertain future, have rallied around these families. In that spirit, legislators have come together in a bipartisan fashion to craft legislation that would impose an immediate moratorium on the closure of White Haven State Center and Polk State Center.”

“A moratorium affords the leaders and residents crucial time to fully explore options to closing and allows the employees and families to ascertain whether there are acceptable alternatives to the care provided at the centers,” Senator Lisa Baker said.                                                                                            

“The Department of Human Services is seemingly unmoved by the heartfelt appeals from the families of the residents who will be uprooted by the closure of these centers,” Senator Scott Hutchinson said. “This move by DHS will be disruptive beyond description for those who have known no other home. That means it is incumbent on the Legislature to take action to protect these vulnerable individuals.”

“After chairing a three-hour Senate Health and Human Services Committee hearing, it became even more evident that the decision to close Polk and White Haven was made without talking to the residents and families affected, and without the input of the staff, who are the loving, familiar faces who have cared for the residents for years. It was also made without having concrete knowledge of whether adequate capacity exists to provide appropriate care to all residents in the community,” Senator Michele Brooks said. “At the very least, there should be a moratorium on this decision to have a more thorough discussion that ensures that our most vulnerable citizens in our Commonwealth will be cared for in the most appropriate setting possible.  While a community setting may be suitable for many, the mortality rates cited after other closures are troubling, as is the distance families would be forced to travel to see their loved ones.”

A co-sponsorship memo has been circulated in the Senate and can be found here.

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Senator Yudichak Statement on Governor Wolf’s Executive Order on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Harrisburg, October 3, 2019:  State Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon) released this statement regarding Governor Tom Wolf’s Executive Order on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI):

“I applaud Governor Wolf for initiating the important conversation about Pennsylvania’s entry into RGGI which will put Pennsylvania at the forefront of addressing climate change. Climate change is a real, priority level one threat to our environment that deserves the full attention of the legislature that this executive action will require. As DEP begins their outreach, it will be vitally important for them to have an open dialogue with the legislature and I look forward to participating in discussions to effectively and swiftly deal with climate change.”

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Senator Yudichak and Senator Baker Testimony – Senate Health and Human Services Committee Hearing on the Closures of Polk and White Haven State Centers

Harrisburg, September 24, 2019:  State Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon) and Senator Lisa Baker (R – Luzerne) provided the following written testimony at the Senate Health and Human Services Committee hearing today:

Good Morning. We want to thank Chairman Brooks and Chairman Haywood for convening this hearing before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on the closure of White Haven Center in Luzerne County and Polk State Center in Venango County. Senator Baker and I would like to offer the following written testimony specific to White Haven Center for your consideration.

The Department of Human Services announced closure plans to transition the people that reside at White Haven Center and Polk State Center to community-based care over the course of the next three years.  

Ironically, DHS has publicly stated the closure will take as long as necessary to ensure that each person living at the centers has a home of “their choosing.” However, individuals with intellectual disabilities, and the families that love them, will not be able to choose the home of White Haven Center or Polk State Center where they have lived for most of their lives.

For the 111 people that live at White Haven Center, the center is their community. It is their home. It is their choice. The employees that lovingly care for the people at White Haven Center are not employees – they are extended members of their family. These dedicated care professionals have made it a home for the people who reside at White Haven Center. 

For families with loved ones at the Center, it is also their community. A community where they can celebrate personal milestones, and find comfort in the loving, compassionate care they know will always be provided to loved ones.

The Borough of White Haven, a small community of 1,200 residents, is also a community to those who live at White Haven Center.  People who live at White Haven Center participate in community events, organizations, meetings and parades — they are citizens of White Haven Borough.

The closure of White Haven Center will effectively take away their community and deny these citizens of White Haven, these people with intellectual disabilities, the right to choose their own home. 

The 111 residents at White Haven Center, and the families that love them, have chosen White Haven Center as their home.

Why would the Department of Human Services take away that choice from people with intellectual disabilities? 

The Department of Human Services should pause its closure decision and gather more legislative input from this hearing process on the staggering negative impact their decision will have on people with intellectual disabilities, their loving families, the employees who care for them, and the communities they call home.

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Carly Simpson
Communications Director
Senator John Yudichak
(717) 787-7105
carly.simpson@pasenate.com

Senator John Yudichak and Representative Doyle Heffley Announce Act 13 funding for Borough of Nesquehoning’s Earl Johnson Memorial Park Project

Jim Thorpe, September 17, 2019 – State Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon) and State Representative Doyle Heffley (R – Carbon) announced today that the Borough of Nesquehoning will receive $133,346 in Act 13 funding through the Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program from the Commonwealth Financing Authority.

“With the Act 13 grant award for the Earl Johnson Memorial Park, Pennsylvania continues to invest in the tourism and recreational assets that make Carbon County a beautiful place to live and visit,” said State Senator John Yudichak.

The funding will be used for the replacement of a retaining wall at the far end of the park. The wall presently supports an elevated asphalt surface that is unused and will be turned into a parking lot that will help to alleviate the current parking challenges around the park.

The parking lot will contain a new sidewalk, seven parking spaces and an ADA space, with concrete steps and an ADA ramp, which will present better access to the park for residents with disabilities. The chain link fence along the edge of the retaining wall drop off will also be replaced.

The anticipated result is that the new parking lot will return street parking to residents, and that High Street – a narrow, one-way corridor – will remain open for travel and road maintenance. Drainage will also be installed in the new retaining wall to prevent runoff damage.

“I am pleased to see this state funding come back into the community to enhance the recreational opportunities for Nesquehoning residents,” said Heffley. “This project is going to make the park safer and improve access, and I look forward to its completion. I am always happy to work with our local municipalities in securing state grants and congratulate borough officials for seeking this funding through the Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program.”

The Marcellus Legacy Fund was created by Act 13 of 2012 to provide for the distribution of unconventional gas well impact fees to counties, municipalities, and commonwealth agencies.

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Senator John Yudichak Announces $325,000 for 14th Senatorial District Projects in Luzerne County

Harrisburg, September 17, 2019 – Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that three projects in the 14th Senatorial District in Luzerne County will receive $325,000 from the Commonwealth Financing Authority under the Act 13 program.

“Pennsylvania’s Act 13 investment in important infrastructure projects like the Railroad Street Flood Mitigation Project in Newport Township and closing the gaps on the Delaware and Lehigh Trail will help to sustain and promote continued economic growth in Luzerne County,” said Senator John Yudichak.

Newport Township will receive $160,000 for their Railroad Street Flood Mitigation Project. The project will eliminate dangers and flooding associated with a potential future sidewalk and culvert collapse on Railroad Street. Representative Mullery assisted with securing funding for the Railroad Street Flood Mitigation Project.

“On behalf of the commissioners and residents of Newport Township, I would like to express our sincere gratitude for the work done by Senator Yudichak to procure funding of this critical piece of infrastructure improvement,” said Peter Wanchisen, Newport Township Manager. “Railroad Street will be made safer and more eye appealing when the work is completed. The project will have a very positive impact on the quality of life for the residents of Newport Township.”

The North Branch Land Trust will receive $115,000 to construct six miles of the Delaware & Lehigh Trail beginning in Oliver Mills, Laurel Run Borough to Giants Despair in Wilkes-Barre Township. The Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor is a 165-mile trail that begins in Bristol Borough in Bucks County and ends in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County.

“Building the D&L Trail is a group effort,” said Elissa Garofalo, Executive Director, Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor. “The Act 13 grant funding awarded to North Branch Land Trust demonstrates the key role the Commonwealth plays in connecting this universally accessible pathway for residents and visitors alike.”

The Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority will receive $50,000 for the Spring Run Stream Restoration Project. Funding will be utilized for both the design and construction of the streambank restoration and riparian buffer plantings. The project is being implemented to reduce erosion, sedimentation and nutrients in Spring Run and Solomon Creek. This project will also provide a pollution reduction credit toward WVSA’s regional stormwater management program that targets the overall reduction of sediment and nutrients from the Susquehanna River that leads into the Chesapeake Bay.

Senator Yudichak has worked with the entire Northeast Legislative delegation to help reduce the costs of WVSA’s regional stormwater management program.

The Marcellus Legacy Fund was created by Act 13 of 2012 to provide for the distribution of unconventional gas well impact fees to counties, municipalities, and commonwealth agencies.

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Senator Yudichak Announces PCCD Grants in Luzerne County

Harrisburg, September 13, 2019:  State Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) has awarded state grant funding for three projects in Luzerne County.

Luzerne County will receive $249,338 for their Gun Violence Reduction Initiative. The funding will support the implementation of the Gun Violence Reduction Task Force and regular Trigger Lock Operations, which will use hot spot policing strategies focused on small geographic areas where crime is concentrated.  

“As communities across northeastern Pennsylvania continue to be impacted by gun violence, we must invest in tools that will help them keep residents safe,” said Senator John Yudichak. “Through the implementation of a Gun Violence Reduction Task Force, Luzerne County will have more resources available to help communities address the threat of gun violence.”

“Our number one priority in Luzerne County is keeping our communities safe. We are extremely grateful to Governor Wolf and the PCCD for this funding and to Senator Yudichak and the entire northeast legislative delegation for supporting these important initiatives,” said Dave Pedri, Luzerne County Manager.

Luzerne County also received $111,878 for the expansion of child abuse services. Additionally, the Domestic Violence Service Center in Luzerne County received $97,050 for domestic violence program services. 

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Senator Yudichak Testimony on White Haven Center Closure

Nanticoke,PA September 12, 2019 − State Senator John Yudichak provided the following written testimony at the Department of Human Services public hearing tonight on the planned proposed closure of White Haven Center:

Good evening.  I stand with the families of White Haven tonight to offer my vigorous opposition to the proposed closure of White Haven Center.  

The proposal to close White Haven Center is wrong from a budgetary standpoint, a policy perspective, and, most of all, it is the wrong way to treat people with intellectual disabilities, the families who love them, and the dedicated professionals who care for them. 

I can offer few words more passionate than those offered tonight by the families of White Haven Center.  I am proud of these families, and I’m honored to lend my voice to their cause.  

I hope our voices here tonight ring out across Pennsylvania and spark a movement — a movement to save White Haven Center and a movement to protect some of the most vulnerable members of our society from the misguided political trends that are driving the Department of Human Services’ decision to close White Haven Center.  

I have a long history with White Haven Center. My mother, Sally Yudichak, worked at the Center for many years. She came to White Haven Center after losing her job when Nanticoke State Hospital was closed.  I have great empathy for the workers who now will have to go through the similar painful experience of being uprooted from the job they love. 

Understand and absorb that statement, these workers love their job.  It is among the toughest jobs you can find in the care industry, but they love it —because they love the people who call White Haven Center their home. 

For the White Haven Center families, there is great comfort in knowing their loved ones are being treated with the utmost respect and care from a loving, dedicated staff. 

Instead of fostering that kind of respect, care, and compassion, DHS is dramatically and dangerously disrupting the lives of those who live at White Haven Center. 

In addition to the personal impact, closing White Haven Center will also have dramatic negative impact on the community of White Haven. 

If the Center were to close, the Greater White Haven Chamber of Commerce estimates that business losses will range from 20 to 65 percent — meaning more Luzerne County families will be out of a job. 

Adding insult to injury, it was recently announced that the Department of Corrections is proposing to close SCI Retreat in Luzerne County. 

A closure of both White Haven Center and SCI Retreat will result in the loss of 840 quality jobs and deliver an annual economic loss of $105.3 million to our regional economy. 

Luzerne County has come so far in the last 20 years – we have the lowest unemployment rate in 43 years, and we have created thousands of private sector jobs in the I-81 corridor from Hazleton to Pittston. Even with that success; however, the WB/Scranton Metropolitan Area still has the highest rate of unemployment anywhere in Pennsylvania. 

The closure of White Haven Center and the closure of SCI Retreat could halt all of our economic progress, drive up unemployment, and slip our region into a recession. 

The Department of Human Services should reconsider its decision to close White Haven Center and reflect on the staggering negative impact this decision will have on individuals with intellectual disabilities, their caring families, the professional employees who care for them, and the economy of Luzerne County. 

I implore you to ignore the capricious political trends of Harrisburg and keep White Haven Center open for the families that call it home.

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Yudichak, Heffley to Host 2019 Carbon County Senior Expo

LEHIGHTON – September 3, 2019 − In their continuing effort to improve the quality of life for older residents in the region, Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) and Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) are once again co-hosting a Senior Citizens Expo on Thursday, Sept. 5, in Lehighton.

The free event will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Franklin Township Volunteer Fire Co., 2440 Fairyland Road. A free lunch will also be served.

“The Senior Expo has become an annual Carbon County tradition for local senior citizens to gather in friendship in one convenient location and learn about the wide array of programs available to older Pennsylvanians from the Property Tax Rent Rebate Program to the PACE program, and so many more great programs that serve our seniors,” said Yudichak.

The expo will feature more than 50 exhibitors that will present information on their programs and services. Free flu shots will also be available. In addition, a prescription drug drop-off box will be on-site for seniors to dispose of their unwanted or expired medications.

“There are many agencies and businesses out there that help seniors and their caregivers, but it can sometimes be difficult and time consuming to track down all the details,” said Heffley. “Our expo makes it easier and more convenient by bringing everyone together in one place.”

The legislators will be collecting non-perishable food items to donate to a local food bank and ask everyone who attends to consider bringing a donation.

For more information, contact Heffley’s office at 610-377-6363 or Yudichak’s office at 570-325-3274.

Media Advisory: Senator Yudichak, Senator Baker and PSCOA to Host Press Conference Today on Proposed SCI Retreat Closure

Nanticoke − August 29, 2019 − Senator John Yudichak, Senator Lisa Baker and representatives from the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association (PSCOA) will host media availability to discuss the proposed closure of SCI-Retreat today at 2 p.m. at Senator John Yudichak’s Nanticoke District Office.

WHO:             Senator John Yudichak, Senator Lisa Baker and the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association (PSCOA).

WHAT:           Senator John Yudichak, Senator Lisa Baker and representatives from the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association (PSCOA) will host media availability to discuss the proposed closure of SCI-Retreat.

WHERE:        Senator John Yudichak’s Nanticoke District Office
                      164 South Market Street
                      Nanticoke, PA 18634            

WHEN:           August 29, 2019
                        2:00 p.m.

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Senator John Yudichak, Senator Lisa Baker and Senator John Gordner Statement on Proposed Closure of SCI Retreat

Nanticoke, PA − August 28, 2019 − Today, we heard from unions representing SCI Retreat that a formal announcement regarding the proposed closure of SCI Retreat will be forthcoming in the days ahead from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC).

The proposed closure of SCI Retreat combined with the proposed closure of White Haven State Center is a devastating and dramatic blow to the families of Luzerne County.  The families and communities of Luzerne County will be forced to deal with the loss of nearly 900 family sustaining jobs and over $100 million in direct, annual economic impact.

While we understand the constraints and challenges of the state budget, Luzerne County is being asked to shoulder an unfair burden of responsibility for balancing the budget.

We oppose the proposed closures of SCI Retreat and White Haven State Center.  We will voice our opposition through every means at our disposal, especially the recently enacted Act 133 of 2018, that requires the PA DOC to hold a public hearing to justify the closure of a state corrections facility.

As we did two years ago, we will join forces to fight for the families of Luzerne County.  We understand the odds are not in our favor, and historical policy trends are against us.  However, we are going to make the case to the Administration that SCI Retreat and White Haven State Center are too important to the families they serve and too important to the regional economy to be shuttered.

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St. Luke’s University Health Network Awarded $750,000 for Hospital Project in Carbon County, Announce Heffley, Yudichak

HARRISBURG – August 1, 2019 − St. Luke’s University Health Network today was awarded a $750,000 state grant that will go toward construction of its new hospital in Franklin Township, Carbon County, announced Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) and Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon). The two legislators, working together, played a key role in securing the funding through Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP).  

“I fully support this important project, which will provide residents of the county and beyond with access to high-quality patient care much closer to home,” said Heffley. “In addition, the hundreds of family-sustaining health care jobs being created will have a positive impact on our local economy.”

“Today’s state funding announcement for the construction of a brand-new St. Luke’s University Health Network hospital facility in Franklin Township is a game-changer for the people and visitors of Carbon County,” Yudichak said. “The state’s investment will offer convenient, quality health care to our Carbon County residents with a state-of-the-art hospital that will also boost the regional economy with the creation and retention of over 900 family-sustaining jobs.”

St. Luke’s plans to construct a three-story, 155,500-square-foot acute care hospital which will consolidate all inpatient, outpatient and emergency services from the two existing hospitals it operates in the county into one modern facility. The new hospital will have a 15-20 bed emergency department, at least three operating rooms, a radiology department and additional ancillary services. The Gnaden Huetten and Palmerton medical campuses are being repurposed to provide additional health care services to complement the new hospital.

“This grant is great news for Carbon County. It will help St. Luke’s get started on construction of its new full-service, 80-bed hospital in Franklin Township that will create hundreds of family-sustaining jobs and allow area residents to receive even complex medical care close to home,” said John Nespoli, president of St. Luke’s Gnaden Huetten and Palmerton campuses. 

RACP is a Commonwealth grant program administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic and historical improvement projects with a focus on job creation.

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Senator Yudichak Announces $5.5 million in RACP Funding for the 14th Senatorial District in Luzerne County

Harrisburg, August 1, 2019: State Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that $5.5 million in state grant funding has been awarded for five projects for the 14th Senatorial District in Luzerne County.  

The Greater Wilkes-Barre Industrial Fund will receive $2 million for the Gateway Center Project. The Gateway Center Project will be a mixed-use urban development, comprised of two primary elements: a four-story building containing an 83-key-select-service hotel, and an eight-story mid-rise building containing 33 market rate residences above the hotel’s associated two-story conference/banquet facility. The residential units will showcase panoramic river, mountain and city views while the conference center will include a balcony and terrace overlooking the Susquehanna River.

“We have worked together with Governor Wolf to revitalize the city of Wilkes-Barre and bring national corporations to the county seat. Funding for the Gateway Center Project represents another major step in transforming the downtown with a first-class mixed-use hotel/conference center and residential apartments that will make everyone want to call Wilkes-Barre home,” said State Senator John Yudichak.  

McCarthy Tire Service, a family owned and operated commercial tire company will receive $500,000 for the expansion of their national headquarters in Wilkes-Barre. McCarthy Tire Service was founded by Joseph J. McCarthy in 1926 in Wilkes-Barre. The company currently has more than 50 service locations along the east coast of the United States.

“McCarthy Tire, a national leader in the tire service industry, will continue to grow their homegrown business in the city of Wilkes-Barre. For decades, McCarthy Tire has invested in creating quality, family sustaining jobs that have bolstered the economy of northeastern Pennsylvania and aided in Wilkes-Barre’s revitalization efforts,” said State Senator John Yudichak. “Because of McCarthy Tire Service and Guard Insurance, more and more national corporations continue to take notice of the economic opportunities that exist across Luzerne County.”  

“As we continue with plans to expand our national headquarters in Wilkes-Barre, I’d like to thank Senator Yudichak and Representative Eddie Day Pashinski for their assistance in obtaining this important grant funding that will help us grow our operations and create and retain jobs,” said John D. McCarthy, Jr., President and CEO of McCarthy Tire Service. “McCarthy Tire Service is a family business, and our customers are like family to us. This expansion will help us to continue to provide our customers with the service they have come to expect from us, while also allowing us to continue to call northeastern Pennsylvania home.”  

Additionally, the Irem Temple Restoration Project in Wilkes-Barre will receive $1 million for Phase 1 and 2 of their restoration. This will include site security that will secure all doors and windows and install security and fire alarm systems, masonry repair, roof repair and water drainage that will repair the roof and interior gutters. Once the building is stabilized, the main auditorium can be repaired and restored.

Representative Eddie Day Pashinski assisted with securing funding for the Gateway Center Project, McCarthy Tire Service, and the Irem Temple Restoration Project.

Lehigh Valley Health Network will receive $1 million as part of a multi-phased expansion project at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Hazleton’s Health & Wellness Center campus located along the Airport Beltway in Hazle and Butler Townships. The funding received will assist with a major expansion of facilities and consolidation of outpatient services that will create an ambulatory medical mall at this location. New services being planned for the medical mall will include a medical pavilion, primary care pavilion, women and children’s pavilion, surgical center, cancer services expansion and an urgent care center. Additionally, wellness, rehab, fitness, cardiac rehab, and ancillary testing services such as laboratory, cardiology, and imaging will be centrally located at the medical mall. 

“Lehigh Valley Health Network offers quality health care services to patients across northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. Today’s funding will allow the Lehigh Valley Health Network to expand their services at the Lehigh Valley Hospital in Hazleton in an effort to deliver access to affordable, quality healthcare,” said State Senator John Yudichak.

Representatives Gerald Mullery and Tarah Toohil assisted with securing funding for the Lehigh Valley Health Network.

“On behalf of our senior leadership at Lehigh Valley Health Network as well as our entire team at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Hazleton, I want to express our extreme gratitude to all the members of our state legislative delegation for this support,” said John Fletcher, President, Lehigh Valley Hospital-Hazleton. “They worked very hard on our behalf to secure this significant funding to help meet the health care needs in Hazleton and surrounding communities. This funding will go a long way toward providing critical services and access for local residents as we expand and advance our health care campus along the Airport Beltway in Hazle and Butler Townships.”

Additionally, Luzerne County will receive $1 million for the CALO White Haven Development in Foster Township for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of four vacant buildings and the construction of at least two new buildings that will establish a residential treatment facility to treat the effects of early childhood trauma.  

Representatives Gerald Mullery and Tarah Toohil assisted Senator Yudichak with securing funding for the CALO White Haven Development project. 

The Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program is a Commonwealth grant program administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvement projects.

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Senator Yudichak Announces Funding for Local Housing Projects

Harrisburg, July 12, 2019 − State Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that three local projects have received $315,000 in funding through the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement (PHARE) fund.

“PHARE funding received through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency will allow these three organizations to offer an array of services and programs that will help our citizens with their housing needs and allow them to live more independent lives,” said Senator Yudichak.

The Volunteers of America of Pennsylvania will receive $175,000 to fully rehab a 3,162 square foot building that is declining into a blighted state on East Division Street in Wilkes-Barre. The building will be called the Haven Home and will be used to empower and equip people with intellectual disabilities to live freely and independently.

The Housing Development Corporation of NEPA will receive $125,000 for the Luzerne County Senior/Disabled Home Retention Program. The program will assist seniors and disabled households who are living at home in Luzerne County in at-risk housing to complete home rehabilitation/modification tasks which will enable them to retain their housing and continue living at home.

The Commission on Economic Opportunity will receive $15,000 to develop a Housing Counseling & Homeless Prevention Program in Luzerne and Monroe counties intended to provide direct assistance in the forms of one-time mortgage payments, rental arrers, inspection services, and staffing for case management.

The projects were approved by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

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Senator Yudichak Announces State Funding for SHINE After-School Programs

Harrisburg, July 2, 2019 – State Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon) has announced that the state budget includes $400,000 each in an annual appropriation for both the Carbon/Schuylkill and Luzerne County SHINE after-school programs.

“I want to personally thank my Republican and Democrat colleagues in Carbon, Schuylkill, and Luzerne Counties for fighting alongside me for the children of northeastern Pennsylvania who benefit so greatly from the quality, STEM based after-school programming provided by the SHINE program,” said State Senator John Yudichak.

“With our educational partners, Wilkes University and Lehigh Carbon Community College, we have built a nationally recognized STEM based educational ecosystem that is improving student achievement in the classroom and building a stronger foundation for a 21st century workforce.”

“Senator Yudichak has been a true after-school hero for the nationally recognized Lehigh Carbon Community College SHINE program. This funding has been instrumental in our expansion into eight Carbon and Schuylkill school districts, helps provide cutting edge STEM programming as well as deliver career modules that are relevant to our world today to over a thousand students,” said Rachel Miller Strucko, Director, Lehigh Carbon Community College, Carbon/Schuylkill SHINE Afterschool program.

“The SHINE after-school program at Wilkes University is excited to be receiving $400,000 in state funding. We are grateful to Senator Yudichak for this ongoing support of the SHINE program and his hard work to ensure the program is funded. This funding allows us to continue our important work in the ‘third learning space,’ ensuring children are safe, academically challenged and working toward the STEM based careers of the future during this valuable after-school time period,” said Carol Nicholas, Director, SHINE of Luzerne County.

The Carbon/Schuylkill SHINE program operates in eight school districts and is administered by the Lehigh Carbon Community College and provides academic support. The Luzerne County SHINE program operates in six school districts. Wilkes University is the educational host for SHINE of Luzerne County, providing administrative and educational support services for the program.

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Senator Argall and Senator Yudichak Announce Expansion of Coal Refuse Energy and Reclamation Tax Credit

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. 

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Senator Yudichak Issues Statement on the 2019-20 State Budget

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.”

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Carly Simpson

Communications Director

Senator John Yudichak

(717) 787-7105

carly.simpson@pasenate.com

Senator Yudichak Issues Statement on SR 226 Report

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/

 

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Senator Yudichak Statement on Senate Bill 94

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. 

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Senator Yudichak and Senator Killion Introduce Restore Pennsylvania Legislation

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.

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Senator Yudichak Announces 21st CCLC Funding for Shine Program

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.”

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Senator Yudichak and Representative Toohil Announce Red Light Enforcement Funds for Hazleton Project

Nanticoke, May 29, 2019 – State Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon) and State Representative Tarah Toohil (R – Luzerne) announced today that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) awarded the City of Hazleton with $269,430 in Automated Red Light Enforcement (ARLE) funding.

The funding will be used to upgrade the traffic signal at the intersection of 15th Street and Grant Street by installing mast arms, new signal heads, pedestrian countdown signals with push buttons, video detection system, emergency preemption system, pavement markings and ADA ramps.

“The ARLE program is an important tool in helping to make our roads safer for the millions of pedestrians and motorists that use them each day,” said State Senator Yudichak.

State Senator Yudichak worked with State Representative Tarah Toohil to acquire the funding.

“I am pleased the signals at this busy intersection will be modernized,” said State Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne). “The new technology will make it safer for students walking to school and improve traffic flow.”

“The City of Hazleton is grateful and gracious for the funding it has been awarded today. I appreciate the hard work of our legislators for securing this funding, which will enable the City of Hazleton to keep progressing in the right direction with a safer infrastructure system,” said Jeff Cusat, City of Hazleton Mayor.

Today’s funding announcement for the City of Hazleton was a part of Governor Tom Wolf’s announcement that 38 municipalities statewide will be receiving $15.4 million in ARLE funding.

The ARLE system is a technological tool to help police by automatically monitoring signalized intersections for red-light-running violators on a 24/7 basis. This improves safety and allows law enforcement officers to focus resources on other critical police functions.

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Senator Yudichak and Members of the Task Force on Lead Exposure Discuss Legislative Recommendations of Advisory Committee and Task Force Report on Lead Exposure

Harrisburg, May 7, 2019 – Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon) and legislative members of the Task Force on Lead Exposure held a press conference today to discuss the legislative recommendations that were part of ‘Lead Exposure Risks and Response in Pennsylvania: Report of the Advisory Committee and Task Force on Lead Exposure.’ The legislative members of the task force included Senators Lisa Baker (R – Luzerne/Pike/Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming), Wayne Fontana (D – Allegheny), Judy Schwank (D – Berks), Pat Stefano (R – Fayette/Somerset/Westmoreland) and Gene Yaw (R – Bradford/Lycoming/Sullivan/Susquehanna/Union).

“The members of the Advisory Committee and Task Force on Lead Exposure, created by Senate Resolution 33, have worked tirelessly to analyze the public health threat of lead exposure and their report underscores that lead exposure is an issue in every Pennsylvania county. We come together today, in the spirit of bipartisanship, to advance the legislative policy recommendations put forth by the Joint State Government Commission that will better protect Pennsylvania children from the risks of lead exposure and lead poisoning,” said Senator John Yudichak.

 

The advisory committee and task force made the following recommendations, several of which are being addressed through legislation announced at today’s press conference:

  • Require universal blood screenings for children;
  • Mandate inspections/certifications of child-care facilities with vulnerable populations;
  • Ensure safe housing is available to families through a residential rental property certification program;
  • Establish a statewide rental housing registry;
  • Establish a lead abatement grant program to assist property owners in conducting lead abatement;
  • Establish an interagency council to coordinate implementation of lead prevention programs and policies among the relevant state agencies;
  • Require all school drinking water systems to be inspected and certified;
  • Clarify plumbing system lead ban;
  • Permit municipal authorities operating public drinking water system to replace lateral lead service lines;
  • Require lead service line replacements and restrict partial lead water service line replacements;
  • Adopt the Uniform Property Maintenance Code; and
  • Provide guidance on private well construction.

Senator Lisa Baker and Senator Yudichak have introduced Senate Bill 312, which would require universal blood testing for children. Senate Bill 312 has been referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

“We have known for a while now how debilitating lead exposure is to the health and development of children. Recent revelations of lead tainted water in schools and homes have raised additional alarms. There is an obligation to have every child tested, in order to find out who has been affected, to monitor and treat those who have, and to locate the source of contamination so preventative measures can be taken,” said Senator Baker.

Senator Judy Schwank has introduced Senate Bill 39, which will require lead testing at child daycare programs. The bill requires the Department of Human Services to include lead testing of water, paint, soil and dust in the licensing process for child daycare programs. Senate Bill 39 has been referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

“My bill, SB 39, aims to protect children in day care programs by ensuring the facilities where they play and learn at the earliest ages are tested for lead,” Senator Schwank said.

Senator Gene Yaw will introduce legislation that requires all school drinking water systems to be tested for lead contamination.

“Lead contamination in schools and in public drinking water supplies is a real threat across our state and our nation,” said Senator Gene Yaw. “It’s unfortunate that schools, a place where our children spend much of their time, can have unsafe levels of lead in their water supply. The bill is one more step we can take to protect our children and school employees from potential health hazards.”

Senator Wayne Fontana plans to introduce a bill that will establish a statewide rental housing registry.

“Our fundamental job as public officials is to protect the health, safety and welfare of our citizens. With increasingly aging infrastructure throughout our Commonwealth, it’s imperative that we do all we can to help local communities on lead abatement projects,” said Senator Fontana. “We must also monitor the sources of lead contamination in our public spaces and in private homes, so that people are educated to what degree they may be exposed. As a result of the study recommendations, my legislation will establish a statewide rental housing registry that has been certified as lead free or lead safe so as to allow potential tenants to verify if housing they are considering will be safe for their families.”

Senator Pat Stefano will be introducing legislation that clarifies the plumbing system lead ban.

“Consumer education is key in preventing lead exposure. That’s why I am introducing legislation that would put educational information in the hands of consumers who may be most at risk for led exposure,” said Senator Stefano.

The Advisory Committee and Task Force on Lead Exposure was formed after legislation sponsored by Senator Yudichak, SR 33, was approved in 2017. The Joint State Government Commission released the report in April. The report is available online at http://jsg.legis.state.pa.us/

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Watch Press Conference