Sep. 21, 2018

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Harrisburg Update

A quick look at what’s happening in Harrisburg
and the 125th Legislative District...

Hegins-Hubley Awarded Grant
The Hegins-Hubley Authority has been awarded a grant to replace the water storage tank in Hubley Township.

I was able to assist in securing funding for the water tank replacement through the Department of Community and Economic Development’s (DCED) Small Water and Sewer Grant Program. The effort and collaboration with township officials and Sen. David Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks) were important components of this initiative.

The authority was awarded a grant totaling $403,118. I am grateful that program officials recognized my request for its full funding.

The project has been a top priority of both Hegins and Hubley townships. The existing tank has been in use for about 25 years and, because of its age, has started to deteriorate. A new tank will be beneficial for the community.

Touring Local Technical and Education and Career Facilities
This week, I was joined by Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-5), educators, students and representatives from the business community for a tour of the technical education and career opportunities that are available in Schuylkill County.

We toured and had productive discussions at the Schuylkill Technology Center-South Campus, the Hydro-Extrusion North Plant, and the Solar Innovations® Architectural Glazing Systems Company.

Advances in technology and the growth of a global economy have dramatically changed the kinds of jobs that are available, making high-quality education and skills development vital to competing in today’s workplaces.

In July, the U.S. House unanimously approved, and President Donald Trump signed into law, Thompson’s bipartisan legislation to strengthen and improve career and technical education. The bill reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which is the first major overhaul to the program since 2006. This legislation aligns with legislation that I have spearheaded.

To read more about my work thus far, click here

Education is one of my top priorities. I will continue to work to give Pennsylvanians the skills they need to compete for in-demand jobs.

James Gurcsik, culinary instructor at Schuylkill Technology Center-South Campus (STC), discussed the food that students prepare on a daily basis. Gurcsik told us that the curriculum includes classroom theory, hands-on application and access to state-of-the-art equipment.

Paul Rocco, press engineer, gave me a tour and overview of the Hydro-Extrusion North Plant. The company is the largest aluminum extrusions facility in North America.

Solar Innovations® Architectural Glazing Systems Company specializes in providing commercial and residential products for a variety of types of businesses and homes. Greg Header, owner and chief executive officer, told Congressman Thompson and me that the company is part of a three-building campus on 36 acres, and employs more than 170 people. 

Pension Hearings Continue in Harrisburg
Earlier this year, I was named chairman of the Public Pension Management and Asset Investment Review Commission (PPMAIRC). Along with Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, vice-chair, our task is to review the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) and the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS).

Two informational hearings have been convened to examine the need for improvements in transparency around investment expenses and returns of Pennsylvania’s two statewide pension systems.

The commission was established in 2017 under the broader pension reforms of Act 5 of 2017 to conduct a comprehensive review of PSERS and SERS investment management. The commission has six months to complete its review and to report findings and recommendations to Gov. Tom Wolf and the General Assembly.

We must bring down the debt in both of the Commonwealth’s pension systems, thereby protecting an employee’s investment. The goal is to provide equal treatment to everyone – teachers, lawmakers, retirees, and all state and school employees – so no one is favored or excluded.

The commission’s next meeting is Oct. 25. It will center on an analysis of the pension plans across a variety of areas including asset allocation, fees and costs, performance and processes.

New Website Offers Latest on Spotted Lanternfly
The spotted lanternfly (SLF), a pest native to China and Vietnam, was first discovered in Berks County in 2014 and presents a significant threat to Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry. Products specifically at risk include grapes, tree-fruit, hardwoods and nursery items.

The pest has spread to 13 counties including Schuylkill which is now considered to be part of a quarantine area.

Penn State Extension has compiled a comprehensive website with a lot of resources, including a checklist for homeowners in the quarantine area, tips for handling yard waste, ways to report and dispose of the insect, notices of public meetings, along with signs and symptoms, what’s at risk, where it’s found, and how the state is managing response to the insect. You can also sign up to receive the latest news, updates and alerts.

To access the website, visit my website at or click here.

Are You Prepared?
With remnants of Tropical Depression Florence hitting much of Pennsylvania this week, state and national officials remind residents that September is National Preparedness month.

As part of the awareness month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is urging residents to make and practice a preparedness plan, learn life-saving skills, check your insurance coverage and save for an emergency.

Tips and checklists are available online here.

PA Treasury Holding Military Decorations
The Pennsylvania Treasury announced the launch of a new state website dedicated to reuniting military decorations that have been reported as unclaimed property with their rightful owners.

The new search function allows users to search their names, or the name of a loved one, to see if Treasury is holding a military decoration as unclaimed property. In addition, users can look through a photo gallery featuring some of the decorations that are in the unclaimed property vault, as well as medals that have been returned to their rightful owners.

To search for unclaimed military decorations, click here.
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Office Locations
988 Route 61 South, East Main Street, Schuylkill Haven, PA 17972 | Phone (toll free) (855) 271-9384
Borough Building, 200 S. West St., Williamstown, PA  Phone (717) 647-7208
4B East Wing, Harrisburg, PA 17120-2147 
TTY: 855-282-0614