Senator Bob Mensch E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • This Week’s Survey Question
  • Veteran’s Discount ID Card Event- April 20, 2022
  • Mensch Bill 749 passes in the Health and Human Services Committee
  • Mensch Introduces Upper Pottsgrove Township Commissioners to the Senate Floor
  • Senator Mensch speaks on SR266, SR270
  • Breast Cancer Awareness Month
  • Financial Literacy Month
  • Election Integrity: Senate Votes to Ban Unsecured Ballot Drop Boxes
  • Election Integrity: Senate Acts to Keep Outside Money Away from PA Election Process
  • Senate Boosts Crime Victim Protection and Support
  • Legislation to Aid Rural Remote Working Passes Senate
  • Senate Approves Measure to Encourage Responsible Solar Development, Protect Property Owners
  • Have a Happy and Blessed Easter

This Week’s Survey Question

Please take a moment to answer this week’s survey question.

“Pennsylvania is one of only nine states that doesn’t allow unaffiliated voters to participate in primaries. Do you support this idea?”

Veteran’s Discount ID Card Event- April 20, 2022

Attention MONTGOMERY COUNTY Veterans- Discount ID Card Event on April 20, 2022 from 10am-12pm.

Veterans who do not live in Montgomery County can contact their county’s Recorder of Deeds Office to acquire a discount ID card.

Mensch Bill 749 passes in the Health and Human Services Committee

Senate Bill 749 sponsored by Senator Mensch passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee this week. Senate Bill 749 amends Act 16 of 2016, better known as the Medical Marijuana Act, to address any situation of impairment by an employee in the workplace.

Since marijuana is still illegal under federal law, this inconsistency has created issues for employees and employers since the guidelines for managing an employee’s use of legal prescription drugs are not applicable to medical marijuana laws in Pennsylvania.

Because of this, Senate Bill 749 will try to adhere federal provisions regarding legal drugs as closely as possible in efforts to try to be fair to employees while still ensuring workplace safety.  Narrowly tailored to only apply to safety-sensitive positions, and not every job and employee in the Commonwealth, Senate Bill 749 is trying to address the positions with the most serious risk of harm in the workplace where the impairment of the employee increases danger levels.

The question of how to differentiate the presence of marijuana in an employee’s system and impairment, and how one would test or measure these levels, is an important distinction in the bill. “We are dealing with impairment and not under being the influence,” Mensch said.  “It’s more than a subtle difference. It’s a very specific difference and it makes the bill, I believe, much more workable.”

This piece of legislation has been “lengthy and challenging” said Committee Chair Senator Michelle Brooks (R-Mercer), but actions will be taken in an effort to revise and ensure this crucial piece of legislation is passed for the benefit of employees and employers.

The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

Mensch Introduces Upper Pottsgrove Township Commissioners to the Senate Floor

Members of the Upper Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners were invited guests Tuesday (April 12, 2022) to the Capitol and were welcomed on the Senate floor.

In attendance was the President of the Board and Retired US Army Colonel, Trace Slinkerd. Vice President Cathy Paretti, Commissioners Dave Waldt and Don Read and US Army Vietnam Veteran Hank Llewellyn. Also in attendance during the visit was 147th House District Rep. Tracy Pennycuick.

Amongst the board members are veterans, community leaders, and individuals with extensive knowledge in various fields of expertise. Because of their various experiences and backgrounds they bring to the Township, they were able to achieve noteworthy accomplishments.

Watch Senator Mensch’s Introduction Here.

Senator Mensch speaks on SR266, SR270

Senator Mensch this week in session spoke before the Senate, on Senate Resolution 266 and Senate Resolution 270. Senate Resolution 266 is a resolution that will designate March 2022 as “Triple Negative Breast Cancer Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania.

Breast cancer is among the most diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among women in the United States.  Nearly 14,000 Pennsylvania women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 2,000 will die from it this year.

Triple Negative Breast Cancer is one of many forms of breast cancer and accounts for about 15-30% of all diagnosed invasive breast cancer cases in the United States. Sadly, people diagnosed with metastatic Triple Negative Breast Cancer have a less than 30% chance of surviving past five (5) years.

“Therefore, it is necessary for us to promote Triple Negative Breast Cancer education, raise awareness among the disease-related disparities, and tackle inequities within the health care delivery such as inadequate access to screening, diagnostic treating and care, and to improve early detection and survival,” said Mensch.

Senate Resolution 270 was also brought to the attention of the Senate this week. Senate Resolution 270 will designate April 2022 as “Financial Literacy Month” within the Commonwealth. Financial Literacy Month, every year, is celebrated in April.  It was first recognized in the United States in April of 2004 to highlight the importance of being financially literate, and to encourage individuals to learn about the ways and techniques that can help them in becoming financially smart and independent.

Financial Literacy Month originated from Youth Literacy Day, which came into existence through the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE).  In 2003, Congress showed great support for this designation after both the United States Senate and the House of Representatives passed resolutions requesting President George. W Bush to declare April as Financial Literacy Month.

The house then passed a bill that supported the goals of Financial Literacy Month, requesting the President to implement the month of April to the Federal Government, schools, localities, and non-profit organizations.  It is said that the foundation of a bright future is to develop a budget and increase your financial knowledge.

Because of this, Senator Mensch states, “we hope that we can expand upon that Mr. President, and encourage everyone great financial literacy.”

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

4/12/22 - Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Financial Literacy Month

4/12/22 - Financial Literacy Month

Senate Votes to Ban Unsecured Ballot Drop Boxes and Private Funding of Election Operations

The Senate voted this week to safeguard the integrity of Pennsylvania’s elections by approving two bills that would prevent the future use of unsecured ballot drop boxes and ban private money to fund election operations. The measures were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

No More Unsecured Ballot Drop Boxes

Senate Bill 1200 would require mail-in ballots that are not returned in the mail to be returned only to the County Board of Elections office, effectively eliminating drop boxes in Pennsylvania. 

Drop boxes were permitted by a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling in 2020, despite the fact that they were never authorized or intended by the General Assembly through the legislative process. Since that time, numerous examples of drop boxes being misused have been discovered throughout the state, including:

  • Video evidence from Lehigh County showing ballot harvesting in the 2021 General Election.
  • Video evidence from Lackawanna County showing a man allegedly harvesting multiple ballots into a drop box during the 2021 Primary Election.
  • Video evidence from Montgomery County showing ballot harvesting in the 2021 General Election.
  • Memorandum from Lehigh County explaining how detectives reviewed video from four different drop boxes in the county and determined there were overvotes at each of the locations.
  • Testimony from a Luzerne County Judge of Elections indicating an individual admitting to repeatedly harvesting ballots at a drop box, not realizing it was even illegal.

Eliminating unsecured ballot drop boxes will not negatively impact voter access. There are more than 10,000 publicly available locations across the Commonwealth that voters can use to return their ballots.

Keep Outside Money Away from PA Election Process

Senate Bill 982 would ban any state employee or county from accepting money from outside groups to pay for the administration of elections in Pennsylvania.

The legislation was created in response to the use of grant money from the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) during the 2020 Election. Correspondence between CTCL officials, the Wolf Administration and county officials demonstrates that funding was intentionally directed predominantly to counties that favor Democrats.

Democrat-leaning counties were selectively invited to apply for the grants before Republican-leaning counties were even made aware of the funding. Philadelphia and its surrounding counties received more than $18 million from CTCL in the 2020 Election, while other counties received significantly less.

For example, Philadelphia received $8.83 per voter in CTCL funding in 2020. On the other side of the state, Venango County, with a Republican voter registration advantage, received only $.64 per voter in CTCL funding in 2020.

It was never the intent of the legislature to establish rogue election facilities on public street corners with pop-up tents, or in cars, trucks, and vans and without Board of Elections oversight while allowing outside third party entities to pay for them in areas of their choice.

The steps the Senate took with SB 1200 and SB 982 are a significant step towards ensuring the vote of Pennsylvanians is secure.

Senate Boosts Crime Victim Protection and Support

The Senate approved a package of bills aiding crime victims by providing stronger protections, increasing support and improving access to services. The bills now advance to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Bill 1179 extends the Domestic and Sexual Violence Victim Address Confidentiality Act to give victims of child abduction and human trafficking access to substitute mailing addresses and allows applications for address confidentiality to be submitted electronically.

Senate Bill 118 expands Megan’s Law to require offenders convicted of any sex trafficking-related offenses to register.

Senate Bill 1040 requires law enforcement to make reasonable efforts to ensure a murder victim’s family has been notified before releasing the victim’s identity to the public and media.

Senate Bill 1172 expands access to Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) to better provide quality care for victims. SANEs have specialized training in trauma and forensic nursing and are vital to a complete care system for survivors of sexual assault.

Legislation to Aid Rural Remote Working Passes Senate

Legislation to help more rural Pennsylvania communities establish remote workplace facilities was approved by the Senate. It now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Bill 962 would create the Rural Co-Working and Innovation Centers Grant Program within the Department of Community and Economic Development to help rural communities create facilities equipped with high-speed broadband, furniture, and security systems for teleworkers. 

According to the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, 48 out of 67 counties and 1,592 municipalities are rural and could benefit from this program.

Senate Approves Measure to Encourage Responsible Solar Development, Protect Property Owners

The Senate approved a proposal that would establish decommissioning and financial requirements for solar generation projects going out of service and offer better protections for landowners.

Senate Bill 284 includes a graduated, phase-in process for financial assurances, setting up five-year benchmarks using third-party professional engineers to assess and calculate fair market value of the project and costs to decommission it.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Have a Happy and Blessed Easter

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