Senator Bob Mensch E-Newsletter

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  • Senate Approves Senator Mensch’s Legislation Permitting Essential Family Caregiver Nursing Home Visits During Emergencies
  • Senator Mensch’s First-Time Homebuyers Savings Account Legislation Advances from Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee
  • Senator Mensch and Senator Boscola Introduce Resolution Recognizing April 2021 as “Pennsylvania Community College Month”
  • April 2021 – Child Abuse Prevention Month
  • Senate Acts to Put the Brakes on PennDOT’s Bridge Tolling Plan
  • Senate Passes Plan to Establish a New Funding Stream for Pediatric Cancer Research
  • Senate Approves Program to Train Next Generation of PA Firefighters
  • Honoring Veterans of Persian Gulf War and Global War on Terrorism
  • Monday is the Deadline to Register for May 18 Primary Election
  • Friday is the Final Day to Submit Comments on 2020 General Election

Senate Approves Senator Mensch’s Legislation Permitting Essential Family Caregiver Nursing Home Visits During Emergencies

4/27/21 - Designated Essential Family Caregivers (EFCs) in Long-Term Care Facilities

The Senate approved my legislation to allow a family member or other designated person to visit and care for a long-term care facility resident during a disaster emergency involving a communicable disease.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many residents of such facilities have been denied the ability to see and receive care from their loved ones, causing traumatic distress.

The legislation allows long-term care facilities to designate Essential Family Caregivers for regular visits. A participating facility must follow necessary health precautions outlined by federal and state governments.

Read more about the legislation here.

Senator Mensch’s First-Time Homebuyers Savings Account Legislation Advances from Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee

4/28/21 – First-time Homebuyers Savings Accounts (SB 157)

Legislation that I sponsor advanced out of the Pennsylvania Senate’s Urban Affairs and Housing Committee this week. Senate Bill 157 would permit eligible Pennsylvanians to open special savings accounts and take state tax deductions for savings toward expenses such as a down payment and closing costs.

Home ownership can help to strengthen communities and provide stability for growing families. A first-time homebuyers saving account will be an important tool in helping people overcome the financial obstacles to home ownership.

The bill would apply to first-time homebuyers and those who have not owned or purchased a home within the three years leading up to the purchase. Account holders would be permitted to contribute a total of $50,000 over a 10-year period. Annual contributions would be capped at $5,000 for single taxpayers and $10,000 for those filing a joint return.

Read more here.

Senator Mensch and Senator Boscola Introduce Resolution Recognizing April 2021 as “Pennsylvania Community College Month”

I joined my colleague, Senator Lisa Boscola, in sponsoring a resolution that designates the month of April 2021 as “Pennsylvania Community College Month” in the Commonwealth. Pennsylvania’s community colleges play an indispensable role in the Commonwealth’s system of higher education by providing accessible and affordable post-secondary education, workforce training, and dual enrollment opportunities for students from all stages and walks of life. I am pleased to support all of our community colleges and recognize their invaluable contribution to our students and job market. Read more here.

April 2021 – Child Abuse Prevention Month

April 2021 - Child Abuse Prevention Month

 Senate Acts to Put the Brakes on PennDOT’s Bridge Tolling Plan

The Senate approved a plan this week to reform the Public-Private Transportation Partnership (P3) statute and to void the PennDOT Pathways Major Bridge P3 Initiative.

On November 12, 2020, the P3 Board, under PennDOT’s jurisdiction, supported an ambiguous proposal to impose user fees or tolls on major bridges throughout the interstate system. This was the first time in the P3 Board’s history to consider a proposal with user fees.

The reform legislation will:

  • Increase transparency by requiring PennDOT to publish a detailed analysis prior to the P3 Board’s voting meeting, and mandate PennDOT to distribute a copy of the P3 Board’s resolution, with or without a user fee, within 24 hours.
  • Incorporate public input by creating a new 30-day public comment period prior to the P3 Board meeting.
  • Create checks and balances on the obscure P3 Board by clarifying any P3 project with a user fee shall be deemed disapproved unless the Governor and General Assembly approve.
  • Void the PennDOT Pathways Major Bridge P3 Initiative and require reconsideration by the P3 Board following the new process outlined in this legislation.

Senate Passes Plan to Establish a New Funding Stream for Pediatric Cancer Research

More than $100 million in private donations over the next 10 years could be raised to support childhood cancer research under a bill passed by the Senate.

The legislation establishes a tax credit program for qualifying donations to a Pennsylvania pediatric cancer research hospital. The program would be capped at $10 million per year over the next 10 years.

More children die from cancer than any other disease and currently, only 4 percent of National Cancer Institute research dollars are spent on pediatric cancer. Since 1975, pediatric cancer incidence rates have increased every year.

Senate Approves Program to Train Next Generation of PA Firefighters

The Senate approved creation of a pilot program to train high school students interested in firefighting and help alleviate the pressing need for volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania.

According to the bipartisan SR 6 report on the serious problems facing volunteer fire companies, Pennsylvania is experiencing a severe shortage of volunteer firefighters. The current number of volunteers is down to less than 15 percent of the number in the 1970s.

The legislation creates a pilot program for Pennsylvania community colleges and universities to give interested high school students training in firefighting. The goal is to demonstrate that students receiving training will show an interest in becoming the next generation of firefighters. The bill requires a follow-up study to measure the program’s success.

Honoring Veterans of Persian Gulf War and Global War on Terrorism

Two new designations could honor veterans of the Persian Gulf War and the Global War on Terrorism under legislation recently approved by the Senate. The bill would designate March 6 as Persian Gulf War Veterans Day and October 7 as Global War on Terrorism Veterans Day.

Under the bill, the governor would be required to encourage schools to observe the contributions of veterans in these conflicts. However, the observations would not be mandatory for schools. 

Monday is the Deadline to Register for May 18 Primary Election

Monday, May 3 is the last day to register to vote in the May 18 primary election.

You can register to vote online, by mail or at several government agencies.

Other Key Dates:

May 11, 5 p.m. – Applications for a mail-in or absentee ballot must be received by your county election board.

May 18, 8 p.m. – Voted ballots must be received by your county election office.

Friday is the Final Day to Submit Comments on 2020 General Election

Friday is the final day for Pennsylvanians to share their experience from last year’s election with the Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform.

The surveys seek input from Pennsylvanians who voted by mail or in person in 2020.

The committee is expected to use the survey responses and testimony gathered during its series of public hearings to produce a report with recommendations that will be presented to the General Assembly.

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