In this Update:
Senator Mensch’s Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities Signed into Law by Governor
Last week, my Senate Bill 156 was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf as Act 69 of 2021. Act 69, also known as Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD), allows individuals with disabilities to increase earnings under a new category of MAWD, called Workers with Job Success (WJS). Anything earned over the cap will bump contributions into a new category rather than just eliminating eligibility all together and covers workers from 250% of the poverty level up to 600%, or roughly $76,000. Currently, MAWD services are only available to individuals with disabilities with an income of less than 250%, or roughly $32,000 annually. This often discourages workers from working more hours, or from accepting a raise or promotion.
In Pennsylvania, only 35% of people with disabilities are working, with only 21% working full time. Like everyone else, these workers deserve the opportunity to realize their full potential without the fear of losing healthcare benefits. I was honored to sponsor such an important piece of much needed legislation. Thank you to United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania and United Way’s I Want To Work for their constant support and advocacy of this legislation. You can hear some of their stories and why this bill means so much to them in the video above.
Read more here.
Senator Mensch Announces Awarding of Department of Community and Economic Development’s Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program Funding to Lower Salford
This week, I was happy to attend the Lower Salford Board of Supervisors meeting to announce the awarding of $130,000 from the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED)’s Greenways, Trails, and Recreation Program. Congratulations again to Lower Salford Township on being the recipient of this much deserved funding. I was happy to support this effort from the beginning and look forward to the improvements that are to be made. Read more here.
Douglass Township Groundbreaking Ceremony for Station 67 Gilbertsville Fire & Rescue Co. and Douglass Township Police Department
This week, I was honored to attend the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the new Station 67 Gilbertsville Fire & Rescue Co. and Douglass Township Police Department. I look forward to seeing the finished project.
Parents have until July 15 to Choose Additional Year of Education for their Child Following Pandemic Disruptions
Parents have until July 15 to take advantage of a new state law empowering them to decide whether their children should advance to the next grade level or be held back a year due to learning disruptions created during COVID-19.
Parents who wish to pursue the additional optional year of education for their children must complete and return a standardized form to their school district by the July 15 deadline. This allows school districts enough time to plan for changes in class sizes for the upcoming school year.
The additional optional year of education was provided by the newly enacted Act 66 of 2021. The option would only apply to the 2021-22 school year to help manage learning loss caused by the pandemic. Read more here.
2021-22 State Budget in Detail
Last week, I reported that the Senate approved a 2021-22 state budget that holds the line on taxes, supports Pennsylvania’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and provides a financial safety net for the future.
This year’s budget was unlike almost any other given the amount of pandemic recovery federal funding involved. The goal was to drive state and federal funds to where they are most needed, while holding back money to balance next year’s budget responsibly. You can take a closer look at the spending plan here.
Bills of Note Passed by the Senate in 2021
Legislation giving citizens a voice in disaster response and protecting the vulnerable during the pandemic received the most attention this year, but the Senate tackled many more issues in the first six months of the two-year legislative session.
From strengthening schools, to reducing regulatory burdens, improving health care and more, here’s a roundup of notable bills passed by the Senate in 2021.
Bipartisan Task Force Recommends Steps to Improve Juvenile Justice System
The bipartisan Pennsylvania Juvenile Justice Task Force recently released a comprehensive final report with policy recommendations that protect public safety, increase accountability, achieve savings for reinvestment, and improve outcomes for youth, families and communities.
The 30-member task force assessed the state juvenile justice system and reviewed data from court and state agencies and examined how practices can better align with what research says works to improve outcomes for youth and families. The task force received input from more than 500 stakeholders.
If adopted, the policy recommendations are expected to safely reduce the population of young people in out-of-home facilities by 39% by 2026, freeing up nearly $81 million for reinvestment.
Avoiding Tick Bites and Lyme Disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control’s latest statistics (2019), Pennsylvania leads the nation in the number of confirmed Lyme disease cases.
The best way to avoid it is to avoid tick bites. Some tips:
You can read more about how to avoid tick bites, as well as how to spot Lyme disease symptoms and other related topics, here.
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