Nov. 15, 2019 / Weekly Roundup

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Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol
 
Losing our Belief that Communism is Bad

Most session days in the state House begin with a litany of honorees and non-controversial resolutions. A resolution is generally merely an acknowledgement of something noteworthy, such as Alzheimer’s Awareness Day, World War I Veterans’ Day, etc. Resolutions generally pass with no opposition and little ceremony.

Late last month. Rep. Chris Dush introduced a resolution naming Nov. 7 as Victims of Communism Day, mirroring a similar designation made in the U.S. Congress. Nov. 7, 2019, marks the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, which sparked the rise of communism in Russia and ultimately brought totalitarian tyranny, loss of freedom and death to countless people across the globe. Communism has been directly linked to the deaths of over 100 million people.

Rep. Dush’s resolution should have passed easily, particularly in the state home to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Unexpectedly, 30 House members voted against the resolution, with self-described socialist Rep. Malcom Kenyatta leading the opposition and vocally registering a “Heck No!” to its passage.

My children are far removed from communism – they did not grow up during the Cold War. Tourism, cheap manufacturing and “good will” may cause us to forget for a time the political prisoners who still labor in Chinese prisons, but we should never allow the lacy veneer of seemingly modern communist nations to disguise communism’s dehumanizing impact on the soul of a people.

I do not know what may have inspired Rep. Kenyatta and his 29 co-opponents to vote against recognizing the evils wrought by communism, but the fact that nearly 10% of the freely elected members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives struggle with condemning the system that generations of Americans fought to protect us against is reason to remind our children what communism was and continues to be.
 
 
Focusing on Early Childhood Education at Town Hall

Thanks to everyone who came out to my town hall Thursday at Cumberland Valley Christian School, where we talked about the importance of early childhood education and the concept of universal preschool. I do not support state-funded universal pre-K, but I was interested in hearing your opinions on the matter. Thank you.
 
 
Security Grant Program for Nonprofits Now Law

Faith-based institutions and nonprofit organizations will be eligible for grants to boost security at their facilities under a new law approved by the General Assembly and signed by the governor.

Act 83 of 2019 will make funding available to faith-based institutions and nonprofits that serve individuals, groups or institutions listed by the FBI as at risk for hate crime incidents.

Grant awards will range from $5,000 to $150,000. Faith-based institutions and nonprofits could use the money for a variety of security planning, equipment and technology needs, including surveillance cameras, emergency communications equipment, electronic locksets, threat assessments and building upgrades.

The program is similar to the School Safety Security Grant Program, which helps schools meet a variety of security needs. It will be administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Applications are expected to become available early next year.
 
 
New Education Benefit for PA National Guard Families Available

Members of the Pennsylvania National Guard are encouraged to take advantage of the new Military Family Education Program, or PA GI Bill, which is now open for enrollment.

Under Act 32 of 2019, Guard members who commit to an additional six years of service can receive five years of higher education benefits for their spouses and children. The program will provide 10 semesters of tuition-free education for family member(s).

The benefit must be used at a Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency-approved educational institution, and at the tuition rate set by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

Previously, Guard members only were eligible for the Education Assistance Program with their initial service obligation of six years that provides a non-transferable educational benefit. The expansion of this program to spouses and children will help more military families succeed.

Interested Guard members can apply through their unit to the PA National Guard Education Office. Tuition benefits will begin for the 2020-21 academic year.

More information about the program is available here.
 
 
Veterans Trust Fund Grant Program Open for Applications

The state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs is now accepting applications for 2019-20 Veterans’ Trust Fund (VTF) grants. Up to $800,000 in VTF grants will be awarded to nonprofit organizations, veteran service organizations and county directors of veteran affairs across the state.

Up to $150,000 in funding is available for new, innovative or expanded programs or services operated by the county directors of veterans affairs or the Pennsylvania Association of County Directors of Veterans Affairs. The areas of emphasis for applicants in this category are veterans’ outreach and veterans’ court programs.

Up to $650,000 in funding is available to veteran service organizations with 501(c)(19) status and nonprofit organizations with a mission of serving Pennsylvania veterans granted 501(c)(3) status under the Internal Revenue Code. Funding priorities for applicants in this category are homelessness, behavioral health initiatives and veterans’ courts.

Eligible applicants from either category may also submit applications for programs addressing newly identified, unmet or emerging needs of veterans and their families.

Since the grant program began in 2013, 155 grants totaling $3,732,860 have been awarded to organizations providing services to veterans in Pennsylvania.

The deadline to apply is 3 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18. For more information about the program, click here.
 
 
Prepare Now for Winter Weather

Winter weather arrived in some parts of the Commonwealth earlier this week, reminding us of the importance of preparing for colder weather and winter travel.

Preparation is one key to successfully navigating winter roads. Prior to the winter driving season, you should have a mechanic check the brakes, battery, hoses and belts. Also, be sure to check your fluid levels, make sure your wipers don’t streak, ensure your heater and defroster are working properly, check to make sure all your lights are working, and ensure your tires are properly inflated and have sufficient tread depth. Pack an emergency travel kit as well. Click here for more information.

When it’s cold outside, try to stay indoors as much as possible. If you must go outside, cover yours ears, head, mouth and face; dress in layers; don’t ignore your body shivering; and check on infants and senior citizens to ensure they are warm enough. Click here for more information.

Finally, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) reminds residents to write down, print or save toll-free outage hotlines for your electric utility and/or your natural gas utility, which are listed on your monthly bills and posted on the PUC website. The PUC also encourages you to call your utility company if an outage occurs and not to assume someone else has already done so. Click here for more information.
 
 
Washington Township Boulevard to Extend Under Grant

The Commonwealth Financing Authority announced this week that Washington Township was awarded $1 million from the Multimodal Transportation Grant Program.

This money will be used to pave from Gehr Road to Tomstown Road in the continued development of Washington Township Boulevard, which is currently open from Buchanan Trail East in Rouzerville to Tomstown Road north of Waynesboro.
 
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