Dec. 13, 2019 / Weekly Roundup

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The Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampShort# The latest news from the State Capitol
Equality in Parenting Time

As a member of the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Family Law, I participated in a discussion of House Bill 1397 this week. The legislation would create a rebuttable presumption that equal parenting time is in the best interest of the child.

Testimony was heard from the Pennsylvania and Kentucky Affiliate National Parents Organizations, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Americans for Equal Shared Parenting, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County and Montgomery County, the Joint State Government Commission Domestic Relations Advisory Committee and the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

During the hearing, I had my share of questions that needed to be answered. Click here to watch.
House to Take Up ‘Smart Justice’ Initiative

The House returns to session next week with a number of items on the agenda, including a package of bills aimed at reforming our criminal justice system.

The “Smart Justice” initiative, which advanced through the House Judiciary Committee earlier this week, seeks to reform Pennsylvania’s probation and parole system, reduce recidivism, and help formerly incarcerated individuals find jobs that will help them avoid some of the pitfalls that keep many in the state’s penal system.

Pennsylvania has the second-highest percentage of citizens on probation or parole in the country, and our prison population has increased by approximately 850% during the past 40 years at a cost of $2.4 billion per year to taxpayers. A recent study of information from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections showed that nearly one-third of prison beds were occupied by people who violated terms of their probation or parole.

Our goal is to strike a balance between ensuring people are held responsible for their actions while also removing barriers for people looking to rebuild their lives once they have served their time. We are working to keep our communities safe while also looking to protect taxpayers by supporting people who want to be productive members of our society.

Learn more about the measures we will be considering in the House next week here.
Tis the Season!

It's time to get into the holiday spirit.

The Capitol Christmas tree is shining bright after the official tree-lighting ceremony this week. The 18-foot tall Douglas Fir tree comes from Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton, Carbon County, and was donated by the Pennsylvania Christmas Tree Growers Association.

This year's tree is decorated with more than 800 LED lights and 500 ornaments created by senior citizens and preschoolers across the state. The tree will remain on display in the Capitol Rotunda throughout the holiday season.
Environmental Education Grant Application Deadline Approaching

Schools, county conservation districts, nonprofits, businesses and other eligible organizations have until Tuesday, Dec. 31, to apply for the 2020 Environmental Education Grants program.

Projects with a local focus may receive up to $3,000, and regional or statewide initiatives may receive up to $20,000.

Formal and nonformal education projects are eligible. Project examples include tours, hands-on workshops and demonstrations focused on watershed stewardship and community action, renewable energy, energy conservation, vehicle idling, alternative transportation and healthy air quality.

Since its inception, the Environmental Education Grants program has provided more than $12 million in grants to more than 1,890 organizations statewide.
Application instructions and program guidelines are available here.  

Applications must be electronically submitted through the eGrants web portal.
Building Our Workforce, Training Opportunities

The Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) is now accepting applications for $6.6 million in PAsmart Apprenticeship grants to help more workers “earn while they learn” and gain the hands-on skills for good jobs in high-growth industries.

Building on the House GoodJobs4PA initiative launched earlier this year, the grant program is designed to build a diverse talent pipeline into the building and construction trades; expand registered apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships in non-traditional industries with an emphasis on health care, manufacturing and information technology; and support registered apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships through ambassador networks across the Commonwealth.

Eligible applicants include organizations that serve as sponsors or intermediaries of registered apprenticeships including businesses, community-based organizations, economic development organizations, industry associations, labor organizations, local education agencies, local workforce development boards, nonprofit organizations, post-secondary institutions, public libraries and STEM ecosystems.

The deadline to apply is Jan. 10, 2020. Grant materials, requirements and information about the bidder’s webinars are available on the department’s website here.
Protect Against the Flu

With more than 2,600 laboratory-confirmed cases of flu statewide, the Department of Health is urging residents who have not already gotten a flu vaccine to do so.
Guidelines recommend everyone 6 months of age and older should get the vaccine each season. It takes about two weeks for the antibodies from the vaccine to develop protection against infection.

Influenza is a contagious disease, caused by the influenza virus. It attacks the nose, throat and lungs and may include the following symptoms: fever, headache, tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches.
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