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Groundbreaking Begins Work on Glade Run Lake Restoration
I was pleased to join with my colleagues Senators Randy Vulakovich and Don White and local officials on October 15 for a groundbreaking ceremony marking the start of the rehabilitation and restoration of Glade Run Lake Dam.
The project involves the reconstruction of the dam's concrete spillway and the reinforcement of its embankment. Safety concerns about the dam forced the Fish and Boat Commission to drain the 52-acre lake in Middlesex Township, Butler County, several years ago. The work is expected to be completed next year with the refilled lake reopening to the public in 2017.
“This project represents a commitment by the community and the Commonwealth to preserve and protect the natural resources of our area through the restoration of Glade Run Dam and Lake. The scope of this project goes well beyond one community or even Butler County. This project provides regional benefits, economically and environmentally, and I was happy to work with my colleagues to help bring it to fruition.”
The project has the support of the Fish and Boat Commission, a number of local municipalities, the Butler County Board of Commissioners and the Glade Run Lake Conservancy, a 2,000-member citizens group formed after the lake was drained in June 2011.
Budget Impasse Update
We are now into the fifth month without a state budget and we seem no closer to a resolution now than we were on June 30 when the last spending plan expired. Governor Wolf remains committed to his tax hikes and spending increases and has publicly stated that he will not “cave” on his position. Legislative Republicans remain steadfast in our opposition to those broad based tax increases.
Responding to growing pleas from schools and community groups to release overdue state funding, Senate Republicans led an effort at the end of October to override Governor Wolf’s veto of an emergency budget passed in September by the General Assembly.
The override, which would have provided badly needed funding while negotiations continue on a final budget agreement, required a two-thirds majority, or 33 votes. While all 30 Republican Senators voted for the measure, the emergency funding veto override vote received no Democrat support.
Ironically, just hours before the vote, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale told members of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee that the lack of state funding is having a devastating financial impact on schools throughout Pennsylvania. School districts have already borrowed nearly a half-billion dollars – plus interest payments of $15 million – because of the budget impasse, and that number may double by Thanksgiving.
Honoring Our Veterans Plates for Motorcycles Now Available
Pennsylvania motorcyclists can support veterans by purchasing newly authorized “Honoring Our Veterans” special fund registration plates.
The plate, authorized by Act 17 of 2015, features the standard registration plate design in blue, white and yellow with an image of the American Flag and a Bald Eagle with the words “Honoring Our Veterans” at the bottom of the plate.
The plate is available for $35 with $15 from each sale going to the Veterans’ Trust Fund, which supports and assists veterans and their families through grants to service and charitable organizations.
More information is available at: http://www.dmv.pa.gov/VEHICLE-SERVICES/Registration%20Plates/Special-Fund/Pages/default.aspx#.VipUJX6rSUl .
Special Senate Committee Establishes Email Address, Website
Emergencies, especially those created by severe weather, can arise in Pennsylvania at any time throughout the year. It is important to know that help may not be immediately available when an emergency arises, so PEMA recommends that residents should always be stocked with enough provisions to last at least 72 hours. The ReadyPA app and website provide sample checklists, contact lists and other important tools to help the public prepare for emergency situations.
The bipartisan Special Committee on Senate Address recently unveiled a new website to provide information about its activities to the public. The Committee will conduct a thorough and deliberative review of the issue of whether the Attorney General is able to serve in her position under a suspended law license.
The scope of the committee is to investigate whether Attorney General Kathleen Kane can continue to do her job with a suspended law license. If it determines she cannot, that finding may be grounds for the Senate to utilize its rarely-tapped constitutional power of removal. The Committee will issue a written report with its preliminary findings by November 25, 2015.
LIHEAP Applications Now Being Accepted
Individuals and families who are having trouble with their energy bills this winter can apply now for the state’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
The program provides grants to help low-income families pay heating bills. LIHEAP also provides crisis grants for families who experience heating emergencies, such as a broken furnace, utility termination or fuel shortage. Regular applications for the program will be accepted through April 1.
LIHEAP applications can be completed online on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Access to Social Services (COMPASS) website at www.compass.state.pa.us. More information is also available by calling the statewide toll-free LIHEAP hotline at (866) 857-7095.
In order to apply for LIHEAP, applicants will be required to submit the names of all people in the household, Social Security numbers for all household members, proof of income for all household members and a recent heating bill.
Consumers should also contact their utility companies to learn more about other programs available to ensure that all local residents will be able to stay warm this winter. Many local utility companies offer assistance plans in addition to LIHEAP.
DEP Accepting 2016 Environmental Education Grant Applications
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is now accepting applications from invited schools, colleges and universities, county conservation districts, nonprofit organizations, municipalities and businesses for Environmental Education Grants of up to $3,000. The deadline to apply is December 18.
In April, DEP awarded 110 grants totaling more than $304,000 to groups in support of environmental education programs across the state. Since the program’s inception, DEP has awarded more than $9.8 million in grants.
Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence
Nominations are being accepted until December 1 for the Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence. These awards are presented each year to local government leaders who have demonstrated exceptional dedication to improving public services through innovative projects or initiatives. There are nine award categories including Building Community Partnerships, Fiscal Accountability & Best Management Practices, and Intergovernmental Cooperation. For a full list of categories or to submit a nomination, please visit www.newPA.com/lgawards.
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Warren, PA 16365-7952
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