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Risking bipartisan public humiliation for a good cause
For only the second time in 40 years, I literally dusted off my old high school tenor sax...to play for a good cause Ė the 2017 Big Benefit Concert for the Tamaqua Community Art Center. Since its establishment in 2012, the Tamaqua Community Art Center has provided several educational opportunities for residents and allowed them to unleash their creativity in both performing and visual arts.
This yearís concert featured a host of performers. Many thanks to the lead singers: Tamaqua Mayor Chris Morrison; Councilman Micah Gursky; President of St. Lukeís Miners Campus Bill Moyer; the Centerís very own Laura Williams; School Board President Larry Wittig and his amazing accordion; my fellow tenor sax Amanda Miller (she can actually hit the high and low notes that are far beyond my ability); and the band Redz Vision, for covering up my many mistakes! I also want to thank the many volunteers and donors who helped to make this event come alive!
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is this Saturday, April 29 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day seeks to provide citizens with the opportunity to safely dispose their prescription medications and receive information about the harmful effects of medication abuse and misuse.
Berks and Schuylkill County residents can discard their medications at several local police stations in their area. To view a list of drop-off locations in Berks County, click here. To view a list of drop-off locations in Schuylkill County, click here.
Statewide Blight Task Force highlights accomplishments
Bills passed by the Senate
This week, the Senate passed the following pieces of legislation:
Senate Bill 5 which prevents local jurisdictions from imposing firearms ordinances more restrictive than laws passed by the General Assembly.
Senate Bill 8 which reforms state law regarding the seizure and forfeiture of property.
Senate Bill 25 which amends the Professional Nursing Law to permit qualified APRNs to practice in their field of specialty independent of a physician after they fulfill a three-year, 3,600-hour collaboration agreement with a doctor. Current law requires nurse practitioners to practice under a collaboration agreement at all times.
Senate Bill 95 which addresses lawsuits filed against a person or organization for statements made or positions taken in connection with a matter of public interest or regulation.
Senate Bill 260 which addresses representation of crime victims on the Victimsí Services Advisory Committee within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
Senate Bill 399 which clarifies the Second Class Township Code to stipulate that township supervisors shall not hold any other elective township office or appointed position in the township that is prohibited by the code or any other state law.
Senate Bill 554 which immunizes child victims of human trafficking from criminal prosecution.
These bills will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Telephone Town Hall with Senator ScavelloMonday night, I joined Senator Mario Scavello (R-Monroe/Northampton) during his telephone town hall event where I answered questions about school property tax elimination. Residents from Senator Scavelloís district were overwhelmingly supportive of the complete elimination of the school property tax.
Battle for school property tax elimination
During session on Wednesday, Senator Mike Folmer (R-Dauphin/Lebanon/York) debated Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) again this week on school property tax elimination. Senator Folmer is a proponent of this measure, while Senator Costa opposes it.
Watch the debate below:
Latest Argall Report highlights local addiction treatment center in Berks County
The latest edition of the Argall Report highlights the tremendous work being accomplished at the Teen Challenge Training Center in Berks County to combat the growing heroin and opioid crisis.
The Teen Challenge Training Center is an addiction treatment center committed to providing detox, short-term and long-term programs to help patients who are suffering from addiction. The centerís mission is to bring wholeness to hopeless.
This television report includes a discussion with Senator Mario Scavello (R-Monroe/Northampton) and the Executive Director of the Teen Challenge Training Center, Kris McFadden, Sr. regarding the impact of the addiction crisis.
You can view the video below:
You can also watch the report or read more here.
For more information on Teen Challenge, click here.
Town Hall meetings
On Thursday morning, Representative Tobash and I hosted a community meeting at Tremont Borough Hall. At this meeting, local residents asked us questions and voiced their concerns about a number of issues affecting Pennsylvania and our communities.
During this meeting, we discussed flood control, school property tax elimination, public pensions and other initiatives to reduce the size, cost and scope of state government. We also discussed the latest updates on the state budget.
I will hold two similar in Berks County on the following dates:
Hope to see you there!
State Champion Minersville Area HS Girls Basketball Team visits the Capitol
On Tuesday, the Minersville Area HS Girls Basketball Team visited the state Capitol where they were recognized by the Senate for winning the 2016-17 PIAA Class AA State Championship.
These young women have certainly demonstrated team work, dedication and commitment. Congratulations again on their state championship victory and undefeated season!
You can watch my full introduction of the team here.
Q&A with international students at Nativity BVM High School
Last week, I met with a large group of international students who attend Nativity BVM High School in Pottsville.
My presentation focused on American Democracy, Pennsylvania style. During the Q&A session, these students were so engaged it was one of the best ones Iíve ever witnessed!
Nativity BVM High School has a student enrollment of 206 students, with 35 international students (its largest number of students representing several countries from around the world ever.) This yearís international students represent the following nations:
Read more about the students here .
Welcoming Trinity Academy
I welcomed 4th grade students from Trinity Academy in Shenandoah to the state Capitol on Wednesday. During their time in Harrisburg, they were introduced in the Senate.
Here is my introduction of the students:
Pennsylvania Elks Northeast District 7680 Dinner
Last Saturday, I spoke at the Pennsylvania Elks Northeast District 7680 dinner at the Frackville Elks Lodge No. 1533. Here are a few excerpts from my remarks:
Here are a few notes from Dr. Argallís academic research:
When French political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville came to America in the 1830s, he marveled at the strength of Americans to mobilize toward a cause and solve problems without reliance on the government.
He was one of the first political observers to note the impact of charity and volunteerism on our way of life.
Thatís a sentiment that is embodied by the Elks and the volunteers who make the organizationís mission a reality.
The troubling news, however, is best summed up in the book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert D. Putnam in 2000.
Putnam notes the aggregate loss in membership and number of volunteers in many existing civic organizations such as Knights of Columbus , labor unions, Parent-Teacher Association , Women's Clubs , military veterans' organizations, volunteers with Boy Scouts and the Red Cross , and fraternal organizations ( Lions Clubs , Elks , Masons, Rotary , Kiwanis ). To illustrate why the decline in Americans' membership in social organizations is problematic to democracy, Putnam uses bowling as an example. Although the number of people who bowl has increased in the last 20 years, the number of people who bowl in leagues has decreased. If people bowl alone, they do not participate in social interaction and civic discussions that might occur in a league environment.
Why: Internet, two-income families, and television. Current generations are not as active in civic groups as in the past. Some of this can be attributed to frequent moving, commuting and sprawl.Solution: Donít be afraid of change. The work you do as Elks in our community is important, donít give up.
Pictured left to right: Exalted Ruler Mike Tomko, my wife Beth, Schuylkill County Sheriff Joseph Groody, and District State Vice President William J. Mack.
A special thanks to the Elks for inviting me to their event!
Child development site in Tamaqua
On Thursday, I visited Child Development, Inc. in Pottsville to speak with students and also discuss their potential new facility in Tamaqua. I told the 3, 4, and 5-year olds that reading a story to them was much more fun than my usual meetings at the capitol!
Tamaqua Chamber Community Dinner
This past Wednesday, I attended the Tamaqua Area Chamber of Commerceís 65th Annual Community Dinner to congratulate Paul Dodson on receiving the 2017 Citizenship Award. Mr. Dodson has contributed significantly to his community, both as a teacher in the Tamaqua Area School District for more than 40 years and as an active member in many local organizations. Mr. Dodson was my first wrestling coach, where I truly learned the meaning of humility.
Representative Knowles, Commissioner Halcovage and I were also pleased to congratulate the local business leaders of the year, John and Melanie Ross from the Tamaqua Station Restaurant.
As one of many who worked for years to save this historic 1874 passenger train station from the bulldozer, I am very pleased to see the station again serve as a very successful business, rather than as a symbol of blight and coal region decay.
Congratulations John & Melanie.
Controlling black flies
In order to control black flies, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has begun the process of aerial spraying on over 1,600 stream miles in 37 counties across the state.
The following waterways in Berks and Schuylkill Counties will receive treatment:
For more information about Pennsylvaniaís Black Fly Suppression Program, please visit www.dep.pa.gov.
Roadwork on I-81 in Schuylkill County
Milling and paving work began on I-81 in Schuylkill County this past week between exits 124 (PA 61) and 131 (PA 54) in Ryan and Mahanoy townships.
For the duration of the project, it is anticipated that I-81 north will be reduced to a single lane from 6 p.m. on Mondays until 6 a.m. on Fridays.
Motorists are advised to be alert during these projects by obeying work zone signs and avoiding speeding when going through or approaching these work zones.
To read more about the transportation projects that are happening in Berks and Schuylkill Counties, please click here.
For more information about road conditions and traffic delays, you can visit www.511pa.com.