“Talk to Your Senator” Video Contest Gets Students Involved in Fight Against
Drug, Alcohol Abuse
I would like to urge Pennsylvania middle and high school students to help
find solutions to the growing heroin and opioid epidemic facing the state by
producing a video aimed at focusing greater awareness on the crisis.
“Talk to Your State Senator,” a statewide video competition sponsored by the
Senate of Pennsylvania with support from members of the Drug and Alcohol Service
Providers Association of PA, is intended to get students involved in legislative
efforts to fight heroin and opioid abuse. Students are encouraged to submit
video entries of no longer than five minutes that highlight ways to combat
abuse, help those who suffer from addiction and develop laws to address the
“Talk to Your Senator” is open to Pennsylvania students in grades 6 through
12 and will provide a total of $10,000 in cash prizes to winning entries that
focus on ways to prevent drug and alcohol abuse among young people. Prize money
will be awarded through the TAP 529 Account program in the PA Department of
Treasury and will be deposited into a college savings account in the winner(s)
name. Videos will be judged based on creativity, content and effectiveness of
Schools and students can find more information on the contest, including
guidelines on submitting videos, content, judging, and prizes, at
www.acommonwealthcrisis.com, a website established by the Pennsylvania
Senate as a tool to provide information and resources on the heroin and opioid
Entries must be submitted using the registration form available online at
www.acommonwealthcrisis.com/talk-to-your-state-senator/. The deadline for
video entries is December 10, 2017.
Sharing the Story of PA Pension Overhaul Success
Recently, I was invited to speak at Harvard University and
share Pennsylvania’s path to successfully reforming the state’s beleaguered
pension system. I was honored to discuss our state’s success in addressing
pension reform as part of a case-study panel that included Pennsylvania, Rhode
Island, Arizona and New Jersey. The audience included financial experts,
educators, government officials and economic policy specialist from across the
The road to addressing Pennsylvania’s pension problem was
long and difficult. However, the Pennsylvania legislature took historic action
to restructure the state’s two public employee pension systems. Act 5 of 2017
resulted in the
most comprehensive transfer of risk away from taxpayers in the country with the
potential to save more than $17 million and continues to receive national
It was an honor to join such esteemed professionals to share how, in
Pennsylvania, we were able to communicate the realities of the pension problem
to show the impact on every resident and every program in the Commonwealth.
Touring J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital in Huntingdon, I saw how their new ER and cath lab
are an important part of our local community.
New PA Law Allows Terminally Ill to Try Investigational Treatments
Pennsylvania is now the 38th state to pass legislation that
allows terminally ill patients to try investigational treatments that could save
or extend their lives.
The new Right to Try Law empowers terminal Pennsylvanians
to pursue treatments that have passed the FDA’s Phase 1 safety trials but have
not yet received final FDA approval.
I strongly supported this legislation because it gives
terminally ill people an opportunity to explore further options when all others
have been exhausted.
The FDA drug approval process can take up to 15 years.
This is far too long for dying patients to wait, particularly when many
potentially life-saving treatments are available. This legislation gives hope
back to patients and their families. No one can guarantee that a particular
treatment will be effective, but this law returns choice and control over
treatment options to where it is most effective: with patients and their
Students from the Young Scholars of Central
Pennsylvania Charter School in State College recently visited the State
Senate Approves Final Revenue Plan Without Broad Based Tax Increases
Following months of negotiations, the General Assembly has
approved a final revenue plan. While not perfect, the final plan is one that
meets our obligations to fund state programs and services without broad-based
taxes and large increases in spending.
We faced many challenges in coming to an agreement that
ensures the Commonwealth meets its commitment to human service organizations,
school districts, and state residents. Facing a $3 billion deficit and little
support for new spending and taxes, lawmakers were confronted with one of the
most difficult budget situations in recent memory. Finding consensus and
compromise was not easy, but I am thankful that we have arrived at a solution
and can now move forward.