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Spread the Word to End the Word
Last week I was honored to host over 50 guests from the Fayette County Special Olympics and the Arc of Fayette County. They were visiting the Capitol as part of the national campaign kick-off of the “Spread the Word to End the Word” initiative supported by Special Olympics and more than 200 other organizations from around the world. Several Senators joined me and my constituents on the Rotunda steps to bring awareness to their cause of positive and inclusive language to describe those living with mental disabilities. You can find the video of the rally here.
Following the rally, I introduced these brave individuals during a meeting of the Senate and offered a resolution recognizing "Spread the Word to End the Word" month in Pennsylvania. You can find my remarks here.
Thank you to Mary Mossburg, Executive Director of the Arc of Fayette County, and Mary Williams of the Fayette County Special Olympics for working with my staff to bring this vital message to the Capitol.
To quote my friend and rally attendee, Zachary Williams, “Together we can stop the use of these hurtful words. Remember, let’s educate, not tolerate!”
Senate Passes Stefano Bill to Allow Game Commission to Establish Fees for Hunting and Fur-Taking Licenses
Last week, the Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation I sponsored which would give the Pennsylvania Game Commission the authority to establish the fees that it charges for hunting and fur-taking licenses. S.B. 192 would allow the commission to set its own license costs while providing the legislature with necessary oversight of the organization.
This bill would give the Commission the flexibility and authority to develop and maintain a fee structure that generates sufficient revenues to pay for its activities on behalf of hunters and trappers. It’s a common sense and much-needed change that will benefit Pennsylvania sportsmen and enable the Commission to better respond to changes in market conditions and other areas.
Without new revenue, the Game Commission would have to begin to make significant cuts important to sportsmen. I am hopeful that the House takes action on this bill and SB 30, which would accomplish the same goal for the Fish and Boat Commission, sooner rather than later. Sportsmen groups have come forward in favor of these bills because they understand they will ultimately be the ones hurt by depleted commissions. The House cannot allow the catastrophic consequences of inaction on these bills to affect our wildlife management programs in Pennsylvania.
You can read this legislation and track it’s progress here.
Education Panel Endorses Bill to End Practice of “Ghost Teachers”
The Senate Education Committee this week approved SB 494, legislation that would bar public school teachers from working full-time for their collective bargaining agent while remaining on their district’s payroll. These teachers are commonly referred to as “ghost teachers.”
Among Pennsylvania’s 500 school district contracts, 198 former district employees may work full-time for the teachers’ union while remaining on public payroll. These ghost teachers receive taxpayer-funded salaries, health benefits and pensions, yet they may never return to the classroom or engage in actual teaching. This should not be allowed or tolerated because it is a blatant misuse of taxpayer dollars and drains money and resources away from our classrooms and our students.
If a teacher decides that they want to change their career path and work for their union on educational issues that’s their choice and their right. They should not have the right to involve their school district or the taxpayers financially in that career choice. At a time of tight budgets, rising property taxes and taxpayer concerns over increasing education costs, I believe that teachers should be in the classroom. We are protecting taxpayers and ensuring that the money they pay is being used to provide a good education for their children.
You can read this legislation and track its progress here.
Governor Wolf’s Lack of Commitment to Rural Infrastructure
Pennsylvania submitted a list of $1.9 billion in infrastructure improvements to the US Department of Transportation highlighting the priorities of the Wolf administration. Left off that list were two projects that would have a substantial impact on the 32nd district and Western Pennsylvania as a whole: the completion of Route 219 and the Mon Fayette Expressway.
I asked PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards about the Wolf Administration’s commitment to these projects, Secretary Richards claimed that when comparing 219 against other projects in Pennsylvania, “need [and] the total number of vehicles that use that roadway…would be a significant piece of,” making a roadway a priority and “when it measures up against other projects throughout the state, the others get rated higher.”
I responded by saying, “when a road goes nowhere, it’s hard to count cars on it.”
When I asked the Secretary how many projects were on the list from rural areas, the Secretary was unaware. I helped her out by notifying her that, “I believe the answer is none.”
Listen further here as I make the case for keeping Route 219 and the Mon Fayette Expressway toward the top of the Governor’s priorities instead of continuing to penalize rural areas like ours in the 32nd district.
What the Press is Saying about Senator Stefano
"We're fortunate to have two elected officials who have a vision of what's necessary for the economic development of our area, especially when it comes to transportation…Fayette County Commissioner Vince Vicites and state Sen. Pat Stefano, R-Bullskin Township, are to be commended for their strong stands in pushing for the extension of the Mon Fayette Expressway..." - from the Herald Standard Editorial on April 5, 2017
Amid the ceaseless clamor for more funding for K-12 public schools, more attention should be paid to where taxpayers' education dollars already go — such as to “ghost teachers”… Thankfully, the Senate Education Committee has passed Senate Bill 494…a bill that the full Senate and the House should pass, and Gov. Tom Wolf should sign into law… Every tax dollar spent on “ghost teachers” is a dollar not spent on education. And that's what makes “ghost teachers” glaring examples of the need to better spend education dollars rather than perpetually tapping taxpayers for more. - From the Tribune Review Editorial on April 4, 2017
It’s time for a change to the way agencies like the Fish and Boat Commission and the Game Commission set the fees for different licenses…The changes Stefano is proposing makes sense. Instead of nickel and diming hunters with a wide variety of tag options, a general license increase that includes some of the game that now or will need a special tag will simplify the process for hunters. - from the Daily American Editorial on March 17, 2017
It was great to spend time with Fayette County Commissioners Vince Vicites and Dave Lohr who were in Harrisburg this week for the PA County Commissioner Conference. Commissioner Zimmerlink stayed back at the conference to continue to receive the information. We talked about a variety of issues of importance to Fayette County and how I can be helpful.
Wonderful to be joined by Somerset County Commissioners Gerald Walker and John Vatavuk to talk about Route 219 and other Somerset County issues.
I was lucky to welcome PA Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding to the Maple City for the 70th annual Maple Fest.
It was great to visit with members of the Farm Bureaus of Fayette, Somerset and Westmoreland Counties. Members joined me in my office and I joined them at the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau's Luncheon. Agriculture is our number 1 industry in Pennsylvania and in the 32nd District and I always appreciate their thoughts on state issues.
Senate Box 203032
171 West Crawford Ave
118 West Main Street