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Senator Elder Vogel

Dear Friend,

I am pleased to present my electronic newsletter. These e-newsletters enable me to provide information about issues, events and activities in Harrisburg and around the 47th Senatorial District to you in a timely manner while saving postage costs.

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Elder Vogel

On April 25, the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee and the Appropriations Committee held a hearing on the Governor’s lease-leaseback proposal for the PA Farm Show Complex.
Click here to watch.

Senate Approves Real ID Compliance Bill

Earlier this month, I voted for and the Senate approved legislation to address Pennsylvania’s widely-reported compliance issues with federal Real ID Act of 2005.

Senate Bill 133 would repeal the Pennsylvania Real ID Non-Participation Act of 2012 and direct PennDOT to take steps to bring Pennsylvania into compliance with federal mandate

The bill was introduced in response to the 2016 directive from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security stating that Pennsylvania driver’s licenses and identification cards would no longer be a valid form of identification when boarding domestic flights in the US starting in January 2018. After that announcement, I and my colleagues immediately began to address the outstanding issues that, if left unaddressed, would have required Pennsylvania residents to have a passport in order to board a domestic flight or enter a federal building.

Senate Bill 133 now awaits consideration by the House of Representatives.

I was recently in Enon Valley for the Battery B Memorial Highway dedication. My legislation signed into law last year designated a section of Rt. 551 & 108 as the Battery B Memorial Highway.

Legislature Approves Unemployment Compensation Funding Bill

Legislation has been signed into law to provide the Commonwealth’s Unemployment Compensation (UC) system with emergency funding to address ongoing call-center deficiencies.

To adequately explain why the UC system is in the dire situation that it is in today would take far too long here in this newsletter, so I will keep things short.  Mismanagement of funds at the Department of Labor & Industry had forced the administration to use a separate funding source—earmarked for technological upgrades to the claims system—in order to keep the UC Call Centers staffed and operating. When the money ran out, the Administration requested another appropriation to keep the call centers open.  I and my colleagues in the Senate demanded accountability and answers to how this money was spent; unfortunately, the answers provided by the Administration were not satisfactory and call centers were temporarily-shuttered. If you’ve had to speak to someone on the phone at a UC Service Center in the past six months, I’m sure you’re well aware of the effects of the decision to shut down these call centers. Click here for a more detailed briefing on the situation as provided by the Auditor General.

Senate Bill 250 (now Act 1 of 2017) provides up to $15 million in additional funding, requires monthly reports on expenditures, and also requires Labor and Industry to submit a report explaining how they will avert a similar situation from ever happening again. I voted for Senate Bill 250 and will be keeping a close eye on the progress made by the department in order to ensure this situation does not ever repeat.

Pitt Day at the Capitol was a great opportunity to meet with students, both undergrad and graduate. It was nice to meet Shawn Eagle of Harmony Borough, graduate student at the Pitt School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences—the #1 ranked Physical Therapy school in the nation!

Senate Holds Hearings on Proposed Consolidation of the Depts. of Aging, Drug & Alcohol, Health, and Human Services

One of the most novel components of this year’s budget discussions—and something that I’ve heard from many constituents about—is the Governor’s proposal to consolidate the Departments of Aging, Drug & Alcohol Programs, Health, and Human Services into one agency. The Administration expects this consolidation to save more than $90 million annually.

I’ve heard from many constituents concerned that a consolidation of this many agencies—with very different priorities and mission statements—will water-down the focus and impact of the individual programs that affect them. In response to these concerns heard statewide, the Senate has so-far conducted two hearing on these proposals and gathered testimony from government officials and nonprofits that are most impacted by such a consolidation. A third hearing is planned for today at the University of Pittsburgh.

I support eliminating government waste and bureaucratic duplication, and I do believe we can save considerable amounts of overhead costs by combining these agencies when it makes sense to do so. On the other hand, I do not support cutting any sort of programs that are important to my constituents in Beaver, Lawrence, and Butler Counties. These hearings are a great resource for anyone looking to learn more about this process. I encourage my constituents to let me know where they stand on this issue as we move forward.

Click here to watch the most recent hearing from April 13th at the Reading Hospital Conference Center.

Click here to watch the first hearing held on March 23 in the Capitol.

It was great to meet with “Mariah’s Movers” at the Capitol to discuss Juvenile Arthritis research.

Tax Amnesty Runs Through June 19

Act 84 of 2016 authorized the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue to administer a PA Tax Amnesty program from April 21, 2017 to June 19, 2017.

During the 60-day timeframe, the department will waive all penalties and half of the interest for anyone who participates in the Tax Amnesty program.

Individuals, businesses and other entities with state tax delinquencies as of December 31, 2015, are generally eligible to participate in the Tax Amnesty program. Individuals, businesses and other entities that participated in 2010 Tax Amnesty program are ineligible to participate in the 2017 Tax Amnesty program.

Click here for more information about the program and how to participate.

Had a great discussion with Westminster College President, Dr. Kathy Brittain Richardson, about the exciting future planned for the college!

Blight Removal Funds Approved for Lawrence County

It was recently announced that the Lawrence County Department of Planning and Community Development will received $100,000 in funding to be used for the demolition and site preparation of seventeen vacant and blighted properties throughout the county. These funds are provided by the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Program (PHARE). This funding was made possible by Act 58 of 2015, a companion to my legislation—Senate Bill 566—which designated a share of the Realty Transfer Tax into the PHARE Program to help local governments mitigate blight.

School Food Service Equipment Grants Awarded

Two Food Service Equipment Grants have been awarded to schools in the 47th Senate District.

Congratulations to Freedom Area Elementary School, recipients of a $16,427 grant, and the Lawrence County Area Vocational & Technical School, recipients of a $22,072 grant.

These grants assist School Food Authorities to purchase equipment to serve healthier meals, with emphasis on fruits and vegetables, and improve food safety.  

The U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs is hosting a series of town halls for VA issues. On May 16th, a town hall will be hosted in Baden. See flier for more info.

Free Assistance for Veterans Applying for Benefits

Veterans, active military and their dependents should never pay for help to apply for benefits, according to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. There is plenty of free assistance from accredited veteran service officers through credible organizations such as the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, county veteran’s affairs offices, American Legion, VFW, Disabled American Veterans, and many more. Click here to learn more.



There will be a FREE Vision Screening & new eyeglasses clinic on May 23 at the Beaver County Association for the Blind. See flier for more information and how to register.

Experience Pennsylvania History by Visiting State Parks

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources encourages all to experience Pennsylvania’s history through our state parks this spring. 

Beginning in 1893, with one exceptionally notable site—Valley Forge—Pennsylvania laid the ground work for reforestation, conservation, and commemorating key historic events.  The parks system’s focus on historic preservation expanded to ensuring every Pennsylvania could access a state park within 25 miles of home.  From 45 state parks and 5 historical parks in 1955, the system grew to 87 state parks by 1970. 

Today, Pennsylvania has one of the nation’s largest state park systems with 120 outdoor recreational areas and over 291,700 acres of property.  Facilities and resources include over 7,000 family campsites, 286 cabins, nearly 30,000 picnic tables, 56 major recreational lakes, 10 marinas, 61 beaches for swimming, 17 swimming pools, over 1,000 miles of trails and much more. 

Make online reservations or call toll-free 888-PA-PARKS (888-727-2757), 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

ABLE Savings Program

Pennsylvania residents can now sign up for the Pennsylvania Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) Savings Program, which provides tax-exempt accounts for individuals with disabilities and their families. Modeled after college savings accounts, ABLE accounts allow individuals with qualifying disabilities and their families to save for a wide range of disability-related expenses tax-free and provides investment options to encourage saving private funds to support health, independence and quality of life. Click here for more information.

Follow Me on Twitter!

I have a Twitter account to better connect with my constituents and provide daily updates on my voting record, whereabouts, state government, and local news affecting the 47 S.D. To access my Twitter page, click here

Please contact me to provide input on any state-related matter, or to receive help in dealing with a state agency.

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Contact Me


Senate Box 203047
362 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3047
Phone: (717) 787-3076
FAX: (717) 772-2756

8:30 - 4:30

488 Adams Street
Rochester, PA 15074-1940
Phone: (724) 774-0444
FAX: (724) 773-7384

New Castle
1905 W. State Street
New Castle, PA 16101
Phone: (724) 654-1444
FAX: (724) 656-3182



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