Last But Certainly Not Least
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Last But Certainly Not Least

If you ever come across a person that is passionate about what they do and they do it well, you have found a diamond in the rough and be sure to keep them on your team!

It is a necessity that I bring you clear communications, from my press releases, op-eds and newsletters to reporting the happenings from our capitol and district offices, which are not only in print but through multiple media outlets. May I introduce you to Patti Hippler, who is one of the best Communications Managers coming out of the House Republican Communications Department. We are extremely fortunate to have her as part of the District 68 team. She is our final staff bio that we have to share.

Patti was raised in the city of Greensburg, Westmoreland County, about 40 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. As she considers her childhood, she would share with you her love and deep appreciation for living near so many aunts, uncles and cousins. After graduating from college, her first job led her to a one-stoplight town in southern Clarion County, and there her love for rural Pennsylvania was born. The quietness, the kindness of the people and the sense of community made her feel right at home despite being away from her family and everything familiar. Though she now lives in the suburbs of Harrisburg, she has the pleasure of serving several legislators who represent rural communities in the northern tier and the southwest. Advocating for rural PA is almost as good as living there, she says.

One of the many legislative success stories that Patti was involved in may impact you! In 2018 she worked with the Ambulance Association of PA to plan a large press conference advocating for a much-needed increase in Medicaid reimbursement rates, which at that time they hadn’t seen an increase in 14 years. Ambulance services are so important, especially in rural areas like ours where people live very far from the nearest hospital, and this service can truly be the difference between life and death.

Having come to the Republican Caucus 25 years ago from newspaper reporting, through the past six governors, Patti has built and offers a wealth of experience, knowledge, wisdom and insight from our state Capitol. She has been instrumental in communications throughout her service and remains zealous about informing constituents of the Commonwealth on state government issues and their resolutions that would best serve urban, rural and anyone in between. Her goal is to provide clear communications that will help you understand our state's issues, legislation, and resolutions and how they impact you.

Patti has a heart of selflessness, she is passionate about rescuing dogs and providing a safe, loving home for them. She has adopted a new pup, Ziggy. She enjoys taking time to train Ziggy, love on her, and in turn reaps such wonderful unconditional puppy love in return.

We are beyond thankful for the dedication, commitment, experience and capability Patti not only brings to the team, but enjoys training others as our team grows.
Everyone Enjoys a Field Trip

What a sweet way to start my day in the District Office of Wellsboro with coffee in hand and spending time with a few homeschooled students gathered to learned about what happens in the District Office of their state representative, the importance of voting, how an idea becomes a law, and -- through photos -- they saw the House chamber and were captivated by our seating.

From kindergarten to 5th grade, several homeschooled students experienced a brief time in the district office. The young students are learning the importance of voting, law and order, and their rights as citizens. They are looking forward to visiting the state capitol and maybe seeing session in action.

At this young age we talked about why we have laws, who makes the laws, who enforces the laws, and what happens when you break a law. It was a ton of fun to hear their answers and see their light bulb moment when these children realized how similar government is to their loving, disciplined, valued family unit.

Using their home and family as the example they shared with us that like our state government, Daddy and Mommy have rules to keep them safe, their parents make the rules, both Dad and Mom make sure they obey the rules, and if they do disobey there is a punishment or consequence. Seeing things through a child's eyes can remind us of why we do what we do. I have been elected as the state representative and am passionate about strengthening families, supporting the agriculture industry and ensuring the voice of rural Pennsylvania is heard at the state Capitol. I always enjoy taking time to meet with children and students of all ages in all schools. I often leave with new ideas, and even greater passion for our families and the impact future generations will have on our communities and Commonwealth.

Governor’s Proposed $48 Billion Budget More Than PA Can Afford

Click here to view video.

The 2024-25 state budget process got underway this week when Gov. Josh Shapiro delivered his budget address before a joint session of the General Assembly on Tuesday.

His $48.34 billion proposal represents an increase of $3.7 billion, or 8.4%, over the current year’s spending. It relies on a portion of the state’s reserve funds to balance and would wipe out the state’s savings accounts within the next 3-4 years, virtually guaranteeing a tax increase for all Pennsylvanians.

The first question I ask myself when presented with any legislative proposal, and certainly one as impactful as the annual state budget, is “does this set us up for success?” The quick answer is no.

The governor has peppered his proposal with some feel-good ideas that may sound appealing on the surface, but with people still dealing with the impacts of inflation, we can’t afford to grow our government and set us up for a tax increase a couple years from now.

Read more of my reaction to the governor’s budget here.

I also joined Republican leaders and fellow members for a press briefing following the address. You can watch that here. 

Fortunately, the budget by the governor is just the first step in the state’s annual state budget process. The House Appropriations Committee, on which I serve, will conduct a series of hearings starting the week of Feb. 19 to delve into the details of the budget. A final spending plan for the 2024-25 fiscal year is due by June 30.
FEMA Invites Applications for Firefighter Grants

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced the opening of its Fiscal Year 2023 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program, which will award $324 million to enhance the safety of the public and firefighters nationwide against fire-related deaths and hazards.

Since 2001, AFG has helped firefighters and other first responders obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training and other resources necessary for protecting both the public and emergency personnel.

Applications are due by Friday, March 8. More information about the grant program is available here.
Apply Now for Community Conservation Grants

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Bureau of Recreation and Conservation is now accepting applications for its Community Conservation Partnerships Program.

The grants can be used to fund various planning, acquisition and development of public parks, recreation areas and trails. Grants can also fund river or open space conservation projects or support community and watershed forestry.

Organizations eligible for the grants include counties, municipalities, municipal agencies, nonprofits, state heritage areas and prequalified land trusts. For-profit organizations may be eligible for some grant categories. 

Interested applicants can find more information here.
Students Invited to Participate in Lyme Disease Awareness Campaign

Pennsylvania students in first through sixth grades are invited to enter the 2024 Lyme Art Contest by creating a short video or poster focusing on the theme: “Protect. Check. Remove.”

The annual contest helps students, Scout troops and community youth programs learn how to prevent Lyme disease by educating them about ticks, including where they live, how to prevent bites and how to remove ticks that do bite.

Pennsylvania has one of the highest annual counts of Lyme disease cases in the nation, which further emphasizes the importance of teaching children about tick awareness and prevention measures.

The deadline for entries is 5 p.m. Friday, March 15. Click here for details.
House Archives Internship Opportunity

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives Archives Internship Program is currently accepting applications for the summer 2024 semester.

The 13-week internship is based at the Pennsylvania State Capitol and focuses on teaching archival processes and procedures. Interns also learn techniques for preparing and installing museum displays while working on rotating exhibits in the Capitol Complex. This full-time internship is in-person only and pays $12/hour.

At the time of the internship, students must be attending a college or university in Pennsylvania OR be a resident of Pennsylvania; be a second-semester junior, senior or graduate student; and have a GPA of at least 3.0.

For more information or to fill out the application, click here. Applications are due by Friday, March 1.