Jan. 30, 2024

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Capitol Report
The Newbie


Allow me to welcome the newest member of the team, Kim Brandenburg. She grew up in the rolling hills of the suburban area of Chester County, making her a flatlander. However, she has transitioned well to the rural mountainous living of Tioga County in the countryside of life. Kim appreciated the life her parents were able to provide for her and her brother in a beautiful area of PA, but she instantly fell in love with Wellsboro and all the outdoor adventures that Tioga, Bradford and surrounding counties offer. She and her family have resided in Wellsboro for just over seven years.

Kim has been married for 24 years to her husband, Chuck. They have two wonderful daughters who have also acclimated well to rural, small-town living. Kim comes to us with a background full of experience that our caucus and district appreciates having. Many years ago, she graduated from Susquehanna University and found herself employed by the DuPont Company where she met her husband. After building a strong career, they were about to have their first daughter and Kim made the decision to stay home and care for her family. Throughout those years she volunteered in many organizations, from schools and churches to nonprofits. She kept her communication, management, and teamwork skills alive preparing her to become part of our team as a part-time District Legislative/Communications Aide, a first of its kind in a district capacity.

You will find Kim supporting me behind the cell phone camera at events, business tours, school visits and celebrations. She is here to help provide ample communications to the constituents, ensuring our local and Capitol impacts are delivered to you. She tells us that she was looking for an opportunity to engage her intellect and find a way to help positively impact her community. It is clear she is engaged and helping!

After a busy day keeping up with me, planning events, and writing behind the screen, Kim looks forward to hitting the gym for a solid workout with family and friends. When she isn't serving the 68th District, she loves spending time with her husband fishing all the great spots PA has to offer. She enjoys cheering for their daughters either on the basketball court or the riding ring, exercising, and surrounding herself with church family and activities.
Building the Next Generation of Agribusiness Leaders

I had the opportunity to share a few words in support of welcoming some new local Future Farmers of America (FFA) students into the Grand Canyon Chapter this past week as they participated in their Jacket Ceremony. It is always uplifting to witness an unforgettable moment in a youth’s life. These 10 students who have received their blue jackets are now and can be forever part of the national family in the agricultural industry. These students are part of something so much greater than themselves. Just look into the hearts and dedication of the many FFA Alumni, a group that continues to build upon the legacy that was planted for them, continuously educating, supporting, and providing opportunities for these future farmers of America.

It was in 1929 that FFA adopted its official colors of national blue and corn gold. By 1933 the official dress of the corduroy jacket was taken on and has been ever since. There is much rich history within the Future Farmers of America. Through passionate people within the agricultural industry so many years ago, they designed an organization to educate, prepare and provide future leaders for American agricultural businesses. The mission of FFA is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

I am sure you will agree that we all desire our youth to become independent contributors to local, state, national, and global economies, health and safety. And we all want to know where our food comes from, how it was grown, prepared, packaged, and placed on the shelves for us to purchase. Through educational opportunities, local farming, and buying local, we can achieve this.

Thank you, to the many chapters of FFA and their alumni within the district striving to developing our youth to one day become strong contributors within the PA farming community and to be a part of the larger family of FFA.

Congratulations to the newest Tioga County FFA Grand Canyon members and thank you Tioga County FFA Alumni.
The Impacts of a Gift

It was a big day for Penn College of Technology as it was the recipient of a generous donation from Coterra Energy in conjunction with the company's Neighborhood Assistance Program.

The funds will pay for renovation and expansion of labs and instructional spaces in the college’s electrical and architecture and sustainable design programs, as well as generate Camp Freedom scholarships for veterans and first responders. Administered through the state Department of Community and Economic Development, NAP provides tax credits to businesses that contribute to nonprofit organizations’ efforts to revitalize communities.

These are the opportunities and gifts we value in seeing the development and assistance from a local business into a local college, helping local students to advance their knowledge, education, and ultimately impacting growth in the workforce, economic gain and personal prosperity.
A Grant Will Make a Difference

Great news! The Wellsboro Municipal Authority has been awarded more than $1 million in funding from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) for upgrades to the borough’s wastewater system.

The funding will be used for the rehabilitation and conversion of the wastewater treatment plant’s existing chlorine tank to an ultraviolet (UV) disinfection channel, as well as the installation of new UV disinfection equipment. The funding will also provide for improvements to the structure that houses the treatment facility, including a new roof, stairs and handrailing.

Investing in our wastewater infrastructure is important for supporting public health and safety, but it also plays a key role in creating the quality of life we need to grow opportunities in our communities. I was pleased to support this funding, which allows for the project to proceed without overburdening the municipal authority’s customers.

I was pleased to work with Senator Gene Yaw to support this funding.

Wellsboro replacing wastewater disinfection system to meet new s - WENY News
Boosting Safety at State Prisons, Surrounding Communities

One of our top responsibilities as a Commonwealth is to protect public safety. A key to meeting that obligation is putting prisoners behind bars and keeping them there.

During a visit to State Correctional Institution (SCI) Dallas back in December, I was impressed by our hard-working corrections officers. They truly do a fantastic job, but they are increasingly asked to work overtime because our prisons are short-staffed. One contributing factor? The Department of Corrections (DOC) is prohibited by law from hiring corrections officers who reside in other states.

This simply doesn’t make sense. Several of our state prisons are located in close proximity to other states, including SCI Somerset, SCI Chester, SCI Waymart and SCI Phoenix. That’s why I recently introduced legislation that would allow DOC to hire qualified corrections officers who may live across state lines.

I believe this would help boost recruitment efforts, protect public safety, reduce burnout for existing officers and save the state money on overtime costs. House Bill 1968 is pending referral to a committee for consideration.
Marking National School Choice Week

In recognition of National School Choice Week, which ended this past Saturday, I am reaffirming my commitment to ensuring we give every student the best chance for educational success.

Every child learns differently, and no child should be trapped in a failing school due to their ZIP code. Recognizing and addressing these truths is key to fostering a dynamic educational environment. School choice allows parents and students to explore tailored approaches to learning, accommodating individual strengths, preferences and pace.

While we continue to advocate for Lifeline Scholarships or similar programs that would direct more state funding to the child rather than to an institution, we also celebrate the increased funding in this year’s state budget for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit programs that have opened doors to educational choice for so many children and families.

School choice should not be an argument about funding. It is about putting students first and providing them with access and opportunities that work for them. When students come first, they flourish.
Policy Committee Highlights Connectivity, Workforce Challenges for Rural PA

The House Republican Policy Committee continued its work to highlight the needs of rural Pennsylvania at two public hearings last week.

In Huntingdon, the committee heard from county officials, emergency responders and broadband advocacy leaders about how the lack of connectivity negatively impacts economic and educational opportunities, and inhibits emergency responders in their life-saving work. Testifiers talked about policy changes and funding opportunities that could help boost broadband access in rural Pennsylvania.

In Hermitage, Mercer County, the committee heard from business, workforce development and economic development leaders about the challenges of keeping existing employers and attracting new employers to rural areas in the face of burdensome regulations and population declines.

For more information about the hearings, visit www.pagoppolicy.com.
Attention Students: House Fellowship Program Taking Applications

The Pennsylvania House Legislative Fellowship Program is accepting applications for its summer 2024 semester.

The 13-week program is based at Pennsylvania’s Capitol Building in Harrisburg where fellows are assigned to work in House standing committees or leadership offices; are compensated for their work (which may also include college credit); and are provided the opportunities to draft and present their own legislation, attend meet-and-greets with various public officials and staff, and tour some of the Commonwealth’s historic public spaces, to name a few.

Qualified applicants must be undergraduate juniors and seniors, graduate students or law school students; enrolled in a Pennsylvania college/university or a Pennsylvania resident enrolled in an out-of-state institution; and students of any major with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

For more information or to apply, visit www.pahousefellowship.us. Applications can be submitted via email to pahousefellowship@pabmc.net. The deadline to apply is March 1.
Grant Program for Community Anchor Institutions, Local Government Open

The $45 million COVID ARPA Pennsylvania Multi-Purpose Community Facilities Grant Program is now open for nonprofits, community centers, schools and local governments.

Qualifying projects would construct, acquire or improve facilities that are open to the public and directly enable work, education and health monitoring at the respective facility.

An example of a qualifying project would be a community center renovating a room to create a workforce training center. The same room might be available for a patron to do a telehealth visit with a doctor or a partner to provide an education class.

Awards will range from $250,000 to $2 million, and applications are due by April 20.

Further details about the program are available here.