Open Seat 48th E-Newsletter

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July 15, 2019

Letter to the Governor regarding Veto of Senate Bill 48

I continue to be perplexed by the Governor’s veto of Senate Bill 48 to establish a process for future decertification of voting machines, $90,000,000 in funding for new voting machines, and a number of election reforms.  Therefore, I’ve asked for an explanation in this letter.

The Senate State Government Committee, which I chair, held a nearly 3.5 hour public hearing on election reforms, including a number of the reforms included in Senate Bill 48 that were vetoed by the Governor.  This hearing can be viewed here.

Many of these reforms were later reported from the Committee – including unanimous bipartisan support for the elimination of straight party voting.  Yet this reform was a reason cited by the Governor in his veto message.  The Committee meeting where this reform was considered can be viewed here.

I anxiously await the Governor’s reply. 

Health Adds Anxiety Disorders and Tourette Syndrome to Medical Marijuana Program

The PA Department of Health announced that effective July 20, anxiety disorders and Tourette syndrome will be approved serious medical conditions in the Medical Marijuana Program based on the recommendation of the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board and a review of medical research on the use of cannabis to treat these conditions. 

Fire House 811 Campaign

Fire companies that help promote the “call before you dig” message could win $500 in a statewide contest sponsored by PA One Call.  State law requires anyone digging with power equipment call 811 first so the location of underground utilities can be marked.

The Fire House 811 Campaign encourages fire companies to post a creative 811 message on their firehouse marquee and e-mail a photo (along with address and contact information) to  If the firehouse does not have a marquee, they can order a complimentary banner to hang and photograph (the station’s name must be in the photo) to submit for the drawing.  PA 811 will post all entry photos to its Facebook and Twitter pages.

A winner will be drawn every second Friday of the month through December – August 9, September 13, October 11, November 8 and December 13.  Fire companies may only enter and win once in one calendar year.  For more information, visit

PA DEP Awards Environmental Education Grants

The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently awarded $205,000 in Environmental Education Grants to 45 projects addressing environmental justice, climate change and water quality.  Grants were awarded to schools, libraries, conservation districts and environmental and community organizations.  The Environmental Education Grants Program was established by the Environmental Education Act of 1993, which mandated that five percent of DEP-collected pollution fines and penalties be set aside for environmental education in PA.

Projects awarded in the 48th Senatorial District include:

  • Penn State Harrisburg – multimedia field guide of best practices for improving water quality, highlighting how rural and urban communities can work together ($21,500)
  • Dauphin County Conservation District – rain barrel stormwater management workshops for homeowners ($3,000)
  • Lebanon Community Library – STEM in Action after-school environmental programs for students in disadvantaged communities ($3,000)

Happy Belated 50th Wedding Anniversary to Mr. & Mrs. Ronald Gray!

Faye and Ronald “Jack” Gray, of Myerstown, Lebanon County, recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary!  Mr. & Mrs. Gray were married on April 19, 1969 by the Reverend L. John Weaver in the Midway Church of the Brethren.  They are the parents of Wade and Marc Gray, and Tracey Ann McBride, and the grandparents of Evelyn Ann and Keegan Jack McBride.  Congratulations!  I hope you may long continue to enjoy your happy marriage!


The PA Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) recently announced $33 million for the PA Targeted Industry Program (PA-TIP) which has helped approximately 8,500 PA students achieve an education in the high-demand fields of energy, advanced materials, diversified manufacturing, agriculture and food production.  PA-TIP was created in 2012 to help develop an educated and well-trained workforce, and recipients can attend a variety of eligible schools throughout PA, including business, trade and technical, career and technology centers, community colleges and two-year private schools.

The program provides awards up to the equivalent of the maximum State Grant Award of 75 percent of the student’s allowable cost, whichever is less.  PA Veterans may receive up to the maximum State Grant Award, provided that it does not exceed the student’s allowable costs.  Eligible courses of study must be more than 10 weeks, less than two academic years, be federal Title IV eligible, and must not be State Grant eligible.  A list of eligible programs and participation requirements can be found here.

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