Senate Approves Browne’s Criminal Justice Merger Bill
(Sen. Browne speaks in favor of his criminal justice merger bill on the Senate Floor)
The Pennsylvania Senate took another important step in reforming state government and the criminal justice system. The passage of Senate Bill 411 provides for the merger of The Department of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole, creating a more efficient and effective criminal justice system while saving taxpayers’ dollars. I am proud to have authored this bill.
The Commonwealth is projected to save a total of $29.6 million through 2023 if SB 411 is fully implemented by eliminating redundant procedures and sharing of resources and personnel.
These reforms will now be sent to the House of Representatives for their consideration.
More information on SB411 can be found here.
United Way Launches Resilient PA
Recently, I joined the United Way of Pennsylvania to announce the launching of Resilient PA.
The Resilient PA network strives to foster resilient Pennsylvania youth, families and communities through promoting trauma-informed care and community organizations across the state as well as promoting efforts to reduce risk factors for youth and families to break cycles of family and community trauma.
This coalition’s mission is to raise awareness on the impact of trauma, childhood trauma, trauma as experienced by different cultural, racial, and ethnic groups, and benefits of adopting trauma-informed and resiliency building practices and strategies to address critical social challenges at both the community and state level.
Learn more about Resilient PA by visiting their website.
Senate Approves Bill to Open Career Opportunities for Individuals in Recovery
Individuals in recovery for substance use disorders stand a better chance of breaking the cycle of addiction by maintaining meaningful employment under a bill approved by the Senate. The bill would create a Recovery to Work pilot program to connect individuals suffering from substance use disorders with high-priority occupations.
The pilot program would allow state agencies to work with local workforce development boards, treatment and recovery providers and employers to find job training and employment opportunities for individuals in recovery.
Step-by-step Property Tax/Rent Rebate Guides
The Property Tax/Rent Rebate program has been helping to defray the cost of rent and property taxes for eligible Pennsylvanians for over 50 years. And now, it has never been easier to apply for this program!
On my website, you can find easy step-by-step guides on how to successfully file for your rebate and, new this year, how to file online. These instructional videos will walk you through how to fill out the form, what documentation is needed, where to file, along with answers to FAQs.
The program provides a maximum standard rebate of $650, but supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975.
The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded. Spouses, personal representatives or estates may also file rebate claims on behalf of claimants who lived at least one day in 2020 and meet all other eligibility criteria.
If you have any questions about this program, feel free to call my Allentown Office at 610-821-8468.
Several local organizations and government officials were named as recipients of the 2021 Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence.
These awards recognize municipalities and local government officials for their dedication and commitment to strengthen their communities and better serve their residents. Congratulations to our local recipients who were recognized for their outstanding contributions to our area:
Kathy Rader, Township Supervisor for Upper Macungie Township – recognized as an outstanding local government official for her dedicated public service to the residents of Upper Macungie Township.
South Whitehall Township- Innovative Community/Governmental Initiatives
The Jordan Creek Greenway is a 14-mile trail that will traverse through four municipalities in Lehigh County and the finished trail will connect Allentown, Whitehall, South Whitehall, North Whitehall, and the Trexler Nature Preserve.
South Whitehall Township has recently completed nearly one mile of the greenway and continues plans to build an additional two miles within the next two to three years. The planned two-mile extension will safely connect Parkland High School to Covered Bridge Park, South Whitehall’s largest and most heavily used park.
Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (LVPC)- Innovative Planning & Sound Land Use Practices
The commission created FutureLV, the first plan for the Lehigh Valley—and among only a few in the nation—to link comprehensive planning to transportation infrastructure funding, enabling the region to put the force of its $2.5 billion Long-Range Transportation Plan behind its land use recommendations.
Further, when COVID-19 mitigation efforts closed schools, through a partnership with the LVPC, the local district identified families who didn’t have connectivity and where they lived through LVPC Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping so computers and hot spots could be directed to students in need.
The partnership connected thousands of students to virtual learning. Additionally, through a unique partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, the LVPC developed a regional tool to identify households struggling with housing and individuals at risk of losing their jobs. The LVPC’s Foreclosure and Eviction Risk tool is providing governments, non-profit organization and community leaders with the tools they need to direct limited resources to where they can have the greatest impact.
Ten communities, five organizations, and eight individuals from across the commonwealth were recognized for excellent service as part of the 25th Annual Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence.
More information on the awards and a list of all the recipients can be found HERE.
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