Senator Jake Corman E-Newsletter

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Comprehensive Modernizations to State Election Laws

 10/29/19 – Election Modernization (SB 421)

Last month, the Governor signed into law legislation that brought the most comprehensive changes to Pennsylvania’s election laws in more than eight decades. These modernizations will make it easier for all residents to take part in elections.

Senate Bill 421 also provides $90 million in much-needed funding to replace county voting machines, boosting election security and ensuring that local taxpayers did not have to pick up the full tab for the required upgrades. While the election code has been updated periodically over the years, this is the biggest and most historic change in how Pennsylvanians cast votes since the election code was enacted in 1937. In advancing a package of election modernizations, we will preserve the integrity of the ballot box, while at the same time making it easier for voters to choose the people who represent them at all levels of government.

Act 77:

  • Extends the deadline for voters to submit an absentee ballot, from the Friday before Election Day until 8 p.m. on Election Day.
  • Changes the voter registration deadline from 30 days before an election to 15 days.
  • Allows voters to request and submit an absentee ballot by mail without providing a reason.
  • Creates a permanent mail-in voter list.
  • Eliminates antiquated straight-party voting, something that 40 states have already done.

These changes will promote a stronger system in which every voter can be certain that their vote counts, without creating any unnecessary delays for state residents to exercise their right to vote.

Seminar on Chronic Wasting Disease in PA Deer Population

I worked with the PA Game Commission and Penn State University to host a seminar on the effects of chronic wasting disease (CWD) on the state’s deer population. CWD has been found in both captive and free-ranging deer in Pennsylvania, including very close to home. It is raising major concerns with hunters, sportsmen’s groups, outdoor enthusiasts, farmers, and landowners. This seminar will help provide answers to questions about CWD, provide information for hunters who harvest a deer in those areas and make area residents more aware of the disease as well as what the Game Commission is planning to do to combat it.

Local counties in the CWD Disease Management Area include Centre, Huntingdon, Mifflin and Juniata counties. The Game Commission has additional information and an interactive map available on its website.

CWD is a contagious neurological disease affecting deer, elk and moose. It causes a characteristic spongy degeneration of the brains of infected animals resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and death.

More information can be found at the Game Commission website.

$2.5 Million State Grant Awarded for Major Mifflin County Economic Development Initiative

A $2.5 million state grant has been awarded to Mifflin County to undertake a major three-part economic development initiative. These improvements will all benefit Mifflin County residents and make our area a better place to live, work and raise a family. I’m pleased that this project was selected for state funding and thank all those who worked to make that happen.

I worked with state Representatives Kerry Benninghoff, John Hershey and Rich Irvin as well as the Mifflin County Commissioners  and the Mifflin Academy to obtain funding for the project, which is intended to create new jobs, expand educational opportunities for area residents, and improve county operations.

The grant will be used for a three-phase project to:

  • Demolish blighted buildings and prepare the sites for commercial redevelopment, providing the opportunity to encourage new companies and jobs to relocate to Mifflin County.
  • Expand the Mifflin County Academy of Science and Technology campus to accommodate new training programs, including CDL and Diesel Mechanic Programs.
  • Relocate selected county departments from leased private commercial space into a renovated Annex Building for economic and public safety reasons.

Funding was provided by the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) program which supports critical expansion projects, some of which will provide opportunities for additional economic development.

Lewistown senior expo

Senator Corman visits with constituents at his annual Senior Expo in Lewistown.

$200,000 in Recreation, Environmental Grants Awarded for Area Projects

Two Centre County projects have been awarded $200,000 in state funding to enhance recreational opportunities for area residents and protect the environment. When it comes to the natural beauty of Central Pennsylvania, our area is unrivaled. These projects are crucial to protecting our natural resources and providing area residents with opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. I’m pleased that this funding will help to give way to a greater appreciation of our surroundings.

The grants were awarded by the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) under its Watershed and Restoration Program and Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program. The program is funded with money assessed by the Commonwealth through the state’s Impact Fee, which is paid by the state’s unconventional natural gas producers.

Rush Township in Philipsburg received $66,328 to rehabilitate Rush Township Municipal Park. The grant will be used to replace deteriorated equipment, improve safety, and correct ADA accessibility issues. ClearWater Conservancy of Central Pennsylvania received $133,672 to acquire a conservation easement on Pasquinelli property located in Ferguson Township, Centre County.

ClearWater Conservancy plans to acquire Windy Hill Farm as part of a landscape-scale conservation effort to protect source water known as the Slab Cabin Run initiative. Several important natural areas, critical wildlife habitat and open space buffer to the Musser Gap Greenway are the basis for the project.

Statewide Video Contest Exploring Pennsylvania’s Farming Legacy Open to Local Students

Middle and high school students are encouraged to share their ideas about how to support agriculture in Pennsylvania as part of the third annual “Talk To Your State Senator” statewide video competition.

Agriculture is the state’s top industry and a major part of the state and local economies, but the industry faces a variety of challenges based on market conditions and the number of farmers who are expected to retire during the next decade. This year’s competition challenges students to produce a video that includes ideas about how to ensure the agriculture industry will have a bright future in Pennsylvania.

The contest, which is sponsored by the Senate of Pennsylvania and Rutter’s, is open to Pennsylvania students in grades 6 through 12, including all public school, private school and home school students. Participants are encouraged to submit video entries of no longer than three minutes that promote the future of farming in Pennsylvania.

A total of $10,000 in prizes will be awarded through the PA 529 college savings program administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Treasury. Prizes will be deposited into a college savings account in the winner(s) name. Videos will be judged based on creativity, content and effectiveness of message delivery.

The contest will remain open through January 31, 2020. Winners will be announced in May 2020. More information on the contest is available online at www.legis.state.pa.us/talk-to-your-state-senator/.

Previous “Talk To Your State Senator” video competitions have explored the impact of the heroin and opioid crisis on Pennsylvanians, and generated ideas to help improve school safety. Students from Penns Valley Area High School PVmedia Class won the statewide contest in 2019.

Senate Votes to Provide Security Grants to Faith-Based Institutions, Nonprofits

The Senate voted to provide security grants to faith-based institutions and nonprofit organizations. House Bill 859 was amended by the Senate to make grants available to faith-based institutions and any nonprofit that services individuals, groups, or institutions included within the FBI’s bias motivation category for hate crime incidents.

We are committed to protecting those in our community that rely on faith-based organizations such as places of worship. This process will allow those segments of our communities to apply for grants to allow them to enhance their security in a way that meets their needs.

The Nonprofit Security Grant Program would be funded through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency by $5 million of unexpended and unencumbered state funds. Grant awards will range from $5,000 to $150,000, with larger amounts contingent upon the organization committing non-state matching funds. The program would begin to accept applications no later than March 1, 2020.

Similar to the recently enacted Safe Schools Grant Program, faith-based institutions and nonprofits may utilize the grant dollars for a variety of security planning, equipment, and technology needs, including metal detectors, surveillance cameras, emergency communications equipment, electronic locksets, threat assessments, and building upgrades.

The amended House Bill 859 returns to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Reminder to Follow Me on Social Media

My Facebook page provides not only legislative updates but those all-important PennDOT construction updates for our district. I also enjoy posting pictures of local constituents that I meet and information on other local events happening in our neighborhoods and communities. You also can follow me on Twitter – my handle is @JakeCorman. On Twitter, I tend to provide more of a news update of everything going on legislatively in Harrisburg and the district. If you haven’t already, check out my social media pages.

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