Government Affairs & General Updates
August 9, 2023
1. Senate hearing explores child advocacy center needs. Senate committee heard testimony Tuesday about the work and needs of Children's Advocacy Centers (CAC) operating under a state law enacted a decade ago. The hearing before the Aging and Youth Committee could lead to possible legislation to benefit the centers which handle both child sexual abuse and child abuse cases, said Committee Majority Chair Judy Ward, R-Blair. Committee Minority Chair Maria Collett, D-Montgomery, said she and Ward are committed to strengthening the state child protection laws. The senators heard about the need to expand the network of CACs to cover the state. Currently, 41 county-based centers operate in Pennsylvania. CLICK HERE to read more.
2. Lawmakers announce plans for PFA reforms. A group of lawmakers have announced plans for legislation that would change court rules to allow victims of abuse to keep protective orders in place with fewer trips to the courthouse. "Under current law, victims of domestic abuse may seek emergency relief from a Magisterial District Judge after regular business hours. The emergency relief, however, expires at the close of the next business day when the Court of Common Pleas is available, according to a cosponsor memo from Rep. Carol Kareem, D-Delaware, Rep. Joe Hogan, R-Bucks, and Rep. Tarik Khan, D-Philadelphia. "Although the Courts of Common Pleas are open during weekdays, they often schedule PFA hearings for specific days of the week. Presently, in order to maintain emergency relief, the domestic violence victim must return to court multiple times until a final hearing occurs in the Court of Common Pleas." Their proposal would allow county courts to adopt rules to keep temporary PFAs in place for up to 10 days before a hearing is held to determine if the order should be kept in place.
3. Pa. Chamber: Wabtec strike can be settled if both parties compromise When many of Pennsylvania's business leaders convened in Erie earlier this month for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry's annual board meeting, optimism filled the air. In the 15 years since Erie last played host to the event, the city has undergone a remarkable economic resurgence through partnership and cooperation — a phenomenon that civic and business leaders in the region hope will serve as a model for communities throughout the commonwealth. Throughout the week, several of these leaders emphasized the interconnectivity of the local economy — describing it less like a competitive battlefield and more like a delicately-balanced ecosystem. Erie has always been a hardworking, blue-collar town. The city that once boasted a busy port and thriving manufacturing sector is now starting to attract the investment and capital necessary to evolve into a 21st-century hub for innovation and job creation. However, the ongoing labor strike at Pittsburgh-based locomotive maker Wabtec (which employs 2,400 people in Erie) has prompted the community to consider what would happen if a pillar of the region's business community were to close its doors. Read More
4. 'Today is a day to celebrate’: PA officials tout universal school breakfast program Flanked by Democratic lawmakers, members of his administration and elementary school students, Gov. Josh Shapiro on Tuesday celebrated new funding for universal school breakfast in this year’s state budget, which he said will allow all public K-12 schools in the state to provide free meals beginning this academic year. “It’s common sense,” Shapiro said during a visit to Penn Hills Elementary School in Pittsburgh to promote education funding increases in the recently signed state budget. “Students can’t learn on an empty stomach. Heck, I know when I’m hungry, it’s hard for me to make decisions. I think we all can appreciate that, and we should make sure our students have what they need to be able to be successful.” Last week, Shapiro signed a $45.5 billion budget bill, which includes funding increases for basic education, special education and career and technical education. Some GOP lawmakers have pushed back on the idea of including funding for free school breakfast in the state budget. In a March op-ed, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Scott Martin questioned whether the state should be the one to fund the program since it was previously handled by the federal government. Read More