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Government Outreach -September 7, 2023

Government Affairs & General Updates
September 7, 2023

1. House panel examines consumer data privacy bill. Legislation to protect consumer data privacy drew mixed views from businesses and business groups Wednesday during an information-gathering meeting before a House committee. The Commerce Committee looked at House Bill 1201 aimed at protecting consumers' digital privacy, allowing them to access their personal information that's been collected, giving them legal rights to decline or opt out of the sale of their personal information and banning the sale of all private information for consumers under age 16. HB1201 sponsored by Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Philadelphia, would give the state attorney general authority to enforce a digital privacy law. The committee heard from four business-oriented groups and received written testimony.

2. Pennsylvania No. 5 state with ‘most talented individuals’: study Seems like Pennsylvania has a lot of natives to be proud of. A new study has revealed how the Keystone State is one of the top states that has produced the most talent. TicketSource — a platform which offers “free, professional-level online ticket sales…that’s incredibly easy-to-use” — was the one behind this study, which first seeded a list of the crème de la crème of their game, from actors and actresses to athletes. After calculating the number of people in each category and dividing them by state, Pennsylvania was ranked as fifth overall when it comes to having the most native stars with a total of 6,474. The majority of those stars were pro-athletes. Indeed, naming someone who gained acclaim in their field that’s from Pennsylvania isn’t hard to do: There’s Bradley Cooper — heartthrob and star of popular films such as “Silver Linings Playbook” — as well as pro-footballer, Micah Parsons. But which state was in first? Well, if you guessed “California,” you would be correct: The Golden State took the gold with a whopping 12,793 stars total, the dominate industry being — unsurprisingly — acting. “The U.S. state producing the most talent is California, with almost 12,800 top stars having been born there,” the study reiterates. “This includes overs 6,100 actors and actresses, including the likes of Angelina Jolie, Ben Affleck, Zendaya, and Zac Efron. “There are also over 2,600 singers and rappers who were born in the state, such as Kendrick Lamar, Billie Eilish, Frank Ocean, and Cher.” In second Was New York (11,731 stars total) and in third, Texas (8,299).Read More

3. Environmental group and teachers' unions sound alarm on state's inaction on lead in school drinking water. An environmental advocacy group and the state's two largest teachers' unions are giving the state a failing grade on efforts to eliminate lead in school drinking eater. "School is for learning and playing -- not getting a daily dose of lead-tainted water. Lead damages kids' ability to learn, grow and behave. There is no safe level of lead for children," said Stephanie Wein, clean water advocate for the PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center. "Protecting our kids' health requires prevention at every drinking water tap -- and our report card gives Pennsylvania a failing grade." In Philadelphia, City Council has approved a plan that requires public schools there to replace all water fountains with lead-filtering hydration stations by 2025. But there is no similar statewide requirement for schools to install lead-filtering hydration stations. Rather, a 2018 state law requires schools to notify the state if they determine there are elevated lead levels in school drinking water and detail what action they took to correct the problem. Act 39 of 2018 also requires the Department of Education to publicly post the information online. But that requirement is weakened by what Pennsylvania State Education Association vice president Jeff Ney described as a "loophole."

4. F.N.B. and Pittsburgh Penguins launch Small Business Development Camp The Pittsburgh Penguins and F.N.B. Corp. have partnered to develop the F.N.B. Small Business Development Camp. The initiative is designed to assist locally owned small businesses, Kevin Acklin, Penguins’ president of business operations, announced on Tuesday. Five local businesses will be selected to participate in a six-week training program. They will have the opportunity to learn from and work directly with executives and experts at F.N.B., the Penguins and Riverside Center for Innovation. Industry experts will cover various topics including financial services and resources available to small businesses, pricing models, general marketing, finding and attracting investors for businesses, building and managing a team and general pitch preparation. At the end of the program, each business will present a pitch to an expert panel of judges, with the top three groups receiving a share of a $50,000 grant toward their operations. All five companies will receive marketing opportunities with the Pittsburgh Penguins. F.N.B. (NYSE:FNB) is the second-largest bank headquartered in Pennsylvania. Vincent Delie Jr., chairman, president and CEO, said the camp is “a natural extension” of the financial institution’s partnership with the Penguins and their shared commitment to the local communities both serve. “Small businesses are powerful economic engines, generating personal and community wealth, innovation and pride,” Delie said in a prepared statement. “Building up entrepreneurs and their ventures in the Pittsburgh region contributes to a positive economic impact and sustainable growth in our headquarters city.”  Read More

5. Letter to the editor: Protecting Medicare Advantage Affordable and high-quality health care for seniors and individuals with disabilities remains a big concern in Pennsylvania. That is why we need to protect and strengthen Medicare Advantage, a vital part of Medicare that more need to know about. It is important that as many people as possible look at Medicare Advantage so they can choose health care plans that focus on their specific needs. And the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently announced that Medicare Advantage premiums have continued to decline to a 16-year low while plan choices, benefits and enrollment have all increased in 2023. This further enhances the appeal of the program. As a state lawmaker, this is something I want to highlight for all Pennsylvanians. I commend U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and John Fetterman for their commitment to protecting Medicare Advantage on behalf of Pennsylvanians. It is crucial we elected officials continue to support and advocate for Medicare Advantage, as it remains a lifeline for countless individuals. Together, we can work toward a healthier and more prosperous future for seniors and individuals with disabilities both here in the Keystone State and across the U.S. Read More

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