Safer Schools for Our Children and Teachers
As we continue to mourn the lives lost in the Florida mass school shooting, several legislative proposals to protect students and employees have been introduced in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
I am a co-sponsor of and strongly support the Safe Schools Initiative, which was introduced this week by Senator Tom McGarrigle.
Currently, Pennsylvania’s Office for Safe Schools provides assistance in school police training, violence prevention, crisis intervention and social and emotional wellness. It has collected statistics from school districts to provide valuable information for students, parents and educators to gauge local security conditions, and has also coordinated a number of new safety and antiviolence programs across the state.
The Office for Safe Schools was appropriated $8.5 million in last year’s budget. Under the new Safe Schools Initiative, recurring funding would be increased to over $50 million. Funding for this program will be based on existing fees collected from civil actions, legal proceedings and deed, mortgage and property transfers. Funding will also be provided from existing fees collected on criminal, summary and traffic matters in our courts.
It is critically important for schools to have the resources they need to foster safe learning environments for students and school district employees. By directing additional resources toward protecting our young people and educators, I believe the Safe Schools Initiative will dramatically bolster Pennsylvania’s safety efforts and lessen the potential for acts of violence in our schools.
REAL ID Update
During the Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearing with the Department of Transportation this week, PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards answered questions regarding REAL ID.
REAL ID products will be available beginning in the spring of 2019 and PennDOT is encouraging residents who want REAL IDs to start the process of collecting their required documents now.
Those documents include birth certificates with a raised seal, Social Security card, proof of all legal name changes and two proofs of a current Pennsylvania address. My office can help with obtaining copies of the birth certificates.
A federally accepted identification must be used as your identification to board a commercial flight or visit a secure federal building beginning October 1, 2020.
The federal government has extended the deadline for REAL ID compliance in Pennsylvania to October 10, 2018. Current PennDOT-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards will remain an acceptable identification for boarding domestic commercial flights as long as an extension is in place. The REAL ID is optional for Pennsylvania residents and will cost a one-time fee of $30.
More information about REAL ID is available here.
I had the opportunity during the budget hearing to thank PennDOT for their ongoing work on Route 322 and for their outreach efforts in explaining the goals of the project and answering questions from the local community. I also spoke about the importance of the Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River and Bay, a nonprofit trade association that is the leading advocate for port and related businesses in the tri-state region. It is important for us to help support ongoing efforts to keep Delaware River ports competitive, safe, secure and environmentally healthy.
DEP Offers Free Workshops for Educators on Energy Literacy
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will host three Keystone Energy Education Program (KEEP) workshops in March for middle school teachers, administrators and building managers to teach and track energy efficiency in school buildings and homes.
These free workshops provide teachers with tools, tips and techniques to assist students in understanding energy efficiency, alternative energy and fuels, and how to work with students to do an energy audit at school. Workshop participants will explore energy conservation, efficiency, energy basics, student energy teams and benchmarking the school building using the free Energy Star Portfolio Manager program through presentations, tours and hands-on activities.
The workshops are based on Pennsylvania’s Academic Standards and Assessment Anchors for Environment and Ecology, Science and Technology and Engineering Education. Participating teachers will receive background information, standards-based curricular materials and energy conservation kits that contain a Kill-a-Watt meter, light meter, multimeters, a solar demonstration kit and thermometers (each kit valued over $75). Participating teachers will be eligible for 6.5 Act 48 credit hours.
All workshops are offered free of charge and held from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Pre-registration is required. Please bring a brown bag lunch. Space is limited, so registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Register online.
Information on the three additional workshops will be announced at a later date.
Assistance for Veterans Available
My partnership with the Pennsylvania American Legion to assist veterans at my Brookhaven office, located at 4110 Edgmont Avenue is officially underway. A representative from this organization will be at my office on Wednesday, March 28, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
I would like to encourage veterans and their families who have questions about benefits and programs to schedule an appointment for these assistance hours. Appointments can be made by contacting the office at (610) 447 – 3163. This service will be offered the fourth Wednesday of each month.
Creating the Keystone Scholars Program
This week, I signed on as a co-sponsor of legislation to establish the Keystone Scholars Program, which would create a PA 529 post-secondary education account for every newborn Pennsylvanian. This program would apply to infants born on or after January 1, 2019.
Specifically, this legislation would authorize the State Treasurer to deposit $100 into a PA 529 account which will grow with interest during the youth of the child and, hopefully, provide the incentive for parents to open their own PA 529 account. The program would be funded through Treasury investment earnings, donations and endowments from the philanthropic community. This legislation will not require any contributions from the General Fund.
State Treasurer Joe Torsella also announced at a press conference a related demonstration program, to be carried out by the Treasurer for families in six counties across the state, including Delaware County. To date, $2.25 million in private funds have been raised to fund the demonstration project, so that every baby born or adopted from January 1, 2018 until December 31, 2019 within the six-county area will be eligible for a $100 529 starter deposit. Additional information can be found here.
How I Can Help
My offices provide many services to families in our area. Here are some of the ways we can help.
How to Contact Me
Please visit my website at www.SenatorKillion.com.
I have staffed two offices in the district to provide you with top-notch constituent service and provide answers to legislative inquiries. Both offices are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Locations are noted below.
If you are having any problems with state agencies or need help with an issue relating to government, my staff and I will be happy to assist you.
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