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Local students serve as “Senators for a Day”
A total of 163 students and advisors from 13 secondary schools across the 41st Senatorial District had the opportunity to get a first-hand look at legislative and state government operations during a student government seminar I hosted on May 3 in the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Students had the opportunity to see how state government works. The attendees interacted with students from other high schools, elected officials and people in government relations while developing and voting on legislation as they served as members of the General Assembly.
In the morning they were broken down into committees: Communications & Technology, Drug & Alcohol, Economic Development, Education, Environment, Health & Welfare, Judiciary and State Government to consider bills. The students came together as the “full Senate” in the afternoon to vote on the bills reported out of the committees.
Bill Expanding “Standing” for Child Custody Now Law
My bill expanding the legal standing for third-party individuals seeking to gain custody in cases where no biological or adoptive parent has care and control of the child was recently signed into law. Senate Bill 844 was enacted as Act 21 of 2018 on May 4. Audio
This law gives legal standing to people who are sincerely concerned for these children, but simply do not meet the conditions set by Pennsylvania’s custody law. Under Act 21, third parties can file for legal custody in cases where the parents are deceased or absent, provided they can show that they have a sustained, substantial and sincere interest in the welfare of the child. In many cases, these people have already provided support and/or previously performed parental duties.
This measure also addresses the devastating toll of the opioid crisis on families across the Commonwealth, which can be especially heart-wrenching when it involves the innocent children of addicts who, because of their addiction, are unable to care for them.
All too often, third-parties — especially grandparents — are called upon to care for the children of opioid addicts even though they currently have little to no legal standing under current state law. Act 21 will correct that and recognize in statute the role played by those caregivers.
Senate Bill 844 received unanimous support when it was considered by the Senate and House of Representatives and was endorsed by organizations including the Center for Child Advocates and Pennsylvania Legal Services.
“Standing,” in a legal sense, is a preliminary step that determines only which parties can be in the courtroom pursuing custody. In a custody trial the court considers the “best interests of the children” and takes into account the children’s relationship with all of the parties.
Act 21 also includes a provision under which grandparents and great grandparents may file an action for partial physical custody or supervised physical custody in cases where the parents of the child have commenced a proceeding for custody and do not agree whether grandparents should have custody.
PENNDOT Offering Free Motorcycle Training Classes
With the approach of warmer temperatures and the motorcycle riding season in Pennsylvania, PENNDOT is offering free motorcycle training courses.
These courses for novice through seasoned riders are offered at numerous locations statewide to Pennsylvania residents who have a motorcycle learner’s permit or motorcycle license. All training courses are conducted on a riding range, under the supervision of certified instructors.
Motorcycle learner’s permit holders who successfully complete the course will be issued a motorcycle license. For more information or to enroll in a course, visit www.pamsp.com or call toll-free (800) 845-9533.
Motorcycle crashes decreased from 3,450 in 2016 to 3,187 in 2017, resulting in a corresponding drop in fatalities – from 191 in 2016 to 185 in 2017. There were nearly 378,000 registered motorcycles and nearly 846,000 licensed motorcyclists in Pennsylvania in 2017.
Fish-for-Free on May 27
The Sunday of Memorial Day weekend – May 27 – marks the first of two free fishing days in Pennsylvania. The second is Independence Day – Wednesday, July 4. Fish-for-Free Days allow anyone – residents and non-residents – to legally fish in Pennsylvania without a fishing license. All other fishing regulations apply.
To make the fishing experience more convenient on the Fish-for-Free days, people can borrow equipment from dozens of fishing tackle loaner sites across the state. Many of the sites are right at state parks, which are always a popular place for visitors on the Memorial Day weekend. Loaner sites are also available at county parks and some public libraries.
Click here for the list of loaner sites.
More information is available on the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission website, which includes interactive maps, regional fishing reports, and tips on fishing fundamentals. Fishing licenses can be purchased online at www.GoneFishingPa.com.
Mark Your Calendar
I will join with Representative Eric Nelson to co-host a Senior Expo on Thursday, May 24, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Delmont Volunteer Fire Department Social Hall, 2360 State Route 66, Delmont. Representatives from state, county and local organizations will be at the free event to provide information on numerous subjects of interest to older residents including health care, health screenings, insurance, nutrition & fitness, fire safety, personal safety, banking and local, state and federal agency information and more. Free refreshments will be provided. For more information, please call my Murrysville District Office at (724) 327-2422 or (724) 834-6400.
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