Senator Mario Scavello E-Newsletter

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In this update:

  • Proposed Constitutional Amendments One Step Closer to Voter Input  
  • Crime Victims will Receive More Support Under New Law
  • New Laws Aim to Improve Information Sharing and Health Outcomes
  • Call 988 for Suicide Prevention and Crisis Support
  • National Guard Needs Mentors for At-Risk Teens
  • Financial Relief Grants To Veterans and Beneficiaries
  • Around the 40th District

Proposed Constitutional Amendments One Step Closer to Voter Input

To ensure that citizens are heard, the General Assembly approved a measure that would put five proposed amendments to the state constitution on the ballot for voters to decide. The measure must be approved again in the 2023-24 legislative session to go before the voters. The voters will have the final say on the proposed amendments and can vote for or against each separately. 

The proposed amendments would:

  • Require proof of valid IDs for in-person and mail voting.
  • Require the Auditor General to conduct audits of the administration of elections and election results.
  • Require nominees for governor to select a candidate for lieutenant governor, rather than having lieutenant governor candidates run separately.
  • Allow the General Assembly to reject burdensome proposed regulations without the approval of the governor.
  • State that the Pennsylvania Constitution does not grant the right to taxpayer-funded abortion or any other right relating to abortion.

The process of amending the constitution is lengthy and deliberative, and will give citizens across the commonwealth the appropriate time to weigh the merits of the proposals and have their voices heard.

Crime Victims will Receive More Support Under New Law

Legislation passed by the Senate and signed into law this month gives crime victims legal standing in court, updates crime victim compensation, provides notice of events in the judicial process and enhances victim confidentiality for domestic and sexual violence crimes.

Act 77 of 2022 ensures victims can now stand in court and assert their own rights and it gives them recourse when their rights are ignored.

Giving victims standing was part of Marsy’s Law, a constitutional amendment to guarantee crime victims’ rights.  More than 1.7 million Pennsylvanians voted in favor of the amendment in 2019. However, the outcome was set aside by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court due to a technicality with the ballot question.

New Laws Aim to Improve Information Sharing and Health Outcomes

Bipartisan legislation designed to improve the ability of health care providers to treat the overall health of patients is now law.

Act 32 and Act 33  of 2022 amend the Mental Health Procedures Act and the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Control Act to allow for sharing of patient information among providers, facilities and insurers. The changes would also meet existing Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements to ensure patient confidentiality.

Under current law, mental health and physical health information cannot be fully shared among providers in Pennsylvania. The proposed changes would bring Pennsylvania in line with the majority of states that already share this information and are seeing improved patient outcomes.

Call 988 for Suicide Prevention and Crisis Support

Pennsylvanians now have an easier way to connect to behavioral or mental health crisis services. Dialing 988 will connect callers directly to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The Lifeline’s trained crisis response professionals support individuals considering suicide, self-harm, or any behavioral or mental health need for themselves or people looking for help for a loved one. Lifeline services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at no cost to the caller.

988 counselors located at 13 crisis call centers around Pennsylvania can immediately provide phone-based support and connections to local resources.

National Guard Needs Mentors for At-Risk Teens

The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs needs adult mentors to work with at-risk teens in the Keystone State ChalleNGe Academy (KSCA) at Ft. Indiantown Gap.

The program provides Pennsylvania teens who are struggling an opportunity to achieve the discipline and skills necessary to succeed as productive and responsible citizens through an engaging and structured residential experience. Cadets will be guided to improve their academic standing and increase their potential for future employment or further education.

Each mentor will be counted on to meet with a cadet on a routine basis to ensure they are progressing in residency and then achieving their post-residency goals. Mentors will participate in training sessions during the residential phase to ensure they are fully prepared for their critical role. All mentors will be required to pass state and federal level background checks as a condition of volunteering. You can read more about the program and volunteer here.

Financial Relief Grants To Veterans and Beneficiaries

At times, a veteran or their beneficiaries may face an unexpected financial hardship, but they don’t have to deal with this challenge alone thanks to the Veterans Temporary Assistance (VTA) program. Administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), the VTA provides eligible Pennsylvania veterans and their beneficiaries facing a crisis with financial relief for necessities of life such as food, shelter, fuel, and clothing.

Eligible veterans or their beneficiaries can qualify for an amount not to exceed $1,600 in a 12-month period. Eligibility requirements include: a person who served in the Armed Forces of the United States (discharged under honorable conditions), died in service or was killed in action, or suffered a service-connected disability.

To apply, contact the County Veterans Affairs Director in the county you reside.

Around the 40th District

Thank you to everyone who stopped by the Senior Expo on Tuesday in Swiftwater. We had an outstanding turnout as always! The free event included roughly 75 exhibitors from government agencies, senior citizen focused organizations, health screenings, educational seminars and more!

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