|The latest news from the State Capitol
Grant Program to Help Schools Fund Safety Improvements
As part of the 2018-19 state budget package, a $60 million block grant program will allow schools to apply for grants to be used for a variety of safety and security enhancements.
The program is designed so that schools have maximum flexibility to use the funding to meet their own specific needs.
Those needs could include hiring school police officers, school resource officers, counselors and/or mental health counselors; alternative education and diversion programs; violence prevention initiatives; school safety and emergency preparedness plans; or physical upgrades to school buildings and equipment to improve safety.
Hotline Created to Encourage Threat Reporting
To help prevent violent incidents, an individual will soon be able to submit an anonymous report via a phone, computer or smartphone app through the new Safe2Say program.
Under Act 44 of 2018, the new tip line would allow students, teachers and community residents to anonymously report any unsafe, potentially harmful, dangerous, violent or criminal activities in schools.
The tip line, administered by the Office of Attorney General, will be staffed by trained professionals who can appropriately respond to the situation and provide the reporter peace of mind that their concern will be addressed.
It is modeled after the Safe2Tell program in Colorado, which has received more than 30,000 reports since its inception in 2004, including reports of a planned school attack, suicidal threats and child abuse.
New Law to Enhance School Safety
As a way to give school officials more guidance in creating safer schools, Act 44 of 2018 also calls for the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to offer a uniform approach to evaluating current security measures in every school building in Pennsylvania.
It will also require schools to provide employees with mandatory training on school safety and security, and mandate school security drills to be held in each school annually.
A final component of the new law will allow public school entities, such as school boards, to go into private, executive session for school safety discussions. This will allow school officials to freely debate and develop security plans that address the needs of their schools without disclosing their plans to would-be attackers.
Pennsylvanians are planning vacations all over the world. Whether you are traveling by car, boat, plane, or train this summer, keep this advice from the York County District Attorney’s Office in mind when planning your vacation:
If you suspect a scam, be sure to report it to the FTC at www.ftc.gov/complaint or by calling 1-877-FTC–HELP.
- Be a savvy shopper: It is common to compare rates online with different travel companies but be sure you are working with a reputable company prior to paying for travel arrangements. Talk to your friends and family about the companies, check online reviews, and review complaints with the Better Business Bureau.
- Ignore the cold call: If a company calls, texts or emails you out of blue saying you’ve won a vacation without no prior entry or communication with the company, it’s a scam. Also, if you receive a robocall from a company you have not given written permission to contact you, it’s likely illegal.
- Avoid any “free” trip that requires you to pay: No legitimate company will ask you to pay for a trip that is advertised as “free.” If a company claims that you are responsible for “taxes and fees,” requires you to attend a mandatory presentation, or pressures to you purchase “add-ons” for the vacation, it is likely a scam.
- Be aware of cancellation policies: Ask for cancellation and refund policies for flights, car rentals, hotel rooms or vacation rentals. Make sure terms are in writing and available when you travel.
- When possible, pay with a credit card: Most credit cards give you an added layer of protection when traveling. Unlike cash or check, if you don’t get what you paid for, you can dispute the charges with your credit card company. Furthermore, there are laws to protect you if your credit card information is lost or stolen.
Offices Closed for July 4th Holiday
My offices will be closed from 2 p.m. on Tuesday, July 3, through Wednesday, July 4, in observance of Independence Day. They will reopen at 9 a.m. Thursday, July 5.
I hope everyone has a joyous and fun-filled Independence Day on July 4. Please also be safe in your travels and celebrations.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will also close its driver license service centers on Wednesday, July 4. Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services, including all forms, publications and driver training manuals, online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov.
If you are traveling, check out www.511pa.com, which is free and available 24 hours a day. The site, along with its Twitter handle @511pa, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 770 traffic cameras.
State forms and legislative information are always available at www.RepKeefer.com.
As we celebrate our nation’s birthday, I want to share with you these words by President Ronald Reagan that have inspired me over the years.
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
Bridge Replacement Planned
Construction of Andersontown Road bridge over Yellow Breeches Creek, at the Cumberland-York County line has been rescheduled to begin on Thursday, July 5.
The project is part of PennDOT’s Rapid Bridge Replacement Project and is expected to be completed in late October. In the event of unfavorable weather or unforeseen activities, this schedule may still change.
During construction, drivers will be directed to follow a detour along Route 4022, Lewisberry Road, Siddonsburg Road, Moores Mountain Road, Route 4031, Grandview Avenue and Route 2017.