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The Latest News from Your State Representative
Please do not reply to this e-mail, as I am unable to respond to messages sent to this address. You can contact me directly at vgaydos@pahousegop.com or here.
Imparting greater accountability and efficiency in government continues to be priority as we look at ways to help a struggling economy. This week, I have reintroduced legislation to reduce the size of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 203 to 151 members.

The legislation would increase the population size of House districts by approximately a third, bringing the ratio of lawmakers in Pennsylvania more in line with other states.

Pennsylvania currently has the second-largest legislature in the United States, and we also have a full-time legislature. As we expect our constituents to tighten their belts during tough economic times and expect citizens to do more with less, we should expect the same of ourselves. Reducing the size of the Legislature will streamline the legislative process by making it easier for lawmakers to reach consensus and save taxpayers’ money.

With the constant improvement and evolution of technology, legislators can respond to constituents more quickly and efficiently than ever. One thing that COVID-19 taught us is that using technology makes it even easier to reduce the size of the Legislature without sacrificing efficiency, communication with constituents or increasing expenses.

Because such a change would necessitate an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution, identical versions of the bill would need to pass through the General Assembly in back-to-back sessions. At that point, the public would vote on the amendment in a statewide referendum.

A smaller, more efficient legislature would allow for more robust discussions and clearer debates.

House Bill 482 is now with the House State Government Committee for consideration.

Valerie Gaydos
Gaydos Discusses COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force with Rep. Tim O’Neal

Recently, the Wolf administration announced that it has established a joint task force with members from each legislative caucus who can share vaccine information and communicate issues and solutions expediently on behalf of and to the broader General Assembly.

The task force is a huge step in the right direction even though it should have been established a year ago. Gaydos remains cautiously optimistic that the task force will be a legitimate way to address the issues with vaccine distribution.

The vaccine distribution and administration is an extremely complex situation across the state with all levels of government, more than 700 providers and various state agencies involved.

Rep. Tim O’Neal (R-Washington) will be the Republican representative on the task force, Gaydos spoke to him in length about the goals of the task force, how to distribute the vaccine more efficiently and his legislation that would get the National Guard involved in the distribution and administration of the vaccine so more people who are clamoring for the shots can get them as soon as possible. 

Rep. Gaydos hosts a Legislative Updates program with lawmakers so her constituents from the 44th District stay informed about the happenings in Harrisburg.
Vaccine Registration Website


UPMC has now deployed a website for those eligible to register to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Please visit https://vaccine.upmc.com/.

For those without access to online services or technology – like a computer or smartphone – please call 844-UPMCVAC (844-876-2822) between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., seven days a week.

High call volumes are expected. To keep this option open to those who need it most, please use the online registration process if you can.
Gaydos Leads the Way for Education Reform During Pandemic


The House Education Committee, of which Rep. Gaydos is a member, convened a public hearing this week on the challenges Pennsylvania elementary and secondary schools and students face due to COVID-19.

Getting students back in the classroom full-time statewide and finding ways to help students whose learning has been hindered due to online schooling was the primary focus of discussion. The importance of in-person instruction and peer interactions to support students’ mental and emotional health needs was emphasized, as was the need for remedial education, especially for students in early elementary grades. The importance of access to the vaccine for teachers was also discussed. State Department of Education officials also updated lawmakers on extending the window for conducting annual assessment exams after the U.S. Department of Education announced it won’t waive the requirements this year.

Elementary and Secondary Education
Gaydos asked Matthew Stem, deputy secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), and Dr. Sherri Smith, advisor to the deputy secretary at PDE, what plans and what are the best practices to follow to get our students back in the classroom. Click here for the answer.

Rep. Gaydos feels it is time for all school districts to get their students back in school because it can be done safely. That should be the goal. How can this be accomplished? One way is to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to teachers immediately upon exiting the 1A phase of the plan. Gaydos and her colleagues are concerned that the current pace of the rollout may delay the reopening of schools that are not currently providing in-person instruction, until the end of the academic year.

It is imperative that our students learn in a safe environment. As a member of the House Education Committee, a bipartisan letter was written and sent to Gov. Tom Wolf urging him to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to teachers so our kids can learn with their peers in person. Click here to read the letter.

Universities and Higher Education
For higher education, lawmakers expressed concerns about students entering college after the added educational challenges they faced during their senior year, as well as students preparing to leave college now without the full experience they expected when they enrolled.

Rep. Gaydos questioned what responsibility should universities take in paying the government back for the loan forgiveness of students they were responsible for selecting? She asked testifiers Dr. Mark Erickson, president of Northampton Community College; Dr. Michael Driscoll, president of Indiana University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Brenda Allen, president of Lincoln University; and JoAnne Epps, executive vice president and provost of Temple University about admission percentages, about PHEAA loans and President Biden’s loan forgiveness program. Click here to learn more.

The House Education Committee hearings also dealt with legislation that Gaydos will be introducing that would study the impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on student learning and the education system. House Bill 228 would direct the Joint State Government Commission to conduct a study and issue three reports on the academic impact of the virus on the state’s students. The legislation would include the methods of instruction which are most successful.

In addition, House Bill 229 would direct the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study and issue a report on the fiscal impact on schools, including but not limited to the loss of revenue and increased school taxes as a result of COVID-19.
Policy Committee Hearing Highlights Impact of Wolf Budget on Working Families

The House Majority Policy Committee heard testimony Wednesday reaffirming the potentially devastating economic impacts of Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal on working families across the Commonwealth.

Jared Walczak of the Tax Foundation noted the 46% increase in income taxes would cost Pennsylvania families and small businesses an additional $6 billion at a time when many are struggling to overcome impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. He countered the argument made by some that the Commonwealth has one of the lowest income tax rates in the nation by noting Pennsylvania applies its tax to a broader definition of income than any other state, and its local governments rely more heavily than most on earned income taxes, assessing those taxes at a very high rate. Those high local rates, combined with the governor’s proposed increase, would give Pennsylvania the highest flat-rate subnational income tax in the country at 8.37%.

He and others also raised concerns about the constitutionality of the governor’s efforts to expand special poverty provisions, and also noted that even if those provisions were upheld, every working Pennsylvanian would take home less money in their paychecks. They also warned as many as 80% of the state’s businesses are subject to income taxes, and those operations are already facing serious financial challenges related to the pandemic.

Matthew Rousu, dean of the Sigmund Weis School of Business at Susquehanna University, focused his testimony on the minimum wage increase proposed by the governor, how it would drive job losses that tend to harm younger workers and how it would disproportionately hurt smaller businesses that are less able to absorb the costs of automation technology larger businesses often employ to offset the cost of higher wages.

The committee will hold another hearing about the impact of the governor’s proposal on small business impacts next Wednesday, March 3, at 1:30 p.m.
Gaydos Tells Wolf, Stop the Tolls!

PennDOT is now planning to toll nine interstate bridges, including the 1-79 Bridgeville Interchange project which is in close proximity of the 44th District. They say that revenue raised would go toward bridge repairs and replacement. Join me in signing our “Stop the Tolls” petition here.

Pennsylvania has the second-highest gas tax in the nation, so it’s hard to fathom how PennDOT doesn’t have enough money to do its job. But officials claim the tolls of $1-$2 per trip per bridge are needed to fund $2.2 billion worth of repairs or replacement of the structures. This is a new tax on area residents who travel daily for work as well as social activities. It will add up to be a large expense and is a further burden on restarting our economy.

Rep. Gaydos supports improvements to infrastructure to our bridges, highways and roads. But she will not support raising taxes on our hard-working people. She feels it is just unfair and not needed.

In addition to the burden tolls would place on commuters, it would also further hinder our ability to attract jobs and advance our economic recovery. Pennsylvania needs to learn to live within its means and not always look to raise taxes and tolls to deal with what is a spending problem.
Gaydos on the Airwaves!

Are students falling behind in their studies due to the coronavirus pandemic? If so, what do we do to get them caught up? Is summer school the answer?

This week, Dennis Owens, reporter/anchor, WHTM ABC27 in Harrisburg, asked Rep. Gaydos to express her thoughts.

Click here to watch the interview.
Don’t Be Fooled by Ballot Question Language

This week, Republican leaders in the House and Senate held a news conference to decry the language used by the Wolf administration for two questions that will appear on the May 18 primary ballot relating to disaster emergency declarations in Pennsylvania. The questions ask voters if the state Constitution should be amended to limit a governor’s emergency declarations to 21 days unless extensions are approved by the General Assembly. The leaders called the questions “politically charged and prejudicial.”

There has been some controversy about how ballot questions are worded and who writes them but here is a simplified version of the question you'll see on the ballot on May 18. I Hope this helps.

Vote YES if you think Pennsylvania should be governed in a bipartisan way.

Vote NO if you think Gov. Tom Wolf should have unlimited power.

Here is the actual language of the ballot questions.

Ballot Question #1
Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to change existing law and increase the power of the General Assembly to unilaterally terminate or extend a disaster emergency declaration –
and the powers of Commonwealth agencies to address the disaster regardless of its severity pursuant to that declaration – through passing a concurrent resolution by simple majority, thereby removing the existing check and balance of presenting a resolution to the Governor for approval or disapproval?

Ballot Question #2
Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to change existing law so that: a disaster emergency declaration will expire automatically after 21 days, regardless of the severity of the emergency, unless the General Assembly takes action to extend the disaster emergency; the Governor may not declare a new disaster emergency to respond to the dangers facing the Commonwealth unless the General Assembly passes a concurrent resolution; the General Assembly enacts new laws for disaster management?

Watch the news conference here.
A Message From the Department of State

Any registered voter WILL be able to vote on the constitutional amendment questions during the primary election on May 18. They would only NOT be allowed to vote for candidates who are running for party nomination.
Out and About in the 44th District


Recently, Rep. Gaydos visited the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden in Oakdale to tour the new Welcome Center. It is a tremendous facility. Pittsburgh Botanic Garden inspires people to value plants, garden design and the natural world by cultivating plant collections of the Allegheny Plateau and temperate regions, creating display gardens, conducting educational programs and conserving the environment.

Save the date! On Thursday, April 1, there will be a Welcome Center Celebration to officially open the facility to the public.

Click here for more information about the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden.
Hearing Examines Impact of Delayed Census on District Mapping

The House and Senate State Government committees held a joint hearing on the impacts of delays to the U.S. Census caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which could further delay the 2022 primary if new U.S. Congressional and state legislature districts aren’t redrawn in time.

During the hearing, questions revolved around what can be done to ensure the new maps are complete in a timely manner and ballots are ready for the May 2022 primary election. An official with the National Conference of State Legislatures said some states are considering a special session in the fall to address the issue and create new districts. Other states are contemplating delaying the primary election.

The pandemic caused a 120-day pause in the 2020 Census, which led to the data not being available until July 2021. The deadline for when data was to be released was further delayed until Sept. 30, 2021. It typically takes eight to nine months from the time when census data is given to states to when districts are finalized. With the new deadline, and candidates able to circulate nomination petitions in February, there is a small window of time for the districts to be redrawn.
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Office Locations
District Office:
1005 Beaver Grade Road, Suite 106, Moon Township, PA 15108 | Phone: (412) 262-3780, Fax: (412) 262-3783
Capitol Office:
Room 428, Irvis Office Building, House Box 202044, Harrisburg PA 17120-2044 | Phone: (717) 787-6651 |
Email: vgaydos@pahousegop.com