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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.

Welcome back to the aircraft and crew from the 911th Airlift Wing at the Pittsburgh Air Reserve State in Moon Township. I thank you and your families for serving our nation and assisting with the evacuation missions in Afghanistan.

The 911th is one of at least six air wing units from around the country to participate in the evacuation operation to ensure safe passage of Americans and Afghan allies from Kabul to other locations around the world.

We appreciate your efforts and thank you for continuing to keep us safe and to help others around the world!

As a side note and a fun fact, I recently attended an air show where the C-17 was a featured aircraft. The announcer greeted the aircraft coming into view overhead with a statement that I will never forget: “Here comes 16,000 pounds of freedom!” The C-17 is designed to airdrop paratroopers and equipment and its maximum payload capacity is 170,900 pounds.

One of the greatest honors of representing our community and the communities in which my family and I grew up, is honoring the Scouts of our community for their achievements, including Sewickley’s newest Eagle Scouts.

It was an honor for me to present a House of Representative citation to Adam Boone, Jacob Boone, Liam Welge and Ryan Steinfurth for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout with local Troop 243. These young men can take pride knowing they are amongst the 8% who achieve this rank and that they are special. The incredible amount of time and energy they poured into their projects will benefit the entire community. We thank them for their dedication as well as the dedication of their troop masters and their parents whose guidance and support should not go without significant recognition as well.

These Eagle Scout ceremonies are very special to me. My older brothers, Tim and Dan, earned the rank of Eagle Scout with the Sewickley Troop as well. And my late husband, Bruce Johnson, was an Eagle Scout and worked for the Boy Scouts of America raising money for programming.

Valerie Gaydos
Gaydos Disappointed Gov. Wolf Ignores Local Control, Issues Mask Mandate for Schools

Based on the governor’s comments earlier this summer that masking in schools should be a local decision, school boards across the Commonwealth spent the last several weeks working with health care providers, parents and students to put protocols in place that reflected the needs and priorities of their districts. As a result, 195 districts voted to have some type of masking policy, 304 made it optional and one was still undecided.

All that work was erased Tuesday when Gov. Tom Wolf went back on his commitment to join his secretary of Health in announcing that all students, faculty and staff in K-12 schools and child care centers would be required to wear masks indoors effective Tuesday, Sept. 7.

On Aug. 6, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Noe Ortega stated in a Senate hearing that a school district’s funding would not be impacted by decisions made at the local level. In addition, Gov. Wolf stated that there would be no statewide mask mandate.
Pennsylvania voters cast their ballot in May to reflect local matters should be decided by locally elected school board officials and parents from the community who are in the best position to make decisions about their families. The boards of directors from each school district developed and submitted their health and safety plans, as required by the state to address the needs of the district.

Rep. Gaydos said, “This is not a discussion about wearing a mask or not wearing a mask. This is about something bigger. It is about a government that cannot get out of its own way and needs to work better and more consistently for us. That is rule of law. Instead, it has been confusing, contradictory and only serving to create further divide. That must stop immediately! We must come together as communities and decide what is best for our children. But that is not what has happened. Frequent flipflopping and issues without an end date or a goal for it to change is intolerable, is not functional and is the real problem that needs to be solved immediately.”

Communities should be allowed to work out this issue themselves as was promised and voted for. Gaydos vows she will continue to do everything in her power to ensure that happens.
House Commerce Committee Hearing Focuses on Workforce Shortage in Pennsylvania

With many Pennsylvania employers struggling to attract and retain enough workers to operate their businesses, the state House Commerce Committee, of which I am a member, was in Harrisburg this week to convene a hearing focused on identifying the sources of the Commonwealth’s workforce shortage.

Lawmakers heard testimony from several small business owners as well as advocates from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.
Testifiers noted the lack of available workers has placed pressure on employers to increase wages and other benefits including more affordable health care for workers. While this is good news for employees, it also comes at a cost for small business owners, who often operate on small and tight budgets.

The discussion also focused in part on the additional $300 of weekly Unemployment Compensation benefits provided by the federal government during the COVID-19 pandemic and how it provided a disincentive for some workers to seek employment. Testifiers said many factors – including the availability of child care services and health care benefits – may affect a person’s decision to seek employment.

“COVID-19 has created a perfect storm of issues for small employers,” said Gregory Moreland, state director of NFIB.

Gaydos commented at the hearing in support of solutions to help employers increase compensation to employees through the provision of more affordable healthcare. She encouraged support for her legislation, House Bill 555, that would allow for association health care plans as a means or lowering health care costs for employers and providing more care.

Click here to watch the hearing (Gaydos comments begin around minute 58:00).
Gaydos Urges Governor Not to Destroy Energy Jobs

The Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) voted this week to approve Gov. Tom Wolf’s efforts to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

While virtually every other state in the RGGI compact is there as a result of action by their legislature, the governor is choosing to ignore the legislative process. Not only does this set a bad precedent for future governors but it ignores the voices of many employers, workers and consumers who will suffer job loss and increased energy costs that would follow enrollment in RGGI. We all want clean air and clean water, but we first must understand who will be bearing the brunt of those costs and that should be made fully transparent.

For example, when the governor announced his intent to enter Pennsylvania into RGGI via an executive order in 2019, he was specifically asked how the average consumer will be affected and his answer was that he didn’t know. Didn’t know? Until all questions are fully answered and presented to the public, entering into RGGI via executive order without allowing full debate, disclosure and discussion is a slap in the fact of the average consumer and every Pennsylvanian.

Data shows that imposing a tax on all coal and natural gas plants in the Commonwealth could eliminate as much as 30% of the state’s current generation capacity, undermine our status as an electricity exporter, and trigger thousands of lost jobs and massive property tax increases from closed plants, not to mention increased electricity rates for everyone.

On Thursday, the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee convened a voting meeting to adopt a concurrent resolution disapproving the regulations by a strong bipartisan margin of 17-3.
Federal Unemployment Benefits Closing Soon

A reminder that federal unemployment benefits end Saturday, Sept. 4. The Pennsylvania Labor and Industry Department (L&I) is urging individuals currently enrolled in the The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) Program and Pennsylvania's Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Portal (PUA) to take advantage of free jobseeker services offered through PA CareerLink®. These services include access to a free job database, resume assistance, information about reskilling opportunities and career counseling.

Click here for more information.
Save The Date!

Marking Labor Day

Monday, Sept. 6, is Labor Day – a day set aside to recognize the hard-working people who keep our economy moving. Throughout the COVID-19 shutdown and related challenges over the last 18 months for so many workers and employers, we have remained committed to Pennsylvania’s recovery. Throughout the Commonwealth, there are many opportunities for people of all ages to work in good-paying, family-sustaining jobs or careers.

To help remove barriers for people to work, we passed grant programs for Pennsylvania’s hospitality and service industries hit hard by the pandemic. We voted for improved job-training and apprenticeship programs and for connecting manufacturers with educators to better prepare individuals for the jobs of the future.

For more information on Labor Day, click here.
PennDOT Driver License, Photo Centers Closed for Labor Day Holiday

All PennDOT driver license and photo centers, including the Riverfront Office Center in Harrisburg, will be closed Saturday, Sept. 4, through Monday, Sept. 6, in observance of Labor Day.

Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services online through PennDOT's Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov.

Driver and vehicle online services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and include driver's license, photo ID and vehicle registration renewals; driver-history services; changes of address; driver license and vehicle registration restoration letters; ability to pay driver license or vehicle insurance restoration fee; driver license and photo ID duplicates; and driver exam scheduling. There are no additional fees for using online services.
Emergency Programs Can Save Lives

Drivers are reminded of two voluntary programs aimed at saving the lives of residents in emergency situations. Participation in both programs is free of charge. 

Under PennDOT’s Yellow Dot program participants fill out the program form with emergency contact, medical contact and medical information, insert it in the program’s folder and then place it in their vehicle’s glove compartment. A yellow dot sticker affixed to the rear window alerts emergency responders to the availability of information to help them provide better care to crash victims.

The Emergency Contact Information program offers Pennsylvania driver’s license and PennDOT-issued ID holders the opportunity to log into a secure database and list two emergency contacts. Participants can update their records as needed, but only law enforcement officials can view the information in the system. In the event of an emergency, law enforcement can use a participant’s ID to find his or her emergency contact information.

The Yellow Dot program is used only in vehicle crashes, but the Emergency Contact Information program can be used in other emergencies as well as crashes.
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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