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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.
For millions of families — including my own — the fight against cancer is personal. When a person you love is diagnosed with cancer, it stops your heart and throws your world off its axis. That fear and heartache is only compounded when cancer strikes a child.

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Each year, 10,000 children in the United States under the age of 15 are diagnosed with cancer. Cancer is the most prevalent cause of death of children under 15 next to accidents.

This week, I spoke with House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) about the importance of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and the honor I have had in taking the helm of the House Cancer Caucus, which is dedicated to addressing legislative issues related to cancer of all kinds and treatment, care, insurance, co-pays, family and parental support and caregiving and more. Click here to watch the video.

In addition, I invite you to read a very heartwarming story from TribLive.com about Noah Latronica, who at age 5 suffers from brain cancer.

As chair of the House Cancer Caucus, my colleagues and I recognize heroes such as Noah whose spirit inspires us all. Keep fighting Noah! We are thinking of you and your family.

Because of major treatment advances in recent decades, 84% of children with cancer now survive five years or more.                                    

Valerie Gaydos
Remembering 9/11 in the 44th District

Rep. Gaydos marked the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, by participating at the Keith-Holmes VFW and American Legion Honor Parade in Coraopolis.

Gaydos reminded those in attendance at the parade that we not only remember the tragic events of one of the worst days in our nation’s history and the many lives lost, but we also say thank you to those who died helping others.

Gaydos sent out a special thank you to Jack Cairns, parade co-chair, and the VFW for assembling a beautiful parade to honor our many heroes serving in the armed forces and serving their communities.

United We Stand!
Keeping Health, Voter Information Safe

People insist on fair elections, but they also want their elected officials to be fair and consistent. In addition, people need their personal information safeguarded and their government to respect their privacy. Recently, the Pennsylvania attorney general announced a lawsuit against the Senate committee that recently issued election-related subpoenas. Government should indeed do better in securing our private information, but it should be done across the board and not just for political data.

While the subpoena is solely a Senate action in which the House of Representatives is not involved and has no say or influence, there are a couple of things that the general public should note:

  1.   Much of the information subpoenaed is already publicly available and is often provided to all political parties upon request, including voter names, addresses, counties and history. It is the voter information that candidates get when they knock on your door.
  2.   The information that is not publicly available (i.e. date of birth and last four digits of Social Security number) is simply used to match voters on different lists who have the same name and/or address. This information confirms a voter is alive, eligible to vote, and not registered multiple times in different districts, counties or precincts. For example if there are three people named John Smith who are registered to vote at one address, additional data is absolutely needed to determine if they are the same person or there are simply three different generations of Smiths who vote at the same address.

In late April, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Insight Global Contact Tracing Company acknowledged that personal health information and details of as many as 72,000 people questioned during contact tracing had been exposed online. This breach had far more confidential information than what is at question in the attorney general s lawsuit.

Whether it is voter information or health records I would expect our government to safeguard all data equally and not just political data. As such it is disappointing to see the attorney general pursue action against one but not the other.
Voting Rights Protection Act Reintroduced

Click here to view video.
A comprehensive election reform measure vetoed earlier this year by Gov. Tom Wolf has been reintroduced in the state House.

A key component of the bill – to expand voter ID guidelines to require all voters to present ID each time they cast a ballot – was initially cited by the governor as a main reason for his veto, but he has subsequently said he is open to expanded ID requirements.

The Voting Rights Protection Act, now House Bill 1800, would expand ID requirements but also ensure ALL registered voters can comply by calling on counties and the Department of State to issue durable voter registration identification cards, similar to those already provided. Voters also would be able to use other types of identification, including their state-issued driver license or ID card.

Like the prior version of the bill, the measure also includes other security enhancements, improved uniformity in voting practices across all 67 counties and enhanced voter access.

Learn more here.
House, Senate Adopt Resolution Extending Ida Disaster Declaration

Recognizing the long recovery ahead in many areas of the state that suffered extensive damage related to Tropical Storm Ida, the state House and Senate this week approved a resolution extending the governor’s disaster emergency declaration issued Aug. 31.

The resolution proposes to extend the declaration through Oct. 27.

This is the first time the General Assembly has voted to extend a disaster emergency since voters approved an amendment to the state Constitution limiting a governor’s disaster declarations to a maximum of 21 days. Anything beyond 21 days requires legislative approval.  
Bill to Amend School Board’s Emergency Powers Passes House

Legislation that would limit a school board’s temporary emergency powers from up to four years to 60 days passed the House this week.

Specifically, the legislation, beginning with the 2021-22 school year and each school year after, will allow a school board to put into operation temporary emergency provisions for 60 days when an emergency results in five consecutive days of being unable to provide in-person instruction. If an extension is necessary after 60 days, it would require another two-thirds vote by the school board and a public hearing.

The school board will have 60 days after the initial vote to implement their temporary emergency powers and must provide a written plan to the public with an explanation of why the temporary emergency provisions are necessary and how long they will be in effect.

The bill does not impact a school entity’s ability to use Flexible Instruction Days.
Airport Rebounding from 2020!

The Pittsburgh International Airport (PIA) has been through some dramatic ups and downs over the last decade and like most airports in 2020 was hit hard by the pandemic.

PIA traffic fell by as much as 96% early in the COVID-19 pandemic, but has been rebounding quickly. Driven by the dramatic rise in e-commerce during the pandemic, cargo has done well and continues to be the airport’s strong future along with the additive manufacturing hub on airport property called Neighborhood 91; the airport modernization project that includes a new building for ticketing, security and baggage; and the new microgrid fueled by both natural gas and solar to provide power to the airport.

PIA will continue to play a significant role in getting our region’s employees back to work and in Pittsburgh’s resurgence as a major center for commerce.
Gaydos, Education Committee Approve In-Person Education Act

As a member of the House Education Committee, Rep. Gaydos and her colleagues passed an important piece of legislation that would give students equal access to in-person instruction.

House Bill 1254 would not require students to attend in-person instruction, nor would it require schools to offer in-person instruction. It says that schools with no in-person instruction must give families an option to use their child’s share of state education funding to access educational alternatives. This would help to ensure every child in every family in every community has equal opportunity to attend the school that is best for them.

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics warn that closed schools present significant short-and long-term harm to children, ranging from academic setbacks to depression to substance use, physical inactivity and abuse.

The bill now moves to the full House for consideration.
Bill Aimed at Preventing Suicide Sent to Governor’s Desk

As the Commonwealth marks National Suicide Prevention Month in September, legislation to hold accountable a person who instructs, causes or solicits another person to commit suicide is now awaiting the governor’s signature.

“Shawn’s Law” is named after Shawn Shatto, a young woman who took her own life in her parent’s Newberry Township home after she received a step-by-step guide on how to die by suicide from an online chat forum. She was provided the instructions to make the poison to take her own life. Shawn did so and then contacted the forum members saying she was scared to follow through with ending her life. At least one person on the forum told her that suicide was the best route and wished Shawn well on her journey instead of encouraging her to seek help.

House Bill 184 calls for sentences for a person who encourages another person who is under the age of 18 or has an intellectual disability to die by suicide to be increased. Under the law, intellectual disability is defined as someone, regardless of age, who has significantly below average intellectual functioning and has significant limitations in two of the following areas: communication, self-care, home living, social and interpersonal skills, use of community resources, self-direction, functional academic skills, work, health or safety.

Assistance to prevent suicide can be found by calling The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 24-hours a day, seven days a week. The lifeline provides free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources, and best practices for professionals.
Keeping Kids Safe in the Car

As National Child Passenger Safety Week draws to a close, PennDOT and the Pennsylvania State Police are reminding parents and caregivers of the importance of properly restraining children in vehicles.

The Commonwealth’s primary seat belt law requires all vehicle occupants younger than 18 to wear a seat belt when riding anywhere in a vehicle. Children under the age of 2 must be secured in a rear-facing car seat, and children under the age of 4 must be restrained in an approved child safety seat. Children must ride in a booster seat until their eighth birthday. Parents are also reminded that due to potential dangers associated with air bag deployment, children 12 and younger should always ride buckled in a vehicle’s back seat.

The Pennsylvania Traffic Injury Prevention Project (PA TIPP) also offers the following tips:
  •   Select a car seat that is right for the child’s age and size.
  •   Fill out and return the registration card for your seat so you’ll know if it is recalled because of a problem.
  •   Read and follow the car seat instructions and the vehicle owner's manual for information on correctly installing the car seat in the vehicle.
  •   Use the car’s seat belt or the LATCH system when installing the car seat.
  •   Make sure the car seat’s harness is correctly adjusted and fits snugly.
  •   Use a tether strap when installing a forward-facing car seat, following manufacturer’s instructions.

For more information on child passenger safety, visit PennDOT's Safety Page.
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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