Keeping Kids Safe From Sexual Predators
"It is unbelievable to me that this law does not already exist."
Last week at the Upper Main Line YMCA in Chester County, I shared my plan to protect America's children from sexual and violent predators in the classroom.
My new bill, the Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act, requires schools to perform background checks on all new and current employees. It also bans schools from helping a child molester find a new teaching job.
My bill has strong support across Pennsylvania and the country. The Lehigh Valley's Express-Times calls it a "plan that would help protect our schoolchildren." Likewise, the Scranton Times Tribune explains that Congress should pass my bill because it "would help to ensure that all states have at least a basic common standard, so that egregious conduct in one state won't be missed in another."
It also has been endorsed by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, the National Children's Alliance, Children's Defense Fund, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
It is unbelievable to me that this law does not already exist. As a father of three young children, I cannot imagine the suffering of a parent whose child is sexually assaulted. No family should ever endure such a tragedy. I am determined to work across party lines to get these protections for our kids.
I met with Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman on Capitol Hill this week to discuss further details on my bill. I am grateful for all her efforts and look forward to working closely with her to protect children.
Winning One For Our Volunteer Firefighters
The Obama administration informed me late last week that volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel will not be counted as full-time employees in determining whether a fire department is subject to Obamacare's onerous requirements.
I introduced the Protect Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act to secure these very protections. I am relieved that the Administration has heard the bipartisan call to protect volunteer fire departments from one of the devastating consequences of Obamacare.
This is great news for first responders in Pennsylvania. Our Commonwealth has the largest number of volunteer fire departments in the country and they play a crucial role in protecting us each and every day. Pennsylvania is fortunate to have so many dedicated volunteers willing to risk their lives for their fellow citizens. The least we can do is help them keep their doors open.
You can read the Treasury Department letter informing me of this decision here.
Protecting Pennsylvania's Manufacturing Jobs
I was thrilled to visit Streamlight, Inc. in Montgomery County with State Sen. John Rafferty. Streamlight is an innovative manufacturer of flashlights so reliable they are used by police and fire departments around the country and the U.S. Marine Corps. Their plant in Eagleville employs more than 250 workers, and their cutting-edge techniques, like 3-D printing, make them a prime example of Pennsylvania's business innovation.
But due to a bureaucratic oversight by the Department of Commerce, Streamlight might be required to pay $8 million in retroactive taxes. This is all the more troubling because there was simply no way for them to anticipate this exorbitant fee.
I have spoken directly to Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker about this issue. I will continue to make the case to her and I hope the Obama administration will do the right thing. You can read the Times Herald's article here.
Working To Protect Religious Freedom Abroad
As part of my efforts to protect religious minorities worldwide, I have cosponsored the bipartisan Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act (S. 653).
This measure would help protect religious minorities around the world by creating a special envoy to monitor and combat acts of intolerance and incitement in the Near East and South Central Asia. Additionally, this envoy will work with foreign governments to help ensure they protect the rights of religious minorities and address discriminatory laws.
Religious freedom is a natural right that belongs to everyone, everywhere. As a beacon of that freedom, the United States must work to ensure that religious minorities around the world are protected from persecution and discrimination. I am proud to sponsor this bipartisan bill which supports the rights of religious minorities in Asia, and I urge its swift consideration by the full Senate.
You can read the Scranton Times-Tribune editorial on this act here.
Announcing Military Academy Appointments
Pennsylvania's proud tradition of military service is alive and well in the rising generation. I was pleased to nomiante the below students for admission to our nation's military academies. Each has been offered an appointment. We thank them for their willingness to serve our country and we wish them the best of luck in the future!
Brogan Abeling of Elliottsburg to the U.S. Air Force Academy
Frank Brophy of New Hope to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
Joseph Brugger of Pittsburgh to the U.S. Naval Academy
Mitchell Gochenaur of Mechanicsburg to the U.S. Naval Academy
Connor Mellet of Easton to the U.S. Naval Academy
Sara Peeleman of Wallingford to the U.S. Naval Academy
Taylor Reed of Lancaster to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy