Sen. Yaw: Public Hearing on Expanding Broadband Access in Rural Pennsylvania

 

HARRISBURG – The Center for Rural Pennsylvania Board of Directors, chaired by Sen. Gene Yaw, will hold a virtual public hearing on Thursday, February 18, beginning at 10 a.m., to learn more about the efforts to expand broadband access in rural Pennsylvania, with a focus on the role of electric cooperatives, economic development entities, and educational organizations.

“The Center for Rural Pennsylvania has been documenting and reporting the need for broadband service in our rural areas for many years,” Sen. Yaw said. “Our research has shown that rural Pennsylvania communities and residents do not have high-speed broadband internet service, that rural residents are willing to pay for broadband service, and that urban and rural Pennsylvania residents are receiving inequitable broadband service – not only in terms of broadband speed, but also in the prices they pay for service.

“We know there are some challenges to deploying broadband in rural areas, but there are some great local initiatives, such as Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative’s Tri-Co Connections, that are working to close the digital divide,” Sen. Yaw said. “This hearing will highlight the work of Tri-Co Connections and other local initiatives to provide insights into how they are helping their rural communities get connected.”

Presenters scheduled for the public hearing are: Craig Eccher, President and CEO Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative and Tri-Co Connections; Rachel Hauser, Director of Regulatory Affairs and Economic Development, Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative; Aaron Young, Chief Operating Officer, Tri-Co Connections; Bill Gerski, Senior Vice President Marketing and Business Development, Tri-Co Connections; Dr. Michele Moore, Executive Director, Potter County Education Council; Kristin Hamilton, Executive Director, Develop Tioga; and Jed Hamberger, Superintendent, Oswayo Valley School District.

In addition to Sen. Yaw, Center Board members are: Board Vice Chairman Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski; Board Secretary Dr. Nancy Falvo, Clarion University of Pennsylvania; Board Treasurer Stephen Brame, Governor’s representative; Sen. Katie Muth; Rep. Dan Moul; Dr. Timothy Kelsey, Pennsylvania State University; Dr. Catherine Koverola, University of Pittsburgh at Bradford; Shannon Munro, Pennsylvania College of Technology; Dr. Joseph Nairn, Northern Pennsylvania Regional College; Dr. Charles Patterson, Mansfield University of Pennsylvania; and Darrin Youker, Governor’s representative.

The public hearing will be held via Zoom Webinar. Attendees are asked to please register in advance at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_mfYrM_MUTrmKoFOPQqBz4w.

Hearing Agenda  –  February 18, 2021

10:00 a.m. Welcome and Call to Order
Senator Gene Yaw, Chairman

10:05 a.m.
Tri-Co Connections

Craig Eccher, President and CEO Tri-County REC and Tri-Co Connections
Rachel Hauser, Director of Regulatory Affairs and Economic Development, Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative
Aaron Young, Chief Operating Officer, Tri-Co Connections
Bill Gerski, Senior VP Marketing and Business Development, Tri-Co Connections
Question & Answer Period

11:00 a.m.
Community Engagement & Development

Dr. Michele Moore, executive director of the Potter County Education Council
Kristin Hamilton, Executive Director, Develop Tioga – Testimony
Jed Hamberger, Superintendent, Oswayo Valley School District
Question & Answer Period

11:45 a.m.
Concluding Remarks and Adjournment

Combined Testimony Presented

 

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is a bipartisan, bicameral legislative agency that serves as a resource for rural policy within the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The Center works with the legislature, educators, state and federal executive branch agencies, and national, statewide, regional and local organizations to maximize resources and strategies that can better serve Pennsylvania’s nearly 3.4 million rural residents.

 

CONTACT:
Christine Caldara Piatos, Communications Manager
Center for Rural Pennsylvania
(717) 787-9555

www.rural.pa.gov
www.facebook.com/RuralPennsylvania
@CenterRuralPa

Heroin/Opioids and PA’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

 

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania

Wednesday, September 25, 2019 at 9:00 a.m.

Keystone Building, PUC Hearing Room #5


9:00 AM
Welcome and Opening Comments
Senator Gene Yaw, Chairman, The Center for Rural Pennsylvania                       

9:10 AM
Dr. Thomas Farley, Director, Philadelphia County Health Department
Ms. Melissa Lyon, Director, Erie County Health Department
Ms. Barbara Kovacs, Director, York City Health Department

9:40 AM
Ms. Meghna Patel, Deputy Secretary of Health Innovation and
Mr. Jared Shinabery, Director, Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, Pennsylvania Department of Health
Ms. Laken Ethun, Project Director, Program Evaluation and Research Unit, University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy
Mr. Michael Krafick, Certified Recovery Specialist, Armstrong-Indiana-Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission

10:10 AM
Closing Remarks and Adjournment

Public Hearing on the “State of Addiction”

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania

Tuesday, October 2, 2018 at 10 am.

Senate Majority Caucus Room

 

Welcome and Opening Comments

Senator Gene Yaw, Chairman, The Center for Rural Pennsylvania

Dr. Bradley Miller, UPMC Susquehanna

Dr. Rachel Levine, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Pennsylvania Physician General

Dr. William Santoro, Public Policy Chair, Pennsylvania Society of Addiction Medicine – Combined Testimony

Dr. Frederic Baurer, President, Pennsylvania Society of Addiction Medicine – Combined Testimony

Closing Comments

Senator Gene Yaw

Adjournment

 

Additional information will be posted on the Center’s website at http://www.rural.palegislature.us/

“State of Addiction” Public Hearing Set for August 15

Senator Yaw Audio

Senator Langerholc Audio

HARRISBURG – The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, chaired by State Senator Gene Yaw, will hold a public hearing in Ebensburg on Wednesday, August 15 to gather more information on Medication Assisted Treatment services, Pennsylvania drug courts, and reemployment opportunities for people battling addiction to heroin and opioids.

The public hearing will be held at the Cambria County Courthouse, Courtroom 1, 200 South Center St., Ebensburg, PA 15931, and will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Senator Yaw will preside over the hearing and will be joined by fellow Center Board Members Dr. Nancy Falvo of Clarion University, Dr. Michael Driscoll, President of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Mr. Darrin Youker of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. State Senator Wayne Langerholc will host the hearing.

“From our previous hearings, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania learned how difficult it is for people with substance use disorder to get back to work,” said Senator Yaw. “We also heard about the many treatment options for individuals that can help them in recovery. At this hearing, we want to learn more about the local programs that help with reemployment, the success of county drug courts, and the treatment programs that help people recover from their addiction and be successful in their recovery.”

In 2014, the Center held its first public hearing on the heroin and opioid crisis affecting the Commonwealth. Since then, it has held more than a dozen hearings, which have helped to create statewide awareness of the crisis, and to encourage numerous legislative and administrative initiatives to combat a disease that now claims more lives each year than those lost to traffic accidents.

“Over the past few years, our state and nation have taken positive steps to address this epidemic,” Yaw said. “The most recent being nearly $5 million in funding from the National Health Emergency (NHE) Dislocated Worker Demonstration Grant for reemployment services for individuals affected by the opioid epidemic. However, we need to remain focused on fighting this epidemic, as it continues to devastate our rural and urban communities.”

For a copy of the agenda, click here.

Members of the public and media are invited to attend. 

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is a bipartisan, bicameral legislative agency that serves as a resource for rural policy within the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The Center works with the legislature, educators, state and federal executive branch agencies, and national, statewide, regional and local organizations to maximize resources and strategies that can better serve Pennsylvania’s nearly 3.4 million rural residents.

CONTACT:

Barry Denk, Director
Center for Rural Pennsylvania
(717) 787-9555

Rita Zielonis, Chief of Staff
Senator Gene Yaw’s Office
(717) 787-3280

Gwenn Dando, Chief of Staff
Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr.’s Office
(717) 787-5400

Winners in “Talk to Your Senator” Video Competition To Be Announced Online Wednesday, May 2

Winners of a statewide “Talk to Your State Senator” video competition will be announced online at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, May 2, according to Senator Gene Yaw (R-23).  The winners announcement, followed by all six of the winning videos, will be posted on  www.acommonwealthcrisis.com.

Senator Yaw said the competition was launched to get middle school and high school students involved in legislative efforts to fight heroin and opioid abuse.  It was sponsored by the Senate of Pennsylvania, with support from members of the Drug and Alcohol Service Providers Organization of PA.

Students from around the state submitted video entries highlighting ways to combat abuse, help those who suffer from addiction, and develop laws to address the growing crisis.  Videos were judged based on creativity, content and effectiveness of message delivery.

Heroin and Opioid Addiction in Pennsylvania – Public Hearing

Center for Rural Pennsylvania

Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 9 a.m.
UPMC Susquehanna – Williamsport

Heroin and Opioid Addiction in Pennsylvania

 

9:00 AM

Welcome and Opening Comments
Senator Gene Yaw, Chairman, The Center for Rural Pennsylvania

9:15 AM

Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of Health/Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine
Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs Jennifer Smith

10:00 AM

Honorable Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania Attorney General
Gary Tuggle, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Philadelphia Field Division – Additional Testimony

10:40 AM

Honorable Nancy Butts, President Judge, Lycoming County

11:00 AM BREAK

11:15 AM

Dr. Janice Pringle – Attachment and Dr. Lynn Mirigian, University of Pittsburgh School of
Pharmacy, Opioid Overdose Reduction Technical Assistance Center

11:45 AM

Honorable Eric R. Linhardt, District Attorney, Lycoming County
David Young, Chief of Police, City of Williamsport

12:10 PM

Shea Madden, Executive Director, West Branch Drug and Alcohol Commission
Steve Murphy Shope, Executive Director, Project Bald Eagle
Dr. Bradley Miller, UPMC Susquehanna Family Medicine

12:45 PM

Gene Barr, President and CEO, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry

1:00 PM

Closing Comments and Adjournment
Senator Gene Yaw

Senate Endorses Yaw Bills Limiting Opioid Prescriptions; Updating PDMP Requirements

HARRISBURG – Legislation limiting the amount of opioids that individuals may be prescribed won bipartisan approval today in the state Senate, according to the bill’s prime sponsor Senator Gene Yaw (R-23).  The bill, Senate Bill 472, addresses the increasing risk of individuals becoming addicted to opioids and heroin after being prescribed painkillers, and is one of several bills introduced by Yaw aimed at curbing the drug epidemic that has killed, on average, more than 13 people per day in Pennsylvania.

According to Sen. Yaw, the bill would limit the prescription for a controlled substance containing an opioid to a seven-day duration unless there is a medical emergency that puts the individual’s health or safety at risk.  The bill also includes exceptions for cases involving acute and chronic pain, cancer treatment or for palliative care or hospice care.  In those cases, the medical professional would be required to document the medical condition in the individual’s record with the prescriber and indicate the reason why a non-opioid alternative is not appropriate to address the acute medical condition.

The bill, as amended by the Senate, also includes exceptions when a patient remains in an in-patient or hospital setting and when a prescriber is continuing a treatment initiated by another member of the prescriber’s practice.

Senate Bill 728, also approved by the Senate, would amend the Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescriptions Program (ABC-MAP) Act to exempt Schedule V epilepsy drugs currently included in the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) querying requirement.

“While we must do everything we can to curb doctor shopping and reduce illicit prescription drug abuse, I want to ensure that we are not unintentionally hindering access to medicines without evidence of abuse for patients who rely on them on a daily basis,” Yaw noted.

“Throughout the three years of hearings by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, testifiers commented about how an oversupply of medications prescribed to individuals can be a springboard to becoming addicted to prescription opioids,” Yaw said.  “By re-evaluating current prescribing practices, we take another important step in our collective efforts to rein in this heroin and opioid addiction crisis in our state.”

 

CONTACT:
Rita Zielonis, Chief of Staff
(717) 787-3280

Yaw Announces “State of Addiction” Public Hearing

 

09-28-2017 – Senator Gene Yaw announces an October 26th public hearing in Williamsport on the “state of addiction” after three years of investigation of the heroin and opioid crisis in Pennsylvania. Thursday – October 26th 9am – 1pm Walnut Conference Room, UPMC Susquehanna, 700 High Street, Williamsport, PA 17701

HARRISBURG – State Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), Chairman of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania Board of Directors, announced today that the Center will hold a public hearing in Williamsport on Thursday, October 26, 2017 to gather information on what is being done at the federal, state and local levels to tackle the state’s heroin and opioid epidemic. 

Joining Senator Yaw at the hearing will be fellow Center Board Members Vice Chairman Representative Garth Everett, Board Secretary Dr. Nancy Falvo from Clarion University, President of Indiana University of PA Dr. Michael Driscoll and Penn State Professor Dr. Timothy Kelsey.

“In 2014, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania held its first public hearing on the heroin and opioid crisis affecting the Commonwealth,” Sen. Yaw said.  “That hearing, also held in Williamsport, was followed by 11 additional public hearings over the next two years, resulting in over 70 hours of presentations from more than 150 professionals, family members, and people in recovery.  The hearings created statewide awareness supporting and resulting in numerous legislative and administrative initiatives to combat a disease that now claims more lives each year than those lost to traffic accidents.”

Yaw added that the focus of the October hearing is to understand where Pennsylvania is, three years later, in its efforts to confront all of the issues surrounding heroin and opioid addiction.  “We are inviting professionals in the fields of law enforcement, the judiciary, treatment and recovery, business and industry, and education and prevention to offer testimony on where we are now in combatting this crisis and where we need to go.”

The public hearing will be held in the Walnut Conference Center at UPMC Susquehanna, 700 High Street, Williamsport, PA  17701 and will begin at 9AM.

Members of the public and media are invited to attend and coverage is appreciated. 

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is a bipartisan, bicameral legislative agency that serves as a resource for rural policy within the Pennsylvania General Assembly. 

The Center works with the legislature, educators, state and federal executive branch agencies, and national, statewide, regional and local organizations to maximize resources and strategies that can better serve Pennsylvania’s nearly 3.5 million rural residents.

CONTACT:

Barry Denk, Director
Center for Rural Pennsylvania
(717) 787-9555

Yaw Bills Related to State’s Opioid Crisis Head to Governor

HARRISBURG – Landmark legislation aimed at curbing Pennsylvania’s heroin and opioid epidemic were unanimously approved today by the state legislature, according to Senator Gene Yaw (R-23).

Senate Bill 1202, introduced by Senator Yaw and Senator John Wozniak (D-35), requires prescribers and dispensers to obtain initial and continuing education in pain management, identification of addiction and the use of opioids as effective treatment.  The legislation also requires prescribers and dispensers to check the newly created Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Database (PDMP) each time a patient is dispensed an opioid drug product or a benzodiazepine.  Additionally, prescribers and dispensers will now be mandated to update the PDMP within a 24 hour period, or “by the next business day.”  The current requirement is within a 72 hour period.

Senate Bill 1367, also sponsored by Senator Yaw, will now limit prescriptions designated for minors to a seven-day duration, unless there is a medical emergency that puts the child’s health or safety at risk.  The bill includes exceptions for cases involving chronic pain, cancer treatment or for palliative care or hospice care.  In those cases, the medical professional would be required to document the acute medical condition in the minor’s record with the prescriber and indicate the reason why a non-opioid alternative is not appropriate to address the acute medical condition.

Senate Bill 1368, sponsored by Senator Tom Killion (R-9), calls for a medical training facility to implement key opioid-related curriculum.  The curriculum calls for further education in pain management; multimodal treatments for chronic pain that minimize the use of a controlled substance containing an opioid; instruction on safe methods of prescribing a controlled substance containing an opioid that follows guideline-based care; identification of patients who have been identified as at-risk for developing problems with prescription opioids; and teaching medical students how to manage substance abuse disorders as a chronic disease.

Another measure approved by the legislature today included House Bill 1699, which created the Safe Emergency Prescribing Act limiting the quantity of opioids which may be prescribed to a patient seeking treatment in a hospital emergency department or urgent care center.

“Drug addiction is a preventable disease and it will take a coordinated effort across all spectrums to address it,” Yaw said. “Each of these bills can be compared to the strands of a rope.   Each strand represents one measure to fight the opioid and heroin epidemic.  Alone, they might not be fully effective, but together they can strengthen the rope and our collective efforts to address this epidemic.  I am grateful that the legislature recognized the need to address opioid abuse and misuse, and I am confident that the Governor will approve these important measures.”

“We applaud the efforts of Senator Yaw and the entire legislature for their leadership and dedication in addressing the opioid crisis,” Dr. Charles Cutler, MD, MACP, President of the Pennsylvania Medical Society stated.  “This issue is affecting far too many Pennsylvanians. PAMED and our physician members remain committed to the well-being of our patients and will continue working to stem this crisis.”

“The opioid epidemic that has seized our commonwealth requires state government and the health care community to work in full partnership if we are to repair the staggering damage caused by widespread opioid abuse,” said Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) President and CEO Andy Carter. “The legislative package spearheaded by Sen. Yaw and supported by his colleagues in the General Assembly and the Governor reflects a steadfast commitment to bring the opioid epidemic to an end.”

CONTACT:

Rita Zielonis, Chief of Staff

(717) 787-3280

State Residents Take Part in Second Telephone Town Hall on Heroin & Opioid Crisis

HARRISBURG – Over 19,000 households took part across 14 southwestern Pennsylvania counties Monday, October 17, for a Telephone Town Hall meeting hosted by area legislators to discuss the heroin and opioid epidemic in the region.

Moderated by Pennsylvania State Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), the town hall meeting was sponsored in part by area legislators Senator John Eichelberger (R-30), Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46), Senator Elder Vogel (R-47), Senator Randy Vulakovich (R-38), Senator Guy Reschenthaler (R-37), Senator Kim Ward (R-39) and Senator Pat Stefano (R-32).

The discussion included a panel of experts who answered questions about heroin and opioid addiction.  They included Barry Denk, Director of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a bipartisan, bicameral legislative research agency of the General Assembly that has facilitated 11 public hearings across the state on the heroin epidemic; Washington County District Attorney Eugene Vittone II, who initiated the Drug Treatment Court in the county; as well as Dr. Nancy Falvo, Professor of Nursing at Clarion University of Pennsylvania.

The panel fielded a number of questions from listeners and discussed wide-ranging topics that included the need for education and prevention efforts aimed at youth, accessing detox and treatment with limited or no insurance coverage, the overprescribing of pain medication leading to addiction, while providing needed pain medication for those living in chronic pain.

Callers also voiced concerns over the costs of Vivitrol, a “blocker” that attaches to certain opioid receptors in the brain prohibiting pleasurable feelings associated with opioids, as well as general comments about the use of Methadone.

Another topic discussed included the use of Naloxone, a medication used to reverse an opioid overdose.

“In order for people to receive treatment for their addiction, they have to be alive,” State Senator Gene Yaw said.  Yaw, who also serves as chairman of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania’s Board of Directors, noted that heroin addiction has no municipal boundaries, and, in most cases, law enforcement is the first to arrive on the scene of an overdose. “I think it’s imperative that more of our law enforcement professionals be equipped with this life saving antidote.”

“With almost 20,000 callers connecting to the tele-town hall, this clearly shows that Pennsylvanians acknowledge the public health crisis of heroin and opioid addiction facing our Commonwealth,” said Barry Denk. “They are certainly looking for information and help.”

The event is part of a legislative effort to gather information on how the growing epidemic is affecting Pennsylvania and what can be done to save lives and battle addiction.  It was the second of five “tele-town halls” scheduled around the state, with subsequent tele-town halls in the Southeast, South Central, Northwest and North Central regions of Pennsylvania.  The tele-town hall format allows state residents to listen in, offer opinions, and even ask questions from their own home.

The next telephone town hall will be held on January 10, 2017, beginning at 6:30 p.m. and will focus on southeastern Pennsylvania.

Interested individuals can sign up ahead of time at www.acommonwealthcrisis.com to receive a phone call a few moments before the town hall meeting begins. Individuals can also sign up by texting the keyword “talkheroin” to the number 828282. Audio streaming for the tele-town hall will also be available.