Bipartisan Measure Prohibiting AI Interference in Elections Introduced by Pennycuick, Gebhard, Dillon, Kane

HARRISBURG – Sen. Tracy Pennycuick (R-24), Sen. Jimmy Dillon (D-5), Sen. Chris Gebhard (R-48) and Sen. John Kane (D-9) today introduced legislation prohibiting the use of generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) to fraudulently misrepresent an election candidate in Pennsylvania.

 GenAI combines machine-learning algorithms with human-generated content to produce realistic images, videos, audio, and written content.

Under Senate Bill 1217, the dissemination of a campaign advertisement containing an artificially generated impersonation of a candidate would be prohibited if done without consent and with the intent to unduly influence the outcome of the election.

“While this technology has the potential to make content creation more efficient, it also has the power to spread disinformation at an unprecedented rate through deceptively realistic content,” said Pennycuick, who chairs the Senate Communications and Technology Committee. “It’s critical that we take steps to prevent such blatant election interference and allow voters to make informed decisions when casting ballots.”

“As AI technology advances, the potential for misuse to spread disinformation could seriously undermine the political process,” said Dillon. “Our bill aims to deter AI-generated impersonations in political ads, ensuring voters receive accurate information.”

“As technology advances, we must remain vigilant to safeguard the integrity of our elections as Artificial Intelligence evolves and continues to blur the line between what is reality and what is not,” said Gebhard.

“This is about truth in our elections,” said Kane. “We are introducing this legislation to safeguard the accuracy of information and protect our voters from the influence of fabricated content. Every vote should be based on truth, not deepfakes and AI generated deception.”

Rep. Tarik Khan (D-194) has introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.

“People hate negative, misleading ads – but at least those ads were actual pictures and video of opponents. The negative ads of the future will be fully manufactured with only one goal: deception,” Khan said. “We can’t wait. We’re acting. We are standing with our Senate colleagues and reaching across the aisle to work together. This is how we safeguard our democracy and restore people’s trust.”

The Federal Election Commission is considering a proposal to limit false AI-generated political content, but regulatory action is uncertain. At least 14 states have adopted resolutions or enacted laws related to AI.

CONTACT: Lidia DiFiore (215) 541-2388

Shapiro Energy Plan is Death Sentence for Mine Land Remediation

HARRISBURG – A new energy plan spearheaded by Gov. Josh Shapiro would cripple mine land remediation efforts by closing local electric power plants, according to Sen. Dave Argall (R-29), Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-122), Rep. Jamie Barton (R-124), Rep. Mike Cabell (R-117), Rep. Tim Twardzik (R-123), Rep. JoAnne Stehr (R-107), and Rep. Dane Watro (R-116).

House Bill 2277, one of two new bills to implement Shapiro’s plan, would close all coal refuse plants within a few years, ending their longstanding, impactful work to reclaim abandoned mine lands and restore polluted streams.

“We were able to work across the aisle with Gov. Wolf, despite our differences, to help our local electric power plants survive and continue their important work,” said Argall. “The supporters of this new energy plan would prefer that many of the black and grey wastelands left behind by past mining operations remain for hundreds of more years.”

“Legislators, with common sense and bipartisanship in mind, have always worked together to provide clean air and water for residents throughout Pennsylvania, which includes supporting coal refuse plants,” said Heffley. “Now, Gov. Shapiro and his supporters are drafting plans to shut down these plants without stepping foot in the communities that are impacted the most by mountains of waste coal. If their plans are successful, the plants will shut down, and the waste coal will continue to pollute our waterways and create acid mine drainage and methane seepage, waiting to combust. I strongly urge them to reconsider, talk to the residents living in the communities impacted by these refuse piles and see firsthand the work that has been done to remediate the hazard.”

According to the PA Department of Environmental Protection, coal refuse plants in Pennsylvania have successfully reclaimed over 7,200 acres of abandoned mine land and restored more than 1,200 miles of polluted streams. They remove piles of waste coal to create electricity while also filling in abandoned strip mines.

Local legislators are asking Shapiro to reconsider this effort to kill abandoned mine land remediation efforts across Pennsylvania and to instead work with people in this region to draft a new energy plan.

In 2019 and 2020, Argall and former Sen. John Yudichak championed two pieces of bipartisan legislation to help these plants survive, both of which were signed into law by Wolf. During a public hearing on the impact of this legislation on the coal refuse industry in 2022, testifiers noted that without it, most of these plants would now be closed. House Bill 2277 would undo much of this progress.

Four coal reclamation plants are located in Schuylkill and Carbon Counties, including Rausch Creek Generation in Tremont, Panther Creek Energy Facility in Nesquehoning, Schuylkill Energy Resources in Shenandoah, and John B. Rich Memorial Power Station near Frackville.

CONTACT: Jim Brugger

Culver Bill to Protect Domestic Animals and Pennsylvania Food Supply Against Disease Signed into Law

HARRISBURG – A bill introduced by Sen. Lynda Schlegel Culver (R-27) was signed into law today to help protect domestic animals and the food supply against dangerous transmissible diseases.

“I am grateful the governor signed this bill into law today,” Culver said. “It is a great step in securing the future of the livestock industry in Pennsylvania.”

Culver’s Senate Bill 979 was signed into law as Act 15 of 2024. The new law gives the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture the authority to require retailers to post information about dangerous transmittable diseases at locations where domestic animals and feed are sold to the public.

“Biosecurity is important and spreading information is one of the strongest measures we can take to attempt to mitigate the spread of diseases,” Culver said. “This law will allow the Department of Agriculture to get important information out to small livestock operations that otherwise may not know of an outbreak near them.”

The passage of the law is timely as the nation is seeing the spread of avian influenza in cattle. There has been no spread reported in Pennsylvania at this time.

More information about Culver is available online at SenatorCulver.com. Residents can follow her on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/SenCulver and on Instagram at Instagram.com/SenatorCulver for updates about legislative action in Harrisburg and news in the 27th District.

Media Contact: Betsy Reichenbach
717-787-8928

Brown’s Legislation to Curb Distracted Driving in Pennsylvania Headed to the Governor

Sen. Rosemary Brown speaking at her distracted driving press conference, where she unveiled Senate Bill 37.

“This was a long battle to put the safety of Pennsylvanians first, but it is a battle worth winning.”

 HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania State Legislature approved legislation to prohibit the use of handheld cellular and other devices while driving, an initiative long championed by Sen. Rosemary Brown (R-40).

“After more than a decade of relentless work to enact this legislation, the passage of Senate Bill 37 marks a monumental victory for Pennsylvania,” said Brown. “As this bill heads to the governor’s desk, I am filled with gratitude for those who helped us get this far, and I know this measure will protect drivers, prevent crashes and save lives. This bill is more than legislation – it is a reminder of the power of perseverance and the impact we can have when we prioritize public safety.” 

Senate Bill 37, also named by Brown as the Paul Miller Jr. Law, limits the use of handheld cellphones or other communication devices while operating a motor vehicle on a Pennsylvania highway or traffic way. Drivers can still use their phone if they are utilizing hands-free technology, such as a docking station, Bluetooth or speaker technology.

“Getting this bill to the finish line would not have been possible without the advocacy of Paul and Eileen Miller, the parents of Paul Miller, Jr. Their son lost his life at 21 years old to a distracted driver on Route 33 in Monroe County. They have been with me every step of the way,” Brown said. “I also want to thank the majority of my colleagues in both the Senate and the House for their votes and working to protect Pennsylvania roadways.”

Eileen Miller of Scranton shared her thoughts on the bill’s passage. “As someone who has endured profound grief caused by distracted driving, the passage of this legislation means fewer families will have to suffer the same heartbreak,” said Miller. “I find solace knowing Paul’s legacy will be a beacon of protection for every driver and passenger on Pennsylvania’s roads.”

State Rep. Ed Neilson (D-174), who serves as the majority chairman of the House Transportation Committee added “We have data that shows distracted driving now causes more harm to people on the road than driving under the influence,” Neilson said. “I’m always happy to reach across the aisle to implement important legislation that will save thousands of lives each year in the commonwealth.”

Distracted driving fatalities in Pennsylvania surged to a decade high in 2022, claiming 80 lives. The AAA Traffic Safety Culture Index found that 88% of drivers believe distracted driving has outpaced all other traffic-related issues as a growing safety concern. The study also revealed that 97% of drivers consider texting or emailing while driving to be a grave threat. 34 states have enacted hands-free laws, including all of Pennsylvania’s border states. These states report a decline in distracted driving after the implementation of a hands-free law.

“This was a long battle to put the safety of Pennsylvanians first, but it is a battle worth winning,” said Brown. “I look forward to the governor signing this bill into law so we can cross the finish line.”

The bill is now headed to the governor’s desk for signature.

 

CONTACT:
Christine Zubeck

Senate Approves Langerholc Bill to Boost PA Youth Hunting and Fishing

HARRISBURG – The Senate today unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35) to create a new license plate for Pennsylvania sportsmen with proceeds used to fund youth hunting and fishing education. 

The Pennsylvania Sportsman plate would celebrate those who hunt and fish. Under Senate Bill 916, the plate would be designed by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, in consultation with the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

The Pennsylvania Sportsman registration plate would cost $40 plus the registration fee, of which $14 would be deposited into a Youth Hunting and Fishing Restricted Account to be allocated evenly to the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission for the purpose of promoting youth hunting and fishing activities.

“This license plate allows our rich heritage of hunting and fishing to be proudly displayed by motorists while raising money for future generations of hunters and fishermen,” Langerholc said. 

CONTACT: Gwenn Dando

Vogel’s Telemedicine Legislation Advances from the Senate

HARRISBURG – With support from the Pennsylvania Senate, Sen. Elder Vogel, Jr.’s (R-47) Telemedicine legislation (Senate Bill 739) aimed at strengthening telemedicine in the commonwealth now advances to the House for consideration.

“Telemedicine has proven to be a multifaceted approach to alleviate wait times in our healthcare facilities, serve as an alternative to residents who are unable to make it to their doctor’s appointments in person, and allow for better coordination among our healthcare providers,” said Vogel. “I am pleased that my colleagues can see the value telemedicine brings to the table for Pennsylvanians and our doctors and appreciate their support for my legislation.”

Senate Bill 739 sets a base for how telemedicine will be covered by insurance companies and medical providers in Pennsylvania.

 

CONTACT: Abby Chiumento, 717-787-3076 (Vogel)

Senate Republicans Secure Passage of Historic Tax Cuts for Working Families


HARRISBURG – Working families, job creators and energy consumers in Pennsylvania would see their taxes reduced by approximately $3 billion a year under a bill approved by the Senate today, according to Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-39), Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-41) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Scott Martin (R-13).

Senate Bill 269 would reduce the Personal Income Tax (PIT) rate from 3.07 percent to 2.8 percent, putting more money in the wallets of every Pennsylvanian who earns a paycheck. The bill would also eliminate the Gross Receipts Tax on energy, effective on January 1, 2025, providing critical relief from high energy costs.

The strong, bipartisan, veto-proof legislation would represent the largest tax cut for working families in our Commonwealth’s history, saving taxpayers more than $13 billion over the next five years.

The tax cuts would benefit all Pennsylvania families and inject an additional $3 billion into the state’s economy, rather than growing government and arbitrarily picking winners and losers. The plan is a sharp contrast from Governor Shapiro’s calls for $3.2 billion in new government spending, as well as legislation introduced by House Democrats to nearly quadruple certain taxes paid by small businesses.

Senate Republican leaders stressed that the tax cuts are a continuation of their longstanding efforts to protect taxpayers against unnecessary tax increases, new spending and unchecked growth in the size of government.

“The Senate Republican Caucus’s top priority has been and continues to be strengthening Pennsylvania by positioning and empowering Pennsylvanians, their families and their businesses to succeed. Not only did the Senate Republican Caucus lead the way in helping to provide relief for families by establishing the Child Care Tax Credit, but we also increased it. The Senate Republican Caucus also ensured that thousands of elderly and disabled individuals in Pennsylvania could now meet the requirements for assistance through the property tax and rent rebate program, resulting in seniors experiencing the most significant tax reductions in 20 years. We also set Pennsylvania businesses up to stay, grow and establish themselves in the state by reducing the corporate net income tax from one of the highest rates in the nation to the lowest. Today, we take the next step in our relief efforts, by directly returning money to Pennsylvania families by taking steps to reduce the personal income tax by nearly 10%. This budget season we will we continue to prioritize Pennsylvanians families starting with a $3 billion tax cut,” Ward said.

“As we go through budget negotiations, and the push and pull of wherever we may end up, our Senate Republican Caucus is going to continue to fight for Pennsylvania taxpayers, first and foremost. There has been a lot of discussion about $3 billion of additional spending. Our point of view is if we’re going to invest $3 billion, we should invest it back into the taxpayers. We fundamentally believe when you allow taxpayers and consumers of electricity to keep more of what they earn, they can best decide how to reinvest that into our economy. Lower tax structures help to further grow an economy, and in this case, would lift all boats,” Pittman said.

“Putting this money back in the pockets of consumers, taxpayers and job-creators is the best and fairest way to address the challenges we face. Rather than increasing the size of government and picking winners and losers with massive new spending and programs, we are investing money in all Pennsylvanians and sending a strong signal that our Commonwealth is open for business,” Martin said.

Senate Bill 269 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

CONTACTS:
Erica Clayton Wright ewright@pasen.gov (Sen. Ward)
Kate Flessner kflessner@pasen.gov (Sen. Pittman)
Jason Thompson jthompson@pasen.gov (Sen. Martin)

Senate Approves Langerholc Bill Creating Statewide Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking System

HARRISBURG – Legislation sponsored by Sen. Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35) to assist survivors of sexual assault was approved by the Senate today.

Senate Bill 920 would establish a sexual assault evidence tracking system, which allows individuals to follow the path of a rape kit throughout the collection and testing process.

“The forensic evidence collected from rape kits is crucial to bringing offenders to justice, but delays in processing have plagued sexual assault survivors for years,” Langerholc said. “This system will ensure survivors receive transparency, assurance and accountability that their cases are being handled effectively.”

Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia have established rape kit tracking systems. Pennsylvania’s enactment of legislation would allow the state to receive additional federal funds.

In 2018, Langerholc sponsored a law to streamline the process of collecting sexual assault evidence and required regular reports on data relating to sexual assault. In 2019, he sponsored a law enacting a comprehensive bill of rights in Pennsylvania for survivors of sexual assault. Senate Bill 920 builds on these efforts.

The bill will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

CONTACT: Gwenn Dando

Scholarship Bill Wins Bipartisan Support in Senate Education Committee

HARRISBURG – The Senate Education Committee advanced bipartisan legislation today to provide more educational options to children in low-performing public schools, according to committee chair Sen. Dave Argall (R-29).

Senate Bill 795, sponsored by Sen. Judy Ward (R-30), would establish the PASS (Pennsylvania Award for Student Success) Program to provide students in low-performing schools with scholarships to attend the school of their choice.

Sen. Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia) spoke passionately in support of this legislation, noting the strong support for these scholarships from the students and parents he represents. He said the students in his district who attend struggling schools “need a different path and a different opportunity… and that pathway will lead to success stories across the country.”

During Governor Shapiro’s budget address earlier this year, he referenced his continued support for “scholarships that let poor families in struggling school districts put their kids in the best position for them to succeed – whether that’s paying for extra tutoring, books and computers, or yes, going to another school.”

The committee also approved House Bill 1097, sponsored by Rep. Jim Haddock (D-118), which would require a moment of silence to remember the events of September 11, 2001 in schools every year. The bill also requires the Department of Education to develop model curriculum about the significance and impact of 9/11.

Both bills now advance to the full Senate.

CONTACT: Jim Brugger

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