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Senator Judy SchwankHappy Holidays! Family gatherings, office luncheons and holiday dinners are hallmarks of this festive season. Whether you are preparing a meal for an intimate gathering or a community event, remember to cook your food to a proper temperature to avoid illness. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has some great food safety tips, including a chart for proper internal cooking temperature of various foods and a guide for baking treats safely. I want to wish you a peaceful, restful and healthy holiday season and I look forward to continuing to serve Berks County as your state senator in the new year.

For all the latest news and events in the 11th Senatorial District and in Harrisburg, visit my website, my Facebook page and Twitter page.


Schwank Discusses Power Outages with PUC Chairman

The rare and unexpected snowstorm on Oct. 29 left many residents — and me — in the dark for an extended period. As a result, I asked folks to share their power outage stories with me so that I could paint a clear picture of the situation for the utility companies and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) so we can determine how we can improve utility response times. The feedback was incredibly helpful.

I recently met with PUC Chairman Robert Powelson in Harrisburg. We had a frank and open discussion about the issues residents raised as a result of the storm-related power outage.

I was pleased to learn that the PUC has requested that the utility companies review their business operations and report back with their findings. A few key areas of this request include a six-month review of conductors/circuits to determine problematic areas, adoption of a best-practice policy, and a comprehensive review of call center staffing and services. 

Chairman Powelson assured me that PUC will share with me the findings and recommendations to the utilities. In the meantime, Powelson told me that he will arrange a meeting for me with the president of First Energy to address this matter at the local level. 

You have my firm commitment to continue to follow up on this issue.  


Legislation Would Strengthen Child Protection Laws

Video on child protection bills

Sen. Schwank announces legislation that would strengthen child protection laws in Pennsylvania.

The sexual abuse scandal at Penn State University is a wake-up call for Pennsylvania. We must reexamine our child protection laws and strengthen them as needed to protect children and adults alike from sexual violence.

I recently joined my Senate Democratic colleagues to unveil a legislative package that would provide children in Pennsylvania with greater protections from abuse. Our goals are to strengthen laws, develop new initiatives and refine policies to protect children.

These legislative recommendations will be offered to the legislative commission created to improve protections for children.

Specifically, my legislation would require that board members of all public and private colleges or universities establish clear policies regarding domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, to mirror the federal Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act. On a state level, it would increase awareness and prevention of these acts and provide assistance to victims.

Our best past efforts have fallen way short of protecting children in Pennsylvania. When it comes to protecting our state’s 2.8 million children, our standards must be zero tolerance for shortcomings and failings in the law. This legislative package addresses and rectifies known areas of concern.  


Property Tax/Rent Rebate Application Deadline is Dec. 31

The application for the state property tax/rent rebate for eligible citizens is due Dec. 31.

Last year, more than 31,000 Berks County residents collected $14.7 million in rebates.

In this economy, folks can benefit from this program more than ever, so I urge eligible individuals to apply now, and I encourage everyone to remind your friends and loved ones who would qualify for a rebate that the deadline is fast approaching.

Applications and free filing assistance are available at my district office at the Rockland Professional Center, 1940 N. 13th St., Suite 232 in Reading.

Property Tax/Rent Rebate claim forms (PA-1000) and information are also available online at or by calling 1-888-222-9190 between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded. 

The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners can increase rebates to $975.





Video on child protection bills