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Senator Judy SchwankHello friends and Happy Valentine’s Day! Today is a special day to tell someone you love them, and the best sentiments come from the heart. Speaking of that iconic image of love, February is also American Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. The good news is it is also preventable. A well-balanced diet, exercise and stress management are within our reach, no matter our age, weight or background. The American Heart Association offers a variety of tips for staying healthy. Valentine’s Day isn’t the only time when we should be thinking about our hearts. Take simple steps every day to keep your heart beating strong for a long time.  

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



Give Blood… Get a Free Ice Cream Cake

Miller-Keystone Blood Center websiteEvery two seconds, someone in the United States requires a blood transfusion, and one out of every seven people entering a hospital needs blood. That’s why blood donations are so important.

Since the age of 18, I have been a regular blood donor. It’s a simple yet important way to help others, and there is always a need for blood.

I’m proud to partner with Miller-Keystone Blood Center for its upcoming blood drive, which takes place this Saturday, Feb. 18. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Dairy Queen locations in Kenhorst and Exeter. Every blood donor will receive a free ice cream cake, and I will be spending time at both locations that day to talk to you about your concerns.

If you are 17 years of age or older, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds, and in general good health, you are most likely eligible to donate blood.

MKBC is the only blood supplier to 24 hospitals in our region.

Just one blood donation can save as many as four lives, so join me this Saturday for this very worthy event.


Budget Plan, Marcellus Shale Legislation Disappointing

Video of Senator Schwank budget response

Sen. Schwank delivers the Senate Democratic response to the governor's latest budget proposal.

The recent announcement of next year’s state budget and the legislative actions to impose a local impact fee on natural gas drilling were both very disappointing.

The governor announced his 2012-13 state budget plan last week. For a second straight year, he is calling for short-sighted cuts but no long-term strategic investment for moving Pennsylvania forward.

The $27.14 billion budget proposal fails to foster job creation, close corporate tax loopholes or find a long-term transportation infrastructure funding solution.

 While the budget proposal includes no state tax increases, we will certainly feel the pain of the budget cuts in our wallets. School districts and state universities are once again victims of the budget. Meanwhile, foreign companies will continue to take advantage of the Delaware Loophole and avoid paying taxes to this commonwealth.

Also last week, the General Assembly approved legislation that would impose an impact fee on Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling. The governor just signed it into law.

The revenue from gas drilling will be divided. Sixty percent of the fee revenue will go to local communities directly impacted by drilling. That money will be used for local services, from emergency preparedness to transportation infrastructure projects.

Forty percent of the fee revenue will go toward statewide environmental projects, ranging from acid mine drainage remediation to recreation trails and highways.

The impact fee will fluctuate with the price of natural gas and on the rate of inflation. 

It is anticipated that this fee will generate $180 million in revenue this year, which is far lower than the nation's other top natural gas-producing states.

This legislation does not go far enough to ensure that the entire state benefits from natural gas extraction. These drilling companies are accustomed to paying a significantly higher tax or fee in other gas-producing states and would not have abandoned gas wells in Pennsylvania if we pushed for a more responsible fee or tax.

We had an important opportunity to impose a reasonable tax on drilling that could have made a big difference in Pennsylvania. Instead, the new impact fee panders to wealthy natural gas companies.

My Senate Democratic colleagues and I are disappointed with these latest proposals at the Capitol, but we will continue to propose solid solutions that help our economy and create jobs without burdening taxpayers. I was honored to deliver the Senate Democrats’ response to the governor’s budget plan, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to produce viable state budget alternatives.


Met-Ed Takes Solid Steps to Better Prepare for Bad Weather

I recently met with Met-Ed President Dave Karafa over areas of concern from the Oct. 29 snowstorm and subsequent power outages, including communication, response times, estimated billing charges and help for those who require life sustaining care. 

I was pleased to learn that Met-Ed is assessing its overall communications best practices and has implemented an extensive tree-trimming policy around wires and poles. 

In addition, during larger storms, Mr. Karafa said Met-Ed will now place personnel in the Emergency Operating Centers of areas affected by the storm. This will ensure direct communication and contact between Met-Ed and local emergency management agencies and will expedite response times to impacted areas. 

Mr. Karafa acknowledged that the Met-Ed had to estimate customer usage following the severe weather last fall (Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and the October) and that is why months later, when the meters were read, many customers noticed a sharp increase in their monthly bill. Zero-percent interest payment plans are available by calling Met-Ed at 1-800-545-7741. Mr. Karafa assured me that a more accurate estimated billing system will be put in place this spring. 

Met-Ed also provides priority service for customers who require life sustaining care. In order to determine if you or a family member qualify, contact Met-Ed and ask about a special needs certificate.            

While the proof of any positive change may not be apparent until the next major weather event, I believe that Met-Ed and other regional utilities are taking corrective measures to provide a higher standard of service. I look forward to the company’s final analysis and recommendations, which I will share with you. 


Feb. 23 “State Capitol Connection” TV Show Focuses on Agriculture

The next episode of my live interactive television program, “State Capitol Connection,” will air on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. on Comcast (Reading) channel 13, Comcast (Oley) channel 4, Service Electric Cable Vision channel 19 or online at

This month’s program will focus on agricultural issues. Be sure to tune in!





Video on child protection bills PennDOT website Reading School District website Video of Senator Schwank's budget response Miller-Keystone Blood Center website