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Senator Judy SchwankHello friend! Daylight Savings Time signals warmer weather, longer evenings and more outdoor activities. It’s also the perfect opportunity to change the batteries in your smoke detector. Every home should have a working smoke detector. Ideally, there should be one on every level of the home and near all sleeping areas. Check them monthly to make sure they work and replace them every 10 years. Seconds count in a fire emergency, so be sure to take time this week to check your smoke detectors and change the batteries. I hope you enjoy the beginnings of spring and I want to wish you all a Happy Passover and Easter!

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


Safely Dispose of Medications

Medication drop off annoucement

Sen. Schwank discusses the new medication drop off program with Kutztown Police Chief Craig Summers, Kutztown Mayor Sandy Green, and Reading City Councilwoman Marcia Goodman-Hinnershitz

Every day you can learn something new. Last week, I attended a press conference announcing the start of a new program sponsored by the District Attorney’s Office, the Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA) and the Solid Waste Authority to collect unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications in Berks County. I was unpleasantly surprised to learn how prevalent and serious the misuse and abuse of these drugs are.

Some key facts:

  • The most commonly abused substances (except marijuana) by Americans 14 and older are prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
  • One in four teens 25 percent has tried a non-prescribed prescription drug; one in 10 teens (11 percent) has admitted to getting high on cough medicine.
  • In the U.S. medications are the predominate cause of poisonings among young children, with more than 60,000 children admitted to emergency departments each year after getting into medications unsupervised

Gary Tennis, the Pennsylvania Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs, attended the press conference and clearly pointed out the danger of leaving unused drugs in unlocked medicine cabinets at home. He informed us that experimenting with prescription drugs is often a gateway to serious drug addiction for our youth.

To help prevent drugs from getting into the wrong hands or disposed of improperly, these agencies, in cooperation with police departments throughout the county, will provide locked drop boxes in secure locations where unwanted drugs can be deposited and safely disposed of.

Beginning Monday, March 18, expired or unused, prescribed and over-the-counter medications will be collected at numerous police departments across Berks County.

I plan on ridding my home of all outdated over-the-counter medications and leftover prescription drugs that were saved “just in case” they would be needed in the future. Now that I’m aware of the danger of exposing children and teens who visit my home or even having these drugs stolen, I’m cleaning house. I hope you will join me in this effort and do the same in your home.

For a list of accepted medications for disposal and the drop box sites, log on to For more information, call 610-376-8669.

License Plate Honoring Veterans Now Available

Honoring Our Veterans license platePennsylvania vehicle owners can show their support for our veterans through a new decorative license plate.

The plate is inscribed with the phrase “Honoring Our Veterans” and features an image of the American flag and a bald eagle.

There are so many ways that we can thank our veterans for their valiant service to this nation, and now motorists can show their support every time they hit the road. The best part is, anyone can order them and a portion of the payment goes to helping our vets.

The plate is available for passenger cars and light trucks up to 10,000 pounds. The cost is $35, and $15 goes to the Veterans Trust Fund, which is administered by the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and will be used to support and assist Pennsylvania veterans and their families through grants to veterans service organizations and other charitable organizations.

To apply for the new license plate, visit PennDOT’s website.

March is Dog License Awareness Month

DogIt’s Dog License Awareness Month in Pennsylvania so it’s the perfect opportunity to remind all dog owners that Pennsylvania law requires that they purchase an annual dog license.

A license can be crucial if a dog gets lost, so take this simple preventative step today for your beloved pet.

Dog owners can purchase an annual license from the state for $8.45 or a lifetime license for $51.45. For dogs that are spayed or neutered, the annual license is $6.45 and a lifetime license is $31.45.

State law requires that all dogs three months or older be licensed. Owners who fail to get a dog license face a maximum $300 fine per unlicensed dog.

To help increase awareness of the importance of dog licensing, Pennsylvania students in first through sixth grade are invited to enter a poster contest. The theme is “License your dog. It’s his ticket home.” The deadline to enter is April 30, 2013.

For more information, log on to or visit the County Treasurer’s Office, located at the Berks County Services Center, 633 Court Street, 2nd Floor, in Reading.

Take Steps to Prevent Brush Fires

fireAs folks start to head outdoors this spring, I urge residents to be extra cautious about preventing a brush fire.

The plant life in our parks and forests is still dry and dormant, which means fires can catch easily and spread rapidly, threatening wildlife, residential communities and the safety of our firefighters.

It’s extremely important that all citizens take precautions to prevent a fire, whether they live in an urban, suburban or rural community.

Farmers and large property owners that are cleaning up their properties should be especially careful and check their local ordinances before they undertake a controlled burn.

I urge everyone to be conscious about preventing a fire, whether they are considering building a campfire, burning trash or flicking a cigarette. A fire can happen anywhere.





Video on child protection bills PennDOT website Reading School District website Video of Senator Schwank's budget response Senator Schwank's floor remarks Voter ID web page PA Farm Show website