Subscribe to enewsletter.


Spring has sprung and the weather has been rather nice! We’ve had some rain but we need that for so many reasons.

It’s been a busy one in Harrisburg as the governor decided last week that he would allow a Republican supplemental budget bill to become law without his signature and, therefore, end the nine-month budget stalemate for 2015-16.

We Roar Summit Flyer The good news is legislation I have been working on – with many of you – successfully moved forward and generated some positive headlines for the Berks County residents and Pennsylvanians they will one day benefit.

As you read this, we are in downtown Reading helping women entrepreneurs gain new insights and maybe a better way forward to start or grow their businesses.

The W.E. R.O.A.R. Summit is an exciting and positive effort and one of many such efforts to come.

Thank you for your support and readership,
Sen. Judy Schwank

Hemp Forward

I’m encouraged that my proposal to re-introduce hemp as a legal cash crop for Pennsylvania farmers has, so far, stayed away from any “no” votes, but as the measure moves to the House, we need to work together to ensure that Senate Bill 50 doesn’t stop there.

SB 50 was approved, 49-0, on March 16.

Should the House mirror legislative activity and it is approved by the governor, SB 50 would allow a small pilot program that would be supervised by academic and state government experts.

I am not expecting hemp to be used commercially for many years, but this pilot program would get Pennsylvania’s foot in the door and it could mean significant possibilities and new markets for future generations of farmers.

For right now, SB 50’s goal is to research best practices and clear the way for Pennsylvania to become a hemp-farming powerhouse.

Judging Judges

Many people have said many things in the wake of the bad behavior of two of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court justices, and that’s as it should be in a free and open society.

But when that bad behavior is being shielded by the process of judicial oversight, then there’s still more to be said when it comes to restoring the sterling reputation of our state court system.

Press ConferenceSen. Anthony Williams and I reminded people of this yawning need last week during a sun-splashed news conference in front of the PA Judicial Center following the unexpected retirement of Justice Michael Eakin earlier in March.

We said the Senate Judiciary Committee must finally take action on our Senate Bill 1083 to remove the state Supreme Court from the judicial discipline process. We also said action must be taken to:

  • Revitalize the conduct board and disciplinary court by transferring the Supreme Court's power to appoint members to those panels to the governor and legislature
  • Reduce the number of judges allowed to sit on the panels and increase the number of public citizen members, and
  • Make the conduct board and disciplinary court fiscally independent of the courts themselves and prohibit the Supreme Court from inserting itself in these cases.

If you’re a woman, a minority, LGBT, the emails exchanged by our fallen justices reveal just how so many people charged with protecting you and your interests view you and talk about you in private.

Drug Treatment Study

My call to study exactly what Pennsylvania spends – and how – on drug treatment is one major step closer to fruition.

The Senate Health & Welfare Committee approved my resolution mid-March calling for the panel.

I introduced this idea after talking with many local stakeholders who believe this step is long overdue. As a spokesman for the state Department of Drug & Alcohol Programs said recently, “The commonwealth is in the midst of the worst ever overdose death epidemic, and the findings of the study … can help us provide greater access to treatment and more effective treatment.”

The full Senate must consider my resolution before the study happens.

Expungement Help Closer

About a year ago, my Senate Democratic Policy Committee came to Reading to better understand how people were being unfairly hurt by their non-violent criminal past during job or new home searches.

In February, the governor signed a bill into law to allow people with non-violent misdemeanor criminal histories to seal those discretions from public perusal.

The new law, Act 5 of 2016, will begin in November and, with it:

  • Criminal bkgCommon Pleas judges may restrict public access to certain conviction records through an Order for Limited Access, or OLA.
  • An OLA will be available for 2nd- and 3rd-degree misdemeanor convictions and un-graded misdemeanors that carry maximum sentences of two years in prison.
  • To obtain an OLA, an interested person would petition the court in the county where the conviction occurred. There is no right to an order and the D.A. may object to the request, in which case a hearing must be held before an OLA can be granted.
  • An OLA applicant must have 10 years without arrest since his or her most recent conviction or release from prison, no convictions of a crime carrying a possible maximum sentence of more than two years in prison or that is specifically identified in Act 5, and no more than three convictions for crimes with possible maximum sentences of a year in prison.

Many people said this was a good first step when the governor signed it into law. Work is underway now to open the expungement door for others who have paid more than their sentence or financial penalty for their wrongdoing.

Eileen’s Law Progress

Eileen DiNino’s tragic death was avoidable and it’s why your Berks County state lawmakers, including me, are working to make sure it never happens again.

If you’ll remember, Eileen was placed in prison for 48 hours because of unpaid truancy fines. She did not leave her holding cell alive.

I have co-authored legislation (Senate Bill 359) with Republican Sen. Stewart Greenleaf that would erase imprisonment as an option in truancy cases.

Another version of Eileen’s Law has been adopted by the House and is awaiting action in the Senate. Meanwhile, the Senate Education Committee conducted a hearing on SB 359 on March 22 and it was unanimously reported to the floor for consideration.

I am working with my colleagues on moving this bill through the Senate and on to final passage, then onto the governor's desk by the end of this session.

Give Blood

blood driveWe are prepping for a blood drive, April 16, in Wyomissing!

The winter wasn’t kind to many common blood types so we need to help to restore those life-saving reserves.

We’ll be at Corps Fitness, 220 Park Road North, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., April 16. One lucky donor will get a tour of the Capitol from yours truly. We’ll also have lunch!

To schedule an appointment, call 610-929-2151 or go online: and use sponsor code 7419.

Thank you!

Being Social

Twitter/Facebook Facebook Twitter It’s a privilege to be your state senator, so it is important to me to be in touch with you.

I really like face-to-face meetings but understand that in this busy world, sometimes that isn’t possible. Feel free to call my office to ask questions or make suggestions. Also, you may connect with me through my pages on Facebook and Twitter. Please follow me for regular updates and comments about what’s happening in the district and in Harrisburg.

Offices to Serve You

  District Office
210 George Street
Suite 201
Reading, PA 19605
Phone: (610) 929-2151
Fax: (610) 929-2576
Harrisburg Office
457 Main Capitol Building
Senate Box 203011
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3011
Phone: (717) 787-8925
Fax: (717) 772-0578
Senator Schwank Interview with the PA Hemp Industry Council at the Farm Show