In this Update:
DiSanto Thanks PHMC for Removing Undeserved Historical Marker
This week I thanked members of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) for voting unanimously to remove a recently installed historical marker in Harrisburg. I had notified the PHMC of my objections in December 2021 and attended Wednesday’s PHMC meeting in Bucks County to make my case to commissioners directly.
On or about October 10, 2021, a historical marker was dedicated by PHMC at 205 State Street in Harrisburg to recognize Richard Schlegel, who was born in Berrysburg, Dauphin County. The text of the marker is as follows: Fired from federal and state jobs because he was gay, this trail-blazing activist took his job discrimination case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. He lost, but his key arguments were valuable in later cases. In 1965, he founded the first LGBTQ+ group in central Pa.
I was alerted about an interview that Mr. Schlegel gave in May 1993 at the age of 66. It can be found online at: https://outhistory.org/exhibits/show/philadelphia-lgbt-interviews/int/richard-schlegel (WARNING – This link contains explicit language.) In this interview, Mr. Schlegel discusses activity of a sexual nature that he, as a sixteen-year-old, engaged in with a younger boy, “eleven, twelve maybe” over several months. Especially disappointing, Mr. Schlegel, as a 66-year-old man, rather than expressing any sort of remorse about putting the younger child in this situation, conveyed regret at not physically touching the boy, saying “I certainly wouldn’t make that mistake twice, because he was so cute.” Among other alarming admissions by Mr. Schlegel, he made light of a victim of underage pornography who was assaulted and photographed by his associate.
Mr. Schlegel, by his own admission, was, in addition to other illegal actions, involved directly in, and dismissive of victims impacted by, child sexual abuse and child pornography. We can certainly debate Mr. Schlegel’s life and historical legacy, but we don’t need to celebrate him. I am thankful the PHMC, after reviewing Mr. Schlegel’s entire record, reached the same conclusion that this historical marker should come down.
DiSanto Hosts June 8 Workshop on Shopping for Energy
Thinking about ways to lower your energy bills? I have invited educators from the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to answer your questions on how to shop for your gas and electric suppliers. The workshop will be available beginning at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 8 at my Facebook page, @SenatorDiSanto, as well as my website, www.SenatorDiSanto.com. Thereafter the workshop will be available on-demand.
According to the PUC, the best response for those struggling to pay energy bills is to call utilities and ask about assistance programs, manage energy use and shop for competitive electric generation suppliers. Prior to the workshop, you can find more from the PUC about consumer options here.
Costs for electric generation will increase on June 1 for many area utility customers. The rate increase will occur even before Gov. Tom Wolf’s carbon tax kicks in, which could nearly quadruple new electricity costs for consumers. The carbon tax is part of Pennsylvania’s entry into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which was enacted by the governor without legislative approval.
Rally Against Tolling Interstate Bridges Set for June 8
Lawmakers and representatives of local communities will take part in a June 8 Capitol rally against the Wolf administration’s plan to toll nine interstate bridges.
The bridge tolling initiative will cost the average commuter an additional $1,000 per year and was moved through the process without legislative input or approval. Commonwealth Court recently halted the plan, siding with a county and several municipalities that challenged the plan as unconstitutional. The administration has appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court.
The administration’s plan would add tolls to the following bridges:
The Senate approved Senate Bill 382 to halt the tolling and require more transparency in the Public-Private Partnership process, which produced the tolling plan. Gov. Tom Wolf has threatened to veto the measure. The rally will be held June 8 at 10 a.m. and streamed live at PASenateGOP.com and Facebook.com/PASenateGOP.
Senate Committee Acts to Protect Women’s Sports
Legislation to protect women’s sports in Pennsylvania was approved by the Senate Education Committee and sent to the full Senate for consideration.
Under House Bill 972, an athletic team or sport designated for females, women or girls may not be open to biological males. In addition, a student deprived of an athletic opportunity would be able to file a lawsuit against the offending college or high school.
More than a dozen states passed similar legislation after women’s sports organizations were pressured to allow biological males to compete on their teams.
Bills of Note Approved by Senate Committees
Other bills approved by Senate committees include:
Senate Bill 643, approved by the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee, amends the Local Option Small Games of Chance Act to allow club licensees to retain more of their proceeds from small games of chance while maintaining charitable donation requirements.
Senate Bill 1183, approved by the Senate Transportation Committee, provides law enforcement new tools to crack down on the illegal operation of dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles on public roads.
Preparing for America’s Semiquincentennial
Planning for America’s 250th birthday in 2026 would be aided by legislation approved by the Senate to help fund Pennsylvania’s celebratory efforts.
Senate Bill 1186 would allocate a portion of the fee from the sale of the special USA semiquincentennial registration plate to the Pennsylvania Commission for the U.S. Semiquincentennial.
Scammers are Targeting Student Loan Borrowers
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency warns that recent reports about potential broad-based federal loan forgiveness and other changes to student loan programs are creating opportunities for scammers to target student loan borrowers.
One of the recent scams attempts to convince borrowers that there are new student loan rules in place that require immediate action. Scammers typically promise unrealistic amounts of loan forgiveness, offer short cuts to loan forgiveness, or try to get a borrower’s Federal Student Aid ID or other personal information and then rush them into paying immediately.
Scammers will often use the U.S. Department of Education’s name and seal to give it legitimacy.
Here are some tips to avoid being scammed:
June 6 is the Anniversary of D-Day
“You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months.” — Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, on the eve of the D-Day invasion, June 6, 1944
More than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France.
More than 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 soldiers to begin the slow, hard march across Europe, to defeat occupying German troops. We must never forget the brave, young men who confronted a danger few can imagine in the name of liberty.
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