The Pennsylvania House and Senate approved a $39.8 billion budget on Friday.  The fiscal plan makes important investments in public schools, early childhood education, state police and services for those with intellectual disabilities.  The budget, which now goes to the governor’s desk, includes a $30 million increase in Pre-K Counts and Head Start, an additional $300 million for basic education funding, an additional $50 million for special education funding, and training funds for two new cadet classes for the Pennsylvania State Police.  Lawmakers targeted $1 billion in federal relief funds for nursing homes, transportation infrastructure, career and technical schools, emergency medical services, and the ongoing pandemic response. 

Parents would have the option to allow their children to repeat a grade level due to learning disruptions caused by COVID-19 under a bill approved by the Senate and sent to Governor Tom Wolf.  Senate Bill 664, authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte), would give parents the power to make the decision on whether their child should advance to the next grade level by July 15th. In current practice, the decision on whether to hold a student back is made solely by the child’s school and teacher.  Senate Bill 664 would only apply to the 2021-22 school year to address learning gaps related to the pandemic.  The bill is supported by The Arc of Pennsylvania and other advocates for Pennsylvanians who have disabilities.  Governor Wolf has 10 days to sign the bill into law, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature.

The Lewistown Police Department reports an increase in the use of consumer fireworks in and around the borough.  With Independence Day approaching, authorities remind residents of the State Fireworks Law.  The law stipulates that a person must be at least 18 years of age to purchase or possess fireworks.  Also, a person may not ignite or discharge fireworks on public or private property without permission, throw fireworks from a building or motor vehicle, or at a building, motor vehicle or person.  Fireworks cannot be used while a person is under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance, or used within 150 feet of an occupied structure.  Violations are punishable by fines up to $100.  Fireworks can be confiscated from anyone in violation of the State Fireworks Law.