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It has been a productive fall session in Harrisburg as well as in the 22nd District but it is hard to believe that we are approaching another holiday season and the end of 2013.

I do hope you’ll take the time to enjoy the season ahead with your friends and family and, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, please know how grateful I am for your continued support.  I am very proud and honored to serve the people of the 22nd District and I welcome your communication on any matter of concern to you.  Please don’t hesitate to contact my office if ever we can be of assistance to you or to your community.

Senator John P. Blake

E2 Summit II, November 21, 2013

E2 SummitOn the subject of economic development, the most important consideration of any business concern when it is contemplating new investment to grow or to expand is a skilled workforce.

If employees are not trained or certified in the skills demanded in a regional economy, if they haven’t demonstrated academic achievement, if they lack the resources to get the training they need to pursue upward mobility, economic development will be stifled. The powerful connections between academic achievement, job training and certification, economic development and job growth are why I am delighted to announce my 2nd “E2 Summit on the Economy & Education” Nov. 21 at Marywood University.

At this year’s E2 Summit we’ll again focus on the economic impact of career-focused education and we’ll encourage a regional and partnership approach to comprehensive career development.

Education, career development, and community and economic development have been my focus since my swearing in to the PA Senate in 2011. When we spotlight continuous improvement in education and, particularly in positive career development outcomes, these serve as the workforce multipliers in regional economies.

School district superintendents, labor leaders, state officials, business and industry leaders, members of Parent Teacher Organizations, chambers of commerce representatives and other interested stakeholders will be at this E2 Summit.  We will update everyone on the progress that’s been made since last year’s summit and we will map additional initiatives on career-focused education for the year ahead.  I hope you’ll join us.

Again, this year’s E2 summit will be held in Marywood University’s Latour Room from 8 a.m. until noon on Nov. 21.

If you would like to attend the E2 Summit, contact Karen Peters at or 570-876-5322 or 570-207-2881.

‘Innovate in PA’ Highlighted at Senate Policy Hearing

The Senate Democratic Policy Committee came to the University of Scranton in early October to listen to the experts and to discuss jobs, jobs and jobs. Innovate in Pennsylvania, a program I introduced as SB 456 in January, was signed into law by Gov. Corbett in late June. This new tax-credit program will help businesses grow and prosper in Northeast Pennsylvania and throughout the commonwealth and, ultimately, it will create jobs. 

Part of our caucus’ “PA Works” program, Innovate in PA is but one part of a multi-faceted set of initiatives put forth by Senate Democrats to stimulate job growth and leverage more than $2 billion in new private investment in Pennsylvania.

Pa WorksWe talked to local, state and private experts on the economy because we believe the state can do more to drive economic activity and encourage investment and job growth. We’re excited about ‘PA Works’ and its prospects for short- and long-term benefits to our state’s economy.

At our recent policy hearing I particularly enjoyed the testimony of Mike Gausling, the managing director of Originate Ventures, who praised “Innovate in PA” for being there for new businesses and for the job creators of the future.  Also impressive was testimony from Chad Paul, CEO of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP) of Northeast PA who noted that for every dollar the state invests in companies vetted by BFTP, $3.60 is returned to the commonwealth.

Policy Hearing on "Innovate in PA" - Chad Paul Remarks :: October 8, 2013 Policy Hearing on "Innovate in PA" - Mike Gausling Remarks :: October 8, 2013
Chad Paul, CEO of the Ben Franklin
Technology Partners (BFTP) of Northeast PA
Mike Gausling, the managing director
of Originate Ventures

Innovate in PA” delivers new investment of nearly $100 million in such vital and growing business sectors as life sciences, advanced manufacturing, information technology and energy.  It is the third largest state-led economic development initiative in the entire nation for 2013.

Innovate in PA Innovate in PA My thanks also to Teri Ooms, executive director, The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development; Richard Stein, CEO, Klios Inc.; Amy Luyster, assistant vice president, The Scranton Plan at the Greater Scranton Chamber; Dr. Mel Billingsley, CEO, Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central PA; William J. Schoen, administrator, Skills in Scranton; Ronald Vogel, regional representative, PA Department of Labor & Industry; and David Jadick, acting public affairs officer, Tobyhanna Army Depot, for participating in the panel discussion.

Student Ambassador Program

Do you know a high school senior who has the interest and the commitment to do more for their communities and get a firsthand glimpse of the legislative and lawmaking process? If so, the time is now for them – or you – to apply to become one of my student ambassadors.

Student Ambassador ProgramThe student ambassador program is an opportunity for one senior from each of the high schools in the 22nd Senatorial District to learn about citizenship, public service and state lawmaking. The program offers a unique opportunity for students who may have an interest in public service and who want to make a positive difference in their communities.

Students from Abington Heights, Carbondale, Dunmore, Forest City, Holy Cross, Lackawanna Trail, Lakeland, Mid Valley, North Pocono, Old Forge, Pittston Area, Pocono Mountain, Riverside, Scranton, Scranton Prep, Valley View, West Scranton, Monroe Career & Technical Institute, Wilkes-Barre Area Career and Technical Center, West Side Career and Technology Center and Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County are eligible to apply to become a student ambassador.

Applications for the program are available in each school’s guidance office.

I am looking forward to engaging serious young women and men who are interested in the hard work of government and in offering them an insider’s view of the lawmaking process in Harrisburg.

Safe Schools Grants

ClassroomThe commonwealth is once again open to applications from schools for grants to help make their hallways and classrooms safer.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut noted its one-year anniversary a few weeks ago, so that’s something we should never forget. Indeed, it’s something that should motivate us to be cognizant to the best ways to protect the children who attend our schools and those who teach them.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education is accepting applications for grants of up to $25,000 through its “safe schools” program.

The Department of Education’s Office for Safe Schools says the money can be used for a variety of initiatives, including conflict resolution and dispute management; violence prevention curricula; classroom management; and the development of comprehensive, district-wide school safety and violence prevention plans.

Grants will be paid through the state’s E-grant system. Applications are due by Dec. 6.

Brave Police Officers

Senator Blake and Dunmore Police Officers

Dunmore Police Officers Gene Ruddy and Bill Bonavoglia are to be applauded again for their work in saving eight people who were trapped inside a burning building on Sept. 21.

Patrolman Ruddy was working when he said he smelled smoke coming from a structure on Chestnut Street in Dunmore that housed five apartments and a beauty-supply store. After calling 911, he ran into the building to see if there was anyone inside he could help.

After finding five people on the third floor of the building and urging them to get outside to safety, Patrolman Bonavoglia arrived on the scene. As conditions became more life threatening and both Floor Remarks Dunmore Policy Officer Floor Remarks officers were being urged to not go back inside the engulfed structure, they went back in until they could not bear the heat and flames any longer.

Extraordinary valor, extraordinary sacrifice, extraordinary commitment are the things officers Ruddy and Bonavoglia demonstrated as they thought only of the people they pledged to protect and serve.

As I said on the floor of the Senate on Oct. 23, they deserve our deepest gratitude and thanks for a job well done.

Stay Warm with LIHEAP

LIHEAP LIHEAP If your financial situation has changed or, like too many people, it is simply not secure enough to meet growing needs and expenses, please consider applying for help to pay your heating bills this winter through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP.

LIHEAP is a federally funded program that is administered by the commonwealth. No matter the fuel source for the heat in your home, this program may be able to help you this winter. 

The income guidelines for LIHEAP are unchanged from last year: 150 percent of the federal poverty level. This means that for one person, the maximum income level to qualify for heating assistance is $17,235; for two people, $23,265; three people, $29,295; four people, $35,325; and five people, $41,355.

You can submit your application online at or pick up applications in your county’s assistance office. The good people in my office are also ready to help you. 

Stay Connected

For updates on this and other legislative initiatives, stay in touch with me on the Internet through my website or on Facebook. Facebook

Watch Video Pa Works E2 Summit II Policy Hearing on "Innovate in PA" - Chad Paul Remarks :: October 8, 2013 Policy Hearing on "Innovate in PA" - Chad Paul Remarks :: October 8, 2013 Student Ambassador Program