As we enter the new year, several new laws that impact all Pennsylvanians take effect. From modernizing how we vote to helping agriculture grow, the General Assembly tackled several issues and found solutions for them.
To better prepare students and workers for careers that offer family-sustaining wages, the House-originated Act 76 of 2019
, which will enhance career and technical education, job training and workforce development. This will help prepare Pennsylvania’s students for the workforce and attract employers and economic development to the Commonwealth.
Included in this new law is a provision I helped author, which was inspired by the great work being done in the Hanover area. The measure, formerly House Bill 796
, establishes a pilot grant program that encourages schools and local businesses to collaborate to provide work-based learning opportunities for high school students. The successful partnership between the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce, numerous Hanover-area businesses, the Hanover Public School District, and South Western School District was inspiration for this legislation. I am extremely proud our little slice of Pennsylvania will have such a positive impact on the rest of the state.
Also signed into law was a package of bills to help Pennsylvania agriculture grow. Included in the package was my House Bill 370
, now Act 33 of 2019
, which provides more options to farmers who graciously preserve their land. Under previous law, farmers could subdivide a section of land from a preserved property to construct a home. However, they were not permitted to subdivide a portion of the property if a house was already on it. This law gives farmers the ability to subdivide already-constructed homes from preserved property without penalty. This is a commonsense solution to a problem and will hopefully attract more farmers to preserving their lands.
Other aspects of the law include Act 38 of 2019
, which provides money to help seed new or expanding dairy-related businesses to better market Pennsylvania milk. Act 34 of 2019 creates a Farm to School Grant Program for pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students to support increased nutrition and agriculture education. Act 35 of 2019 carries on the ongoing fight against the invasive Spotted Lanternfly and Act 37 of 2019 reestablishes a low-interest loan program to assist with implementation of agricultural and conservation best management practices.
Voters will notice some major changes as they head to the polls on April 28. Act 77 of 2019
provides the first major update to how Pennsylvanians vote in 80 years. It serves to strengthen election security, provides new opportunities for voters, reduces barriers to vote, and provides all citizens the opportunity to cast a vote for their candidate of choice.
In fact, the bill gives voters the option of skipping the polls and, rather, casting ballots from the convenience of their kitchen table without excuse through mail-in voting. Come November, voters will no longer see the option to cast straight-party votes. Instead, if they wish to vote straight-party, they will be required to cast individual votes for candidates on the Republican or Democratic tickets.
A new deadline to register to vote gives all citizens the full opportunity to participate and cast a vote for their candidate of choice – voters can now register up until 15 days before an election, instead of the old 30-day rule.
These laws are the result of tireless bipartisanship work in the General Assembly. We read too often about the political divide in Washington, D.C., and, to a much lesser extent, in Harrisburg. These bills, as well as the other work we take on, show that we can and do work together. I hope to see this continue in 2020.
I look forward to the hard work ahead knowing we are making a difference and leaving a legacy of providing core government services to Pennsylvanians while opening the political process to more people.
Representative Kate A. Klunk
169th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Greg Gross