State: Tools available online to help student drivers learn safely

[Times Leader] State: Tools available online to help student drivers learn safely

WILKES-BARRE — The Pennsylvania Departments of Education (PDE) and Transportation (PennDOT) this week reminded parents and caregivers that state resources are available to help keep students safe as they learn to drive.

Parents are encouraged to utilize available state resources on both agency websites before they consider enrolling their children in private driving training schools (PDTS).

In Pennsylvania, all entities wishing to provide any aspect of driver education lessons for profit are required by law to obtain a PDTS license, and PDTS are required to display the license on the passenger side visor of the vehicle. The license will contain the signature of the PDE School Safety Education Advisor and will have an expiration date. Current licensed PDTS are licensed through June 30, 2023.

All instructors are required by law to carry their instructor’s license with them whenever they are giving a behind-the-wheel lesson and are required to present their instructor license when asked by a customer or any commonwealth official.

“Parents and customers need to ask the right questions when choosing a PDTS, including asking to see an instructor’s PDE-issued instructor license and the PDE-issued license for the vehicle,” said Acting Secretary of Education Eric Hagarty. “We are committed to ensuring that all students are safe—both in the classroom and behind the wheel—and encourage parents to educate themselves on their options by using the tools on the PDE website.”

PennDOT oversees Third-Party Testing and End-of-Course Skills Testing programs. Not every driver training school is contracted with PennDOT or a school district to administer driver skills tests. However, those that do contract with PennDOT can offer student drivers the option to complete their non-CDL driving skills tests with a licensed driving school examiner rather than going to a PennDOT Driver License Center.

“All third-party examiners have been certified by PennDOT, and the test is the same as the one which is administered at PennDOT Driver License Centers,” PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian said. “These third-party testers provide our young drivers with an additional option when scheduling driving skills tests.”

Each Third-party tester and its examiners must meet the required background checks prior to attending examiner training.

Rep. Meuser backs plan to create

American energy independence

U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser. R-Dallas, this week co-sponsored comprehensive legislation to address the ongoing American energy crisis.

Meuser said “The Transparency and Production (TAP) of America Energy Act” will streamline permitting processes and incentivize innovation, ensuring the country’s energy security and independence.

The TAP American Act would provide a much-needed jump start to energy production in the country. It would eliminate bureaucratic hurdles, empower the energy sector to innovate and expand access to federal lands and waters for responsible energy development.

“The stories my constituents are telling me about the challenges they are facing are truly concerning,” Meuser commented. “They are facing pressure from filling their tanks, buying their groceries, and heating their homes. Their problems arise from the fact that our country is not energy independent. We have the solution to that issue with this legislation.”

The legislation would:

• Prevent any president from imposing bans on federal energy leasing and mineral withdrawals without congressional approval

• Requires the Department of the Interior (DOI) to immediately resume quarterly leas sales on federal lands and require a minimum of four lease sales per year in each state with eligible lands

• Requires a minimum of two annual oil and gas lease sales in available federal waters in the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Area and the Alaska Region of the Outer Continental Shelf

• Requires the publication of the 2023-2028 plan for offshore oil and gas lease sales by Dec. 30, 2022, and that DOI meet certain deadlines for publishing future five-year plans

• Requires Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements, for all forms of energy development to be completed within one to two years, respectively

• Amend the Geothermal Steam Act to require a yearly lease sale for geothermal energy

• Streamlines the environment review process to allow pipeline, renewable energy, and transmission projects to move forward efficiently and without compromising environment protections

• Eliminates requirements for duplicative review and analyses, reducing delays for important upgrades and improvements of energy infrastructure

Rep. Cartwright announces $2.26M

for Northeastern Pa. fire departments

U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic, this week announced that $2.26 million in federal funds has been awarded to 12 local fire departments — including $681,000 for Luzerne County — from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighter Grant program.

• Plains Township, $46,000 to purchase self-contained breathing apparatus compressor and fill system.

• Jenkins Township Board of Supervisors, $49,000 to install a source-capture diesel exhaust extraction system.

• Kunkle Fire Company in Dallas, $95,000 to install a source-capture diesel extraction system.

• Glen Lyon-Alden Volunteer Hose Company in Nanticoke, $65,000 to install a source capture diesel exhaust extraction system.

• Pittston Township Volunteer Fire Department, $159,000 to purchase self-contained breathing apparatuses.

• Mountain Top Hose Company No. 1, $82,000 to purchase mobile and portable radios.

• Avoca Fire Department, $117,000 to purchase self-contained breathing apparatuses.

• Hughestown Hose Company No. 1, $66,000 to install a source capture exhaust extraction system.

“We’re lucky to have such capable and dedicated first responders who are always willing to go above and beyond the call of duty,” said Rep. Cartwright. “Our firefighters deserve the equipment and training they need to do their jobs effectively.”

In addition to the Luzerne County awards, Lackawanna County will receive $576,000; Wayne County, $741,000; and Monroe County, $262,000.

The money will go toward purchasing new equipment and protective gear, including exhaust extraction systems to prevent firefighter exposure to diesel and soot toxification; new pump engines; training and other resources.

Boback’s Tuskegee Airmen bill needs

governor’s signature to become law

A bill sponsored by Rep. Karen Boback, R-Harveys Lake, that would designate March 29 of each year as “Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day” in Pennsylvania, passed unanimously in the Senate last week.

House Bill 2586 now awaits the governor’s signature to become law.

“Nearly 100 Tuskegee Airmen came from western Pennsylvania, more than any other region in the nation,” Boback said. “It is important that we both remember and honor this group of outstanding state residents who put their lives on the line for our nation and Commonwealth, all while in the face of racial adversity.”

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first group of African-American military aviators, fighting with exemplary courage and distinction during World War II. Despite facing rigid racial barriers and constant segregation, these airmen were among the most accomplished and effective pilots of the entire war.

Upwards of 900 pilots who graduated from Tuskegee Airfield flew 1,578 missions and 15,533 sorties, destroying 261 enemy aircraft and earning themselves more than 850 medals, collectively.

The bill also would require an annual proclamation from the governor encouraging all public schools and educational institutions to observe and conduct exercises recognizing the Tuskegee Airmen and their sacrifices.

The governor has 10 days to sign, veto or allow the bills to become law without his signature. If signed, the new law would take effect in 60 days.

Pashinski: $3M in RACP grants

for local improvement projects

Two additional Luzerne County projects have received funding approval from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program totaling $3 million, according to state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Wilkes-Barre.

“These dollars will help improve our community’s access to affordable health care at the Wright Center’s Wilkes-Barre Practice, as well as improve the capacity and efficiency of our municipal recovery facility,” Pashinski said.

According to Pashinski, the following organizations are receiving funding in his district:

• Wright Center for Community Health Wilkes-Barre Practice — $2 million for building out its location in order to equip the space for primary care, dental and behavioral health services.

• Wilkes-Barre Municipal Recovery Facility Expansion — $1 million to add a metering bin system/infeed conveyor and an optical sorter in order to increase efficiency, allowing for Municipal Recovery Inc. to expand and create jobs.

The grants are in addition to the $5.35 million in RACP grants Pashinski and state Rep. Gerald Mullery announced last week for five other local projects.

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.

Source: Times Leader