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Legislative roundup

Fitzpatrick announced that Amtrak received a grant for its Engineering Track Foremen Workforce Development Apprenticeship Training Program

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick

Dollars for Amtrak’s Morrisville operation

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick announced that the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) received a CRISI Grant from the Federal Railroad Administration for its Engineering Track Foremen Workforce Development Apprenticeship Training Program for their Morrisville operation.

Amtrak received a total of $8.8 million that will be used for its proposed project that involves workforce development activities to implement a pilot engineering Track Foremen/Inspectors workforce development apprenticeship training program to further develop the existing program and increase the overall knowledge base required to safely supervise field operations. The proposed project also involves other activities for an additional program that will help employees obtain full Track Foremen/Inspectors certification. Recognizing there may not be an adequate number of seasoned, highly skilled employees providing knowledge transfer and mentorship, the project will support the development of a comprehensive training requirement for new employees and help provide upward mobility for current employees.

“The services provided by Amtrak are so critical in our region and their operation has a direct impact on transportation, our economy and beyond,” Fitzpatrick said. “As the co-chair of the Bipartisan Building Trades Caucus and as a leading champion of the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, I am thrilled to see robust technical career training opportunities like this coming to Bucks County. These federal dollars will help Amtrak better serve the people across Bucks and Montgomery counties and provide good-paying jobs focused on maintaining and strengthening the Northeast Corridor’s rail infrastructure. I look forward to continuing to see IIJA projects and programs roll out and provide new opportunities for our community.”

The purpose of the CRISI program is to invest in a range of projects within the United States to improve railroad safety, efficiency and reliability; mitigate congestion at both intercity passenger and freight rail chokepoints to support the more efficient movement of both people and goods; enhance multimodal connections; and lead to new or substantially improved Intercity Passenger Rail Transportation corridors. ••

Benchmarks for construction

State Sens. Steve Santarsiero, Tina Tartaglione, Jimmy Dillon and John Kane and representatives from the building trades announced Build Better PA, a package of bills to promote fairness, quality and skilled craftsmanship within the tax incentive programs designed to stimulate economic growth.

“Union labor means quality work done right the first time,” Santarsiero said. “As businesses enjoy the benefits of tax incentive development zones, it is in the best interest of taxpayers and workers to make sound investments in how the work is done. While these programs have been instrumental in driving economic development, they also provide a unique opportunity to raise the bar in terms of labor standards and workforce quality. Building trades and apprenticeships invest in workers, ensuring fair, family-sustaining wages and high-quality final products.”

Build Better PA introduces two benchmarks for businesses making capital investments exceeding $25,000 in construction, reconstruction, demolition, alteration or repair of facilities within designated tax zones:

• Prevailing Wage Requirement: This provision ensures that businesses within the tax program pay their workers fair wages in line with regional standards. It aims to prevent the exploitation of labor and maintain equitable compensation for workers contributing to these projects.

• Skilled Craft Labor Mandate: To further enhance the quality of workmanship, the bill mandates that at least 70% of the workforce on prevailing wage-eligible projects are “skilled craft laborers.” This criterion ensures that projects funded through tax incentives maintain high standards of craftsmanship and expertise, promoting both worker skill development and the overall quality of construction.

“Thank you, Sens. Santarsiero, Tartaglione, Kane and Dillon, for recognizing the value of union labor to ensure quality construction projects and fair wages with good benefits for workers,” said Fran McLaughlin, business manager for District Council 21. “Apprenticeship programs offer a path for individuals looking not just for a job, but a career that offers family-sustaining wages. Quality work and fair wages will enable us to build a better Pennsylvania and protect investments for taxpayers.”

Any business found in violation of the law would have to refund the full amount of the tax exemption, deduction, abatement or credit awarded for the year they violated the provisions, as determined by the state Department of Labor and Industry. ••

AI and U.S. national security

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick joined a group of members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on a trip to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The purpose of the trip was to meet with Professor Anantha P. Chandrakasan, Dean of MIT’s School of Engineering; Professor Daniel Huttenlocher, Dean of MIT’s Schwarzman College of Computing; and other MIT faculty members to learn more about artificial intelligence and technological innovation in the context of U.S. national security.

The members were able to speak with some of MIT’s leading professors and hear about cutting-edge technology and how it will impact the nation’s future.

“As our nation and the world adjust to the presence of artificial intelligence, it is crucial that we work with technology experts to guarantee that lawmakers are prepared to address the challenges, implications, opportunities that these innovations put before us,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m proud to stand with members of the committee on both sides of the aisle to protect national security and ensure the United States remains a top competitor with respect to technology and intelligence.” ••

Farry office hours in Bensalem

State ​​Sen. Frank Farry (R-6th dist.) is offering satellite office hours the first Wednesday of every month, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Bensalem Township Municipal Building, 2400 Byberry Road, Bensalem.

Farry’s staff will be on site to assist with state government services; Property Tax/Rent Rebate applications, birth and death certificate applications, SEPTA Senior Key card registrations and renewals; and unemployment issues. ••

Lower South supervisor meeting schedule

The Lower Southampton Township Board of Supervisors will meet on Wednesday, Oct. 25, at 7:30 p.m., at the Township Building, 1500 Desire Ave., Feasterville.

Future meetings, all at the same time and location, are scheduled for Nov. 8 and 20 and Dec. 13 and 20. ••

Bensalem Council meeting schedule

Bensalem Township Council meetings are generally held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 7 p.m. in the Municipal Building at 2400 Byberry Road, Bensalem.

Meetings can be viewed live on Comcast Xfinity Channel 22 in Bensalem and on Verizon Fios Channel 34 throughout Bucks County. They can also be streamed live on the Bensalem Township YouTube channel.

The schedule is Nov. 13 and 27 and Dec. 4 (budget meeting) and 11. ••

Bensalem school board meeting schedule

The Bensalem Township Board of School Directors holds meetings on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Dorothy D. Call Administrative Center, 3000 Donallen Drive, Bensalem.

Upcoming meetings will take place on Oct. 24, Nov. 28 and Dec. 19 (third Tuesday).

The public is invited to attend.

The School Board annual reorganization meeting will be held on Monday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m. ••

Commissioners meeting Oct. 18

The Bucks County Commissioners will hold their next meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 18, at 10:30 a.m. at the Bucks County Administration Building, 55 E. Court St., in Doylestown.

The meeting will be broadcast on the county’s YouTube channel.

Future meetings will be on Nov. 1, Nov. 15, Dec. 6 and Dec. 20. ••

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