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Legislative Roundup

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick was ranked the No. 1 most bipartisan member of Congress for the fifth consecutive year

Fitzpatrick named most bipartisan

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. Submitted Photo

The Lugar Center and Georgetown University’s McCourt School unveiled the Bipartisan Index Rankings for Congress in 2023 for the first session of the 118th Congress. For the fifth year in a row, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick was ranked the No. 1 most bipartisan member of Congress.

“For the fifth consecutive year, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick has set an unrivaled standard in the House on the Bipartisan Index,” said Dan Diller, Policy Director of the Lugar Center. “His place atop the House rankings year after year isn’t an accident. The foundation of his prolific legislative activity is the principle that bipartisanship produces the best results for his constituents and the country.”

“I am honored to once again be recognized by the Lugar Center as the most independent and bipartisan member of Congress in the entire nation. Hyper-partisanship is the single biggest threat facing our nation. Bipartisanship is the only remedy that will save and heal our nation,” Fitzpatrick said. “Which of these paths one chooses determines whether they desire to be part of the problem or part of the solution. If one chooses partisanship and condemns those who think differently, they are part of the problem. If one chooses bipartisanship and seeks to build bridges with those who think differently, they are part of the solution. I have chosen, and will continue to choose, the path of bipartisanship and problem solving, because I love the United States of America, the greatest country on Earth.”

The Lugar Center and Georgetown University Bipartisan Index measures how often a member of Congress introduces bills that succeed in attracting co-sponsors from members of the other party, and how often they, in turn, co-sponsor a bill introduced from across the aisle. The Index is based on a formula applied uniformly to all members. The Index uses a historical standard based on three decades of data to compare current members to historical averages. No subjective judgments are made about individual members or bills. The Index is intended to serve as a resource for voters and the media and to encourage lawmakers to be more bipartisan when writing or co-sponsoring legislation. ••

Secondary barriers to stop hijackers

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. announced that provisions from his Saracini Enhanced Aviation Safety Act, which honors the memory of United Flight 195 pilot Victor J. Saracini by taking additional steps to prevent airplane hijacking, advanced through the Senate as part of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024.

Saracini, a Lower Makefield resident, was killed when his aircraft was hijacked and flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

“Congress has an obligation to make air transportation safer, more efficient and more accessible for all passengers and airline workers,” Casey said. “In this legislation, we have taken an important step to improve airline safety by honoring the memory of Capt. Saracini and approving my measure to prevent airplane hijacking.”

Casey has supported the Saracini Enhanced Aviation Safety Act to mandate installation of secondary barriers between cabin and cockpit on all major commercial passenger planes in the United States, not only new ones. He secured a provision in the last FAA legislation in 2018 to mandate secondary barriers in new planes. However, objections from the aviation industry prevented retrofitting planes already in service with secondary barriers. The FAA Reauthorization Act requires a retrofit of older planes with secondary barriers to protect the pilots from hijackers. ••

Legislation in response to anti-Israel protests

In response to the recent anti-Israel protests that have led to Jewish students and faculty being harassed, intimidated and prevented from attending classes on college campuses, Reps. Kristin Marcell and Martina White announce two pieces of legislation to address these issues.

Marcell’s bill proposes the creation of a new crime, institutional trespass, which addresses trespassing in sensitive areas such as houses of worship, cemeteries and schools. While current law provides additional criminal penalties for vandalism against these institutions, this new statute recognizes that trespassing on these important institutions deserves additional punishment.

“We have no issue with those who protest within the law to make their voice heard. However, unlawful protests that interfere with the right of other students to pursue their education will not be tolerated,” Marcell said. “My bill gives institutions more standing to ensure their campuses are a place where all students have the right to pursue their education free of harassment and intimidation from trespassers.”

White’s bill would prohibit students convicted of ethnic intimidation, institutional vandalism, desecration, theft, sale of venerated objects or institutional trespass from receiving Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency grants. Under current law, PHEAA is authorized to deny grants to students convicted of misdemeanors involving moral turpitude or felonies. This proposal extends that prohibition to students convicted of specific unlawful actions related to protests.

“Recently, pro-Palestinian protests and demonstrations on college campuses have condemned Israel’s military response to the Hamas incursion and demanded that colleges divest investments from companies connected to Israel,” White said. “While protests are a common occurrence on college and university campuses, unlawful actions like the forceful occupation of academic buildings and the destruction of college property are not protected First Amendment activities. If students are convicted of specific unlawful actions related to protests, they will face additional consequences by being denied PHEAA grants.” ••

Fitzpatrick backs FAA legislation

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick applauded the passage of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024, which passed the House 387 to 26.

“This landmark bipartisan legislation is a significant step forward for improving aviation safety, fortifying our defenses in the skies, bolstering our aviation workforce and making much-needed improvements to consumer protections and accessibility,” Fitzpatrick said. “Since entering Congress, I have been steadfast in my mission to secure our skies and aircraft, support our dedicated pilots and aviation workers, and enhance the passenger experience for travelers in our community and nationwide. While we celebrate the important steps forward this legislation takes, I look forward to continuing my efforts in this mission.”

This legislation features several Fitzpatrick-led policies and provisions, including a requirement for secondary cockpit barrier retrofit; data from the Department of Transportation reported annually on its effectiveness in resolving disability-related complaints; and a mandate directing carriers to install and maintain onboard air quality detectors.

There will be no raise in the mandatory pilot retirement age. It will remain at 65. ••

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. ••

Secondary cockpit barriers on aircraft

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick announced that provisions from his Saracini Enhanced Aviation Safety Act were included in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024, which passed the House with overwhelming support.

The bill includes Sec. 350, language from the Saracini Enhanced Aviation Safety Act, which mandates the installation of secondary cockpit barriers in all commercial passenger aircraft, thereby ensuring the safety of Americans while fortifying defenses against potential terrorist attacks similar to 9/11.

The Saracini Enhanced Aviation Safety Act was named in memory of Capt. Victor Saracini, a Lower Makefield resident who lost his life when his plane was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Fitzpatrick has worked alongside Saracini’s widow, Ellen, to enhance the security of the skies and aircraft for pilots, flight crews and passengers. While the previous FAA Reauthorization legislation in 2018 included Fitzpatrick’s amendment requiring all newly manufactured aircraft to install a secondary barrier, obstacles from the aviation industry impeded the retrofitting of existing aircraft fleets with this safety feature. Fitzpatrick and Ellen continued to work to ensure all aircraft fleets, both currently in service and newly manufactured, are held to the same safety standards.

“This victory stands as a significant milestone in improving aviation safety while honoring the legacy of Capt. Victor Saracini and all the American heroes we tragically lost on Sept. 11,” Fitzpatrick said. “I am profoundly grateful for Ellen’s resilience and unwavering dedication to being an unrelenting champion for air safety and for the support of Sen. Casey and my colleagues in our ongoing initiative to safeguard our skies. For years, we have fought together to ensure the horrific events of 9/11 are never able to happen again, and today marks a pivotal advancement in fulfilling that critical mission. We celebrate this step forward and look forward to continuing our work to further fortify the safety of our skies.”

“Twenty-three years after the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, Congress has finally enacted a requirement for secondary cockpit barriers to be installed on all passenger aircraft operating in the United States,” said Ellen Saracini. “Reaching this milestone, after a long journey of advocacy and lobbying efforts in the honor and memory of Vic, leaves me feeling relieved but also somewhat sad that it has taken so long for the wheels of Congress to finally move in the right direction. I am grateful that my friend and congressman, Brian Fitzpatrick, has never given up on our pursuit to get the Saracini Enhanced Aviation Safety Act across the finish line. While our work to ensure implementation of the law and installation of the barriers will continue, I applaud the House of Representatives for prioritizing this bipartisan, commonsense measure to finally secure the safety of our skies for future generations. So much was taken from us on that fateful day, but we can rest assured that very soon this type of murderous terror will not be possible on U.S. aircraft.” ••

Lower South supervisor meeting schedule

The Lower Southampton Township Board of Supervisors meets at 7:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at the Township Building, 1500 Desire Ave., Feasterville. The next meeting is June 12. ••

Commissioners meeting 

The Bucks County Commissioners meet on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at 10:30 a.m. at the Bucks County Administration Building, 55 E. Court St., in Doylestown.

The meetings are broadcast on the county’s YouTube channel.

The next meeting will be June 5. ••

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 June 10, June 24, July 8, July 22, Aug. 12, Aug. 26, Sept. 9, Sept. 23, Oct. 15 (Tuesday), Oct. 28, Nov. 12 (Tuesday), Nov. 25, Dec. 4 (budget meeting) and Dec. 16. ••

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.

The next meeting will take place on June 25.

The public is invited to attend.

Future meetings are on Aug. 27, Sept. 24, Oct. 22, Nov. 26 and Dec. 17 (third Tuesday). ••

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