Fiedler, PA Building Trades, AFT, Evangelical Enviro Network, call on lawmakers to vote for Solar for Schools legislation

HARRISBURG, June 5 – State Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler, D-Phila., today called on lawmakers to pass Solar for Schools legislation (H.B.1032).

Fiedler was joined on the steps of the state Capitol by a diverse coalition including Mike Ford, secretary-treasurer of the PA Building & Construction Trades Council; Arthur Steinberg, president of PA American Federation of Teachers; Carolyn Heckman, PA policy and outreach coordinator for the Evangelical Environmental Network; Katie Blume, political and legislative director of Conservation Voters of PA; Tony Seiwell, business manager for LIUNA Eastern Region; and Bishop Dwayne Royster, executive director of POWER Interfaith.

Fiedler’s bill passed was approved in committee with a unanimous bipartisan vote in late May. Fiedler said she anticipates a House floor vote on the bill before the end of June.

“I’m excited that Solar is passing through the House. This legislation is truly blue-green, bringing new jobs to our Commonwealth while protecting and preserving our environment,” Fiedler said.

She said the diverse coalition of supporters demonstrates the broad appeal of Solar for Schools.

“Solar leverages state and federal dollars to support the creation of solar arrays at public schools across the Commonwealth. It will save school districts and taxpayers money, create new learning opportunities and invest in statewide clean energy,” she said.

“The PA Building & Construction Trades Council is excited to see H.B. 1032 progress through the House,” said Mike Ford, secretary-treasurer of the council. “Our members create and maintain the infrastructure in the commercial and industrial industries across our commonwealth, and solar provides an excellent opportunity to strengthen our schools’ infrastructure. We look forward to H.B. 1032 passing a House floor vote later this month.”

AFT Pennsylvania President Arthur G. Steinberg said he was impressed by the diversity of the speakers. “AFT Pennsylvania is proud to be a member of such a broad coalition of public education advocates, labor and environmental groups convened by Representative Fiedler to help the Solar for Schools grant program come to fruition,” he said. “We’re especially proud that this bill has garnered bipartisan support and was voted out of committee unanimously. School facilities improvements have long been a priority of our union, especially K-12 locals in underfunded school districts with aging school buildings. We urge a floor vote on this bill as soon as possible and encourage all members to vote yes.”

Katie Blume, Conservation Voters of PA’s political and legislative director, said her organization also supports the bill. “Conservation Voters of PA is proud to fiercely support Solar for Schools. Conservation Voters of PA strives to be the statewide political voice for the environment, and H.B.1032 strongly aligns with our mission. Solar for Schools would fund the creation of solar arrays, reducing pollution for both students and all residents of Pa alike,” she said.

Members of the faith community rounded out the speakers: Bishop Royston of POWER Interfaith and Carolyn Heckman of Evangelical Environmental Network gave remarks in support of the legislation. Heckman, PA policy and outreach coordinator for Evangelical Environmental Network, remarked on solar’s unique opportunity to protect young people in particular.

Pennsylvania has the opportunity to defend children’s health through the proposed bill, House Bill 1032, the Solar for Schools grant program,” she said. “As pro-life evangelicals, defending children’s health is not just an ethical calling, but a biblical one. ‘Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy.’”