Hello! Thank you for subscribing to my E-newsletter. I am honored to serve the 23rd Senate District and look forward to working with you toward building a better future for Pennsylvania!
This E-newsletter serves to keep you updated on what is happening throughout Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, Tioga and Union counties and what I am doing as your state senator in Harrisburg. I hope that you will find this E-newsletter helpful, and if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.
Today’s Top Take
Our ability to confront the coronavirus pandemic in the coming weeks depends on the action we take today. Pennsylvania’s healthcare professionals, small businesses, and families are all facing unprecedented strain and need immediate resources to weather this storm.
Bills I supported last week to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency have been signed into law by Governor Wolf.
The new laws will provide more funding to purchase medical supplies and equipment and amend the Unemployment Compensation law to ease eligibility requirements for affected workers. In addition, small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency can apply now for a NEW state loan program. More information on the COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program is available, click here.
For more details about the new laws, click here.
JUST IN: Gov. Wolf Extends School Closures Indefinitely
Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today revised their “Stay at Home” orders to include Carbon, Cumberland, Dauphin and Schuylkill counties, bringing the state total to 26 counties under a stay-at-home order. This order takes effect at 8 p.m., Monday, March 30, 2020, and will continue until April 30. All stay-at-home orders are now extended through April 30. Additionally, all Pennsylvania schools will remain closed until further notice. Non-life-sustaining business closures remain in effect.
The order now includes these 26 counties: Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Butler, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Schuylkill, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland and York counties.
List of Life-Sustaining Businesses Updated; Up to 29,000 Businesses Submit Waiver Requests
More than a week ago, Governor Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close in order to contain the spread of COVID-19. A number of concerns were raised about potential oversights on the list, and over 29,000 businesses submitted waiver requests to date.
Since the list was first issued, it has been revised several times to allow a wider range of essential businesses to operate. Some of these industries include mining, logging, some types of manufacturing, insurance, laundry services and other industries that are critical parts of the supply chain for essential businesses.
As of last evening, my office received the following clarification by the Governor’s office in reference to residential construction after a series of questions were posed to the Administration.
The revisions include the following clarifications:
The Governor’s representative advises that the guidance is subject to change.
A list of frequently asked questions about the governor’s order is available here. Waiver requests can be submitted here. The PA Chamber of Business and Industry has also developed a new webpage with resources for businesses during the coronavirus, which is available here.
What to Know…
If you are out of work without pay, you are eligible to receive food sourced from the state and federal government from a food bank or food pantry in Pennsylvania. This includes service workers who are unable to get shifts or hourly wage employees of non-essential businesses that have voluntarily closed due to COVID-19 mitigation. You will be asked to verbally complete a Self-Declaration of Need form, as signatures have been temporarily waived due to COVID-19. Food pantries continue to operate throughout Pennsylvania, although some have updated hours and all are working on ways to connect people with food without risking contact. Find a pantry near you, then give them a call to make arrangements.
Do I qualify for Unemployment benefits? (see below for FAQ’s)…..If you are employed in Pennsylvania and are unable to work because of COVID-19, you may be eligible for Unemployment Compensation (UC) or Workers’ Compensation (WC) benefits. Find out more about UC and WC eligibility and how to apply.
As part of a new federal law to respond to the coronavirus, certain employers will be required to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for absences related to COVID-19. Wages paid under the new law will be reimbursed to business owners on a dollar-for-dollar basis through business tax credits. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has created a webpage to help employers and employees better understand the new requirements. Fact sheets for employers and employees, answers to frequently asked questions and other helpful links are available here.
Apply Quickly! First come / first approved basis……The COVID-19 Working Capital Access (CWCA) Program, is still accepting applications from small businesses across the state. Loan applications are available to small business that employ 100 or fewer full-time employees, including businesses in the agricultural, service and hospitality sectors. All applications must be submitted through a Certified Economic Development Organization (CEDO).
In PennDOT news…….The Department has announced that the Department of Homeland Security has postponed the enforcement date for REAL ID from October 1, 2020, to October 1, 2021, in response to COVID-19 and the national emergency declaration.
Since all Driver License Centers and Photo License Centers remain closed, PennDOT also has extended the expiration date for many driver licenses, vehicle registrations and other products that are typically renewed at these locations. Any of the following that are set to expire from March 16 through April 30 will be extended to May 31: Driver licenses, including CDLs; Photo ID cards; Learner’s permits; Vehicle registrations; Safety and emissions inspections and Disability parking placards. Driver and vehicle services are still available online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at www.dmv.pa.gov.
PA extends license renewal deadlines…..Nurses, graduate medical trainees, nursing home administrators and other professionals have been given more time to renew their state occupational licenses. The Department of State is extending the April, May and June license renewal deadlines for these professionals, as well as for barbers, navigation pilots and real estate professionals, to July, August and September. You can find a complete list of extended professional and occupational renewal deadlines here.
Other Frequently Asked Questions…..
I am an employee who is unable to work due to my employer shutting down as a result of COVID-19. Where can I find financial assistance?
Employees who have reduced hours as a result of COVID-19 are now eligible for Unemployment Compensation. Affected employees can learn more about how to apply for Unemployment Compensation online here.
I am dealing with a job loss related to COVID-19 and have lost employer-sponsored health insurance coverage. What do I do now?
For information on getting coverage through the state health insurance marketplace, please visit www.healthcare.gov. Depending on household income, Medicaid may also be an option for adults who need health insurance coverage. More information on Medicaid is available here.
How does my child obtain health insurance?
All children in Pennsylvania can receive coverage through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Details about CHIP are available at www.chipcoverspakids.com.
News from PPL – Help for Their Customers
PPL Electric Utilities wants its customers to know that they are here to help if you’re struggling to pay your bill. PPL has already suspended service terminations for non-payment and waived late fees until further notice, but there also are a host of programs available to help income-eligible customers during the pandemic and beyond.
To find out about PPL’s programs, visit www.pplelectric.com/billhelp. Customers can apply online or call 1-800-342-5775 for more information.
Trout Fishing Opening Day Set for April 18, Social Distancing Encouraged
Although many large events and activities have been postponed or canceled throughout the country, local anglers can still look forward to the beginning of trout season on April 18. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is operating under modified procedures to ensure all Pennsylvanians can enjoy one of the state’s favorite pastimes.
The statewide opening day for trout fishing will be April 18; there will not be an earlier regional opening day this year. Trout stocking will still be completed by PFBC on an accelerated schedule. In order to safeguard public health, no volunteers will be permitted to help stock trout this year.
Anglers are encouraged to keep a distance of at least 6 feet between themselves and other people, avoid large crowds and carpooling, and clean all equipment thoroughly. More information is available here.