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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, Susquehanna 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.
*Click here to find the latest information on coronavirus from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Remembering Bradford County Commissioner
I was saddened to learn of the passing of Bradford County Commissioner Ed Bustin yesterday. I worked very closely with Ed during his years as Commissioner, most notably in our joint effort to engage the public and raise the awareness of heroin and opioid addiction all across Pennsylvania, which was something Ed was truly passionate about. A true public servant – smart, generous & dedicated – gone far too young. Rest in Peace, Ed.
An Open Letter to Governor Wolf
April 20, 2020
Honorable Tom Wolf
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
225 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Dear Governor Wolf:
This letter is written on behalf of the vast majority of the 250,000 residents of the 23rd Senatorial District.
Over the last two weeks, my staff and I have literally dealt with a thousand communications regarding the effect of your “essential business” and “stay at home” orders. While the total lack of logic in some of the administrative decisions is always a question, the overwhelming issue is the necessity of getting back to work. People want to work. This issue far exceeds any concerns about healthcare or the possibility of individual sickness. The crisis in my district and much of the state is not coronavirus, it is the restriction of the ability to work.
When talking about a return to work, we have had constituents use every descriptor from “please help us” to “we implore you to help us” to “we have nowhere to turn” to “we are begging for help.” We have had persons crying on the telephone as they relate the impact of not being able to work, coupled with the failure of state agencies to respond either at all or in any meaningful manner. I have had staff members crying as they listened to the plight of these good people who live in my district. I have done a lot of work on the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania, but I must say that the current state of affairs created by the administration in Pennsylvania is the most gut-wrenching situation I have ever encountered. And, perhaps most frightening, the ramifications of the devastation caused to Pennsylvania’s economy will last far beyond your term in office.
To read more, click here.
Developing…Today, the state Senate is expected to take up a bill aimed at promoting telemedicine in Pennsylvania as a way to overcome barriers to quality patient care created by distance and reduce the costs of those services…STAY TUNED. Additionally, the Senate is expected to consider SB 1108 (Browne) – which provides the COVID-19 Emergency Supplement to the General Appropriation Act of 2019.
A bill containing emergency measures to help local governments respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency was signed into law Monday. Act 15 of 2020 takes a number of steps to ensure local governments can continue to operate during the coronavirus pandemic. The bill would allow local governments to provide greater flexibility on property tax deadlines, permit local governments to conduct remote meetings, and give notaries emergency authorization to notarize documents remotely through the use of communications technology.
Enabled through Act 15, Governor Wolf also announced the restart of online sales of vehicles, as well as the restart of construction projects statewide beginning Friday, May 8th. Until that time, the Governor indicated his Stay at Home Order will continue…
Governor Wolf Vetoes Broad Business Reopen Bill……Unfortunately, many more PA businesses could have had the opportunity to open earlier under a bill vetoed Monday by the Governor. In his veto message, the governor noted that “reopening tens of thousands of businesses too early will only increase the spread of the virus, place more lives at risk, increase the death tolls, and extend the length of the economic hardships created by the pandemic.” What the governor didn’t realize is that the bill he vetoed would have allowed him to create clear guidelines for businesses to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. They could have reopened as long as they complied with mitigation strategies. Many other states are doing the same thing.
Hundreds gathered at PA Capitol to “Reopen PA”…Out of work residents, families and business owners across Pennsylvania descended on Harrisburg Monday to oppose the Governor’s shutdown. Nearly 1,000 unemployed Pennsylvanians called on Gov. Wolf to rescind his stay-at-home and business closure orders and reopen the state’s economy.
In federal news…Congress is expected to reach a final deal on the next round of funding for the CARES Act—which is likely to include restored funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and an upgraded Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program at the Small Business Administration.
Seven Wine & Good Spirits stores in Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Union counties are offering curbside pickup orders…Fine Wine & Good Spirits began offering curbside pickup to customers Monday at a limited number of locations. Each store will take orders by phone from 9AM to 1PM, or until the store reaches the maximum number of orders it can fulfill that day, Monday through Saturday. The LCB said customers will be allowed to place one order of up to six bottles.
Senate Resolution 323 & House Resolution 836
Many of you have contacted my office regarding SR 323 and HR 836. There’s been a lot of confusion on this legislation.
While I agree that PA residents should return back to work as quickly as possible, while practicing CDC guidelines, the legislative remedy you support is not as clear as suggested. This type of legislation still needs the signature of the Governor. Article III, Section 9 of the Pennsylvania Constitution says that every bicameral concurrent resolution must be presented to the Governor for approval.
As you can imagine, Governor Wolf will likely veto this just as he has vetoed the bills to reopen our economy, which the Senate passed last week. I will continue to strongly support legislation that get employees back to their livelihoods, as you have requested.
Spread the Word
The Department of Labor & Industry has opened the online portal to file for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. The program is for individuals who are ineligible for regular UC but lost income due to COVID-19 and are self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers, or have limited work history. As of 5p.m. on Saturday, the department announced that 35,000 claims had been accepted and they are continuing to work on further enhancements. The portal can be accessed here: https://pua.benefits.uc.pa.gov/vosnet/Default.aspx
UPDATE: As of this morning at 9:30AM, the Department indicated that “multiple UC systems are experiencing outages. Limited assistance can be provided via phone and LIVE chat due to system access issues. UC continued Claims is down. Individuals can file an initial claim at UC.PA.GOV and their PUA application is working at UC.PA.GOV/PUA.
Cabot Supports Endless Mountains Health System, Local Restaurants
I know that the coronavirus pandemic is an overwhelming and stressful time for everyone, so I’m going to highlight some positive things over the next few weeks that are happening within our communities.
Over the past several weeks in Susquehanna County, Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation has been providing personal protective equipment (PPE) for our healthcare professionals working in the Endless Mountains Health System in Montrose and beyond. In addition to providing needed PPE, Cabot has also worked with local county restaurants to provide lunches to hospital staff each Friday and, further, has helped fund critical financial assistance programs available to our small businesses across Northeastern and central Pennsylvania.
Thank you to Cabot for your steadfast support of our community!
Celebrating “Earth Day” 2020
While the principles of Earth Day should be practiced every day, it is an important reminder that each of us must do our part to make our environment a better place for future generations. Whether simply picking up litter, recycling or conserving water, there are countless ways we all can set an example on how to be better stewards of the environment. As Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, and as a member of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, I am committed to encouraging these initiatives.