Senator Yaw’s COVID-19 Response Timeline

January 13, 2021:  Senator Yaw, as Chairman of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, hosted a virtual public hearing featuring Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine; Dr. George Garrow, Chief Medical Officer, Primary Health Network; Mr. Steve Johnson, President, UPMC Susquehanna; and Dr. Cary Funk, Director of Science and Society Research, Pew Research Center to discuss rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine and challenges faced in rural Pennsylvania.

December 11th, 2020:  Senator Yaw joined with many of his colleagues to promote “”, a website encouraging residents to support struggling restaurants throughout their communities in light of Gov. Wolf’s recent closures.

December 7th, 2020: Senator Yaw and Sen. Judy Ward circulated a co-sponsor memo, reintroduced from the previous session, ensuring PA milk haulers can travel on highways during a declaration of disaster emergency.

December 4th, 2020: Senator Yaw signed on as a co-sponsor of legislation introduced by Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, which proposes a Constitutional amendment that would limit the length of future emergency declarations to 30 days and require any extension of the declaration to be approved by the General Assembly. Constitutional amendments are required to pass both chambers of the General Assembly in two consecutive sessions and then be approved by Pennsylvania voters in a ballot referendum. The previous version of the bill (Senate Bill 1166) was passed by both chambers in the 2019-20 legislative session which expired on 11/30/2020, but would need to pass both chambers again in the 2021-22 legislative session before it could be considered finally by Pennsylvania voters.

November 30th, 2020: EXPIRATION OF 2019-2020 LEGISLATIVE SESSION – all bills introduced during this two-year period expired at midnight on this date. Any bills that were not enacted into law during this period must be reintroduced in the 2021-2022 legislative session if the prime sponsor wants the General Assembly to consider those proposals moving forward.

November 20th, 2020: Senator Yaw voted in favor of legislation aimed at providing liability assistance for health care providers, PPE manufacturers, schools, businesses, etc., to protect them from unfair lawsuits against the good-faith actions they took during the pandemic. Governor Wolf later vetoed the bill.

November 20th, 2020:  Senator Yaw supported, and the Legislature completed work on the 2020-21 state budget, agreeing to a plan that maintains critical state services without the need for tax or fee increases. The budget plan completes the work that began in May, when a five-month budget plan was enacted to provide additional time to determine the full financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

November 18th, 2020: Senator Yaw voted in favor of two bills that would ensure the Second Amendment rights of Pennsylvanians are protected during emergency declarations:

  • House Bill 1747 would ensure firearm sales are not prohibited during an emergency declaration and that the rights of law-abiding citizens to open carry firearms during a state of emergency are not infringed upon.
  • House Bill 2440 would ensure shooting ranges, sportsman clubs, hunting facilities and firearm and ammunition manufacturers, retailers and distributors are considered life-sustaining businesses that will not be shuttered by state government during an emergency declaration.

Governor Wolf ultimately vetoed both bills.

November 18th, 2020: Senator Yaw voted in favor of legislation that would give schools more flexibility by easing many certification and staff development requirements that are difficult to fulfill during the pandemic and extending certain emergency permits when staff development requirements cannot be completed.

November 2nd, 2020:  Senator Yaw announces additional funding options to help schools meet health and safety needs in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

October 21st, 2020: The Senate approved two bills to boost the availability of broadband by reducing regulatory burdens on telecommunications companies and utilizing existing infrastructure to further deploy high-speed internet, the need for which has only increased during the pandemic.

October 21st, 2020: The Senate gave final approval to Senate Bill 1110, legislation that would require the Pennsylvania Department of Health and local health agencies to provide 911 dispatch centers with the address of any known positive case of a communicable disease that is infectious through aerosolized transmission.

October 19th, 2020: The Senate approved legislation to ensure safe visitation and enhanced care for residents of long-term care facilities.

October 16th, 2020:  Senator Yaw made a guest appearance on WKOK’s “On the Mark” to discuss a number of state-related matters including election safety and security, mail-in voting, PA’s COVID-19 response, and other issues.

October 16th, 2020:  Governor Wolf vetoes bipartisan legislation, sponsored by Rep. Everett, that would ease arbitrary and burdensome restrictions on owners of bars and restaurants.  A motion to override the veto fails on Oct. 20th, 2020 (133-69).

October 6th, 2020:  Senator Yaw announces fifty-two local businesses across the 23rd Senate District will receive COVID-19 relief funding.

October 6th, 2020: The Senate approved Senate Bill 1268, legislation that would allow temporary nurse aides hired during the COVID-19 emergency declaration to receive certification to continue working in the field.

October 2nd, 2020:  Senator Yaw and area legislators provided a legislative update in Susquehanna County on COVID-19 action and other legislative issues.

September 23rd, 2020: Senator Yaw issues a statement on bipartisan legislation that would ease Governor Wolf’s arbitrary and burdensome restrictions on owners of bars and restaurants.  This bill, sponsored by Rep. Everett, passed the full Senate, 43-6.

September 22nd, 2020: In an effort to eliminate discrepancies between the number of COVID-19 deaths reported by the Department of Health and county coroners, the Senate passed legislation that would ensure county coroners are notified of all suspected deaths in their jurisdiction caused by this virus and other contagious diseases.

September 22nd, 2020: Senator Yaw voted in favor of approving legislation to protect residents of assisted living facilities and other long-term care homes from disease outbreaks.

September 21st, 2020: The Senate unanimously approved House Bill 2487, legislation that would apply a freeze to COLA (cost of living adjustments) for public officials through 2021 in response to COVID-19.

September 15th, 2020: Senator Yaw issued a brief statement on the decision issued by a United States District Judge that declared Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine’s shutdown order unconstitutional.

September 9th, 2020: The Senate gave final approval to House Bill 2787, legislation that would ensure school districts could make the final decision on whether to allow school sports, extracurricular activities and spectators during the 2020-21 school year.

September 9th, 2020: The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 835, legislation that would establish a grant program to extend deployment of broadband services in under-served areas of the state, the need for which has been further exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

September 8th, 2020: Senator Yaw voted to move House Bill 2513, legislation sponsored by Rep. Everett, that would remove the governor’s 25-percent cap on occupancy and allowed restaurants to operate at 50 percent capacity until the current COVID-19 emergency declaration ends, out of the Senate Law & Justice Committee.

August 12th, 2020: Senator Yaw signed on as a co-sponsor of a legislative package sponsored by Senator Pat Stefano that would offer relief to Pennsylvania Restaurants and Taverns by removing the 25% occupancy requirement, removing the food requirement and ban on bar service, expanding outdoor dining to non-contiguous areas, and waiving all license renewal and permit fees.

July 30th, 2020: Senator Yaw expressed his support for the sentiments expressed in colleague Sen. Scott Martin’s letter to Governor Wolf in which he called on the Administration to develop guidelines on allowing spectators to attend fall sports activities, including at a minimum, parents of athletes.

July 15th, 2020: The Senate approved legislation to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to require legislative approval before a governor can extend an emergency disaster declaration.  Senator Yaw had commented on this legislation.

July 15th, 2020: The Senate gave final approval to a bill this week that would restore transparency in state government by prohibiting the governor from directing a state agency to ignore records requests during an emergency declaration. The legislation would ensure Pennsylvanians can continue to access public records during a disaster declaration.

July 15th, 2020: The Senate approved legislation to assist recent teaching graduates who are attempting to navigate the state certification process, which was disrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

June 30th, 2020: The Senate voted unanimously to pass House Bill 2455, which requires the governor to submit to the General Assembly the plan for COVID-19 testing — including any amendments — that was submitted to the federal government.

June 30th, 2020: Senator Yaw supported legislation to assist businesses, health systems, and consumers in deploying innovative technological tools and resources to more effectively cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by establishing basic rules for the operation of Personal Delivery Devices in the Commonwealth.

June 29th, 2020: Senator Yaw voted to pass legislation that would make improvements and expand access to the Community-Based Health Care Program by providing funding to community health clinics in several different categories and reducing the unnecessary use of hospital emergency rooms for non-emergent care.

June 24th, 2020: Senator Yaw voted to pass legislation to protect the future of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).  As many PASSHE schools face considerable financial and enrollment pressures worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, the goal of this legislation is to ensure the system has the tools to achieve its mission for years to come.

June 24th, 2020: Senator Yaw voted in favor of passing House Bill 2418, legislation that would require the Pennsylvania Treasury to conduct a COVID-19 debt cost reduction review by identifying and examining all outstanding debt obligations of the Commonwealth and its authorities, commissions, agencies, or boards, and submitting a report of the findings to the General Assembly no later than October 30, 2020.

June 23rd, 2020: Senator Yaw voted in favor of advancing legislation out of the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee, including two bills that would address fairs and food establishments impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

June 17th, 2020:  Senator Yaw urges local schools to apply for funding through two new grant programs created to protect the health and safety of students, teachers and school employees during COVID-19.

June 10th, 2020: Senator Yaw voted to pass Senate Bill 1125, legislation sponsored by Sen. Scott Martin to give each school district the option to extend property tax discount periods and remove penalties for late payments through June 30, 2021.

June 10th, 2020: Senator Yaw voted to pass Senate Bill 1166, a proposed Constitutional amendment that would limit the length of future emergency declarations to 30 days and require any extension of the declaration to be approved by the General Assembly.

June 9th, 2020: Senator Yaw voted to pass House Resolution 836 to immediately terminate the governor’s emergency disaster declaration.  Sen. Yaw also issued the following comments.

June 2nd, 2020:  Senator Yaw joined UPMC and Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce for “Back to Business” Virtual Forum designed for business owners and leaders in Lycoming County.

June 1st, 2020:  Senator Yaw writes Op-Ed: Our Economic Recovery Hinges on Reliable Partners highlighting the importance of Pennsylvania’s freight railroads in addressing COVID-19 needs.

May 28th, 2020: Senator Yaw supported passage of an interim $25.8 billion state budget proposal and a package of bills designed to support families, businesses, employees, and organizations affected by the pandemic.

May 28th, 2020: The Senate voted unanimously to pass Senate Bill 1108, which appropriates Pennsylvania’s federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) funding for critical needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic, including funding for county governments, community service providers, first responders, and food banks that have been impacted by the virus.

May 28th, 2020: The Senate gave final approval to Senate Bill 1122, which appropriates $507 million from Pennsylvania’s share of federal CARES funding to support a variety of programs and services for senior citizens, including nursing homes and long-term care facilities, and $31 million for a one-time grant program for volunteer fire and EMS companies.

May 28th, 2020: The Senate gave final approval to Senate Bill 1027, an omnibus COVID-19 business closure response bill that would require notice of any laws or regulations suspended by the Governor during an emergency, provide for state and local debt and cost reduction review, and provides that the Governor cannot fine or suspend a license for violations of emergency orders. Governor Wolf vetoed the bill on June 8th.

May 28th, 2020: Senator Yaw voted in favor of passing House Bill 1210, legislation that would provide for transfers into the School Safety and Security Fund from federal funds related to COVID-19 and amends the Public-School Code of 1949 to repeal outdated and unnecessary provisions and implement the 2020-21 budget.

May 28th, 2020:  Senator Yaw, Sen. John Yudichak and PA Chamber of Business and Industry CEO Gene Barr participate in a “Think About Energy” Briefing on “Energy Development, Manufacturing, & Reopening Pennsylvania’s Economy.”

May 20th, 2020:  Senator Yaw and Rep. Garth Everett applaud House passage of legislation allowing restaurants that are in counties deemed by the Wolf administration to be in the “yellow phase” to reopen safely and allow more customers to patronize their businesses.

May 14th, 2020: Senator Yaw co-sponsored a bill authored by Sen. Dave Arnold aimed at ensuring public safety during a declaration of emergency, if the need arises to release state prison inmates.

May 14th, 2020:  Senator Yaw sponsored legislation with Sen. Doug Mastriano, Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill and Sen. Joe Pittman to require the Secretary of the Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) to issue a waiver to the Governor’s COVID-19 Business Closure Order to all Pennsylvania restaurants – including establishments that specialize singularly in food or beverage – as long as Centers for Disease Control and federally recognized mitigation measures are followed.

May 14th, 2020: Senator Yaw voted in favor of a four-bill package that would give county governments more control over reopening their local economies and provide waivers from the Governor’s closure order for a variety of businesses — if they can operate in a manner that protects employees and customers.

May 13th, 2020:  Senator Yaw sponsored legislation to reopen restaurants, bars & private clubs in “yellow and green” designated counties.  This would apply to restaurant, hotel and private club licensed establishments that serve food and alcohol, as well as non-liquor licensed restaurants.

May 13th, 2020:  Senator Yaw and Rep. Garth Everett announced their intent to sponsor legislation reopening restaurants, bars and private clubs in “yellow and green” designated counties.

May 12th, 2020: Senator Yaw voted in favor of legislation that would provide vital funding to nursing homes, personal care facilities and other senior citizens’ programs impacted by COVID-19 and allow them to continue providing essential services for the state’s most vulnerable population.

May 12th, 2020: The Senate voted unanimously to pass House Bill 1076, which expedites payments from the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program.May 12th, 2020: The Senate approved Senate Bill 1128, legislation that would delay the suspension of a driver’s license during a judicial emergency.

May 11th, 2020:  Senator Yaw, along with Sen. Lisa Baker, Rep. Jonathan Fritz and Rep. Tina Pickett voiced their concerns and extreme disappointment after learning Susquehanna County was not among the next group of counties that would move into the “yellow phase” of Gov. Tom Wolf’s reopening plan on May 15th. The 13 counties listed in the governor’s announcement were all located in southwestern Pennsylvania.

May 6th, 2020: Senator Yaw participated in a public hearing of the Senate Law & Justice Committee to consider Liquor Control Board issues and the impacts on small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

April 29th, 2020:  Senator Yaw, along with Sen. Lisa Baker, Rep. Jonathan Fritz, Rep. Tina Pickett, Rep. Karen Boback and the Susquehanna County Commissioners sent a letter to Governor Wolf asking him to reclassify Susquehanna and Wyoming counties under his plan to reopen the state.

April 29th, 2020: Senator Yaw voted to pass legislation that would:

  • Require the state to notify local first responders of COVID-19 cases in their communities. Senate Bill 1110 would require the Department of Health or local health authority to release to 911 centers, police, fire, coroners and EMS personnel an individual’s communicable disease status when the disease is the subject of an emergency disaster proclamation by the Governor.
  • Extend the amount of time employees who work with children have to recertify background checks until December 31, as many are unable to complete the necessary FBI criminal background checks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. House Bill 360 would also create different criteria for initial applicants to work on a temporary basis.
  • Simplify the judicial process by establishing the following temporary measures immediately, which would then be automatically implemented during any future judicial emergencies. Senate Bill 1119 would toll the Statute of Limitations for civil and criminal cases and provide additional time for the filing of any necessary pleadings. Senate Bill 1120 would extend the time period individuals have for responding to a citation, or paying the appropriate fines, costs, or restitution.

April 29th, 2020: Senator Yaw, along with Sen. Doug Mastriano and other Senate Republicans, sent a letter to Governor Wolf urging him to reverse his March 19th, 2020 decision to prohibit the sales of vehicles.

April 29th, 2020: Senator Yaw supported critical funding for nursing homes so that they can better deal with the significant new challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, and urged the Wolf Administration to do everything in its power to expediently grant regulatory waivers to assist these facilities hit hardest by this crisis.

April 28th, 2020: Senator Yaw voted in favor of passing Senate Bill 1097, legislation that would allow for remote notarizations.

April 28th, 2020: Senator Yaw, along with all 27 of his Senate Republican colleagues, signed on to a letter to Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale urging him to conduct an audit of the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development’s (DECD) handling of the waiver process for businesses that felt they were incorrectly classified as non-essential after Governor Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses in the Commonwealth to close. The purpose of the audit is to ensure accountability and transparency in government, as DCED has thus far denied all requests to make public the list of business who did and did not receive waivers.

April 27th, 2020: Senator Yaw cosponsored legislation that would amend the County Code to make clear that all deaths in a county suspected of COVID-19 shall be referred to the county coroner for investigation.

April 27th, 2020:  Senator Yaw made a guest appearance on WKOK’s “On the Mark” to discuss COVID-19 and legislative measures.

April 24th, 2020: Senator Yaw cosponsored a bill to protect Pennsylvania’s food supply chain by allowing garden centers to reopen if they can adhere to social distancing and mitigation measures established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

April 23rd, 2020:  Senator Yaw and other senators ask Governor Wolf to rescind his job-killing executive order that would join Pennsylvania into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).  The senators highlighted the current COVID-19 shutdowns and the widespread economic consequences if PA joins the consortium of northeastern states.

April 21st, 2020: The Senate voted unanimously to pass House Bill 1869, which ensures law enforcement, first responders, and active duty National Guard members who contract COVID-19 can receive compensation while quarantined or receiving treatment for the virus.

April 21st, 2020: Senator Yaw voted in favor of legislation that would help more patients overcome barriers to care during the COVID-19 pandemic by promoting the use of telemedicine.

April 20th, 2020:  Senator Yaw sponsored legislation that would prohibit consideration or adoption of a proposed/final rulemaking subject to the Regulatory Review Act & conducting a department or agency advisory committee meeting during the existence of a disaster emergency, unless the action is directly related to responding to the disaster emergency or adhering to a state or federal statutory timeline or court order.

April 20th, 2020:  Senator Yaw penned an “Open Letter to Governor Wolf,” urging him to reopen the economy and allowing people to return to work.

April 15th, 2020: Senator Yaw voted in favor of two bills that would have provided some much-needed clarity and common sense to the process of deciding which businesses can safely operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those measures include:

  • Senate Bill 613 would have aligned Pennsylvania’s list of essential vs. non-essential businesses with a list developed by the CDC and the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) that was, at the time, used by 22 other states across the nation. It would have required the governor to create clear guidelines for businesses to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic and permit them to re-open as long as they comply with mitigation strategies.
  • To restore local control, Senate Bill 327 would give county governments the option to develop and implement their own plans to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, following CISA guidelines. Under the bill, businesses already identified as essential could continue to operate. However, counties would also be given the authority to develop plans to allow other industries to operate if it is safe to do so. The bill also creates a COVID-19 Cost and Recovery Task Force made up of representatives of all three branches of government to identify and address issues related to the COVID-19 public health emergency together. The panel would be responsible for developing a recovery plan to restore public services and economic activity when it is safe to do so.

April 10th, 2020:  Senator Yaw announces a PENNVEST $450 million emergency loan program to assist financially distressed hospitals as they work to address the COVID-19 outbreak.

April 8th, 2020: Senator Yaw voted to pass Senate Bill 841, legislation that would take 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.
  • Give notaries emergency authorization to notarize documents remotely through the use of communications technology.

April 6th, 2020:  Senator Yaw hosted a live telephone town hall event to answer questions and gather feedback from community residents specifically related to coronavirus issues.  The event featured: 

  • Rutul Dalal, Medical Director, Infectious Disease; and Chairman, Infection Prevention and Control; UPMC Susquehanna
  • Jason Fink, President and CEO; Williamsport / Lycoming Chamber of Commerce
  • Eric Kratz, Executive Director; PA Senate Labor and Industry Committee

April 9th, 2020: Senator Yaw penned a letter to Governor Wolf on behalf of Little League Baseball International, Inc., requesting a response to the recent shutdowns and the future of the 2020 little league season, as well as the 2020 LLB World Series.

March 27th, 2020:  Senator Yaw penned a letter to Governor Wolf requesting he add automotive sales to the list of life-sustaining businesses permitted to operate during the coronavirus pandemic due to the essential nature of their services.

March 25th, 2020: Senator Yaw voted to pass several bills to keep Pennsylvania moving forward during the COVID-19 coronavirus public health emergency. The coronavirus response measures included:

  • Senate Bill 422, which postpones Pennsylvania’s primary election from April 28 to June 2.
  • Senate Bill 751, which updates Pennsylvania’s School Code to waive a number of mandates on schools that cannot be fulfilled under the current circumstances.
  • House Bill 68, which provides for emergency changes to the state’s Unemployment Compensation law in response to COVID-19.
  • House Bill 1232, which provides additional funding to healthcare facilities to purchase medical supplies and equipment and extends the deadline for certain state and local income tax payments and filings.

March 21st, 2020:  Senator Yaw reminds area senior citizens of extended services amid coronavirus uncertainty.

March 20th, 2020:  Senator Yaw highlights the availability of disaster loans and the appeals process created for businesses impacted by Gov. Wolf’s shutdown.

March 20th, 2020: Senator Yaw reminded community residents that resources are available to help employees and families who have been affected by the state’s coronavirus mitigation efforts.

March 20th, 2020: Senator Yaw joined Senate leaders in raising concerns about some of the unforeseen problems that could arise from Governor Wolf’s executive order to close all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania and how this measure could impact small businesses. As a result of these efforts, the Wolf Administration announced a waiver process for any company that believes they should be considered a life-sustaining-business. 

March 19th, 2020:  Senator Yaw announced that the Commonwealth Financing Authority has provided relief to Pennsylvania small businesses impacted by COVID-19 by authorizing the transfer of $40 million to the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority. 

March 18th, 2020: Senator Yaw voted in favor of resolution that would allow members of the Pennsylvania Senate to vote remotely, an important step to ensure continuity of Senate operations throughout the pandemic.

March 17th, 2020: Senator Yaw announced resources for area businesses, employees affected by the coronavirus shutdown.

March 17th, 2020: Senator Yaw announced that the 23rd Senatorial District office would be temporarily closed to in-person meetings.

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