Senator Argall E-Newsletter

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In this email edition:

  • Wolf Recommends NO School Sports until January
  • Celebrating Another Tamaqua CRIZ Victory!
  • Helping our Rural Hospitals
  • 7,500 Restaurants Could Permanently Close in Pennsylvania
  • Amazon Comes to New Distribution Center in Berks County
  • Lithuania donates PPE to Pennsylvania
  • Temporary Measures Announced for PLCB Licensees
  • New Guide Available for PUA Claimants
  • Deadline for Fire & EMS Grants
  • This Month’s Argall Report: Limiting the Governor’s Emergency Powers

Coronavirus Emergency Order Day 142

Wolf Recommends NO School Sports until January 

Governor Wolf said this week that “the recommendation is that we don’t do any sports until January 1st” in response to questions concerning PIAA giving the greenlight to sports events this fall. The PIAA already said they will not allow fans or parents at games. You can read more about the governor’s comments here.

You can watch his comments here.

Celebrating Another Tamaqua CRIZ Victory!

After church, Beth and I walked over to the Wheel Restaurant in Tamaqua to celebrate their new location on East Broad Street.  

One of the main reasons the Wheel opened in Tamaqua was the City Revitalization and Improvement Zone program – the CRIZ.

Tamaqua was the first borough in Pennsylvania to be selected for this special pilot program to encourage business growth in underdeveloped properties.  More than a half-million dollars have now been reinvested here to aid revitalization efforts—The CRIZ is proving to be a very valuable tool in Tamaqua.  

I’m pictured above with Micah Gursky (who completed Tamaqua’s successful CRIZ application) and Savas Logothetides, an owner of the Wheel Restaurant.

The KEY QUESTION is this:   Who will apply to be the next CRIZ success story in Tamaqua, restoring a property and creating new jobs here?

To apply, more information can be found here:

Helping our Rural Hospitals

8/3/20 – Challenges Facing PA’s Rural Hospitals

The Senate Majority Policy committee held a hearing, at the request of Senator Camera Bartlotta (R-Beaver, Greene, & Washington), to discuss the health of rural hospitals in Pennsylvania.

Rural hospitals had their share of difficulties before COVID-19 hit. According to a report by WHYY, nearly half of our rural hospitals operated within negative margins in 2019. Many of the mandates put in place by the governor during the pandemic have made the situation much worse, leading to widespread layoffs in the health care industry and fewer health screenings for other dangerous diseases and conditions.

Testifiers also suggested ways to bolster rural hospitals against further losses and ensure a high quality of care for patients, including clearer communications from the Department of Health, more input from local elected leaders on decisions that affect community health systems, and better availability of broadband internet coverage.

7,500 Restaurants Could Permanently Close in Pennsylvania

The COVID-19 pandemic and Governor’s Wolf restrictions have done significant damage to the restaurant industry and will cost many independent employers and employees their livelihoods.

John Longstreet, CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, estimates that 7,500 restaurants could permanently close, leaving some 200,000 unemployed in coming weeks. He said, “the only significance of the 25% (occupancy) number is that it puts restaurants out of business and employees on the streets.”

A restaurant owner said, “We were not even at 50% (capacity) to begin with. It’s not like people rushed back. We didn’t have to stop people from coming into the restaurant. Customer confidence is way low.

Going to 25% (capacity) didn’t solve anything,” he said of the governor’s order. “All it did was make us get rid of our employees”

You can read more here. 

Amazon Comes to New Distribution Center in Berks County

Amazon has announced they will open a new distribution center in Upper Bern Township. This will bring 1,000 full-time, well-paying jobs to Berks County. The center plans to be up and running by the end of this year or early next year. Amazon has already begun listing the soon-to-be-available positions here.

Lithuania donates PPE to Pennsylvania

Lithuania donated €100,000 ($118,000) worth of PPE to Pennsylvania to assist medical personnel with the ongoing battle against COVID-19. My thanks goes out to Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevicius, as well as the rest of the Lithuanian government for donating these valuable supplies to the commonwealth.

Pennsylvania was the first state in the US that Lithuanian immigrants settled in. Our state has been a member of a strategic partnership with the Baltic nation since it declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1990.

I was proud to sponsor Senate Resolution 189 with Senator Doug Mastriano (R-Adams/Cumberland/Franklin/York), which recognizes June as “Lithuanian Partnership Month” in Pennsylvania. 

Temporary Measures Announced for PLCB Licensees

Many businesses that hold licenses from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) are dealing with severe restrictions and closures mandated by the Wolf Administration. PLCB recently announced several changes to license renewal fee and license safekeeping requirements during the pandemic.

Some of the highlights include implementation of a bill the Senate approved in May to waive the annual $700 surcharge for volunteer fire companies and veterans organizations, as well as waiving late fees for license renewal or validation applications through Sept. 30, 2020.

New Guide Available for PUA Claimants

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program provides weekly benefits to contractors, gig workers, self-employed individuals and other Pennsylvanians who do not normally qualify for the state’s Unemployment Compensation system. To help claimants better navigate the system, the Department of Labor and Industry recently created a new guide listing all PUA error codes and what they mean.

Information was also added to the PUA website about when claimants can expect payments based on when they file their claim. Benefit weeks start on Sundays, so that is the first opportunity to file weekly claims. In general, payments are made 2-4 days after filing unless there is an eligibility issue.

Deadline for Fire & EMS Grants

The deadline for PA fire, rescue and EMS companies to register for a new COVID-19 grant program has been extended to Friday, August 14, 4 p.m. The General Assembly enacted this program to help first responders pay for operations impacted by the pandemic. More information can be found here.

This Month’s Argall Report: Limiting the Governor’s Emergency Powers

This month’s Argall Report focuses on the recent passage of Senate Bill 1166 – a constitutional amendment to limit the length of future emergency disaster declarations made by a governor.

You can watch the program here.

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