In this email edition:
Governor’s Waiver Process Creates Confusion for Employers and Employees
The highly publicized waiver process rolled out by the Governor’s office to give businesses a chance to justify why they should be considered life-sustaining has lacked transparency and consistency from the start. Many employers across the state have struggled to understand the reason why they were forced to close their doors while competitors in the same industry received a waiver to remain open. No employer or employee should have their livelihood threatened by a unilateral, unjustified decision made by the Wolf Administration.
I’ve received countless complaints over the past few weeks from employers, especially small business owners, all over Berks County and Schuylkill County. The Wolf Administration NEEDS to be more open about how they make their decisions, and should work more closely with stakeholders across the state to determine what should be closed and what needs to remain open to keep our state functioning.
There have been some baffling inconsistencies in the process. At one point, coal plants in Schuylkill County that deliver to steel plants were closed, but coal plants that provide fuel to power plants could remain open. Did the administration think it would be feasible to have a police officer chase down every coal truck?
New COVID-19 Resource Guide Available Now
Since the state first ramped up its efforts to contain COVID-19 a few weeks ago, my office has responded to thousands of calls and emails from concerned citizens, business owners, municipal officials and non-profit groups who did not know where else to turn during these uncertain times.
In order to help everyone deal with the financial challenges created by this virus, a new COVID-19 Resource Guide for Municipalities, Nonprofits and Community Organizations has been created to connect individuals, families and groups with federal, state, local and private sources of funding. A link to the resource guide is available here.
I hope this guide will enable more local individuals and groups to access the financial resources they need in the weeks ahead. My office is ready and willing to help local individuals and groups locate available programs and apply for funding.
Department of Health Advises Use of Masks When Leaving Home
When Pennsylvanians leave the house to collect groceries, pick up prescriptions or perform other essential activities, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the state Department of Health are advising everyone to wear a mask to limit the spread of COVID-19. Paper masks and N-95 masks should be reserved for healthcare professionals, but cloth and homemade masks also can offer protection.
Additional information about this recommendation and directions for creating homemade masks are available here.
Two PennDOT Projects Restarting in Berks and Schuylkill Counties
Last week, the Governor allowed a select group of emergency PennDOT projects to begin work again. Two projects have reopened in Berks and Schuylkill Counties:
You can read more information here: https://www.penndot.gov/pages/all-news-details.aspx?newsid=722
Senate Returns to Session This Week to Consider More COVID-19 Response Measures
The Senate was in session this week to consider a number of bills to aid in the state’s response to COVID-19. Session and all committee meetings took place remotely and were streamed live at www.PAsenateGOP.com. A full, gavel-to-gavel video will be available after the conclusion of each day’s legislative action.
Federal Action Could Offer Relief for Self-Employed Pennsylvanians Affected by COVID-19 Mitigation
Governor Wolf’s order for all non-life-sustaining businesses to close has created unprecedented financial hardships for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania workers who were suddenly left without a paycheck.
Although the state has eased eligibility criteria and waived certain requirements to help many affected workers through a new law I supported last week, contractors and other self-employed individuals who are not typically eligible for unemployment compensation still faced a great deal of uncertainty.
However, a new program just approved by our counterparts in Congress could offer relief to these individuals and families. The newly created Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program is designed to provide payments to individuals who are not usually eligible for unemployment benefits and are unable to work due to the coronavirus public health emergency.
More information for businesses and employees affected by coronavirus mitigation is available here. I will share additional updates as soon as information becomes available.
PENNDOT Pushes Back Deadlines
Due to COVID-19, PennDOT has extended the deadlines for many types of permits, IDs, and Real ID. Their offices will remain closed for the foreseeable future. More information can be found here: https://www.dmv.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx
Firearm Carry Permits Deadline Extended
License to carry firearms permits that expired on or after March 19 have been extended to May 30.
Because most county courthouses and sheriff’s offices remain closed as we continue to grapple with the pandemic, license to carry permit holders had no way to renew their permits. https://www.psp.pa.gov/firearms…/…/Firearms-Information.aspx
If you do not wish to receive this email, click here to unsubscribe.