In this update:
Governor orders all “non-life sustaining” businesses to shut down last night
Last evening, Governor Tom Wolf ordered all “non-life sustaining” businesses to shut down by 8 p.m. Enforcement of this mandated shutdown is set to take effect tomorrow (March 21).
I have received many calls and complaints from local businesses and their employees about this unprecedented move. During this truly challenging time, we are all navigating uncharted waters. I refuse to make this a partisan fight as this pandemic and deadly virus does not care if you are a Republican or a Democrat.
My goal through this process is to provide each and every one of the more than 260,000 individuals I represent with clarity and accurate information. Not panic or confusion, but clarity.
The list the governor released last night was not well thought out and created more confusion than clarity. To that extent, I am working with his office to provide more information about the governor’s quick decision to shut down all “non-life sustaining” businesses.
The entire list of “non-life sustaining” can be found here.
Last night, the Wolf Administration has set up a waiver process. If a company believes they should be considered a life-sustaining business and would like to apply for a waiver, they should send an email to one of the following:
Business owners can apply for a waiver at this email address: RAfirstname.lastname@example.org. Business owners can address questions about whether they need to close by emailing email@example.com.
Our office is also happy to assist you on this matter – feel free to reply to this email with your concern and we will help address your situation.
My website has all of the information you need from the Pennsylvania Department of Health as well as a running tally of information for you and your family during this pandemic – you can find that here.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate program deadline extended through end of year
As Pennsylvania continues to address the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the state Department of Revenue has extended the application deadline for the Property Tax and Rent Rebate (PTRR) program until the end of the year.
The program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded.
The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975. As specified by law, rebate distribution will begin on July 1. After June 30, rebates will be distributed as claims are received and processed.
Our office has been helping local citizens with their applications over the last month at various outreach events throughout the county. We will continue to provide guidance over the phone as well as look forward to helping those individuals when we reopen our offices.
Applicants may obtain PTRR claim forms (PA-1000) and related information online or by calling, toll-free, 1-888-222-9190.
The program is funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery and revenue from slots gaming.
Despite temporarily suspending in-person office visits, we are still helping local citizens
While we are still not allowing in-person office visits or taking in-person meetings, our offices are still handling constituent-related issues during this time.
Here are the various ways you can contact me:
District Office – 717-741-4648
Capitol Office – 717-787-7085
Email – SenatorKristin@pasen.gov
Contact Form – SenatorKristin.com/contact-me.
Assistance for employees affected by shutdown
Pennsylvanians who are unable to work because of the COVID-19 coronavirus may be eligible for Unemployment or Workers’ Compensation benefits.
Unemployment Compensation is available for employees whose employer temporarily closes, goes out of business due to COVID-19 or reduces hours due to COVID-19. Eligibility is also extended to employees who are told not to work, have been told to self-isolate or quarantine to prevent the spread of the virus.
Employees who have been exposed to COVID-19 in their workplace could also be eligible for Workers’ Compensation.
More details about benefits for affected employees are available here.
Individuals who are out of work may also seek emergency food assistance at local food banks. Many food banks, pantries, shelters and soup kitchens are offering special drive-through services to limit close personal contact.
A list of food banks and additional guidance from the Department of Agriculture is available here.
Many schools are continuing to offer meals for students. More information on how schools are adjusting to mitigation efforts is available here.
Assistance for employers affected by shutdown
Earlier this week, the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) took the first step in providing relief to Pennsylvania small businesses impacted by COVID-19 by authorizing the transfer of $40 million to the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA).
This funding will be combined with existing funds in PIDA’s Small Business First Program, and will be used to provide zero interest loans to small businesses. Over $60 million for loans will be available to businesses with 100 or fewer full time employees. Loans of up to $100,000 will be available to small businesses to use as working capital. Interest rates are being dropped from approximately 3% to 0%. Detailed guidelines for the program are still being developed at this time. In addition to a 0% interest rate, there will be no application fees and the terms will include no payments and no interest during the first year of the loan. Details, including applications and guidelines, will be forthcoming.
Additionally, the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) is expected to offer loans that could assist businesses affected by COVID-19. Information will be posted to www.dced.pa.gov/resources as it becomes available.
The Strategic Early Warning Network, administered by the Department of Labor and Industry, offers resources to help small and medium-sized business, including business planning resources and contingency planning, at www.steelvalley.org/coronavirus.
The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry also has a webpage dedicated to helping businesses deal with coronavirus concerns at www.pachamber.org/coronavirus.
Locally, the York County Economic Alliance has been very helpful in providing up-to-the-minute updates on COVID-19 and resources available here.
Vote-by-mail a viable option with looming Presidential Primary Election next month
Last year, the General Assembly and governor came together to overhaul the state’s election laws – some of the biggest changes in decades. As news of the coronavirus changes by the day, and officials are mulling over changing the Primary Election date, it is a great time to request a mail-in ballot to be certain your vote will count.
I am encouraging interested voters to request a mail-in ballot at VotesPA.com/ApplyMailBallot in advance of our state’s upcoming April 28, 2020 Presidential Primary Election.
More information can be found here.
How you can help small business during this extremely difficult and unprecedented time
Many local citizens have contacted me about how we can help our local small businesses during this very difficult time. Here are a few tips I’ve put together to help our many small businesses that are the backbone of our economy.
Things you can do to pass the time while staying at home
Take my survey here.
Call a relative you haven’t spoken to in a while.
Listen to my latest podcast here.
Take a walk.
If you belong to your local library, borrow a book through their e-library.
Senate adopts emergency rules to allow continuity of operations during COVID-19 outbreak
The Senate convened on Wednesday to adopt a resolution allowing members to vote remotely, which passed unanimously.
The temporary emergency rules included in Senate Resolution 318 will ensure the Senate can continue voting even when Senators cannot be physically present at the Capitol Building in Harrisburg due to coronavirus mitigation efforts that are ongoing statewide.
Learn more about this important resolution here.
You can watch our entire session here.
Stay safe – follow these tips
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