In this update:
Federal judge rules Wolf business shutdowns, other restrictions unconstitutional
For months, many of us have raised serious concerns about the Wolf Administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, including his arbitrary business shutdowns, deeply flawed business waiver system and continued restrictions on gatherings. This week, a federal judge agreed by ruling a number of the governor’s actions to be unconstitutional.
In his decision, U.S. District Judge William S. Stickman IV said, “Even in an emergency, the authority of government is not unfettered. The liberties protected by the Constitution are not fair-weather freedoms — in place when times are good but able to be cast aside in times of trouble.” I could not agree more!
The ruling applies to Governor Wolf’s mandated business shutdowns, as well as his restrictions on large gatherings. The Wolf Administration has announced that they will request a stay of the ruling and will appeal the decision. I will provide an update on what this ruling means for all of us as soon as more information is available.
I appreciated the chance to discuss the ruling as a guest on the WSBA Morning News Podcast with Gary Sutton on Tuesday morning. You can listen to our conversation here.
Senate workshop explores need for a limited Constitutional Convention
At my request, the Senate Majority Policy Committee held a public hearing today at 1 p.m. to review a proposal I am sponsoring calling for a limited Constitutional Convention.
In my testimony, I shared my perspective on the issue with my colleagues: “For the last six months, each of our respective legislative offices have been inundated with questions from constituents seeking clarity and guidance during this unprecedented shutdown. The general feeling of the Pennsylvania taxpayer is frustration, anger and disappointment. The state Supreme Court has emboldened the governor and Pennsylvanians feel like they do not have a voice as unilateral decisions are handed down at late afternoon press conferences and through news releases.”
That is why this issue is so important today – to ensure the voice of the people is truly heard in the halls of the Capitol in Harrisburg! You can read more about today’s hearing here.
Celebrating York Jewish Community Center’s 110th Anniversary
This past weekend, I joined the Board of Directors and staff of the York Jewish Community Center (JCC) to congratulate them for 110 years of service to the greater York community.
This important milestone is incredible and illustrates the JCC’s impact on our community for over a century.
It was an honor to celebrate this achievement and present the York JCC with a congratulatory citation on behalf of the Senate of Pennsylvania.
FAQs for restaurants, bars and taverns from Wolf’s latest orders, effective on Sept. 21
Two weeks ago, the governor unilaterally changed the guidance for restaurants by establishing a new state certification process in order to increase capacity from 25 to 50 percent. After my office received many calls and emails seeking clarification, three days later, the Department of Community and Economic Development published updated FAQs for restaurants, bars and taverns.
You can view the updated FAQs here. Please know that I am continuing to advocate for and will support legislation to provide greater flexibility for our locally owned bars, restaurants and taverns. I am optimistic we can send something to the governor’s desk as early as next week.
Supporting first responders and urging motorists to “move over”
Senator Doug Mastriano and Senator Kim Ward hosted a “move over” rally in Harrisburg to support important legislation increasing penalties on motorists who do not give our first responders enough room on the shoulders of our highways and roadways.
Senate Bill 1281, which was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee two weeks ago, would rename the “Steer Clear” law as the “Move Over” law.
According to Senator Mastriano, who is sponsoring the measure, Senate Bill 1281 would establish a new point system for a “Move Over” violation; double the fines for a summary offense; strengthen public awareness by requiring PennDOT to educate the public throughout the year; and implement a new speed restriction for drivers approaching an emergency response area.
No first responder’s life should ever be in jeopardy because a motorist failed to “move over.” This legislation is extremely important to our countless men and women who volunteer on a daily basis to protect our communities and keep us safe.
Ribbon cutting ceremony for important resource for local veterans and seniors
I recently joined staff from the Department of Community and Economic Development and members of York City Council to cut the ribbon welcoming Curantis Home Care to the City of York.
Curantis, located at 46 E. Philadelphia Street, provides 24-hour non-medical home care services to veterans and individuals with mobility issues or illness.
We are grateful to welcome this much-needed service to our community.
You can learn more about the services they provide here.
PennDOT resumes REAL ID processing
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has resumed issuing REAL IDs at reopened Driver License Centers throughout the state. REAL ID processing was suspended in March when most PennDOT offices closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The deadline to comply with REAL ID requirements was pushed back one year due to the pandemic. REAL ID is optional for drivers, but driver licenses and photo ID cards will no longer be accepted as a valid form of identification for boarding commercial flights or visiting federal buildings beginning on October 1, 2021.
More information about REAL ID is available on PennDOT’s website.
Funding available for transportation improvement projects
Transportation improvement projects throughout the state could receive a boost from grants through the Multimodal Transportation Fund. The program provides funding for ports and rail freight, increases aviation investments, establishes dedicated funding for bicycle and pedestrian improvements, and allows targeted funding for all modes of transportation.
The program is open to municipalities, councils of governments, business/non-profit organizations, economic development organizations, public transportation agencies, public airports, airport authorities, and ports and rail entities. Applications for grants will be accepted through November 6.
Grants available to train direct care workers
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on patients and employees in long-term care settings. Grants are available through the Department of Labor and Industry to provide new career opportunities for direct care workers and improve the quality of care provided to patients.
The Direct Care Worker Training Grants program helps create and develop training programs that increase the quality of services, offer specialty certifications, and create viable career opportunities for personal care assistants, home health aides and certified nursing assistants. The deadline to apply is October 2.
Upcoming PennDOT projects
PennDOT shared with me their upcoming planned maintenance projects for next week across York County. You can view their scheduled projects below.
The Senate of Pennsylvania will convene on Monday, September 21, at 1 p.m.
You can watch session live and review our agenda at SenatorKristin.com/session.