In this update:
Governor vetoes legislation to help locally owned restaurants, bars, taverns, 12 House Democrats flip vote to sustain veto
As I wrote to you last week, the governor was on the tenth day (constitutional deadline) to sign, veto or allow a bipartisan bill to become law to assist our locally owned restaurants, taverns and bars, as well as our VFWs and Legions.
Unfortunately, the governor ended up vetoing this much-needed legislation. I have spoken with many small business owners who continue to express their dismay at the governor’s constant attack on small businesses while big box stores that are corporate owned continue to operate with next to no limitations imposed by the governor.
The legislation had strong bipartisan support in both the Senate of Pennsylvania and state House of Representatives. In the Senate, we passed the bill 43-6, with 14 Democrats joining the Republicans in supporting this measure. In the House, 35 Democrats joined the Republicans to approve of the measure with a vote of 145-56.
However, when the House attempted to override the governor’s veto, a dozen House Democrats changed their original vote they cast less than a month ago to side with the governor.
By way of background: House Bill 2513 would have allowed food and beverage establishments and event venues to operate at a minimum of 50 percent for indoor dining while adhering to social distancing consistent with guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The legislation would have also allowed those establishments to increase capacity to above 50 percent should the CDC deem it safe, or should the venue have appropriate physical barriers.
The measure also included additional flexibility for the Liquor Control Board to temporarily approve of outdoor seating within 250 feet of the main licensed building operated by the liquor license holder.
Finally, it would have removed the mandate that an establishment must serve a meal in order to purchase an alcoholic beverage for on-premise consumption.
Under the governor’s certification process, restaurants may only move up to 50 percent capacity limits if they certify with the state. The certification process also makes the information submitted by each restaurant, bar or tavern available for enforcement matters to the following state agencies: Department of State, Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, Department Labor and Industry, and the State Police.
As for why the governor vetoed the legislation in the first place? He cites rising case counts across the state. However, the data show that the increase in cases is not attributed to these locations. Here is the latest information from the Department of Health.
The House is mulling over another veto override attempt, which you can read about in this article posted to PennLive. Please keep in mind that the Senate cannot attempt a veto override until the House successfully overrides the governor’s veto, which requires the support of 2/3 of members in each chamber.
On Thursday, Governor Wolf announced that he would waive liquor licensing fees for those struggling bars and restaurants. You can read my reaction here.
FCC Commissioner, Congressman Scott Perry provide federal update on closing digital divide
The Senate Communications and Technology Committee, which I chair, held a bipartisan discussion this week with key stakeholders from across the state, representing various levels of government and entities dedicated to deploying and utilizing broadband in Pennsylvania.
The roundtable event featured Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr and Congressman Scott Perry (R-Cumberland/Dauphin/York), who outlined the federal response to internet connectivity challenges, as well as data security in the United States.
You can watch my opening statement below.
You can watch Congressman Perry’s testimony below.
You can watch FCC Commissioner Carr’s testimony below.
This is a major issue both in the Commonwealth and across the country. Both Congressman Perry and Commissioner Carr then participated in a wide-ranging discussion with many of the key stakeholders I’ve worked with over the last year as chairwoman of this committee.
You can watch the full hearing and see the list of individuals who participated here.
Senate advances two major components to expedite, cut red tape to deploy broadband in PA
Following a very informative discussion on broadband, the Senate took action on two key measures to help deploy broadband across the state.
One of the bills, which I sponsored, would reduce regulatory barriers to broadband deployment by modernizing the Public Utility Code and requiring the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to review and waive regulations that are no longer necessary or in the public interest.
Here are my comments during a Senate Appropriations Committee meeting on Tuesday:
Another bill would make broader use of existing infrastructure to further deploy broadband in areas that lack coverage. The legislation would allow electric cooperatives to utilize existing utility poles to place fiber-optic lines if the placement does not adversely affect the value or use of the property. Earlier this year, the committee I chair unanimously approved this measure.
You can learn more here.
Could a 20-year state contract entered into by the Wolf Administration add costs, hamper efforts to deploy high-speed internet to unserved areas?
A recent article highlighting a Forest County Commissioners’ meeting is bringing to light how a 20-year state contract entered into by the Wolf Administration could be hampering efforts to deploy broadband.
I joined the Vice Chair of the Senate Communications and Technology Committee, Senator Scott Hutchinson, to layout how a contract with an Ohio-based vendor is more focused on profits for the state and certain out-of-state entities, and less about closing the digital divide in unserved and underserved areas.
You can read our op-ed, which appeared in the Tribune-Review, here.
Celebrating the grand opening of Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in Queensgate Towne Center
Last weekend, I joined community leaders to celebrate the grand opening of York Habitat ReStore, a home furnishing and building materials store in the Queensgate Towne Center.
The profit from ReStore is used to help the York Habitat for Humanity further their mission to build safe and affordable homes in our community.
Congratulations to everyone involved in this great addition to our community! Please stop by as their inventory is updated every week. Here is what I was able to find:
You can learn more about this initiative here.
Northern York Regional Police dedicates substation for fallen Officer Tome
On Wednesday evening, Kiersten Laird, who serves as our Constituent Outreach Specialist, attended the Northern York County Regional Police Department Officer David Tome substation dedication in Manheim Township.
While I was disappointed I could not attend (due to the General Assembly voting on legislation), it was a very fitting tribute for a fallen Officer who passed away in the line of duty 12 years ago.
Kiersten said in her remarks that the dedication is a celebration of the life and passion of a dedicated law enforcement officer, family man, father and loyal public servant. His name on the building will forever honor this true leader in our community for many, many years.
Thank you to Chief Lash and the entire Northern York Regional Police force for this fitting tribute and dedication to serving the people of Heidelberg, Manheim and North Codorus Townships.
Dallastown graduate, West Chester University senior Alyssa Magnes visits Capitol
It was an honor and a privilege to host Alyssa Magnes, a Dallastown High School graduate and a current senior in the Honors College at West Chester University.
Alyssa joined me in Harrisburg for our committee hearing and sat in on several meetings. Alyssa plans to attend law school after graduation. Alyssa shadowed me as part of her Women and Politics class. It was a real pleasure to host Alyssa and I look forward to her continued and future success.
Discussing the endless Mt. Rose Interchange Project with Fox 43
Jamie Bittner with Fox43 provided our community with an update on the (never-ending) Mt. Rose Interchange project.
I provided my two cents and will continue to stress that the vendor that was picked for this project is a change-order scheme specialist, as they have had similar results in other parts of the country. Change-order scheming is where a bidder offers the lowest bid to win the contract. Then, throughout the course of executing the contract, they add unanticipated costs and delays to the project.
You can watch our discussion here.
Protecting injured volunteer fire, EMS personnel
Critical members of volunteer fire companies, ambulance corps and rescue squads who are injured in the line of duty would qualify for workers’ compensation coverage under a bill approved by the Senate on Wednesday. This legislation was sponsored by Senator Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) and me after hearing from our local volunteer fire companies from across York and Lancaster counties.
You can read more about this important legislation, which is on its way to the governor’s desk, here.
Allowing visitation of loved ones in nursing homes, long-term facilities
Many Pennsylvania families faced COVID-19 restrictions that prevented them from visiting loved ones for months – even when all state and federal safety protocols could have been followed. The Senate approved legislation this week to ensure safe visitation and enhanced care for residents of long-term care facilities.
The bill would require facilities to designate at least one essential family caregiver per resident that would be permitted to visit and care for a loved one during a disaster emergency. Under the bill, caregivers would be able to remain in contact with family members and provide companionship and assist with activities requiring one-on-one direction.
Bills to improve COVID-19 reporting move to governor’s desk
Two bills to improve reporting of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Pennsylvania are on their way to the governor to be signed into law. The bills are focused on protecting first responders and ensuring all COVID-19 deaths are reported and investigated properly.
Under the legislation, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and local health agencies would be required to notify 911 centers of the address of any known positive case of a communicable, aerosolized and transmissible disease. The legislation would ensure the information is provided to law enforcement officers, fire department personnel, emergency medical services personnel, medical examiners and coroners when they are called to carry out an essential job function at the address.
In addition, the package includes a measure to ensure county coroners are notified of all suspected deaths in their jurisdiction caused by this virus and other contagious diseases that constitute a health emergency. The bill would ensure coroners can investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding any death and eliminate inconsistencies in how COVID-19 deaths are being reported.
Important voting reminders and FAQs ahead of 2020 Presidential Election
Pennsylvania implemented several changes in election laws this year, and millions of state voters are expected to take part in the November 3 election.
Below are key dates and links to resources to provide you with the information you will need to take part in this critical civic process.
Key dates for the 2020 General Election
October 27 is the last day to apply for a mail-in ballot. Apply here.
November 3 is election day and the last day to vote by mail. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Voting by mail in Pennsylvania
If you are a registered voter, you now have two options for mail ballots in Pennsylvania.
Mail-in ballot – Any qualified voter may apply for a mail-in ballot. You may simply request this ballot without a reason.
Absentee ballot – If you plan to be out of your municipality on election day or if you have a disability or illness, you should request this ballot type, which still requires you to list a reason for your ballot.
Applications can be requested online at www.votespa.com with a valid Driver’s License or Photo ID.
All absentee/mail-in ballot applications must be received in your County Voter Registration Office no later than 5 p.m. on Tuesday, October 27, for the 2020 General Election.
Mark your ballot, following the instructions. Place the ballot in the secrecy envelope and then the official envelope. Sign the declaration and mail or deliver the ballot to your County Voter Registration Office.
***I have received several phone calls from voters who applied for an absentee or mail-in ballot, but now want to vote in person. To vote at your polling place, you will need to bring both your mail-in or absentee ballot AND the outer return envelope to your polling place.
Vote on November 3
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The state Polling Place Search tool will help you locate your polling place.
Voters who are voting for the first time in their election district will be required to show an ID. Acceptable IDs for first-time voters:
You can find this information and more on a special link I have posted to my website.
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.
Livestream ceremony tomorrow at 11 a.m. commemorating the life, legacy and ultimate sacrifice of Dallastown’s Corporal Michael Cohen
Tomorrow at 11 a.m., I am hosting a private ceremony with family, friends and fellow veterans to formally unveil the Corporal Michael Cohen Memorial Bridge in York County.
While the in-person event will be limited to invited guests, per the family’s request, I will be sharing a livestream of the event if you are interested.
I have had many individuals from across the county express an interest in this fitting tribute to a local fallen Marine.
You can tune in to my Facebook Page at 11 a.m. to watch the ceremony.
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