In this update:
Thank you to the York Countians who are on the front lines of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
How to get state-related assistance during the coronavirus shutdown
While we are still not having in-person office visits or taking in-person meetings, our offices are handling constituent-related issues during this time.
Here are the various ways you can contact me:
District Office – 717-741-4648 (leave a voicemail)
Capitol Office – 717-787-7085 (leave a voicemail)
Email – SenatorKristin@pasen.gov
Contact Form – SenatorKristin.com/contact-me.
Please note: Due to the high volume of inquiries our office has received over the last two weeks, please only contact our office one way as this will ensure we handle your matter and can assist others in a timely manner. I really appreciate everyone’s patience during this time.
Here are some helpful links to assist you
Employees and employers: here is a listing of several resources available to you.
Was your business shut down by Governor Wolf’s mandate? Here is everything you need – how to obtain a waiver, how to receive clarification on your business, how to view the latest list of “non-life sustaining” businesses.
The York County Economic Alliance partnered with the County of York to keep local citizens up-to-date as well. Please visit PreparedYork.com for more information.
Senate of Pennsylvania votes remotely for first time in history, advances four critical proposals to assist in COVID-19 efforts
The Senate took swift action on legislation earlier this week regarding changes to allow schools to better address challenges during the extended shutdown, unemployment compensation, diverting special funds from state coffers to boost hospital equipment purchases, and moving the date of the Presidential primary to June 2.
House Bill 68 makes emergency changes to the state’s Unemployment Compensation program for Pennsylvanians who are out of work due to the coronavirus, including temporarily waiving job search requirements, removing the one week period to wait for benefits, along with additional flexibility for the department and claimants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senate Bill 751 will provide significant changes to the state’s education code to allow greater flexibility for local schools to address the prolonged mandated closure.
Under the changes, schools will not be required to meet the 180 day minimum for school days, and it will provide greater flexibility to a statute I authored last year that allows for school districts to utilize flexible instructional days. Under the original statute, schools could only use up to five flexible instructional days per school year. This will allow for more days, as well as waive the application deadlines to allow more schools to apply. Currently only 79 schools participate in flexible instructional days. The bill will also allow all personnel – teachers, administrators and school bus drivers – to be treated the same had the pandemic not occurred. School districts are allowed to waive all standardized testing that would have occurred this spring.
House Bill 1232 will provide an immediate investment by taking unspent special funds from various state funds and redirecting it to hospitals and other health care providers to purchase equipment and supplies. The bill will appropriate $50 million for this statewide mitigation effort.
Senate Bill 422 will move the state’s primary Election Day from Tuesday, April 28, 2020 to Tuesday, June 2, 2020. In order to address the likely challenge of finding poll workers on the new Election Day, the bill allows volunteers to come from any part of a county as well as provides additional flexibility for counties to consolidate or move polling places, as needed. The bill also makes several updates to allow for mail-in ballots and absentee ballots to be opened prior to 8 p.m. on Election Day to allow for the earlier processing of ballots.
Read more about this unprecedented Senate session here.
You can view photos of the Senate session here.
You can watch the session in its entirety here.
Governor Wolf signed these bill into law this morning.
Applications now being accepted for new small business low-interest loan program
Small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency can apply now for low-interest state loans.
The COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program will feature a low interest rate, no application fees, and payments and interest waived during the first year of the loan. Loans of up to $100,000 will be available for small businesses with 100 or fewer full-time employees to use as working capital.
The program will be administered by the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority, which said it intends for the turnaround time for loan approval to be a matter of days.
The York County Economic Alliance is designated as York County’s Certified Economic Development Organization.
REAL ID compliance delayed one year
On Thursday, the United State Department of Homeland Security announced that it would delay enforcement of Pennsylvania’s REAL ID requirements. The original mandate required all individuals seeking to board a commercial flight or enter a federal building to have a REAL ID by October 1, 2020. That is now delayed until October 1, 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak that has caused PennDOT to temporarily close many of their facilities across the state.
You can read more about this delay here.
Department of Labor and Industry offers info on new paid family and medical leave requirements
As part of a new federal law to respond to the coronavirus, certain employers will be required to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for absences related to COVID-19. Wages paid under the new law will be reimbursed to business owners on a dollar-for-dollar basis through business tax credits.
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has created a webpage to help employers and employees better understand the new requirements. Fact sheets for employers and employees, answers to frequently asked questions and other helpful links are available here.
The state Senate also approved a package of bills this week to move the state forward during the current public health emergency, including measures to provide emergency changes to the state’s Unemployment Compensation law, provide additional funding for medical supplies and equipment, postpone the state’s primary election, and update the School Code to waive certain mandates. More information on those measures is available here.
Take a tour of Groff North America in Red Lion
Prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus, I set out on a goal for this year: Visit and highlight 28 locally owned businesses throughout the 28th District during 2020. I have heard from countless small business owners adversely impacted by the governor’s mandated closure and the coronavirus outbreak.
When (not if) we are through with this pandemic, I look forward to highlighting 27 more businesses as part of my commitment to our local businesses throughout this year. As I’ve said before, small businesses are the backbone to our local economy.
I was grateful for the time Dr. Steve Groff provided me when I recently toured his facility in Red Lion as part of my Spotlight on the 28th series. You can watch our tour and interview in its entirety below.
You can also listen to my podcast, which features a conversation with Dr. Groff as well. Listen and subscribe to my podcast here.
Retired healthcare providers can assist in COVID-19 response
As Pennsylvania faces a potential surge of COVID-19 coronavirus cases in the coming weeks, many retired doctors, nurses and pharmacists who wish to aid the state’s response to this public health emergency will be permitted to re-enter their field of practice temporarily.
This is a huge regulatory burden lifted for those who want to help in the fight against the coronavirus.
Retired healthcare personnel who return to practice would not be subject to paying reactivation fees. In most cases, licenses would be active through the end of the year.
More details on this announcement are available here.
PennDOT provides answers for frequently asked questions
Our office has received many inquiries from local residents about PennDOT issues, including what to do if a vehicle’s registration, inspection or emissions runs out at the end of the month.
You can find all of your answers to your most-asked questions here.
Consumers can report price gouging tips online
Pennsylvania’s Price Gouging Act prohibits companies and vendors from charging a price for consumer goods greater than 20 percent higher than the price before an emergency declaration.
Consumers can report violations of price gouging laws to the Attorney General by email at email@example.com.
Consumers can also submit a complaint by reporting the name and price of the product and the name and location of the store or vendor online here.
Reminder: Resources available for employees impacted by COVID-19 mitigation
Efforts to reduce the spread of the coronavirus have created a major disruption in the lives of many Pennsylvania workers. Many employees who are unable to work or have reduced hours as a result of COVID-19 are now eligible for Unemployment Compensation. Affected employees can learn more about how to apply for Unemployment Compensation online here.
Claimants no longer have to wait a week to apply, and all work search and work registration requirements have been temporarily waived.
Information is also available for individuals who are dealing with job loss related to COVID-19 and have lost employer-sponsored health insurance coverage. Information on getting coverage through the state health insurance marketplace is available at www.healthcare.gov.
All children in Pennsylvania can receive coverage through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Details about CHIP are available at www.chipcoverspakids.com. Depending on household income, Medicaid may also be an option for adults who need health insurance coverage. More information on Medicaid is available here.
Food services available for families affected by public health emergency
Efforts are in place to ensure that all Pennsylvanians have access to food as the state steps up its COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
Pennsylvanians can contact local food banks or pantries through Feeding Pennsylvania and Hunger-Free Pennsylvania, and the Department of Human Services is continuing to process applications and benefit renewals for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Pennsylvanians can apply for SNAP online at www.compass.state.pa.us.
The Department of Agriculture has provided resources for Pennsylvanians to access emergency food assistance during COVID-19 mitigation, including locations of food banks and food pantries that are assisting individuals and families during this time. Both departments are calling on healthy individuals to volunteer with a local food bank or other community agencies.
The emergency Feeding Taskforce, a panel of state agencies, charitable food networks, food retailers and others, is working to match available resources with communities in need. Businesses with resources to help feed and shelter Pennsylvanians are encouraged to fill out this survey. Anyone in need of food should complete this survey so the task force can direct resources where they are needed.
Trout fishing opening day set for April 18, social distancing encouraged
Although many large events and activities have been postponed or canceled throughout the country, local anglers can still look forward to the beginning of trout season on April 18. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is operating under modified procedures to ensure all Pennsylvanians can enjoy one of the state’s favorite pastimes.
The statewide opening day for trout fishing will be April 18; there will not be an earlier regional opening day this year. Trout stocking will still be completed by PFBC on an accelerated schedule. In order to safeguard public health, no volunteers will be permitted to help stock trout this year.
Anglers are encouraged to keep a distance of at least 6 feet between themselves and other people, avoid large crowds and carpooling, and clean all equipment thoroughly. More information is available here.
Want to help patients in need? Consider donating blood
The first few weeks of COVID-19 mitigation measures led to the cancelation of many scheduled blood drives at schools and workplaces throughout the country. As a result, the American Red Cross is now experiencing a critical shortage of blood and platelets for patients in need.
Community residents who are able to donate blood can find the closest scheduled event here. Please check back frequently and search 7-15 days out for newly scheduled blood drives.
Stay safe – follow these tips