In this update:
Signing the “Declaration of Suspension” to return powers of co-equal branches of state government
Senator Doug Mastriano and several state Representatives unveiled a “Declaration of Suspension” earlier this week in an effort to restore co-equal branches in your state government.
I continue to receive calls and emails seeking guidance on the governor and Secretary of Health’s unilateral orders and mandates. Many local residents are frustrated with the lack of clarity and unresponsiveness of the executive branch (most offices are closed with staff working remotely).
The governor continues to ignore the General Assembly. Earlier this week, he dictated his legislative agenda to bail out the state’s finances by press release instead of meeting to discuss his goals with legislative leaders. He continues to ignore the fact that much of the economic damage has been caused by his shutdown orders – among the most restrictive in the country.
This “Declaration” could end the governor’s emergency powers if enough legislators sign it.
Proposal to temporarily remove costly prevailing wage requirements for local entities
Senator Scott Martin, Senator Judy Ward and I are proposing legislation that would allow local governing authorities (schools, counties, municipalities) to suspend prevailing wage requirements.
Our forthcoming bill will allow these entities to opt-out of the state’s prevailing wage requirements through the end of 2022. Prevailing wage requirements dictate that public works construction projects must be paid at a calculation based on local wages, including collective bargaining agreements. Prevailing wage requirements can add anywhere from 10 to 30 percent in additional costs for building projects. The state’s prevailing wage thresholds have not changed since the early 1960s.
You can read more about our efforts here.
Sen. Toomey hosts roundtable with stakeholders on COVID-19 response
Earlier this week, U.S. Senator Pat Toomey hosted a bipartisan meeting in York with federal, state, county and local officials, along with community leaders, small business owners and other stakeholders to discuss the federal response to the coronavirus. I appreciate the opportunity to have a candid and open conversation with our U.S. Senator on issues affecting our Commonwealth.
Human trafficking forum with Senator Kim Ward, U.S. Attorney Scott Brady
Representative Seth Grove and I partnered earlier this legislative session to address the heinous industry of human trafficking in this state. We worked on legislation, known as the Buyer Beware Act, to ensure those individuals who solicit services of victims of human trafficking feel the full weight of the law.
Two weeks ago, the York Dispatch covered the story of one of the two human traffickers in York County who received 39-144 years in state prison for coercing 10 women into prostitution. You can read this gut-wrenching story here.
This week, Senator Kim Ward of Westmoreland County hosted a human trafficking forum via Zoom. At her invitation, I was pleased to share an update on the Buyer Beware Act, which Representative Grove and I advanced to the governor’s desk earlier this year. Governor Wolf signed this bill into law as Act 1 of 2020.
We believe Act 1 of 2020 is a major step to ending the scourge of human trafficking in this state. Read more about this law here.
You can watch the forum hosted by Senator Kim Ward here. This link is to a Facebook Live event, however, you do not need to have a Facebook account to watch the event.
The forum included many stakeholders, including U.S. Attorney Scott Brady and Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebecca Silinksi.
Discussing small business assistance programs in Red Lion
The York County Economic Alliance, Red Lion Borough officials, York County Commissioner Ron Smith and I went door-to-door visiting small businesses in Red Lion earlier this week to share information on the YoCo Restart Fund.
More information can be found here.
Happy 90th Birthday, Betty Henry!
I had the great honor of presenting Ms. Betty Henry a congratulatory citation on her 90th birthday. Betty, and her daughter, Gail, were very gracious to invite me to join in the birthday celebration.
Betty was born in Wrightsville on August 23, 1930 and has 5 children, 11 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.
Happy Birthday, Betty!
York Fair CEO discusses secret agreement with Carlisle Events and how same consideration not afforded to local fairs, carnivals
The York Fair CEO Brian Blair joined KDKA Radio in Pittsburgh recently to discuss the secret arrangement between the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Carlisle Events (the entity that hosts the Carlisle car shows), and how this is unfair to local fairs and carnivals across York County, including the canceled 2020 York Fair.
You can listen to his interview here.
U.S. Department of Justice requesting info from Gov. Wolf, other governors on deaths in nursing homes
Earlier this week, the Department of Justice requested data and other information from the governors of Pennsylvania as well as New York, New Jersey and Michigan, related to the deaths in nursing homes.
According to the Department of Justice, these states “required nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients to their vulnerable populations, often without adequate testing.”
You can read their announcement here.
Discussing contact tracing with Gary Sutton – more to come next week…
Special thanks to Gary Sutton who had me on the Morning News earlier this week on 910 WSBA. We discussed an upcoming public hearing I will be chairing with the Senate Communications and Technology Committee next month on the issue of the forthcoming contact tracing app by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. You can listen to our interview here.
I will have more information about this important public hearing in my update next week. Stay tuned!
Additional unemployment payments coming soon
Pennsylvania will move forward with President Trump’s plan to provide an additional $300 per week in supplemental payments for many state residents who are collecting unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the Lost Wages Assistance grant program, payments will be made directly to eligible claimants retroactively from August 1.
The state applied to participate in the program recently, and the application was approved by the federal government this week. The program will require Pennsylvania to set up a new system to distribute the additional payments to claimants. More details on the timing of these payments will be available soon.
New mental health resources guide available
Pennsylvanians who are dealing with mental health challenges can find help through a new mental health resources guide. The guide offers information on treatment options, preventing suicide, helping a loved one, coping with grief and major life changes, stress management and more.
Additional sections offer specific advice and resources for service members and veterans, individuals dealing with substance abuse and victims of domestic violence.
Education loan repayment grants available for physicians serving underserved areas
Primary care practitioners serving medically underserved populations could be eligible for grants to repay educational loans as part of the Pennsylvania Primary Care Loan Repayment Program. The program provides an incentive for practitioners to serve communities where there is a shortage of health care options for residents.
Applications for the program will be accepted through September 30. More information about the program, including eligibility and application information, is available at the Department of Health’s website.
28th District Team celebrates National Dog Day
The 28th District and Capitol office team celebrated National Dog Day on August 26. According to Colleen Paige, who founded National Dog Day, the mission is to help galvanize the public to recognize the number of dogs that need to be rescued each year and acknowledge family dogs and dogs that work selflessly each day to save lives, keep us safe and bring comfort.
Upcoming PennDOT projects
PennDOT shared with me the upcoming maintenance project list for next week. You can view that below.