Senator Mensch’s 2020 Year in Review

HARRISBURG – As this year winds down, it’s important to take a look back at everything that 2020 has brought, even in the light of a global pandemic. All of our lives have been transformed in countless ways, and the lessons we’ve learned over the past 8-10 months will certainly shape our communities for years to come. However, during this time, I am happy to know that my office has had the opportunity to help a great amount of individuals that needed it most during this time.

This year, my office received and assisted over 8,000 constituent requests. 1,400 of those were related to Labor and Industry and/ or unemployment compensation. We also received approximately 10,500 legislative inquiries.

As we take personal inventory of all that we have achieved, and where we need to grow, there is no doubt that the Senate of Pennsylvania will continue to work for you in 2021 and beyond. Looking back over the 2019-20 Legislative Session, there are countless accomplishments that should be noted.

Two pieces of legislation that I authored were signed into law during the 2019-2020 session. Senate Bill 595, now known as Act 52 of 2020, requires insurance coverage for MRI’s and Ultrasounds for women with dense breast tissue. Senate Bill 1076, now known as Act 104 of 2020, removed the sunset on the Pennsylvania Military Relief Assistance Program.

I also continued to work on a few more pieces of legislation during the 2019-2020 session, including the First-time Homebuyer Savings Accounts (Senate Bill 309), the Pennsylvania Clean Transportation Infrastructure Act (Senate Bill 596), the Older Adult Protective Services Act Re-Write (Senate Bill 819), Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (Senate Bill 890), and Designated Essential Family Caregivers in Long-term Care Facilities (Senate Bill 1279).

With this, I have introduced/ re-introduced the following legislation for the upcoming session:

  • Pennsylvania Clean Transportation Infrastructure Act
  • Older Adult Protective Services Act Re-write
  • Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities
  • Designated Essential Family Caregivers in Long-Term Care Facilities
  • Insurance Coverage for Prosthetics
  • First-time Homebuyers Savings Accounts
  • Jobs Initiative Fact
  • Dr. Frank Erdman Boston Memorial Highway
  • Liability Protections for School Entities and Child-Care Facilities
  • Risk-Eliminating Audit Performed by the Auditor General

Like the lives of all Pennsylvanians, the work of the Senate was upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, Senate Republicans shifted our agenda to mobilize a response aimed at saving lives and maintaining essential government services.

The Senate approved legislation to:

  • Provide immediate assistance to keep hospitals running and make more Personal Protective Equipment available to health care workers.
  • Voted to provide more accessible unemployment compensation for workers who lost hours or jobs due to the statewide shutdown of employers.
  • Enacted legislation allocating federal funding for county governments, community service providers, first responders and food banks that have been impacted by the virus.

Unfortunately, the governor enacted none of these measures.

At the end of May, the Senate approved a 5-month interim state budget to fund critical state services until the long-term impacts of Governor Wolf’s shutdown of the economy were fully known and more accurate fiscal projections could be made. A full-year of funding was provided for select line items, most notably for education and food security programs. In November, the Senate finalized the 2020-21 budget without increasing taxes, fees or debt.

Efforts to improve public safety include were also at the forefront of the 2019-2020 session, with new laws that provide security grants to faith-based institutions and nonprofit organizations, set significant penalties for the solicitation or advertisement of the sexual services of victims of human trafficking, and important policing reforms and criminal justice reforms.

Education changed when COVID-19 closed schools in 2020. The Senate responded by approving legislation setting standards ensuring students continue to learn during the emergency. Other new laws championed by Senate Republicans provided $60 million in school security grants, an increase in the amount of tax credits available for scholarship organizations under the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program, and the creation of the Public Higher Education Funding Commission to make college more accessible and affordable.

Senate Republicans enacted several health care initiatives that included better access to supplemental screenings for women at high risk for breast cancer and expanding access to medications for Stage IV, metastatic cancers.

Senate Republicans continued to work to target Pennsylvania’s opioid crisis, support military veterans and give emergency responders the help they need to keep communities safe. In response to the distrust that grew out of the 2020 general election, Senate and House Republican leaders established plans to restore confidence in the state’s election system and begin the process of making meaningful reforms.

For more information on Senator Mensch’s legislation, visit www.senatormensch.com.  State updates can also be found on Senator Mensch’s Facebook at facebook.com/PASenatorBobMensch/ or Twitter @SenatorMensch.

 

CONTACT: Madison Scarfaro mscarfaro@pasen.gov  (215) 541-2388