In This Update:
Senator Mensch Announces Legislation to Specifically Criminalize the Act of Upskirting
Yesterday I circulated a co-sponsorship memo on a piece of legislation that I am sponsoring that would further and explicitly criminalize the act of “upskirting” in Pennsylvania. The Senate Bill will mirror the House Bill that is being prime sponsored by State Representative Craig Staats (R-145) and State Representative Shelby Labs (R-143), who both represent portions of Bucks County.
Back in January of 2020, a former math teacher and soccer coach at Palisades High School in Bucks County was found to be taking ‘upskirt’ photos of students and then sharing them online. The teacher was charged with invasion of privacy and indecent exposure, and this is certainly the least of what he deserved.
We believe that Pennsylvania statute can more clearly punish acts like these, particularly when they are committed against minors and especially when they are committed by individuals in positions of authority. Specifically, our legislation will make this offense a third degree felony for a first offense and a second degree felony for subsequent offenses of invasion of privacy of a minor when committed by a person of authority, such as a teacher.
Senate Approves Constitutional Amendment Requiring a Legislative Vote on Extended Disaster Declarations
This week, the state Senate approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit the length of future emergency disaster declarations unless an extension is approved by the General Assembly, moving it one step closer to a voter referendum.
Under current law, a governor’s emergency declaration can last up to 90 days and be renewed by the governor indefinitely. Under Senate Bill 2, the emergency declaration would be limited to 21 days unless the General Assembly approved a longer duration. It also clarifies that the legislature is not required to present the resolution ending the declaration to the governor for his consideration.
Update on My Essential Family Caregivers Legislation
Please note that the video above mentions that the bill number is 1279. However, since we are in a new session, the bill number will be changed.
COVID-19 Vaccine Information
COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration and information is now available.
A guide about how to get the COVID-19 vaccine is now on the Department of Health website, which can be found here: https://www.pa.gov/guides/get-vaccinated/.
Berks County vaccine information can be found at https://www.doyourpartberks.com/covid-19-vaccine-information. To locate a COVID-19 vaccine provider and schedule your vaccination appointment, visit https://www.health.pa.gov/…/COVID-19-Vaccine-Providers…. If you have a question about the COVID-19 vaccines, you can call the PA Health Hotline at 1-877-724-3258.
Bucks County has posted COVID-19 vaccination pre-registration information on their website. Visit https://buckscounty.org/…/CoronavirusInfo/VaccineInfo for more information. For any questions regarding COVID-19 and vaccinations you can email COVID19@buckscounty.org or call 215-345-3318.
Montgomery County has posted COVID-19 vaccine FAQs on their website, along with COVID-19 vaccination registration. Visit https://www.montcopa.org/3660/COVID-19-Vaccine for more information. Any questions or concerns regarding the vaccine registration must be directed to the Montgomery County Office of Public Health at email@example.com or 610-278-3000.
Apply for Your FREE Agent Orange Medal
If you are a Vietnam vet suffering from one or more of the conditions on the presumption list from exposure to agent orange and have a VA rating, the Orange Heart Medal Foundation would be honored to send you an Orange Heart Medal at no charge to you. To learn more about the foundation and to apply, visit: http://www.orangeheartmedal.org/.
PA Department of Labor & Industry Grants
The PA Department of Labor & Industry announced the availability of $4.5 million in Digital Literacy and Workforce Development Grants (DLWDG) to support local programs across Pennsylvania that enhance foundational digital literacy skills for job seekers and help provide increased access to employment opportunities.
Impacted by Tropical Storm Isaias? SBA Can Help!
The Small Business Administration has announced that Pennsylvania businesses and residents affected by Tropical Storm Isaias on Aug. 4, 2020, can apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Disaster assistance is also available for private nonprofits.
For more information visit: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.
COVID-19 Relief Package Earns Senate Approval
The Senate took the first steps toward providing a new round of financial assistance to restaurants, schools, employers, and tenants impacted by the pandemic by passing a comprehensive $912 million COVID-19 relief bill this week.
The relief package dedicates federal funding for rental and utility assistance, as well as non-public schools, career and technical centers, Intermediate Units, charter schools for the deaf and blind, and approved private schools. Funding is also included to support the redesign of the State System of Higher Education.
In addition, the package allocates $145 million from the Workers’ Compensation Security Fund to the COVID-19 Response Restricted Account to provide county block grants to assist the hospitality industry, including restaurants, bars and hotels.
Legislation Advances to Enhance Penalties for Child Pornography
The Senate approved a bill this week that would crack down on individuals charged with possession of child pornography. The legislation would boost penalties in all cases of child pornography in which the child is under the age of 10 or prepubescent and provide sentencing enhancements for offenders who sexually abuse children who are known to them.
In addition, the bill would create a special task force to review all laws pertaining to child pornography and make recommendations to improve the investigation and prosecution of offenders.
The bill was previously sponsored by the late Senator Dave Arnold (R-48), who tragically passed away earlier this month.
New Online Filing Option Available for Property Tax and Rent Rebates
The state’s popular Property Tax Rent Rebate program provides rebates of up to $650 on rent or property taxes paid in the previous year by low-income seniors and individuals with disabilities. A new online filing tool will make it easier to file applications for the program.
The new myPATH system allows applicants to complete applications online, track the status of their claim and benefit from faster processing and direct deposit options. Rebates will be distributed beginning July 1.
Applicants can also still file by mail. I encourage community residents to contact my district office if they need additional information on filing Property Tax Rent Rebate claims.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program Reopens
The Department of Labor and Industry reopened the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) on Sunday. The program provides additional benefit weeks to qualified individuals who have exhausted their regular Unemployment Compensation benefits.
Claimants can receive an additional 11 weeks due to the extension of the program. More details are available here.
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