In This Update:
Update on My Essential Family Caregivers Legislation
My Designated Essential Family Caregivers (EFCs) in Long-Term Care Facilities legislation received a bill number this week – Senate Bill 190. Currently, my bill is in the Aging and Youth Committee, which passed it unanimously last session. I will continue to provide updates as they occur on this important piece of legislation.
24th Senate District Survey
If you reside in Senate District 24, take my latest survey on reopening PA here.
Second COVID-19 Vaccine Dose
This week, I received the second dose of my COVID-19 vaccine. Thank you to all of our healthcare staff in PA who are helping our state get vaccinated.
Tour of the Steamfitters’ Training Center
This week, I had the opportunity to tour the Steamfitters’ Training Center. Thank you to all who made this happen. I learned a lot and had a great visit.
Joint Hearing on an Update on PASSHE
This week, I questioned PASSHE Chancellor Daniel Greenstein during a joint hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Education Committee to provide an update on PASSHE (PA State System of Higher Education). The General Assembly approved a bill last year that allows the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) to modernize its operations in the face of declining enrollment and new financial pressures. The Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Education Committee held a public hearing with PASSHE Chancellor Dan Greenstein this week to discuss changes to the system, including integrating several universities and leveraging their collective strengths to boost career readiness for system graduates.
PASSHE is expected to present its system redesign proposal in April of this year, to be followed by a public comment period and phased implementation set for fall of 2022. The changes are expected to include uniting several universities within geographic regions, while keeping all campuses open, retaining programs and accreditation for students, and expanding learning opportunities for students.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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/.
UPCOMING DEADLINE: Agriculture Secretary Seeks Proposals For $300,000 In Matching Grants To Boost Sales, Exports
Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding called for proposals from nonprofit marketing and promotion organizations for projects aimed at increasing sales, exports or consumer awareness of Pennsylvania agricultural products. The department will award $300,000 in matching funds to reimburse up to half of costs for projects with priority given to those that increase food security in Pennsylvania or boost COVID-19 recovery.
Qualified nonprofits may apply for grants through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development online application system.
The application period closes on Friday, February 19, 2021.
UPCOMING DEADLINE: 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.
Applications are due by 4 p.m. EST on Wednesday, February 17, 2021.
UPCOMING DEADLINE: 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.
The deadline to apply is February 16, 2021.
For more information visit: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.
COVID-19 Relief Bill Signed into Law
Last week, the Senate and the House of Representatives gave final approval to a bill that would provide financial relief for restaurants, schools, employers, and tenants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The $912 million package allocates $569.8 million for Rental and Utility Assistance and $197 million for education programs through the use of federal funding, as well as $145 million in state funds to support Pennsylvania’s struggling hospitality industry.
Much of the funding in the COVID-19 relief package is targeted to individuals, employers and institutions that have not benefited from previous pandemic support programs.
The bill, which drew bipartisan support, was signed into law as Act 1 of 2021 last week. Guidelines on how to receive funding for rental and utility assistance, education funding and grants for restaurants and hospitality businesses are expected to be available in the weeks ahead.
Hearing Explores Serious Shortcomings in PA Vaccine Rollout
The Wolf Administration’s slow and troubled roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine has raised many questions from Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee and the Senate Aging and Youth Committee held a public hearing last week to take a closer look at these issues and learn about the challenges in getting the vaccine to eligible Pennsylvanians who want to receive it.
The hearing covered a wide range of issues, but the struggles of long-term care facilities to vaccinate residents and staff was the most prominent area of discussion. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control data tracker, Pennsylvania ranks 41st in the percentage of received COVID-19 vaccines administered.
In response to many of the issues raised during the hearing, Governor Wolf recently announced the creation of a new COVID-19 Vaccine Joint Task Force to ensure more accurate and timely information sharing between the Executive and Legislative branches of government.
Constitutional Amendment Limiting Emergency Declarations to be Decided by Voters
Voters in the May 18 primary election will decide whether future emergency declarations should be limited to 21 days unless an extension is approved by the General Assembly. The question will appear on the ballot this spring after the Senate and the House of Representatives passed the proposed constitutional amendment in two consecutive legislative sessions.
The change would prevent the kind of situation we have seen during the COVID-19 emergency, in which the governor has used the emergency declaration to suspend laws, shut down businesses and spend money without the authorization of the General Assembly.
The bill would not impact a governor’s ability to respond quickly to emergencies, nor would it jeopardize federal emergency aid. It would only ensure that the governor and the General Assembly work together to respond to a crisis and ensure all Pennsylvanians are represented during an extended state of emergency.
The bill also provides for a constitutional amendment prohibiting the denial of equal rights based on race or ethnicity, bringing the Pennsylvania Constitution in line with the U.S. Constitution.
HuntFishPA Platform Aims to Make Licensing More Convenient
Hunters, anglers and boaters will have a new way to purchase licenses, report harvests and more with the launch of the new HuntFishPA licensing platform. Visitors to www.HuntFish.pa.gov can purchase hunting and fishing licenses, permits, boat renewals and more from any device at any time and benefit from 24/7 call center support and new instructional videos.
The new platform replaces the previous licensing system known as The Outdoor Shop. All profile, purchase and user information was transferred to the new system, so prior users should be able to log in using their existing credentials.
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