In This Update:
Senator Mensch Announces 2021-2022 Committee Assignments
I am honored to have been appointed to serve on several key committees for the 2021-2022 legislative session. There is a significant amount of work that each committee puts in to ensure that important legislation is produced. I am excited to work with my colleagues to examine, amend, and improve the bills that we receive, and continue to work together to bring the Commonwealth back to what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. This legislative session will be a challenging one, but likely one of the most important that we’ve had.
I will be serving as Vice Chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee. In addition, I was again appointed to the vital Senate Appropriations Committee. I am also a member of four other committees: Communications and Technology; Community, Economic, and Recreational Development; and Labor and Industry, and will continue to chair the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC).
Read more here.
24th Senate District Survey
If you reside in Senate District 24, take my latest survey on reopening PA here.
Disability Friendly Community Meeting
Last week, I had the opportunity to join the Disability Friendly Community meeting to discuss what is going on locally and statewide, as well as about some of my legislation. The Disability Friendly Community in the Lehigh Valley (DFC) is comprised of individual and organization representative members, each committed to a common vision for building on the rich array of resources already present to improve the disability-friendliness of the Lehigh Valley region of eastern Pennsylvania.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the ADA and push the bar higher, the Disability Friendly Community of the Lehigh Valley is promoting the idea that people with disabilities belong. Sign their Affirmation of Belonging here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdhmRnGU67Dk2usDi3CbiIy7MTyHdplhgPhvSBkStw5t7CxgA/viewform.
Legislative Budget and Finance Committee Meeting
This week, the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee met to consider the election of LBFC officers. I was proud to again be named chairman. We also considered the following: A Study of the Adequacy of Fees Charged for Pennsylvania’s Instant Check System; An Evaluation of Department of Health Grants Funded Through the Governor Robert P. Casey Memorial Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Trust Fund; and A Study in Response to House Resolution 515 (2019): Community Mental Health Services).
For more information on the reports, visit: http://lbfc.legis.state.pa.us/Reports.cfm?DoSearch=True&ShortDescription=&CategoryID=&ReleaseMonth=2&ReleaseYear=2021&FullText
Honoring the Life of Former Senator Stewart Greenleaf
This week, I offered remarks honoring the life and service of former Senator Stewart Greenleaf, who passed away earlier this month. Pennsylvania lost a great legislator. Stewart Greenleaf was ethical and sincere. Although he had already retired, he will be missed.
The Mensch Report: Discussing the Senate Communications & Technology Committee
On this edition of the Mensch Report, I was happy to sit down with Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill to discuss her role as chair of the Senate Communications & Technology Committee, which I am also a member of.
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.
Don’t forget to check whether or not you need to file a decennial filing or decennial report!
All domestic and foreign business corporations, non-profit corporations, limited liability companies, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships that are not also limited partnerships, business trusts, as well as insignias and marks used with articles and supplies that have not made a new or amended filing with the Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations (Bureau) from January 1, 2012 thru December 31, 2021, must file a report that they continue to exist.
Learn more here.
Wolf Administration Announces Plan to Add Tolls to Nine Existing PA Bridges
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) unveiled a proposal last week to toll nine existing bridges on the Interstate System. The plan raised serious concerns since it was done unilaterally by the Wolf Administration without any sense of transparency or accountability, and without the input or authorization of the General Assembly.
Eight of the nine bridges are in Senate Districts represented by Republicans. The tolling proposal would impact the following bridges:
Imposing these bridge tolls will negatively impact the people who use those highways as part of their daily commute — just as surely as if we would impose any of the other taxes that the governor wants to levy as part of his budget this year. Legislation will be proposed soon to reform the statute that PennDOT is utilizing to push this plan forward and prevent new tolling without proper transparency and oversight.
Lawmakers Authorize Use of PA National Guard to Distribute COVID-19 Vaccine
The Senate voted recently to authorize the use of the Pennsylvania National Guard to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine. The bill would allow the National Guard to operate under the guidance of the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Human Services to help collect, secure and transport doses of the vaccine.
In addition, National Guard members who have the necessary training would be permitted to administer the vaccine to Pennsylvanians who want to receive it. The proposal could help improve Pennsylvania’s troubled roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine. The state currently ranks 46th in the nation in terms of the percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered.
Senate Approves Bill to Generate More Private Donations to Support Veterans
Pennsylvanians could donate more money to help veterans under a bill the Senate approved on Wednesday. The legislation would increase the donation amounts to the Veterans’ Trust Fund when Pennsylvanians renew a driver’s license, ID card or vehicle registration.
The bill would increase the donation amount from $3 to $5, or from $6 to $10 when applying for a two-year vehicle registration. All donations support grants to county directors of veterans’ affairs, veterans’ service organizations and other charitable organizations that provide assistance, shelter and living necessities to veterans and their families.
Legislation Would Create Medals of Commendation for Firefighters, Law Enforcement, EMS
The Senate passed legislation this week that would create a new way to honor members of law enforcement, firefighters, and EMS personnel who demonstrate uncommon heroism in the line of duty. The bill would establish special medals of commendation to be awarded to members of these organizations who are injured or killed in the line of duty, or who demonstrate exceptional gallantry, heroism and bravery in the face of life-threatening circumstances.
The color of each medal – the Star of Valor, Heart and Medal of Ultimate Sacrifice – would coordinate with the respective program: blue for law enforcement, red for firefighters, and white for EMS personnel.
Senate Passes Bill to Boost Farmland Preservation
Pennsylvania’s farmland preservation efforts could take a critical step forward under legislation approved by the Senate on Tuesday. The bill would help generate new funding for the program without placing additional burdens on taxpayers.
The legislation dedicates a portion of existing farmland preservation funding to private land trusts – groups that take stewardship over a property with the permission of the landowner. Land trusts would be required to provide matching funds, which would make more resources available to preserve farms.
Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation Claimants Must File by March 12
The Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation program provides an additional $100 in weekly benefits for claimants who earned at least $5,000 in net income from self-employment. Claimants must submit acceptable documentation by March 12 to receive the extra benefits. The additional benefit applies from January 2 through March 13.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claimants are not eligible for the program. Details on the program, applicable tax years and documentation are available here.
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