In This Update:
Senator Mensch Recognizes Local Eagle Scout Evan Romano for Eagle Court of Honor Ceremony
I recently recognized a local Eagle Scout for his Eagle Court of Honor Ceremony. Evan Romano, of Collegeville, is a member of Troop 105 in Schwenksville, PA.
Evan’s Eagle Scout Ceremony took place on Saturday, September 26. He has served as the Troop’s bugler, was a Patrol Leader for two years, and is currently an Assistant Senior Patrol Leader.
Read more about Evan and his great accomplishments here.
Mental Health Resources Available to Pennsylvanians
This week, I met with Dr. Dale Adair, Office of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services Chief Medical Officer/ Chief Psychiatrist and Kristen Houser, Deputy Secretary of the OMHSAS, to discuss what mental health resources are available to those in Pennsylvania.
Mental Health Resources can be found here: https://www.pa.gov/guides/mental-health/
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) has launched a statewide Support & Referral Helpline. It’s staffed by skilled and compassionate caseworkers who will be available 24/7 to counsel Pennsylvanians struggling with anxiety and other challenging emotions due to the COVID-19 emergency and refer them to community-based resources that can further help to meet individual needs.
Call is 1-855-284-2494. For TTY, dial 724-631-5600.
Two Farms Inc., Planning to Close Route 29 in Collegeville
Two Farms Inc., is planning to close Route 29 (First Avenue) in Collegeville Borough, Montgomery County, on Friday, October 30, through Saturday, November 14, for roadway realignment, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced today.
The work locations are:
Local access will be maintained up to the construction zone. Motorists are advised to allow extra time when traveling near the work areas because backups and delays will occur. The schedule is weather dependent.
Two Farms Inc., will complete this project under a PennDOT Highway Occupancy Permit. For a complete list of construction projects impacting state-owned highways in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, visit our District 6 Traffic Bulletin at www.penndot.gov/District6TrafficBulletin
My Essential Family Caregivers Legislation
My Senate Bill 1279, also known as ‘Essential Family Caregivers,’ would require long-term care facilities to designate at least one essential family caregiver per resident that would be permitted to visit and care for a loved one during a disaster emergency. Many Pennsylvania families faced COVID-19 restrictions that prevented them from visiting loved ones for months – even when all safety protocols could have been following.
This bill represents the best effort to allow families to see their loved ones, while still allowing facilities the flexibility to manage any potential outbreaks.
Read more here.
Senate Passes Package of Bills to Support Veterans, Military Families
Throughout our nation’s history, Pennsylvania’s military veterans and their families have been called on to make extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of a grateful nation. I supported a package of bills last week designed to boost support for veterans and military families and honor their incredible efforts to protect their fellow citizens.
The package includes bills that would permanently establish the Military Family Relief Assistance Program in state law; update the Veterans’ Preference Law to ensure veterans receive proper credit for their skills and experience; create Veterans Courts to provide mentorship and treatment for underlying problems; help more veterans qualify for prescription drug assistance; and ensure the POW/MIA flag is flown on any ground or building owned by the Commonwealth and at all roadside rest stops and welcome centers operated by PennDOT, as well as PA Turnpike service plazas.
All of the bills were sent to the governor’s desk to be signed into law in advance of Veterans Day on November 11.
Additional Funding Approved to Help Schools Meet Health and Safety Needs
Local schools will be able to apply soon for additional grant funding to protect the health and safety of students, teachers and school employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants were approved as part of the $200 million COVID-19 Disaster Emergency School Health and Safety Grant program created by lawmakers in May as part of Act 30 of 2020.
Eligible uses of the funding include:
The grant program is expected to open no later than Monday, November 2. Grant applications can be submitted on the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s Egrants website.
Senate Votes to Protect Insurance Coverage for Mental Health Issues, Substance Use Disorder
Millions of Pennsylvanians struggle with mental health issues and substance use disorder, and many state residents report challenges in receiving the care they need. The Senate approved two bills last week to ensure mental health and substance use disorder receive the same level of insurance coverage as other health issues.
The bills will strengthen enforcement of a federal law that mandates equal access to care and coverage for these health issues. House Bill 1696 and House Bill 1439 would require insurers to annually attest the steps they have taken to comply with this law.
Applications for Community Violence Prevention Grants Due November 10
Local municipalities, counties, colleges and community groups are encouraged to apply for grants to boost community safety and reduce the risk of violence. Applications for the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s Community Violence Prevention/Reduction Initiative must be completed and returned by November 10.
The program was created by lawmakers two years ago as part of a broad package of reforms to make our schools and communities safer. Eligible uses for the grants include mentoring services and other intervention services for at-risk children and families; promoting communication between school entities and law enforcement; linking the community with local trauma support and behavioral health systems; and other programs designed to reduce community violence.
Energy Efficiency Grants Available for Farmers, Small Businesses
Farmers and other small business owners can apply now for grants to support energy efficiency and pollution prevention projects. Applications for the Small Business Advantage Grant program are available now, and grants will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis through April 12, 2021.
The program covers up to 50 percent of the project costs up to $7,000. Grants are available to small businesses with 100 or fewer full-time employees who undertake projects that would save the business 25 percent ($500 minimum) on energy costs annually.
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