Senator Ryan Aument E-Newsletter

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In This Update:

  • Op-Ed: Vaccination Plan to Get Students Back to School, Parents Back to Work, Economy Back on Track
  • Budget Hearings Delve Into Wolf’s Spending and Tax Plans
  • Special Committee Set to Begin Bipartisan Election Review
  • Lawmakers Seek to Put the Brakes on New Bridge Tolling Plan
  • Emergency Rental Assistance Applications Available Now
  • Apply Now for the Hospitality Grant Program
  • Senate Returns to Session Next Week, Budget Hearings Continue
  • Discounted Fishing Licenses Available for Non-Resident Students
  • PA CareerLink® Lancaster County to Host Community Drive-Thru Events

Op-Ed: Vaccination Plan to Get Students Back to School, Parents Back to Work, Economy Back on Track

About a month ago, I was chosen to serve on a COVID-19 Vaccine Joint Task Force established to share information and feedback and to efficiently communicate time-sensitive news related to the vaccine rollout to members of the General Assembly.

Immediately following my appointment to the Task Force, we began work to develop a strategic plan, seeking to improve the efficiency of the provider network, bringing a greater degree of transparency and accountability to the vaccine rollout, boosting communications, updating the statewide distribution formula, and establishing metrics to align data with the strategic plan objectives.

The early work of the Task Force, while challenging, has been rewarding. The Governor and Secretary of Health have used the Task Force not only as a platform to receive feedback, but as a decision-making body as well. I believe we are turning a page here in Pennsylvania as we look forward to a vaccine supply that is increasing and will continue to increase; this, coupled with the steps we are taking to dramatically improve the efficiency and the effectiveness of vaccination distribution process is expected to yield tangible results for Pennsylvanians seeking the vaccine. 

Read the full op-ed here.

Budget Hearings Delve Into Wolf’s Spending and Tax Plans

The Senate Appropriations Committee began the formal process of reviewing Governor Wolf’s budget proposal this week, including exploring how the governor’s massive new spending plans and record-breaking tax increases would impact Pennsylvania communities, families and small employers.

Some of the key points discussed during the hearings this week include:

  • The 470,000 jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of higher taxes on economic growth, the $500 million difference in revenue estimates between the Administration and the Independent Fiscal Office, and the ways a natural gas development tax and a carbon tax could hurt the state’s economy. Key Points, March 8
  • The 500,000 acres of state land that could be used for natural gas development without surface disturbance, and the potential benefits of allowing broadband infrastructure on state game lands. Key Points, March 9
  • The massive increase in spending for human services programs, the need for greater efficiency with the Community HealthChoices Program, and the shared goal of moving able-bodied Medicaid recipients back into the workforce. Key Points, March 10
  • The need for upgrades to the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors (SURE) system, the use of risk-limiting audits, reimbursements for counties for voting machines, permitting delays, the lack of communication and engagement in the Administration’s decision to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), and the number of plant shutdowns and job losses that will result from the state’s participation in RGGI. Key Points, March 11

Special Committee Set to Begin Bipartisan Election Review

A newly created Senate panel will begin a comprehensive review of the 2020 General Election with its first hearing on Monday, March 15, beginning at 10 a.m. The hearing is scheduled to review best practices of election integrity and security from other states.

The Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform is anticipated to produce a report that will be presented to the General Assembly with recommendations to improve the administration and safety of elections in Pennsylvania.

State residents are encouraged to submit comments through the online form.

Lawmakers Seek to Put the Brakes on New Bridge Tolling Plan

PennDOT recently announced plans to add tolls to nine existing bridges on Pennsylvania’s interstate system. Legislation has been introduced in the Senate to put the brakes on this tolling plan and reform the state’s Public-Private Transportation Partnership (P3) process, which produced the tolling plan. 

The legislation would:

  • Increase transparency by requiring PennDOT to publish a detailed analysis prior to the P3 Board’s voting meeting.
  • Incorporate public input by creating a new 30-day public comment period prior to the P3 Board’s voting meeting.
  • Create a checks and balances on an obscure P3 Board by clarifying the P3 project with a user fee shall be deemed disapproved unless the General Assembly approves.
  • Void the PennDOT Pathways Major Bridge P3 Initiative and requires reconsideration by the P3 Board.

Several Senators gathered in Harrisburg for a news conference this week to announce the legislation and to voice support for voiding the statute that PennDOT is using to enact these new tolls.

Emergency Rental Assistance Applications Available Now

Renters struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic can apply now for financial assistance through a program authorized by the General Assembly last month. Applications and more information on the program are available from the Department of Human Services.

Funding for the program was released to counties by Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity on Tuesday.

Apply Now for the Hospitality Grant Program

The application period for Lancaster County’s COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP) is now open. This program, created by the passage of Act 1 of 2021, makes $6.1 million available for businesses to be administered through a partnership between the County of Lancaster and EDC Finance Corporation.

I was pleased to support the passage of Act 1 of 2021 just a few months ago, and I am even more pleased that the funding is reaching those in the hospitality industry so quickly. These grants are a lifeline to an industry that desperately needs it.

The application period will remain open until 5pm on March 26th, 2021. Full eligibility criteria, FAQs, and a “What Do I Need to Apply” document can be found at www.recoverylancaster.com/funding. Applicants with questions can email funding@recoverylancaster.com.

Senate Returns to Session Next Week, Budget Hearings Continue

The Senate will return to session on Monday. You can follow all committee hearings, meetings, floor debates and votes live at www.PASenateGOP.com.

In addition, the Senate Appropriations Committee will continue its review of Governor Wolf’s budget with hearings featuring the Department of Education and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education on Thursday.

Discounted Fishing Licenses Available for Non-Resident Students

Non-resident students attending in-state universities now qualify for a discounted fishing license from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. The price of a license is $22.97, which is the same price as an annual license for state residents and $30 less than the cost of an annual non-resident license.

Licenses are available through the HuntFishPA online licensing system. The opening day of trout season is April 3.

PA CareerLink® Lancaster County to Host Community Drive-Thru Events

Those in need of employment, training, or other services are welcome to join PA CareerLink® Lancaster County at their upcoming events to have conversations with PA CareerLink® team members from the comfort of their own vehicle. Attendees will park in designated spaces and then be greeted by a PA CareerLink® team member at their passenger side window. The team member will make recommendations, discuss PA CareerLink® Lancaster County services, and share other community resources. All attendees will receive an info booklet compiled of flyers promoting community services, training and hiring opportunities.

Residents can attend the Drive-Thru Events from 11am – 5pm at the following locations / dates:

Liberty Place – March 25th
313 W. Liberty Street, Lancaster, PA 17601
Snow date, April 1st

Ephrata Public Library – March 26th
550 S. Reading Road, Ephrata, PA 17522
Snow date, April 2nd

Columbia High School – March 27th
901 Ironville Pike, Columbia, PA, 17512
Snow date, April 3rd

For more information visit https://www.jobs4lancaster.com/ or call 717) 584-4932.

Finally, any businesses that would like to advertise in the info booklet can learn more here: https://conta.cc/2OCebhB

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