In This Update:
Disagreements & Collaboration Result in Better Public Policy
In my most recent op-ed, I urged Pennsylvanians and elected officials to be understanding and compassionate during a time when disagreements are inevitable, but not inherently bad, as they present an opportunity to reevaluate assumptions and improve ideas:
“Make no mistake, I will surely disagree with Governor Wolf on certain issues. But disagreeing with ideas doesn’t inherently make someone partisan, and as elected officials charged with serving, protecting, and representing our constituents, we should be willing to have our assumptions challenged. In fact, I firmly believe the Governor has been moved to make some small changes to his shutdown orders precisely because of the concerns and opposition that have been expressed by constituents and their legislators all across our Commonwealth. And I will continue to carry those voices to the Governor, whether by introducing legislation, by votes cast, or by public statements. Indeed, I would submit that I am solemnly obligated to do so on behalf of those I have been elected to represent.
“But we should, especially during dark times like this, be understanding of one another. That doesn’t mean we have to agree. But having compassion, showing empathy, and loving one another during this difficult time must transcend political parties. So please take time to understand those who don’t share your opinions, and love one another as we all confront this challenge together.”
The full text for this op-ed can be viewed here.
PA Senate Response to COVID-19: A Round-up
The COVID-19 public health emergency has presented Pennsylvania with unprecedented medical and economic challenges, claiming more than 2,300 lives and upending millions more. The Pennsylvania Senate has been meeting via teleconference technology to provide the tools to protect public health, deliver a lifeline to those forced out of work, and complete the urgent task of safely reopening the commonwealth.
Some of the key measures approved by the Senate:
Our work on this emergency won’t end until all Pennsylvanians can work and move about freely. You can follow our efforts during Senate session here and committee activity here. I will keep you informed of additional legislative action in these email updates.
Stay-At-Home Order Lifted for 24 PA Counties Effective May 8
Although Governor Wolf’s stay-at-home order for COVID-19 currently remains in effect for all counties in Pennsylvania, 24 counties will see these restrictions lifted beginning on May 8. Counties in northwest and northcentral Pennsylvania will move to the yellow phase of reopening, which allows businesses with in-person operations to open under strict health guidelines and business safety orders.
Counties moving to the yellow phase include: Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Venango, and Warren.
More information about current plans to reopen Pennsylvania is outlined here.
While the governor’s action is a small step in the right direction, I believe employers and small businesses in more counties could continue to operate safely with the proper guidance of the Centers for Disease Control. I will continue to fight to see more counties and industries opened safely as soon as possible.
Senate Hearings Scheduled This Week to Examine COVID-19 Response
A series of four hearings is scheduled this week to examine various aspects of the Wolf Administration’s response to COVID-19. Committee members will question administration officials directly via remote technology, and the hearings will be streamed live at www.pasenategop.com.
Video and details from the hearings will be available here.
Important Update for UC Applicants Who Have Not Received PINs
Many workers who are trying to file for unemployment benefits have reported long delays in receiving a PIN. The Office of Unemployment Compensation is advising claimants that if they do not receive a PIN within three weeks, they should complete a PIN Reset Request online.
Once applicants receive their PIN, they can file for all missed weeks dating back to the first missed week of work. More information on the Unemployment Compensation system is available here.
Expiration Dates Extended for PennDOT Driver Licenses, ID Cards and Learner’s Permits
PennDOT announced last week that Pennsylvanians who have an expiring driver license, photo identification card or learner’s permit will have more time to renew them. Any of these items scheduled to expire from March 16, 2020 through May 31, 2020, are now extended through June 30, 2020.
PennDOT’s Driver License Centers and Photo License Centers remain closed due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. However, many services can still be completed online.
Farmers Markets Prepared to Safely Open Amid COVID-19
Farmers markets, like grocery stores, offer life-sustaining food and essentials and have been provided guidance from the Department of Agriculture on ways to safely operate and minimize risks during the COVID-19 public health crisis.
The guidance also offers farms the opportunity to open an on-farm stand to sell raw produce, eggs, or shelf stable packaged foods such as jams, jellies, or baked goods without additional food safety licenses. More information about Pennsylvania’s farm markets is available at pafarm.com.
PennDOT Construction Projects Resume
As part of the governor’s announcement that construction projects could resume in Pennsylvania on May 1, PennDOT highway and bridge projects will also be allowed to continue with new safety precautions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Additional details about PennDOT construction projects are available at PennDOT.gov.
Limited Opening of State Park and Forest Facilities Scheduled
As the warmer spring weather sends more Pennsylvanians looking for safe recreation opportunities, a limited number of state park and forest facilities are scheduled to reopen in the days and weeks ahead.
The reopenings include at least one restroom in day-use areas in state parks, forests and marinas effective May 8; all nine marinas in state parks effective May 8 unless otherwise designated; and all three public golf courses in the system. State park facilities in counties in the yellow phase of reopening will also be open to the public beginning on May 15. More