In This Update:
Senate Passes Interim State Budget and COVID-19 Relief Bills
As Pennsylvanians continue to deal with the damage caused by COVID-19 and Governor Wolf’s response to the crisis, the Senate began to set a course for recovery this week by passing an interim state budget and a $2.6 billion package of COVID-19 relief bills.
The $25.8 billion interim state budget funds all state agencies and departments for at least the next five months while lawmakers get a clearer picture of the state’s financial position. This includes how the state will respond to challenges going forward, how soon businesses reopen, and whether the state will receive any additional support from the federal government in the months ahead.
Although most agencies and departments are funded for five months, several line items are funded for the full year, including debt service and pension obligations, food support programs, and all levels of education from pre-kindergarten through college.
In addition to passing a short-term budget, lawmakers approved COVID-19 relief bills to distribute a portion of Pennsylvania’s federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding for critical needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding is included for nursing homes and other long-term living facilities, small businesses, first responders, early childhood education, services for individuals with an intellectual disability or autism, school districts, higher education, child care services, mortgage and rent assistance for affected workers, county programs and services, and much more.
I look forward to sharing more details about this funding in the weeks ahead.
Read my full, joint press release with Senator Scott Martin here.
Aument Hosts Zoom Roundtable Discussions with the Lancaster Chamber Consortiums as Part of ‘Restore & Reimagine PA’ Initiative
As part of my Restore & Reimagine PA initiative, I answered questions and gathered feedback from members of some of the Lancaster Chamber Consortiums this week specifically to discuss coronavirus-related issues.
For residents who were unable to watch the discussions live, recordings can be found here. While we covered a number of topics, some highlights included the state budget, options available to rein in the powers of the Governor, the Lancaster County plan to reopen, testing data, and more.
Residents can view a schedule of other upcoming outreach events as well as video / audio recordings of previous outreach events here.
Finally, as part of the Restore & Reimagine PA initiative, my team and I are in the process of collecting your feedback – your thoughts, your ideas, your challenges, and your solutions – to issues that you see and experience firsthand in your communities, schools, businesses, and families. There are three additional ways that you can submit your feedback to me if you are unable to participate in an outreach event:
I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
Reminder: Senator Aument’s Office is OPEN and Ready to Assist Constituents
Just a reminder, my office is open and ready to assist constituents in accordance with CDC guidelines! While we’ve received an unprecedented amount of contacts over the past 2 months, my team and I have been working diligently to assist you virtually and remotely.
Due to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry’s extreme backlog in processing UC claims, many residents of the 36th senatorial district resorted to contacting my office for assistance. As a result, my staff has assisted 244 constituents with UC inquiries in the past month alone!
Regardless of the circumstances throughout this pandemic, we are here to help. Visit www.senatoraument.com for more information or to submit requests, questions, and comments.
Message to the Class of 2020
To the Class of 2020: You all have worked so hard over the course of your academic careers to make honor roll or dean’s list, break school sporting event records, star in the musical production, earn a spot in a national honor society, or simply to graduate in one piece. This pandemic has not changed that. Your hard work has not and will not go unnoticed. Your accomplishments will still be celebrated and recognized like they deserve.
I have had the good fortune of meeting so many of you over the last number of years. Some of you I met for the first time on a tour of the State Capitol during elementary school. Others of you I have met during a visit to a cub scout, boy scout, or girl scout event. More recently, I have been fortunate to interact with during Democracy Day, Senator for a Day, or a Student Town Hall. I have been inspired by you. I encourage you to stay involved, stay engaged, and continue to demonstrate civil political discourse as you confront the great issues of your time. Keep up the great work class, of 2020, and congratulations on all of your remarkable achievements.
Has Your Polling Place Moved for Tuesday’s Election?
Because some polling places may be consolidated or relocated due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, it is important for all voters to double-check where they should go to vote before they head out to cast their ballots in the primary election on Tuesday.
Voters can find their polling place on the Department of State’s website by entering their county, city and street name. The department also offers recommendations and additional information for voters.
New Guidance Available on Outdoor Dining, Pro Sports
Restaurants in the green and yellow phase of reopening could add dine-in services in outdoor seating areas under new restaurant industry guidance issued this week. Restaurants in green-phase counties are permitted to offer dine-in services both indoors and outdoors now, so long as social distancing and sanitation measures are in place. Dining venues in yellow-phase counties can begin offering outdoor dine-in services on June 5.
A new order from the Department of Health also details not only the new dining options available, but also additional guidelines for other businesses in counties in the green phase of reopening, including barber shops, salons, gyms and other services.
In addition, new guidance could allow professional sports to resume in counties in the green or yellow phase of reopening if teams develop a COVID-19 safety plan. Spectators would be prohibited on the interior or exterior of the venue property.
Frequently asked questions about the Wolf Administration’s business guidelines are available here.
PUA System Will Now Send Paper Checks to Claimants
The Department of Labor and Industry recently uncovered cases of attempted fraud in which scammers tried to use the personal information of victims to file for benefits and route payments into their own bank accounts. In response to these cases, claimants in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) system will now receive benefits via paper checks delivered through the U.S. Postal Service instead of receiving payments by direct deposit.
Anyone who receives a paper check in the mail who did not file for PUA benefits should return the uncashed check to:
Department of Treasury Comptroller’s Office
More information on combatting unemployment fraud is available here.
Recently Expired Licenses Still Acceptable for Notary Identification
Pennsylvania driver’s licenses are often used as a form of identification for notaries who do not personally know a client. The Department of State recently clarified that any state driver’s license or photo identification that has expired since March 16 still qualifies for notary purposes.
PennDOT recently announced that the expiration date for all driver’s licenses and non-driver photo identification cards that expire between March 16 and June 30 has been extended until June 30.
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