Senator Ryan Aument E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • General Assembly Moves to End COVID-19 Mitigation Orders Weeks After Voters Limit Governor’s Emergency Powers
  • Answer Senator Aument’s Election Integrity Survey Question
  • Instead of Tolling Bridges, Senator Unveils Alternative Plan to Reform & Invest in PA’s Multimodal Transportation System
  • Upcoming Career Fairs in Lancaster County
  • Funding Available for Broadband Deployment Projects
  • State Restrictions on Senior Community Centers Relaxed
  • New Law Updates CDL Licensing Requirements
  • Senior Food Box Program
  • Fundraising Option for First Responders, Veterans Groups and Nonprofits Approved by Senate
  • Senate Sends “Motorcycle Lemon Law” to House of Representatives

General Assembly Moves to End COVID-19 Mitigation Orders Weeks After Voters Limit Governor’s Emergency Powers

Voters approved two constitutional amendments in the May primary election to change the way the state responds to emergencies. Here’s what happened next:

First, the governor extended his COVID-19 disaster emergency again on May 19. However, thanks to the new amendments, this extension will only last up to 21 days, and he cannot renew it again. It can only be extended by the General Assembly going forward.

Second, in recognition of the fact that these amendments require the legislature to have a seat at the table in managing this and all future emergencies, the governor has finally agreed to provide us with the full details of his disaster declaration. This includes restrictions enacted, requirements relaxed, and federal funding and programs that could end when the state emergency declaration ends.

Finally, lawmakers are in the process of using this information to move towards ending the mitigation efforts and restrictions the Wolf Administration has imposed while ensuring that federal funding is not jeopardized, important waivers are not abruptly ended (for example, telemedicine), and that we can all get back to life as normal as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Governor Wolf has pledged to collaborate with us in good faith as we work through the re-balancing of power that the voters of Pennsylvania demanded when they approved the constitutional amendments. We welcome his cooperation and hope to see results in line with what we have seen from the bipartisan COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, which has been a great success.

Answer Senator Aument’s Election Integrity Survey Question

Background:

In both the 2020 General Election and the May 2021 Primary Election in Pennsylvania, there have been issues with mail-in ballots, including conflicting guidance from the Department of State, deadline discrepancies, mishandling of ballots, disparate treatment of voters in different counties, lack of security measures such as drop box surveillance and signature verification, vendor failures, and more that has resulted in voter confusion and a lack of confidence in our election system in this Commonwealth. 

More details about this issues can be found on the PA Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity & Reform’s website here or in a report entitled “A Comprehensive Review of PA’s Election Laws: How PA Can Guarantee Rights & Integrity in Our Election System” by the PA House State Government Committee here.

Survey Question:

Do you believe that the administrative and procedural issues that have occurred in the last 2 elections with mail-in ballots should be fixed?

  • Yes, the issues that occurred with mail-in ballots are significant enough to necessitate fixing them.
  • No, the issues that occurred with mail-in ballots were standard and do not need to be fixed.
  • Unsure – need more information.

Click here to submit your answer! 

Instead of Tolling Bridges, Senator Unveils Alternative Plan to Reform & Invest in PA’s Multimodal Transportation System

My colleague, Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35), Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, recently unveiled the DRIVE SMART Act, “Delivering Reforms and Investments for Vehicle Efficiency and Supporting Motor carriers, Airports, Rails and trails and Transit agencies.”  The omnibus plan would provide reforms and investments for the Commonwealth’s multimodal transportation system, an alternative to Governor Wolf’s plan to toll 9 bridges across the state.

More information about the comprehensive and multi-faceted plan AND a platform for the public to provide feedback on the DRIVE SMART Act is available here.

Finally, over the next couple of months, the Senate Transportation Committee will hold several hearings to collect feedback on the DRIVE SMART Act – more details on these hearings will be announced and displayed here. 

Upcoming Career Fairs in Lancaster County

The Lancaster Chamber, PA CareerLink Lancaster County, and local companies are partnering to host two events this month that connect businesses who are looking to fill positions and jobseekers who are hoping to fill them.

June 15: Pop Up (Pick Up) Job Fair

Visit one of the several locations across the county from 11 am – 2 pm OR 5 pm – 7 pm.

Locations to drop by:  Barnstormers Parking Lot (City); Susquehanna Valley Chamber (Columbia); Double Tree Resort (Willow Street); more details TBD.

June 16: In Person Job Fair

Drop in to Clipper Magazine Stadium from 12pm – 6pm to visit with over 30 employers from a diverse group of businesses – manufacturing, distribution, hospitality and more. No charge to attend.

For more information on both of these events, click here.

Funding Available for Broadband Deployment Projects

 

Projects that facilitate the deployment of high-speed broadband service infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas of Pennsylvania could be eligible for funding through the Unserved High-Speed Broadband Funding Program.

The program is open to nongovernmental entities with the technical, managerial and financial expertise to design, build and operate a high-speed broadband service infrastructure. Funding supports projects that can offer access to services that will enhance economic development, education, health care and emergency services.

Applications will be accepted until Sept. 24. Grants will be awarded by the Commonwealth Financing Authority. 

State Restrictions on Senior Community Centers Relaxed

State Department of Health COVID-19 restrictions for Pennsylvania Senior Community Centers have been lifted, except for mask requirements for unvaccinated individuals for indoor activities and certain outdoor activities.

The state guidance does not prevent centers, municipalities, local authorities or counties from implementing stricter mitigation efforts based on local circumstances.

Senior Community Centers provide meals and offer social activities, informative programs, creative arts, exercise, volunteer opportunities, community services and more. You can find a center near you here. 

New Law Updates CDL Licensing Requirements

Legislation approved by the General Assembly in November has taken effect extending the validity period of a commercial learner’s permit from 180 days to one year, giving vehicle operators more time to prepare for their skills test.

Making the permits valid longer also means fewer operators will need to extend their permit, which will help decrease customer traffic in driver license centers.

Act 131 of 2020 also updates requirements and restrictions for commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders, including reporting requirements for convictions and violations. One change disqualifies an individual from operating a commercial motor vehicle for life if they are convicted of using a commercial motor vehicle to commit certain forms of human trafficking. 

Senior Food Box Program

The Senior Food Box program helps older Pennsylvanians supplement their diets with nutritious food, such as milk, juice, cereal, pasta, dry beans, canned meat, poultry and more. Eligible participants include low-income individuals at least 60 years old.

You can find more information, applications and income guidelines here.

Fundraising Option for First Responders, Veterans Groups and Nonprofits Approved by Senate

Recognizing that the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to place a severe financial crisis on numerous volunteer and veterans organizations, the Senate recently approved legislation that will provide a crucial financial lifeline for those vital community organizations.

The measure would allow volunteer fire departments, veterans organizations and other nonprofits to conduct online small games of chance fundraisers and accept payment via mobile payment applications. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Licensees would be required to verify age and residency of those participating, and the ability to fundraise online would end May 1, 2022 or upon the termination of the COVID-19 emergency declaration, whichever is later.

Senate Sends “Motorcycle Lemon Law” to House of Representatives

The Senate recently approved legislation to establish a “motorcycle lemon law” similar to the consumer protections for car buyers provided by the Pennsylvania Automobile Lemon Law.

It requires manufacturers to repair significant defects occurring in the first year of ownership or 12,000 miles. Currently, motorcycle owners are left to pay out of pocket to repair potentially dangerous manufacturing defects or fix the problem themselves. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. 

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