In This Update:
Your Vote Matters 2020: Voting Resource Page with Everything You Need to Know
There is still time for Pennsylvanians to register to vote before the November 3 general election. State residents can register online or return a completed voter registration form to their county voter registration office by this Monday, October 19, in order to be eligible to cast their ballot in this year’s election.
Pennsylvania voters will have the option to vote in person or by mail this year. To vote by mail, you must apply online by 5 p.m. on October 27 to receive a mail-in ballot.
Additional details on completing mail-in ballots are available on the “Your Vote Matters” resource page. This new webpage also includes updates on voting resources, mail-in voting, polling place locations, key election dates and other critical election information to make sure your voice is heard at the polls in November.
Committee Explores Ways to Streamline State Government
It is critical for lawmakers to continue to explore ways to streamline state government, reduce costs to taxpayers and ensure public dollars are used wisely and efficiently. The Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee held a public hearing last week to review ideas to improve the delivery of government services and the management of government programs by consolidating state agencies.
The hearing included testimony from lawmakers as well as experts in business, industry, government and economic development. The conversation centered on legislation that would consolidate the functions of the Departments of State, Labor & Industry, and Community & Economic Development in order to reduce administrative costs and eliminate redundancies.
Senator Aument’s Legislative Priorities: Building Strong Families & Vibrant Communities
I’ve always said that strong families are the foundation of vibrant communities. But a thriving community is so much more than just a network of strong families – successful schools, access to necessities such as childcare, family and medical leave, municipal services, broadband, and high-quality, high-paying jobs are all necessary ingredients for a thriving community. Pennsylvania communities from all corners of the Commonwealth have suffered immeasurable harm due to COVID-19. Rebuilding and restoring those communities is critical to reimagining a stronger Pennsylvania. I intend to foster the restoration of thriving families and communities throughout the Commonwealth by:
Read my “Restore, Rebuild, & Reimagine PA” report here to learn more about the specific proposals I intend to support to achieve these goals.
Medicare Open Enrollment Runs Now Through December 7
The annual open enrollment period for Medicare allows new beneficiaries to sign up for prescription drug coverage and health plans, and it offers current beneficiaries a chance to review and change coverage to meet their individual health care needs. The open enrollment period is open now through December 7.
Medicare-eligible individuals can receive free, objective advice and information on coverage options through the APPRISE Program by calling the APPRISE Helpline at 1-800-783-7067 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Counselors are available to provide information on eligibility, enrollment, prescription benefits, financial assistance and more.
CDL and Commercial Learner’s Permits Extended Through November 29
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recently extended the expiration dates for commercial driver licenses (CDL), commercial learner’s permits and hazardous materials endorsements through November 29. Previous deadlines that were extended for non-commercial driver licenses, photo ID cards and camera cards during the COVID-19 pandemic expired on August 31.
A list of driver license and photo licenses centers is available at www.dmv.pa.gov.
Federal Funding Available for Volunteer Fire Companies
Volunteer fire departments can apply now for a new round of federal funding designed to assist with the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other related supplies. Applications for the second round of grants from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant – COVID-19 Supplemental Program must be submitted by November 13 at 5 p.m.
Preference will be given to applicants requesting reimbursement or immediate use of PPE. The program is also open to combination career/volunteer fire companies.
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month
October is designated as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month in order to draw attention to the importance of staying secure online and understanding the dangers of cyberthreats. The U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) offers educational materials and tips to help everyone remain vigilant of potential threats.
CISA resources include guidance on telework, cybersecurity best practices, election security, mitigating risks to infrastructure and much more. The Senate approved legislation earlier this month that would strengthen, secure and consolidate state government IT systems while saving taxpayer dollars, and a bill approved by the Senate in September would help minimize the damage caused by data breaches.
PHEAA Schedules Informational Financial Aid Events
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) has scheduled a series of free informational webinars in October and November for students and families to learn more about financial planning and aid options for students.
The hour-long webinars cover two main subject areas: understanding financial aid offers, and covering the gap in aid. The full list of available webinars is available here under the PA Forward Student Loan heading.
Aument to Host Telephone Town Hall on October 19
I will answer questions and listen to feedback from community residents during a live telephone town hall on Monday, October 19 from 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Community residents can register to participate in the tele-town hall by visiting www.senatoraument.com/tele-town-hall. This link can also be used for audio streaming, which will be available immediately prior to the event. Additionally, a link to the event page is available on my website at www.senatoraument.com.
The tele-town hall offers a convenient format that encourages community residents to participate in a discussion while practicing social distancing to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Participants can ask questions or simply remain on the line to listen to the discussion.
I will also ask participants to respond to a few poll questions throughout the telephone town hall on issues such as recreational marijuana, mail-in ballots, and the current restrictions on restaurants and bars. Your feedback is important to me, and as such, I look forward to hearing from you live next Monday!
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Weekly Filing COVID-19 Question Notice
Please be aware that the next time Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claimants log in to file weekly PUA claims, they will be asked to select a reason for their unemployment for every individual week from the first week of PUA benefits claimed through early June.
The question will be the same as the one claimants have been required to answer each week as part of the weekly filing process. Individuals must choose their reason for unemployment from a list of reasons from the CARES Act, and they will not be able to proceed with claiming weekly benefits for the most recent week until all of the past certifications are complete.
Those who did not open claims until mid-June have already answered this question for each week and will not be asked to re-certify. This recertification process is a requirement from the U.S. Department of Labor.