In This Update:
Senate Passes Package of Bills to Support Veterans, Military Families
Throughout our nation’s history, Pennsylvania’s military veterans and their families have been called on to make extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of a grateful nation. I supported a package of bills last week designed to boost support for veterans and military families and honor their incredible efforts to protect their fellow citizens.
The package includes bills that would permanently establish the Military Family Relief Assistance Program in state law; update the Veterans’ Preference Law to ensure veterans receive proper credit for their skills and experience; create Veterans Courts to provide mentorship and treatment for underlying problems; help more veterans qualify for prescription drug assistance; and ensure the POW/MIA flag is flown on any ground or building owned by the Commonwealth and at all roadside rest stops and welcome centers operated by PennDOT, as well as PA Turnpike service plazas.
All of the bills were sent to the governor’s desk to be signed into law in advance of Veterans Day on November 11.
Senator Aument’s Legislative Priorities: Government Reform
If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that government needs to work better, period. The fumbled response to the pandemic has truly served to highlight the inefficiencies, lack of transparency and accountability, overregulation, and breakdowns within our system of government here in Pennsylvania. Moving forward, I want to reform the way our state government works by:
Read my “Restore, Rebuild, & Reimagine PA” report here to learn more about the specific proposals I intend to support to achieve these goals.
Additional Funding Approved to Help Schools Meet Health and Safety Needs
Local schools will be able to apply soon for additional grant funding to protect the health and safety of students, teachers and school employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants were approved as part of the $200 million COVID-19 Disaster Emergency School Health and Safety Grant program created by lawmakers in May as part of Act 30 of 2020.
Eligible uses of the funding include:
The grant program is expected to open no later than Monday, November 2. Grant applications can be submitted on the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s Egrants website.
Senate Votes to Protect Insurance Coverage for Mental Health Issues, Substance Use Disorder
Millions of Pennsylvanians struggle with mental health issues and substance use disorder, and many state residents report challenges in receiving the care they need. The Senate approved two bills last week to ensure mental health and substance use disorder receive the same level of insurance coverage as other health issues.
The bills will strengthen enforcement of a federal law that mandates equal access to care and coverage for these health issues. House Bill 1696 and House Bill 1439 would require insurers to annually attest the steps they have taken to comply with this law.
Department of Labor & Industry: Beware of Unemployment Compensation Scams
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor Industry is reminding residents again to be aware of potential unemployment compensation (UC) scams. State departments across the country, including Pennsylvania’s, have encountered an unprecedented amount of fraudulent activity related to UC. These scams can take many forms, from filing false claims to obtaining sensitive personal information about legitimate claimants and using that information to redirect UC funds into fraudulent accounts.
Key reminders from the Department for Pennsylvania residents:
More information about UC fraud, reporting UC fraud, and how to protect yourself from it can be found here.
Applications for Community Violence Prevention Grants Due November 10
Local municipalities, counties, colleges and community groups are encouraged to apply for grants to boost community safety and reduce the risk of violence. Applications for the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s Community Violence Prevention/Reduction Initiative must be completed and returned by November 10.
The program was created by lawmakers two years ago as part of a broad package of reforms to make our schools and communities safer. Eligible uses for the grants include mentoring services and other intervention services for at-risk children and families; promoting communication between school entities and law enforcement; linking the community with local trauma support and behavioral health systems; and other programs designed to reduce community violence.
Energy Efficiency Grants Available for Farmers, Small Businesses
Farmers and other small business owners can apply now for grants to support energy efficiency and pollution prevention projects. Applications for the Small Business Advantage Grant program are available now, and grants will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis through April 12, 2021.
The program covers up to 50 percent of the project costs up to $7,000. Grants are available to small businesses with 100 or fewer full-time employees who undertake projects that would save the business 25 percent ($500 minimum) on energy costs annually.
PA CareerLink Lancaster County Information for Jobseekers
For those Lancaster County residents looking for meaningful employment, PA CareerLink Lancaster County is here to help with a number of resources to make finding a job easier:
Visit https://www.jobs4lancaster.com/ for more information.