Senator Aument’s COVID-19 Response
May 22nd, 2020: In lieu of his annual Senator for a Day event, which was cancelled due to the shutdown, Senator Aument hosted a Zoom Virtual Town Hall with students from local schools in which he answered questions and listened to their perspective on restoring, rebuilding, and reimagining a stronger Pennsylvania as part of his Restore & Reimagine PA initiative.
May 15th, 2020: Senator Aument, along with other Lancaster County elected officials, continue to advance the Commissioners’ comprehensive plan to safely reopen the county.
May 14th, 2020: Senator Aument, along with other Lancaster County elected officials, responded to each of the 34 questions that the LNP Editorial Board posed to them after revealing their plan to safely reopen the county.
May 14th, 2020: Senator Aument co-sponsored a bill authored by Senator Dave Arnold aimed at ensuring public safety during a declaration of emergency, if the need arises to release state prison inmates.
May 13th, 2020: Senator Aument voted in favor of a four-bill package that would give county governments more control over reopening their local economies and provide waivers from the Governor’s closure order for a variety of businesses — if they can operate in a manner that protects employees and customers.
May 13th, 2020: Senator Aument offered remarks on the Senate floor in favor of Senate Bill 327 and the Lancaster County plan to safely reopen.
May 12th, 2020: Senator Aument voted in favor of legislation that would provide vital funding to nursing homes, personal care facilities and other senior citizens’ programs impacted by COVID-19 and allow them to continue providing essential services for the state’s most vulnerable population.
May 11th, 2020: Senator Aument participated in a Senate Education Committee hearing on the continuity of education during the COVID-19 pandemic. He asked panelists questions about partnerships between cyber charter schools and traditional public schools to provide expertise on online learning.
May 11th, 2020: Senator Aument, along with other military veteran lawmakers Rep. Frank Ryan (R-Lebanon), Sen. Doug Mastriano (Adams/Cumberland/Franklin/York), Reps. Tim O’Neal (R-Washington), Greg Rothman (R-Cumberland) and Andrew Lewis (R-Dauphin) issued a joint press release pushing back against the Governor labeling them as “cowards” in the fight against the coronavirus.
May 10th, 2020: Senator Aument, along with elected officials from all levels of government representing Lancaster County, joined together to unveil a comprehensive plan to safely begin reopening the county in a data-informed manner in a letter sent to Governor Wolf. Senator Aument later issued a press release in which he outlined a detailed roadmap explaining how elected officials intend to both protect public health and restart the local economy in a safe, data-informed manner.
May 8th, 2020: In an effort to assist businesses, health systems, and consumers to deploy innovative technological tools and resources that will help them to more effectively cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Aument circulated a co-sponsorship memo announcing his intent to introduce legislation that establishes the basic rules for the operation of Personal Delivery Devices in the Commonwealth.
May 7th, 2020: Senator Aument hosted a live telephone town hall event to answer questions and gather feedback from community residents specifically related to coronavirus issues.
May 6th, 2020: Senator Aument launched the “Restore & Reimagine PA” initiative to collect feedback from constituents in an effort to create a legislative agenda to restore, rebuild, and reimagine a stronger Pennsylvania together.
May 6th, 2020: Senator Aument participated in a public hearing of the Senate Law & Justice Committee to consider Liquor Control Board issues and the impacts on small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Aument asked the panelists questions about disparities in the market place created by the shutdown order, as well as the timeline for when the LCB began planning for the shutdown.
May 5th, 2020: Senator Aument participated in a joint public hearing of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee and Senate Communications and Technology Committee held a joint hearing to examine the problems with the Unemployment Compensation (UC) system that have created significant delays in assistance and extreme frustrations from claimants.
May 4th, 2020: Senator Aument issued a public statement entitled, “Disagreements & Collaboration Result in Better Public Policy” in which he 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.
May 1st, 2020: Senator Aument expressed deep frustrations that no restrictions have been lifted for local employers and workers who can safely operate in counties that are still in the red phase.
April 30th, 2020: Senator Aument and Senator Yudichak introduced legislation to change the Governor’s emergency declaration powers to promote greater collaboration and transparency.
April 29th, 2020: Senator Aument voted to pass legislation that would:
- Require the state to notify local first responders of COVID-19 cases in their communities. Senate Bill 1110 would require the Department of Health or local health authority to release to 911 centers, police, fire, coroners and EMS personnel an individual’s communicable disease status when the disease is the subject of an emergency disaster proclamation by the Governor.
- Extend the amount of time employees who work with children have to recertify background checks until December 31, as many are unable to complete the necessary FBI criminal background checks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. House Bill 360 would also create different criteria for initial applicants to work on a temporary basis.
- Simplify the judicial process by establishing the following temporary measures immediately, which would then be automatically implemented during any future judicial emergencies. Senate Bill 1119 would toll the Statute of Limitations for civil and criminal cases and provide additional time for the filing of any necessary pleadings. Senate Bill 1120 would extend the time period individuals have for responding to a citation, or paying the appropriate fines, costs, or restitution.
April 29th, 2020: Senator Aument, along with Senator Doug Mastriano and other Senate Republicans, sent a letter to Governor Wolf urging him to reverse his March 19, 2020 decision to prohibit the sales of vehicles.
April 29th, 2020: Senator Aument and Senator Martin supported critical funding for nursing homes so that they can better deal with the significant new challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, and urged the Wolf Administration to do everything in its power to expediently grant regulatory waivers to assist these facilities hit hardest by this crisis.
April 29th, 2020: Senator Aument, along with other elected officials from Lancaster County, sent a letter to Governor Wolf urging him to reconsider his classification of Lancaster County as part of the Southeastern region as he considers when to allow Pennsylvania regions to reopen.
April 28th, 2020: Senator Aument, along with all 27 of his Senate Republican colleagues, signed on to a letter to Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale urging him to conduct an audit of the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development’s (DECD) handling of the waiver process for businesses that felt they were incorrectly classified as non-essential after Governor Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses in the Commonwealth to close. The purpose of the audit is to ensure accountability and transparency in government, as DCED has thus far denied all requests to make public the list of business who did and did not receive waivers.
April 27th, 2020: Senator Aument co-sponsored legislation that would amend the County Code to make clear that all deaths in a county suspected of COVID-19 shall be referred to the county coroner for investigation.
April 24th, 2020: Senator Aument sponsored a bill to protect Pennsylvania’s food supply chain by allowing garden centers to reopen if they can adhere to social distancing and mitigation measures established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
April 21st, 2020: In response to comments that Governor Wolf made in a press conference regarding what employers should do if an employee refuses to come back to work due to their Unemployment Compensation expanded benefits outpacing their regular wages, Senator Aument pushed back on the governor’s fraudulent claims, stating that, “…not only did the Governor say that folks wouldn’t have to go back to work, but he also argued that employers should have to pay increased wages, essentially mandating small businesses increase wages to exceed the expanded UC benefits. Governor Wolf has proven time and time again throughout this crisis that he is more focused on achieving partisan goals than working together to do what’s in the best interest of Pennsylvanians.”
April 21st, 2020: Senator Aument voted in favor of legislation that would:
- Help more patients overcome barriers to care during the COVID-19 pandemic by promoting the use of telemedicine.
- Ensure law enforcement, first responders and active duty National Guard members who contract COVID-19 can still receive compensation while quarantined or receiving treatment for the virus.
April 20th, 2020: Senator Aument voted in favor of a new law to allow notaries to do business remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, clearing a major hurdle that prevented auto sales from being conducted online.
April 16th, 2020: Senator Aument hosted a live telephone town hall event to answer questions and gather feedback from community residents specifically related to coronavirus issues.
April 15th, 2020: Senator Aument voted in favor of two bills that would have provided some much-needed clarity and common sense to the process of deciding which businesses can safely operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those measures include:
- Senate Bill 613 would have aligned Pennsylvania’s list of essential vs. non-essential businesses with a list developed by the CDC and the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) that was, at the time, used by 22 other states across the nation. It would have required the governor to create clear guidelines for businesses to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic and permit them to re-open as long as they comply with mitigation strategies.
- To restore local control, Senate Bill 327 would give county governments the option to develop and implement their own plans to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, following CISA guidelines. Under the bill, businesses already identified as essential could continue to operate. However, counties would also be given the authority to develop plans to allow other industries to operate if it is safe to do so. The bill also creates a COVID-19 Cost and Recovery Task Force made up of representatives of all three branches of government to identify and address issues related to the COVID-19 public health emergency together. The panel would be responsible for developing a recovery plan to restore public services and economic activity when it is safe to do so.
April 15th, 2020: In response to Governor Wolf’s announcement that he had joined a multi-state council to coordinate COVID-19 response across the region, Senator Aument urged the governor to first work with the General Assembly and coordinate with local leaders to solve local problems, saying: “While the time will come to seek input from surrounding states, we must put on our own oxygen mask before we help others put on theirs.”
April 8th, 2020: Senator Aument voted to pass Senate Bill 841, legislation that would take a number of steps to ensure local governments can continue to operate during the coronavirus pandemic. The bill would:
- Allow local governments to provide greater flexibility on property tax deadlines.
- Permit local governments to conduct remote meetings.
- Give notaries emergency authorization to notarize documents remotely through the use of communications technology.
April 7th, 2020: Senator Aument again called on Governor Wolf to work with the General Assembly to establish transparent benchmarks and communicate a plan to the public to protect public health and a data-informed process to roll back economic restrictions. He actively advocated in favor of legislation that would establish the bipartisan, inter-branch COVID-19 Cost & Recovery Task Force.
April 7th, 2020: Senator Aument co-sponsored legislation that would assist business owners across the Commonwealth by providing for a temporary halt on any foreclosure or eviction notice, should they be unable to make payment.
March 30th, 2020: Senator Aument, along with Senate Republican leadership, sent a letter to Governor Wolf asking him to include residential construction in Pennsylvania’s list of “essential businesses” per the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s guidelines. On May 1st, 2020 the Governor sent this response letter alerting Senator Aument that, per his request, all construction would be permitted to resume in-person operations immediately.
March 30th, 2020: Senator Aument called for greater collaboration and a transparent exit plan in the fight against COVID-19.
March 27th, 2020: Senator Aument called on Governor Wolf to add automotive sales –provided they are conducted remotely or electronically, with vehicle return and delivery in-person by appointment only – to the list of life-sustaining businesses permitted to operate during the coronavirus pandemic due to the essential nature of their services.
March 25th, 2020: Senator Aument voted to pass several bills to keep Pennsylvania moving forward during the COVID-19 coronavirus public health emergency. The coronavirus response measures included:
- Senate Bill 422, which postpones Pennsylvania’s primary election from April 28 to June 2.
- Senate Bill 751, which updates Pennsylvania’s School Code to waive a number of mandates on schools that cannot be fulfilled under the current circumstances.
- House Bill 68, which provides for emergency changes to the state’s Unemployment Compensation law in response to COVID-19.
- House Bill 1232, which provides additional funding to healthcare facilities to purchase medical supplies and equipment and extends the deadline for certain state and local income tax payments and filings.
March 20th, 2020: Senator Aument joined Senate leaders in raising concerns about some of the unforeseen problems that could arise from Governor Wolf’s executive order to close all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania and how this measure could impact small businesses. As a result of these efforts, the Wolf Administration announced a waiver process for any company that believes they should be considered a life-sustaining-business.
March 18th, 2020: Senator Aument voted in favor of resolution that would allow members of the Pennsylvania Senate to vote remotely, an important step to ensure continuity of Senate operations throughout the pandemic.
March 16th, 2020: Senator Aument co-sponsored legislation that would provide economic injury resources for small business throughout Pennsylvania.
March 16th, 2020: Senator Aument announced that the 36th Senatorial District office would be temporarily closed to in-person meetings.