In This Update:
Voters Will Decide Three Ballot Questions on May 18
When voters head to the polls on May 18, they will have the final say on three potential amendments to the Pennsylvania Constitution. The way the Wolf Administration worded two of these questions has been roundly criticized as confusing and prejudicial, so it is critical for voters to understand what the questions really mean before casting their votes.
The first question asks whether the General Assembly should be allowed to terminate an emergency declaration if a governor continues to wield emergency powers long after the disaster has passed. A YES vote means the General Assembly could serve as a check on the governor’s power during an emergency to protect the rights of Pennsylvanians.
The second question asks whether future emergency declarations should be limited to 21 days unless extended by the General Assembly. A YES vote means the governor would be prohibited from maintaining unilateral control for an indefinite period of time during an emergency.
The third question asks whether new protections should be added for Pennsylvanians based on race or ethnicity. A YES vote means the rights of all state residents would be protected – regardless of an individual’s race or ethnicity – and the new protections at the state level would match those provided by the U.S. Constitution.
I encourage you to share this information with your family, friends and neighbors so everyone understands what a YES vote means for these critical ballot questions in May.
Reminder: Share Your 2020 Election Experiences
The bipartisan Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform is inviting Pennsylvania voters to share their experiences from the 2020 election by taking an election survey. The information will be reviewed by the committee and will be considered as part of future election reform measures.
The panel held a pair of hearings last month to gather input from local and state election officials, as well as county commissioners on the administration of the 2020 election, and to review best practices in other states that allow mail-in voting. Video and testimony from both hearings is available at https://pasenelectioncommittee.com/.
Hearings Continue to Examine Governor’s Budget Proposal
The Senate Appropriations Committee continued its comprehensive review of Governor Wolf’s state budget proposal this week. Some of the highlights included:
Enhanced “Move Over” Law Goes Into Effect April 27
Lawmakers approved legislation in October that will strengthen the state’s “Move Over” law to protect first responders, tow truck operators and other motorists near the scene of an emergency. The new law – which includes greater public awareness efforts and steeper penalties for violations – will go into effect on April 27.
The law requires motorists approaching an emergency response area to merge into a lane further away, or to slow down to 20 miles per hour under the posted speed limit if they cannot safely merge. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission reports 46 emergency responders were struck and killed in the U.S. in 2020, and 10 more have lost their lives so far in 2021.
PennDOT Urges Caution When Renewing Licenses and Registrations Online
Pennsylvanians who are renewing their driver’s license or vehicle registration online should be on the lookout for copycat websites that may charge additional fees or steal their personal information. PennDOT will never ask for personal documents via text message or over the internet, so customers should be aware that any similar requests are coming from a third-party source that is not affiliated with PennDOT.
Online customers are encouraged to enter the web address of the PennDOT Driver and Vehicle Services website (www.dmv.pa.gov) directly into their browser’s address bar, rather than relying on a search engine. Suspicious third-party sites should be reported to the Pennsylvania Attorney General Bureau of Consumer Protection at 1-800-441-2555.
COVID- 19 Vaccine Resources for Older Adults
A recent Department of Health (DOH) order requires vaccine providers to partner with AAAs to schedule vaccine appointments for older adults in Phase 1A.
If older adults are having trouble getting an appointment, they can contact their local AAA or the Department of Health toll-free line (1-877-724-3258).
In addition, PACE designated a team of phone operators in its Harrisburg Call Center to serve as the COVID-19 Special Scheduling Unit — a dedicated unit for arranging vaccinations for PACE cardholders. These operators will also be working with cardholders to arrange for transportation to the vaccination site or working with PACE’s pharmacy network members to vaccinate at a cardholder’s residence, if necessary. The toll-free number for PACE and PACENET cardholders is 1-800-225-7223. They will also help an older adult even if they are not a cardholder.
Finally, PA Link to Aging and Disability Resources, which connects older adults and adults with disabilities to services and technical supports, is also stepping up to take calls and offer assistance. The PA Link number is 1-800-753-8827.
James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center expanding COVID-19 vaccinations to all Veterans, caregivers and spouses under SAVE LIVES Act
The Altoona VA is now accepting walk ins, Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. for Veterans wanting to receive the COVID vaccine. If a Veteran cannot make it during this time and would like to schedule an appointment at the Altoona VA or any Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC), they may do so by calling, 814-943-8164 ext. 5800 or 877-626-2500 ext. 5800.
Save Lives Act allows VA to provide COVID-19 Vaccinations to all Veterans, their spouses and caregivers. Who is eligible? Spouse, Caregivers, Veterans Discharged other than Honorable and their spouses, National Guard/Reservist and their spouses if they had a period of activated service, and CHAMPVA beneficiaries.
What do I need to do? Visit https://www.va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine/stay-informed to sign up for the latest information. Your information will be entered into the system and we will contact you to schedule an appointment.
Borough of Mercersburg COVID-19 Vaccine Availability
The Borough of Mercersburg is pleased to announce that COVID 19 Vaccinations are coming to Mercersburg! Robert T. Henry Pharmacy in Shippensburg and the First United Methodist Church in Mercersburg have teamed up to provide vaccinations to the area. The first vaccination will be Saturday, April 24th and the second vaccination will be on Saturday, May 15th. Applications/consent forms are located at Mercersburg Borough Hall, 113 South Main Street, Mercersburg Pa and also at the American Legion located at 100 Keefer Drive in Mercersburg. Residents will need to call the Robert T. Henry Pharmacy at 717-532-5812 to make an appointment for the aforementioned days. The applications are to stay with the resident and are to be given to the pharmacy personnel the day of your vaccination. You can also complete an application the day of the vaccination. Please bring photo identification along with insurance information. If you do not have insurance that is fine, the federal government will cover the cost. No applications are to be turned into the Borough office or the American Legion. Vaccinations will be provided at the First United Methodist Church located at 11 North Fayette Street, Mercersburg Pa.
Center for Organ Recovery & Education flag raising ceremony
I participated in the annual CORE (Center for Organ Recovery & Education) flag raising ceremony at Conemaugh Nason Medical Center in Roaring Spring. The event, with speakers who are organ recipients, is always a reminder of how the decision to become a donor can change someone’s life.