In This Update:
Vaccine Schedule Accelerated Again: All Pennsylvanians Now Eligible
Earlier this week, the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force announced another acceleration of the timeline of distributing vaccines to Pennsylvanians who wish to receive them. As a result, all Pennsylvanians are now eligible to schedule an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
More information about participating providers, vaccine safety, allocation, eligibility and other resources are available at a special webpage created by the Department of Health.
Comments on 2020 General Election Due by April 30
There is still time for Pennsylvanians to share their experience from last year’s election with the Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform. Election surveys for Pennsylvanians who voted by mail or in person will be accepted through April 30.
The committee is expected to use the survey responses and testimony gathered during its series of public hearings to produce a report with recommendations that will be presented to the General Assembly.
Policy Committee Hearing on Impact of COVID-19 Business Closures
On Tuesday, the Senate Majority Policy Committee held a public hearing on the economic impact of COVID-19 Business Closures on the tourism and hospitality industries. The hearing highlighted the consequences of closures and restrictions for bars, restaurants, amusement parks, resorts and many other businesses during the pandemic. Both Derek Martin, Altoona Curve General Manager and Cynthia Smith, Hoss’s Corporate Counsel gave testimony as to the hardship and layoffs the closures caused. Please click Here for a discussion I had with Derek concerning the impact of a minimum wage increase. In addition please click Here to hear Cynthia’s comments. I am so appreciative of their willingness to share with the Committee their concerns. You can view the full hearing Here.
Ballot Questions for May 18th Primary
In just over a month, voters will head to the polls for the May 18th primary election. There will be more than just candidates on the ballot, as four questions – three constitutional amendments and one referendum – are slated to appear as well.
Committees Explore Education Reforms and Infrastructure
Although the Senate will not return to session until next week, several Senate committees studied issues this week that could set the stage for future action in the General Assembly.
The Senate Education Committee held a hearing on Monday to review potential education reforms, including accountability, school choice and charter school reforms. The hearing featured testimony from teachers, students, parents, administrators and other stakeholders in both public and private education.
The Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee held two days of hearings in southeastern Pennsylvania on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the economic impact of the technology and energy infrastructure industries in Pennsylvania. Lawmakers also toured the Philadelphia Steamfitters Local Union 420.
Committee meetings and hearings scheduled next week are available online.
Reminder: Independent, Third-Party Voters Can Participate in May 18 Election
Pennsylvania’s independent and third-party voters are eligible to vote on proposed amendments to the state Constitution in this spring’s primary election.
Current law does not permit Independent or many third-party voters to cast ballots in most primary elections. However, All registered voters are eligible to weigh in on Constitutional amendments in any election.
Three proposed amendments to the state Constitution will appear on the May 18 ballot, including a measure to prohibit discrimination based on race or ethnicity, and two amendments to limit the length of emergency declarations and require more collaboration between the different branches of government during a disaster. A fourth ballot question will also allow voters to decide whether paid fire and rescue organizations should have additional borrowing power.
More information about these Constitutional amendments is available here.
Older adults seeking a COVID-19 vaccine appointment
Older adults seeking a COVID-19 vaccine appointment can contact their local Area Agency on Aging if they need help scheduling an appointment. The AAAs have been working with vaccine providers to arrange appointments for older adults eligible in Phase 1A of the commonwealth’s vaccine plan. They may also be able to help arrange transportation if needed. You can find your local AAA here: https://www.aging.pa.gov/local-resources/Pages/AAA.aspx . The Department of Aging is offering resources and guidance to help educate and protect older adults who are still looking to schedule their COVID-19 vaccine appointment. The resources can be downloaded from the Department of Aging’s website
Here is the phone number list for the local AAAs by region:
Scam Alert: New Fraud Targets PUA Recipients
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claimants have been targeted by new fraud attempts in recent weeks. Scammers are asking PUA claimants to verify their identity via text messages and web forms, and then using that information to steal benefits and commit other forms of identity theft.
As a reminder, the only way to verify a claimant’s identity is via ID.ME – never via text messages or web forms. Community residents who have been targeted by these or other cases of fraud should report the scam attempt to the Department of Labor and Industry.
Free PHEAA Webinar Offers Financial Aid Advice for Students, Families
Navigating the financial aid process for higher education can be complicated and confusing for many families. The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) will host a free Financial Aid 101 webinar on April 21 at 6:30 p.m. to help families learn more about higher education costs, the types of financial aid available and how Pennsylvania families can apply.
You can register to participate in this free webinar here.
Huntingdon County Career and Technology Center
The Huntingdon County Career and Technology Center (CTC), along with local officials and community leaders, celebrated the opening of its new Transportation Center that will house the CTC’s transportation and welding programs. This new 12,500 sq. ft. building located on Technology Drive in Brady Township was supported by state and federal investments and demonstrates the increased focus on career and technical education. The new facility will help prepare students for careers in the skilled trades that are critical to our local economy. I was proud to participate in this event and am very excited for the great opportunities provided by this wonderful educational asset.