Senator Judy Ward E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Honoring Those Who Gave All this Memorial Day
  • Senate Approves Regulatory Reform Measures to Spur Job Creation
  • Measures Aimed at Improving Broadband Access Approved
  • Reminder: Changes Coming to Unemployment Compensation System Next Week
  • Work Search Requirement for Unemployment Benefits to Resume
  • First 2021 “Fish for Free Day” is May 30
  • Tips for Safe Boating
  • Happenings in the 30th District
  • PHEAA and PA529 Discuss How To Cover The Gap
  • Senior Community Centers – COVID-19 Revised Reopening Guidance

Honoring Those Who Gave All this Memorial Day

I hope you will join me in taking time this weekend to remember our fellow citizens who gave their lives for our nation. Even with everything that has occurred throughout the last year, we can say we live in the greatest nation on earth. Our independence was hard-won, and defended by those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Let us never forget what they did for us.

Senate Approves Regulatory Reform Measures to Spur Job Creation

With Pennsylvania’s employment rate lagging behind those of other states emerging from the pandemic, the Senate approved several bills this week to rein in job-stifling regulations.

The bills increase legislative oversight of a process too often influenced by unelected bureaucrats, adding special scrutiny for the costliest proposed regulations. 

  • Senate Bill 28 – Ensures transparency in permitting. The bill would require all agencies that issue permits to post information about the permits on an accessible tracking system for applicants to check the status of their applications.
  • Senate Bill 126 – Provides for an automatic review after three years of all regulations with an economic impact or cost to the Commonwealth, local governments and the private sector exceeding $1 million.
  • Senate Bill 426 – Provides additional legislative oversight of the regulatory review process. The goal of the legislation is to ensure state agencies are implementing the law and not trying to make the laws themselves.
  • Senate Bill 520 – States that no regulation with an economic impact or cost to the Commonwealth, local governments and the private sector exceeding $1 million can be imposed without approval of the General Assembly.

The bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Measures Aimed at Improving Broadband Access Approved

The Senate approved two measures aimed at bringing high-speed broadband service to more areas of Pennsylvania.

One bill would remove regulatory barriers to broadband deployment for landline telecommunications providers. The legislation would require the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to waive certain regulations, review regulations every three years and eliminate those that are no longer necessary or in the public interest.

A second measure would fund access to broadband by using revenue from renting excess wireless capacity on towers, land, and assets owned by the Commonwealth. The bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Reminder: Changes Coming to Unemployment Compensation System Next Week

The state’s Unemployment Compensation system will complete a major upgrade next week that will require changes in the way that claimants will file for benefits. It is critical for claimants to understand the timeline and new process to file for benefits to avoid any interruption in payments.

The Unemployment Compensation system will be offline from May 30 through June 7 to allow data to be moved from the old system to the new one. No new claims will be processed during this time, and some services will not be accessible during this time. Claimants who are eligible to file a bi-weekly claim from June 3-7 can file May 30 through June 2.

Beginning on June 8, claimants must file for benefits and initial claims at benefits.uc.pa.gov following the same schedule as before. There will no longer be paper forms available; claimants will be required to create a Keystone ID to log into the new UC system. Claimants will still be able to file by phone starting June 10.

More information is available on the Department of Labor and Industry’s FAQ page.

Work Search Requirement for Unemployment Benefits to Resume

The Department of Labor and Industry announced that work search requirements for individuals receiving unemployment benefits will restart the week of July 11, with individuals to begin certifying on July 18 that they have looked for work during the previous week.

As pandemic business closures rocked the job market last year, the department suspended the requirement that claimants actively search for work and register with the PA CareerLink database. In January, without legislative approval or input, the department then extended the suspension indefinitely.

With the pandemic easing and employers desperate for workers, the Senate Labor and Industry Committee approved legislation to reinstate the job search and CareerLink requirements earlier. The bill was sent to the full Senate for consideration.

First 2021 “Fish for Free Day” is May 30

Pennsylvania’s Fish for Free Days are scheduled for May 30 and July 4 this year. They allow residents and non-residents to fish on PA waterways with no fishing license, trout/salmon permit or Lake Erie permit required. All other fishing regulations still apply.

It’s a great opportunity for families to try their hand at a new outdoor activity. Learn about where to borrow fishing tackle, where the best fishing waters are, and more, here.

Tips for Safe Boating

This is National Safe Boating Week, time for some friendly reminders on how to have fun on the water this summer: wear a lifejacket, check the weather forecast, let someone know you’re heading out, and don’t drink and boat.

You can find everything you need to know about boating in PA, including boat titling/registering, boating basics, regulations, safety courses and more here.

Happenings in the 30th District

Representative Lou Schmitt and I welcomed The Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School Girls’ Basketball Team in winning the 2020-2021 PIAA Class 1A Girls’ Basketball Championship. They were recognized by both Chambers and got to enjoy the sights of the Capitol. They have brought great credit to themselves, their school, and their communities!

The Blair County pro-life grassroots group, Love Them Both, held a “Life Walk” in Hollidaysburg. The organization’s primary goal is to offer practical and tangible help to new mothers and fathers. Love Them Both is currently in the process of assisting in the opening of a “Baby Pantry” at New Hope Baptist Church in Duncansville. Participants of the walk brought items to fill the new pantry and then walked through Hollidaysburg. This is a great group of people with a very important mission.

It was such a pleasure having Sue and Gary Griep from Duncansville (Blair County) and their family visit the Capitol this week.

The American Legion in Newville held a breakfast to recognize first responders. I am pictured with the hard working cooks that made it happen. It was such an honor to be with them! Thank you for your service.

PHEAA and PA529 Discuss How To Cover The Gap

Join financial aid experts Linda Pacewicz and Dan Wray of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) and PA 529 expert Kelly Davis of the PA Treasury for this informative webinar.  Learn about the best ways to prepare for an affordable higher education experience.  This webinar emphasizes best practices, such as filing the FAFSA, seeking grants and scholarships first, and extensively covers how to save.  Education loans are included in the discussion, as well.  Lots of terrific info!

Dates:

— Tuesday (6/1), Thursday (6/10), Thursday (6/24), and Tuesday (6/29) at NOON each day

Click here to register or copy/paste https://www.pheaa.org/virtual

Senior Community Centers – COVID-19 Revised Reopening Guidance

Beginning June 1, 2021, COVID-19 mitigation strategies for Senior Community Centers (SCCs) will be lifted, with the exception of requiring face coverings for unvaccinated individuals for indoor activities and certain outdoor activities per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCOpens In A New Window) and Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) guidance.

This document provides guidance and recommendations to Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and SCCs for resuming operations. 

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