In this Update:
Senate Committee Advances My Bill Prohibiting Vaccine Passports
Whether due to a medical issues or personal choice, some people have very valid reasons for why they are not receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. People have been through enough intrusion into their personal health status during this pandemic. By memorializing this in legislation, we can ensure that Pennsylvanians are not facing discrimination based up on their vaccine status – no matter what the Governor or Department of Health says now or in the future.
See full press release here.
Highlighting My Bill Requiring Deaths to Be Reported to County Coroners
This week I was joined by Representative Kerry Benninghoff and County Coroners from around the state to highlight the importance of SB 327. After talking with the very people who are the voices for those in our communities who have died due to COVID-19, I introduced legislation to provide more accurate reporting of the deaths and ensure the safety and wellbeing of our communities. Coroners are tasked by the electorate to work closely with the community – specifically healthcare professionals and law enforcement – to provide answers to grieving families. This bill will allow them to fully perform the duties they were elected to do.
This bill will make clear that all deaths in a county suspected of a disease constituting a health disaster or pandemic shall be referred to the county coroner for investigation.
Funding Available for Broadband Deployment Projects
Projects that facilitate the deployment of high-speed broadband service infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas of Pennsylvania could be eligible for funding through the Unserved High-Speed Broadband Funding Program.
The program is open to nongovernmental entities with the technical, managerial and financial expertise to design, build and operate a high-speed broadband service infrastructure. Funding supports projects that can offer access to services that will enhance economic development, education, health care and emergency services.
Applications will be accepted until Sept. 24. Grants will be awarded by the Commonwealth Financing Authority.
State Restrictions on Senior Community Centers Relaxed
State Department of Health COVID-19 restrictions for Pennsylvania Senior Community Centers have been lifted, except for mask requirements for unvaccinated individuals for indoor activities and certain outdoor activities.
The state guidance does not prevent centers, municipalities, local authorities or counties from implementing stricter mitigation efforts based on local circumstances.
Senior Community Centers provide meals and offer social activities, informative programs, creative arts, exercise, volunteer opportunities, community services and more. You can find a center near you here.
New Law Updates CDL Licensing Requirements
Legislation approved by the General Assembly in November has taken effect extending the validity period of a commercial learner’s permit from 180 days to one year, giving vehicle operators more time to prepare for their skills test.
Making the permits valid longer also means fewer operators will need to extend their permit, which will help decrease customer traffic in driver license centers.
Act 131 of 2020 also updates requirements and restrictions for commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders, including reporting requirements for convictions and violations. One change disqualifies an individual from operating a commercial motor vehicle for life if they are convicted of using a commercial motor vehicle to commit certain forms of human trafficking.
Fundraising Option for First Responders, Veterans Groups and Nonprofits Approved by Senate
Recognizing that the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to place a severe financial crisis on numerous volunteer and veterans organizations, the Senate recently approved legislation that will provide a crucial financial lifeline for those vital community organizations.
The measure would allow volunteer fire departments, veterans organizations and other nonprofits to conduct online small games of chance fundraisers and accept payment via mobile payment applications. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Licensees would be required to verify age and residency of those participating, and the ability to fundraise online would end May 1, 2022 or upon the termination of the COVID-19 emergency declaration, whichever is later.
Senate Sends “Motorcycle Lemon Law” to House of Representatives
The Senate recently approved legislation to establish a “motorcycle lemon law” similar to the consumer protections for car buyers provided by the Pennsylvania Automobile Lemon Law.
It requires manufacturers to repair significant defects occurring in the first year of ownership or 12,000 miles. Currently, motorcycle owners are left to pay out of pocket to repair potentially dangerous manufacturing defects or fix the problem themselves. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Produce Vouchers Available to PA Seniors, WIC Recipients
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is once again offering its Farmers Market Nutrition Program to low-income seniors and people receiving benefits through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
The Farmers Market Nutrition Program offers qualified seniors and families four $6 checks to redeem at qualified farmers’ markets or roadside stands. The checks may be used for fresh fruits and vegetables that were grown in, or can be grown in, PA. The checks may not be used to purchase processed foods, such as jams, honeys, cider or baked goods, or for citrus and other tropical fruits. Click here to find the nearest participating market.
Families receiving WIC are eligible for the program, as are senior citizens age 60 and older who meet income guidelines. For a single senior, income may not exceed $23,828. For a two-person household, income may not exceed $32,227.
Checks are available on a first-come, first-served basis. To apply, contact the county Office of Aging. Additional information about the program is available here.
Congressman John Joyce and I had great breakfast with so many heroes on Memorial Day at Perkins in Blair County. A big thank you to Lloyd Peck, Commander of the Blair County War Veterans Council, for organizing this.
We had A great Memorial Day celebration in Altoona (Blair County). The parade was dedicated to long-time friend and community supporter, John Gority who passed in April. Tim Harclerode, CEO at Conemaugh Nason, an Army veteran, was the keynote speaker.
A special thank you to Zeke Gress and American Legion Post 516 in Fulton County for allowing me to say a few words as they unveiled two military bronze statues, one male and one female. The figures were dedicated to all men and women who have served by acting Post Cmdr. Keith Connelly. The Fulton Honor Guard fired a gun salute with Greg Strine and MHS band performing taps.