Committee Approves Bill Extending Waivers for Medical Professionals
On Monday, the Senate Health & Human Services Committee approved a measure I introduced to extend the waivers and administrative flexibilities provided to health care professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senate Bill 671 extends those actions for one year after the disaster declaration is lifted. The legislation also directs the Joint State Government Commission, with the assistance of health care professionals and administrative officials, to research and compile these flexibilities and waivers and make recommendations as to which waivers and administrative flexibilities should permanently remain in place.
Emergency declarations at both the state and federal levels have allowed administrative agencies to ensure that essential health care workers can respond to the ever-evolving needs of their communities. This legislation will temporarily maintain key services like the expanded use of telemedicine and prevent an abrupt and disruptive change at the end of the COVID-19 emergency declarations.
The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration. Audio of my comments on the bill.
Senate Finance Committee Approves Three Bills
The Senate Finance Committee, which I Chair, approved three bills on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 288 expands the 21st Century Manufacturing Innovation and Reinvestment Deduction Act.
Senate Bill 681 provides for two, one-year carry forward for tax credits purchases in 2020 and 2021. This means that tax credits purchased in 2020 could be used for 2020 or 2021, and tax credits purchased in 2021 could be used for 2021 or 2022.
Senate Bill 682 extends the eligibility timeline for the Keystone Innovation Zone credit program from eight years to 10 years.
The bills now go to the full Senate for consideration.
Committee Approves Bill Easing Duplicative PENNDOT Mandate
The Senate Transportation Committee approved a measure on Tuesday that will ease the bureaucratic burdens that make it difficult for some small communities to hold festivals, parades, and other events on PENNDOT maintained roadways.
Senate Bill 615, which I introduced, bars PENNDOT from requiring duplicative insurance for processions, special activities, or assemblages. Under the legislation, PENNDOT could no longer require that local governments, in addition to the event sponsors assume duplicative liability as a condition of issuing event permits.
These events are crucial for smaller communities. They help restore a shared sense of purpose and meaning to those who live there. We should be supporting these communities, not imposing burdens on them.
The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration. Audio of my comments on the bill before the committee.
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.
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.