Senator Robert Tomlinson E-Newsletter

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In This Update:

  • Senate Approves a Better Process for COVID-19 Mitigation
  • New Guidance and Training Available for Personal Care Home and Assisted Living Facilities
  • COVID-19 Crisis Line Available for First Responders, Healthcare Workers
  • New Web Portal Features Info on Employment Opportunities During COVID-19 Business Closures
  • COVID-19 Resource Guide for Senior Citizens Now Online
  • Accelerated Sales Tax Prepayments Waived for Three Months

Senate Approves a Better Process for COVID-19 Mitigation

Beginning with Governor Wolf’s shut down of Pennsylvania on March 15, my office has been inundated with calls from business owners pleading for help with their business waivers and from constituents, who are caught in the logjam of 1.3 million new UC claims. The business waiver process has been an absolute disaster. As a State Senator, I can’t find out which businesses have been denied or approved…we don’t even know the governor’s criteria for approving businesses. While the business waiver application system ended over 2 weeks ago, there are still thousands of waivers that haven’t been processed. In the 6th Senate District, we have seen businesses in the same industry-  one has received approval to be deemed essential while the other was denied. We have multiple businesses that want to change their business models to help develop PPE and other protective masks; however they are unable to operate because they were denied waivers. How is this fair?

Today we returned to session to vote on critical legislation that will lay out a plan to get Pennsylvanians back to work. SB 613 will require Pennsylvania to follow the guidelines established by the Department of Homeland Security as to what businesses are deemed “essential.” These essential businesses will have the OPTION to reopen. This is not a mandate, this is not a requirement. Any of the essential businesses that decide to open MUST follow CDC guidelines for proper safety protocols. Some of these businesses/industries include automotive sales, real estate transactions, and construction.

Again, this is not a plan to reopen all businesses. This is not a mandate. This simply will allow essential businesses that follow CDC guidelines an option to open.

In addition, we voted on legislation that will allow County Governments to develop and implement their own plans to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Bucks County should not be held to the same standards as other counties who may be more or less affected by COVID-19. This decision will be up to locally elected officials, and it will be their decision to open when they believe it is safe. This legislation will also create a bipartisan advisory committee that will work with the Administration to keep the legislature informed of decisions made by the Governor. This advisory committee will feature members of the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of our government.

I know the Governor and Secretary Levine have done everything in their power with the best of intentions to stop the spread of COVID-19. I stand ready to work with Governor Wolf to develop a plan that will put Pennsylvanian’s back to work. It is my hope that the Governor will be more willing to work with the elected members of the Commonwealth rather than Governors from other states.

New Guidance and Training Available for Personal Care Home and Assisted Living Facilities

Educational support and new guidelines will help Pennsylvania’s more than 1,200 personal care homes and assisted living residences better protect patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department of Human Services offers guidance to keep residents and staff safe, including measures to address dining and scheduled activities, visitation, health screenings for staff, infection control procedures and more. Full guidance from the department is available here.

The Jewish Healthcare Foundation also offers weekly webinars on timely topics like infection control best practices and proper use of personal protective equipment. More information on these and other educational materials are available at www.tomorrowshealthcare.org.

COVID-19 Crisis Line Available for First Responders, Healthcare Workers

The increased stress caused by COVID-19 affects all Pennsylvanians, but our first responders and healthcare workers face even greater pressures in helping the state respond to this public health emergency. Magellan Health recently opened a free national crisis line for all first responders and healthcare professionals who are serving on the front lines of the pandemic.

The hotline is open 24 hours a day and connects callers directly to licensed mental health clinicians for support. The toll-free number is 1-800-327-7451 (TTY 711).

New Web Portal Features Info on Employment Opportunities During COVID-19 Business Closures

Although many businesses across the state remain closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, other employers in life-sustaining industries are hiring workers immediately for thousands of critical roles. A new web portal has been created to help connect displaced workers with new employment opportunities in home health care, shipping, distribution, manufacturing and other industries.

People seeking employment immediately can learn more about available job opportunities through PA CareerLink’s new online COVID-19 job portal. Life-sustaining businesses can feature job openings by submitting an online form here.

COVID-19 Resource Guide for Senior Citizens Now Online

An online COVID-19 resource guide to help older adults find useful information related to their health, safety and well-being is now available.

The guide is available on the state Department of Aging’s website under “COVID-19 Resource Guide for Older Adults” and provides older adults, their families and caregivers with information on a variety of subjects, including meals, prescriptions, protective services, scams, and how to stay active and connected.

Accelerated Sales Tax Prepayments Waived for Three Months

Businesses will not need to make accelerated Sales Tax prepayments over the next three months. Instead, businesses will only need to remit the sales tax they collected in the prior month.

More information on this requirement is available here.

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