In This Update:
Senate Passes Interim State Budget and COVID-19 Relief Bills
As Pennsylvanians continue to deal with the damage caused by COVID-19 and Governor Wolf’s response to the crisis, the Senate began to set a course for recovery this week by passing an interim state budget and a $2.6 billion package of COVID-19 relief bills.
The $25.8 billion interim state budget funds all state agencies and departments for at least the next five months while lawmakers get a clearer picture of the state’s financial position. This includes how the state will respond to challenges going forward, how soon businesses reopen, and whether the state will receive any additional support from the federal government in the months ahead.
Although most agencies and departments are funded for five months, several line items are funded for the full year, including debt service and pension obligations, food support programs, and all levels of education from pre-kindergarten through college.
In addition to passing a short-term budget, lawmakers approved COVID-19 relief bills to distribute a portion of Pennsylvania’s federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding for critical needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding is included for nursing homes and other long-term living facilities, small businesses, first responders, early childhood education, services for individuals with an intellectual disability or autism, school districts, higher education, child care services, mortgage and rent assistance for affected workers, county programs and services, and much more.
I look forward to sharing more details about this funding in the weeks ahead.
Has Your Polling Place Moved for Tuesday’s Election?
Because some polling places may be consolidated or relocated due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, it is important for all voters to double-check where they should go to vote before they head out to cast their ballots in the primary election on Tuesday.
Voters can find their polling place on the Department of State’s website by entering their county, city and street name. The department also offers recommendations and additional information for voters.
PUA System Will Now Send Paper Checks to Claimants
The Department of Labor and Industry recently uncovered cases of attempted fraud in which scammers tried to use the personal information of victims to file for benefits and route payments into their own bank accounts. In response to these cases, claimants in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) system will now receive benefits via paper checks delivered through the U.S. Postal Service instead of receiving payments by direct deposit.
Anyone who receives a paper check in the mail who did not file for PUA benefits should return the uncashed check to:
Department of Treasury Comptroller’s Office
More information on combatting unemployment fraud is available here.
Recently Expired Licenses Still Acceptable for Notary Identification
Pennsylvania driver’s licenses are often used as a form of identification for notaries who do not personally know a client. The Department of State recently clarified that any state driver’s license or photo identification that has expired since March 16 still qualifies for notary purposes.
PennDOT recently announced that the expiration date for all driver’s licenses and non-driver photo identification cards that expire between March 16 and June 30 has been extended until June 30.
New Guidelines Released for FBI Background Checks
Many individuals who are required to complete a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) background check as a condition of employment have run into problems due to a lack of available fingerprinting services during the COVID-19 pandemic. I supported a new law the Senate approved in April that extends the time period for workers to complete background checks.
New guidance from the Department of Human Services offers more information about mobile fingerprinting, treatment of new hires, special requirements for child care employees, renewals, recertification and more.
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