Senator Robert Tomlinson E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Neighborhood Flood Assistance Program
  • Auditor General Releases Audit Critical of Wolf Administration’s Business Closure Waiver Process
  • Hearing Explores Positive Experiences of Local Governments During COVID-19
  • Committee Discusses Ways to Preserve Life-Saving Care Provided by Firefighters
  • Proposed New Nursing Home Regulations Examined by Senate Committees
  • Scammers Continue to Exploit COVID-19
  • September is National Literacy Month

Neighborhood Flood Assistance Program

I was proud to stand with my colleagues from Lower Bucks County to announce that we will be opening the Neighborhood Flood Assistance Program for the victims of damaged caused by the floods of July 12th’s storm.

For those that may not remember, this storm dumped 10 inches of rain on Bensalem, Bristol, and Bristol Borough in just about three hours. The devastation was unbelievable. Immediately, I sent a letter to the Governor asking for a State of Emergency to be granted for the community. This would have allowed for critical state and possible federal resources to flow into the community. We were met with an answer we were not expecting, we didn’t have enough damage. According to federal guidelines, although the damages were so intense in our community we didn’t meet their standards. We were told the only thing we could do would be to help get SBA loans for residents. This was unacceptable. We immediately went to work to secure funding.

Working together with Rep. Tina Davis, Rep. John Galloway, and PA State Rep. Kathleen “KC” Tomlinson, we were able to secure $1.75 million in funding that is now available for application through the Bucks County Redevelopment Authority. I hope these funds will help alleviate some of the burden that the storm created. I want to thank the Bucks County RDA for working tirelessly on developing the guidelines and working on the implementation of the program.

They are accepting applications now for victims of July 12th’s flood from Bensalem, Bristol Township, and Bristol Borough. The application and guidelines can be found here: https://www.bcrda.com/neighborhood-flood-assistance…/

If you are having trouble submitting the application or need assistance, please contact my office at 215-638-1784 to stop by and we will help you complete your application.

Auditor General Releases Audit Critical of Wolf Administration’s Business Closure Waiver Process

When Pennsylvanians voted in May to put limits on Gov. Wolf’s emergency powers, part of their concern was over his pandemic business closures and his administration’s handling of closure waivers. An audit by state Auditor General Tim DeFoor found voters’ concerns to be justified.

The auditor general released a performance audit examining how the Department of Community and Economic Development handled the process to grant waivers to businesses seeking to stay open during the shutdown, stating:

“This audit revealed a flawed process that provided inconsistent answers to business owners and caused confusion. While the pandemic certainly presented some unique challenges, the process was hastily assembled on the fly, unevenly administered and should be reformed before anything like it is ever used again.”

A preliminary audit by the previous auditor general uncovered similar problems. The new audit also found that Gov. Wolf’s shutdown order was more restrictive than federal guidelines, resulting in more business closures.

The General Assembly should review the recommended changes included in the audit to determine what needs to be done to prevent a repeat in any future emergencies.

Hearing Explores Positive Experiences of Local Governments During COVID-19

The Senate and House Local Government committees held a joint hearing exploring the positives experienced by local government entities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Testifiers described the transition to virtual and hybrid meetings, technological advancements in conducting municipal business with the public and other government organizations and improved transparency. They also highlighted ways the pandemic led them to make regulatory changes, improve efficiency and modernize procedures.

You can view hearing video and written testimony here.

Committee Discusses Ways to Preserve Life-Saving Care Provided by Firefighters

The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee held a public hearing to listen to fire chiefs, firefighters and others about how to improve recruitment and retention of the next generation of volunteer firefighters across Pennsylvania.

In addition to explaining the impact of funding challenges, testifiers highlighted the need for communities to work together in support of first responders to preserve critical access to life-saving care for all Pennsylvanians.

In the 1970s, Pennsylvania boasted 300,000 volunteer firefighters. Today, that number is fewer than 40,000. To help bolster those ranks, the Senate this year passed Senate Bill 83, which would provide grants to establish fire training programs for students during the school year with the hope they will remain firefighters for years to come.

You can view hearing video and written testimony here.

Proposed New Nursing Home Regulations Examined by Senate Committees

The Senate Health & Human Services Committee and the Aging & Youth Committee held a joint hearing to examine new regulations for long-term care nursing facilities being proposed by the Wolf Administration.

The committees brought together administration officials as well as industry experts and others to provide feedback on the proposed regulations, which the administration says is the first in a series of proposed changes that will be combined to create a final, comprehensive regulatory package.

You can view hearing video and written testimony here.

Scammers Continue to Exploit COVID-19

Since the start of the pandemic, fraudsters have been trying to exploit it for financial gain. The arrival of vaccines changed the nature of the scams but did not eliminate them.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says consumers should be on the lookout for these signs of vaccine scams:

  • Requests that you pay out of pocket to receive a shot
  • Ads for vaccines in websites, social media posts, emails or phone calls
  • Marketers offering to sell or ship doses of COVID-19 vaccines

Other scams have sought to steal stimulus money, while the FBI says con artists advertise fake COVID-19 antibody tests in hopes of harvesting personal information they can use in identity theft or health insurance scams. AARP has the latest information  on pandemic-related scams.

September is National Literacy Month

Children who learn good reading habits are more likely to develop a lifelong love of reading, which supports early writing and reading skills and builds their vocabulary. Here’s to exploring the world through reading during National Literacy Month and year round.

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