May. 22, 2020 / Weekly Roundup

Facebook Website Bio Latest News Photo Gallery Contact
Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol
 Please do not reply directly to this email, as it returns to an unmanned account.
You are welcome to contact me through this link.
 
State Funding and Greencastle-Antrim School District

Anyone following the news out of the Greencastle-Antrim School District has heard that the district is facing a financial crisis, one which may cause the district to have to take draconian measures in the 2020-21 budget year.

For thirty years, Greencastle has been harmed by a state funding policy referred to as “hold harmless,” a funding formula which ensures that no district will receive less money from the state than the year before. Although this has been a lifeline to school districts that have lost population, it has resulted in smaller increases for districts such as Greencastle which have seen enrollment gains over those years.

In 2015 the state funding formula received an update, one which now accounts for every current student. However, the new formula also makes provisions for other factors, such as poverty and English as a second language students. Greencastle has few students who match these factors. The result is that Greencastle receives less under the new formula than it did under the hold harmless formula.

Since entering the legislature I have attempted to find solutions to Greencastle’s state funding woes. I want to make it clear that I am very aware of Greencastle’s situation and have made a significant effort to find solutions. For a fuller explanation of the state funding issue and my efforts, please read the information that I and Sen. Judy Ward prepared attached here.

As for the immediate financial crisis, Greencastle has asked me to help with two things: obtain an extension on the state PlanCon funds which the district had hoped to use for its building project and obtain an extension for the district’s requirement to report an annual budget to the state by the end of June. I am actively working on both.
 
 
 
House Continues to Advance Policies to Reopen PA

The House returned to session this week to continue our fight for the future of our state. While the governor has again chosen to veto some of our efforts rather than work with us, as your elected representative, it is important I continue to help advance policies that reflect your voices. I hear from so many of you about the struggles and frustrations you are facing as a result of this pandemic and prolonged mitigation efforts. We recognize the harm being done, and we are fighting for you.

Following is a quick rundown of this week’s session.

To help our struggling restaurants, bars and clubs, we passed bills that would authorize these business owners to allow outdoor seating (House Bill 2506) and indoor seating (House Bill 2513) to resume in areas of the state in the yellow or green phases of mitigation. Certain safety guidelines would have to be met. These bills go to the Senate for consideration. In related news, House Bill 327, which allows the sale of cocktails to go, was signed into law today.

We passed House Resolution 867 to set up a special committee of the House to examine various aspects of the state’s response to the COVID-19 public health emergency and make recommendations regarding issues of importance and long-term recovery. A final report of the committee’s activities, findings and recommendations would be due by Nov. 19.

To further aid in assessment of the COVID-19 disaster response, House Bill 2505 would require the administration to retain relevant records for 10 years after the end of the emergency order. The bill goes to the Senate for consideration.

Additionally, House Bill 2517 would require a waiver to allow residential cleaning services to resume operations during the COVID-19 emergency, provided the follow social distancing and other health and safety guidelines. This bill also goes to the Senate.

House Attempts to Override Governor’s Veto of Plans to Reopen PA Safely
A day after Gov. Tom Wolf opted to veto three measures we championed to help provide more options to reopen the state, the House attempted an override vote on one of the bills. House Bill 2388 would have allowed the following types of businesses to reopen: vehicle dealerships, lawn and garden centers, cosmetology salons and barber shops, messenger services, animal grooming services and manufacturing operations.

Unfortunately, the vote that could have allowed people to get back to work and support themselves and their families failed to garner the two-thirds majority required. The vote was 115-87, 21 votes shy of the 136 votes required under the Constitution to override a veto.

Ironically, another bill the governor vetoed (House Bill 2412) would have helped reopen real estate services in the Commonwealth. Shortly after he announced the vetoes, the governor released new guidance to allow real estate to resume statewide anyway.

This is not the first time the governor has acted in response to actions of the House. The same occurred with the construction industry, online vehicle sales, reopening plans and more. We are helping to drive the agenda toward reopening and will continue to do so.

The third veto was to Senate Bill 327, which would have (among other things) given county officials the ability to develop their own emergency mitigation plans for business. 
 
 
Long-Term Care Data Release Illustrates Need for Senior Protection Act

This week, we sent a bill to the Senate to help stop the tragic COVID-19 death rate occurring at the state’s nursing home facilities, personal care homes and assisted living residences.

The Senior Protection Act (House Bill 2510) is a bipartisan initiative that aims to use regional health system collaboratives to better manage personnel, protocols, testing and expenditures to protect our vulnerable senior citizens who live in these facilities. The legislation was developed with the help of medical experts at UPMC with the goal of saving lives and giving families whose loved ones reside in these facilities peace of mind.

The urgent need for this legislation is well illustrated by the administration’s long-awaited release of data specific to each of the state’s long-term care facilities, available here.  More than 3,000 of the state’s COVID-19 deaths – nearly 70% of the state’s fatalities – have occurred among these residents. This is unacceptable.

The bill now goes to the Senate.
 
 
 
Early Distribution of Property Tax/Rent Rebate Funds Underway for Seniors, People with Disabilities

Legislation advanced by the House Republican Caucus that will allow qualified recipients of Property Tax/Rent Rebate assistance to start receiving their funds sooner has been signed into law by the governor.

Distribution of the rebates is now underway for those who have already filed for the rebate through the Department of Revenue; typically, distribution does not begin until July 1. People who qualify but have not yet applied for their rebates have until Dec. 31 to do so.

The program, which is funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery, provides property tax or rent assistance to seniors age 65 and over, widows or widowers age 55, and over and people with disabilities age 18 and over who meet program income guidelines.
                                    
For more information or to apply for the 2019 program year, click here. 
 
 
 
Unemployment Claims Exceed 2 Million, Extended Benefits Available

Well over 2.1 million Pennsylvanians – approximately one-third of the state’s entire workforce – have now filed for unemployment benefits, either through traditional unemployment or the special unemployment program for self-employed, independent contractors and gig workers.

While lawmakers work to help get our citizens back to work safely, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry this week launched the state’s Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program to provide an additional 13 weeks of benefits to people who have exhausted their regular unemployment compensation. The extended benefits were authorized in the federal CARES Act.

The department reports it has paid out nearly $7.4 billion in total unemployment benefits since mid-March.

A person is eligible for the extended benefits if they are unemployed between March 29 through Dec. 26, 2020; have exhausted regular state or federal benefits with the week ending July 6, 2019, or later; are currently not eligible for state or federal unemployment benefits; and are able and available to work and actively seeking work, except for COVID-19-related reasons including illness, quarantine or “stay-at-home” orders.

Important information about the extended benefits program has been emailed or mailed via the United States Postal Service to all individuals who potentially qualify for PEUC. For more information about this program, click here.

For complete information and the latest updates about unemployment, click here. 
 
 
District Office Open

When the governor closed nearly all state offices and sent state employees home, my district office remained open to assist all constituents by phone and email. Beginning June 1st, my office in Waynesboro will also be open for in-person service. My office locations in Greencastle and Hamilton Township will remain closed at this time in order to allow my staff to assist constituents with the high volume of calls and email inquiries which we continue to receive.
 
 
 
What’s New?

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) announced the statewide reopening of all All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) trails in state forests. The opening date also applies to designated motorcycle trails in Bald Eagle State Forest, including a dual sport trail running through the Seven Mountains region and a trail for off-highway motorcycles on Shade Mountain. ATV riding is only permitted on designated trails in Pennsylvania state forests. State forest roads, state parks and state game lands are not open to ATV riding. The DCNR website has the locations of the 11 ATV trail systems on state forest lands. All ATVs in Pennsylvania (except ATVs used solely for business or agricultural purposes) need to be registered and titled. Due to COVID-19, all ATV registrations scheduled to expire through Sunday, May 31, have been extended until Tuesday, June 30. For guidelines to about riding safely during the pandemic, click here.  DCNR also announced additional openings of state park and forest facilities, mainly in counites advancing to the governor’s “yellow phase” of reopening. For details about the status of park and forest facilities, click here.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) is reminding residents of assistance programs that may be available to them as they deal with COVID-19 and its impacts. Among the initiatives are the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) Recovery Crisis Program to help with residents at risk of losing access to electricity, natural gas or deliverable fuels; the Emergency Assistance Program to provide a one-time cash benefit to families who have experienced a significant income reduction or complete job loss; and the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program to help feed children while schools are closed. To learn more, click here.

DHS also issued guidance this week for people needing Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) criminal history background checks as a condition of employment while counties are operating under stay-at-home orders and differing points of the reopening plan. Under Act 18 of 2020, individuals who are required to obtain an FBI background check are given additional time to meet this requirement if they are unable to complete their fingerprinting scan due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, people are still strongly encouraged to get fingerprinted and obtain their FBI Criminal History Clearance as soon as they are able. Information about IdentoGO locations available to do fingerprinting, as well as other important information about this guidance, is available here. 
 
 
PennDOT Roadwork for May 26 to 29

  •   Locust Level Road, Montgomery Township, pipe replacement
  •   Fort Ritchie Road, Washington Township, crack sealing
  •   Hades Church Road, Antrim Township, crack sealing
  •   Buchanan Trail East (Pa. 16), Peters Township, drain cleaning
  •   Orrstown Road, Letterkenny and Southampton townships, grading
  •   Guitner Road, Hamilton Township, grading
 
Let's Get Connected

Our District

Web Site


RepSchemel.com

Office Locations
1402 E. Main Street, Waynesboro, PA 17268 | Phone: (717) 749-7384
1270 Crottlestown Road, Chambersburg, PA 17202 I Phone: (717) 263-1053
10655 Antrim Church Road, Greencastle, PA 17225 I Phone: (717) 895-3902 
Room 150-B, East Wing, PO Box 202090, Harrisburg PA 17120-2090 | Phone: (717) 783-5218
Email: pschemel@pahousegop.com
Share