In this issue:
Coronavirus Response Bills Signed Into Law
Four bills I supported this week to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency were signed into law by Governor Wolf yesterday.
The new laws will provide more funding to purchase medical supplies and equipment; amend the Unemployment Compensation law to ease eligibility requirements for affected workers; extend the deadline for local EIT tax filing; change the School Code to waive requirements pertaining to instructional time; and move the date of Pennsylvania’s primary election from April 28 to June 2.
More details about the new laws are available here.
In order to prevent close contact between individuals in a large group, most Senators voted remotely through teleconference technology for the first time in the state’s history. In order to ensure transparency and public access, session and committee meetings were all streamed live. A full, gavel-to-gavel recording of session and committee activity is available here.
Governor Wolf’s “Stay-At-Home” Order Expanded to 12 More Counties
The number of counties affected by Governor Wolf’s “stay-at-home” order grew to 22 today, as 12 more counties were added to the list in the past two days. New counties covered by the order include: Beaver, Berks, Butler, Centre, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Luzerne, Pike, Wayne, Washington, Westmoreland and York.
Counties that were previously added to the list and remain under restriction include: Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton and Philadelphia counties.
Residents of these counties should stay at home as much as possible and only go outside for a small number of life-sustaining activities, such as collecting groceries or prescriptions, going to critical medical appointments, caring for sick family members and other essential travel. Full guidelines about what activities are allowed or prohibited by the order are available here.
List of Life-Sustaining Businesses Updated; Up to 10,000 Businesses Submit Waiver Requests
A week ago, Governor Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close in order to contain the spread of COVID-19. A number of concerns were raised about potential oversights on the list, and nearly 10,000 businesses submitted waiver requests in the first few days following the order.
Since the list was first issued last week, it has been revised several times to allow a wider range of essential businesses to operate. Some of these industries include mining, logging, some types of manufacturing, insurance, laundry services and other industries that are critical parts of the supply chain for essential businesses.
A list of frequently asked questions about the governor’s order is available here. Waiver requests can be submitted here. The PA Chamber of Business and Industry has also developed a new webpage with resources for businesses during the coronavirus, which is available here.
License Renewal Deadlines Extended for Nurses and Other Professionals
Nurses, graduate medical trainees, nursing home administrators and other professionals have been given more time to renew their state occupational licenses.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department of State is extending the April, May and June license renewal deadlines for these professionals — as well as for barbers, navigation pilots and real estate professionals — to July, August and September.
You can find a complete list of extended professional and occupational renewal deadlines here.
DHS Assists Essential Workers in Finding Child Care Providers
The Department of Human Services (DHS) recently unveiled a new tool to help essential workers find childcare providers that are permitted to serve the families of essential personnel during the COVID-19 emergency.
All licensed child care centers and group child care homes operating outside of a residence have been ordered to close. In order to meet the needs of essential personnel – such as healthcare providers, first responders, and grocery and food service employees – the DHS Office of Child Development and Early Learning is processing waiver requests for centers and group care homes that serve only these families.
Information about child care providers that have been granted waivers is available on the DHS website. Family child care homes and group child care homes operated inside a residence may continue to operate at their discretion without a waiver. Information about these providers is available at www.findchildcare.pa.gov.