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Boscola Bulletin

Just a Reminder – Stay at Home Ordered for Lehigh & Northampton Counties

Stay at home orderYesterday, Governor Wolf issued ‘Stay at Home’ orders for Lehigh and Northampton Counties -meaning people should only be leaving the house when it is absolutely necessary, including for trips to the grocery store, pharmacy or other important tasks. Here is a detailed list of what stay at home means, with clear explanations as to what is a reasonable exception to the order to stay at home.

It is critical we do everything we can to stop the spread of coronavirus as quickly as possible. The numbers of those infected could become unmanageable if we don’t do our part in our communities.  We are risking the health of ourselves and others when we do not heed the warnings of public health officials. As more testing becomes available, we are seeing more positive diagnoses, which again emphasizes the need for people to stay at home. Please do your part and stay at home.

Session Recap

Senate Passes SB 751Yesterday was a historic day in the Pennsylvania Senate. Members took part in a virtual voting session – voting and communicating remotely.

Emergency legislation was passed by both the House & Senate yesterday that shortens the school year and provides financial guarantees to schools and their employees as part of the state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak that led to Governor Wolf’s decision to close schools at this time. 

Also confirmed, as my office has had a number of inquiries about this, Pennsylvania Department of Education Secretary stated that ‘no matter how long schools remain closed, extending the school year past June is not an option’.

Legislation was also passed yesterday to delay Pennsylvania’s primary election by five weeks – rescheduling it for June 2.  Pennsylvania joins at least 10 additional states that have chosen to delay their primary elections until potentially past the height of the state’s COVID-19 cases. 

ElectionDay June 2, 2020In addition to delaying the primary date, the legislation gives county election offices a head-start on processing and counting mail-in ballots, recently allowed under the recent election reform passed in September. Letting election workers to start at 7 a.m. on election days, instead of after polls close - helping them prevent a backlog that county officials have warned could extend vote counting in the presidential race for days afterward. Lastly, this bill allows counties to consolidate polling places.

Keeping our residents healthy and safe is our number one priority right now.  These steps that were taken yesterday are just two of many things we continue to work on daily to ensure we, as a Commonwealth, get through this time of uncertainty together. 

The following bills that were voted on yesterday have been forwarded and received by Governor Wolf and are awaiting his signature:

SB 422 - AN ACT Amending the act of June 3, 1937 (P.L.1333, No. 320), entitled “An act concerning elections, including general, municipal, special and primary elections, the nomination of candidates, primary and election expenses and election contests. The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; et al

SB 751 - AN ACT Amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L. 30, No. 14), entitled “An act relating to the public school system, including certain provisions applicable as well as private and parochial schools; amending, revising, consolidating and changing the laws relating thereto. The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; et al

HB 68 - AN ACT Amending the act of December 5, 1936 (2nd Sp.Sess., 1937 P.L. 2897, No.1), entitled “An act establishing a system of unemployment compensation to be administered by the Department of Labor and Industry and its existing and newly created agencies with personnel. The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; et al

HB 1232 - AN ACT Amending the act of April 9,1929 (P.L. 343, No. 176), entitled “An act relating to the finances of the State government; providing for cancer control, prevention and research, for ambulatory surgical center data collection, for the Joint Underwriting Association. The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; et al

Families First Coronavirus Response Act – Expansion of FMLA

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provided for the expansion of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This is a federal program administered by the US Department of Labor. 

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) published its first round of implementation guidance pursuant to the FFCRA yesterday.

The following was provided to us as guidance by the USDOL and has been posted on our website.  The information can be found at: https://www.uc.pa.gov/COVID-19/Pages/FFCRA.aspx

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide their employees with expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.  The United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.  Please read the below fact sheets to determine if you are eligible.

COVID-19 Business AssistanceSmall Business Update

The Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) has opened the application process for working capital loans up to $100,000 to help small businesses through the COVID-19 emergency.

Many companies will be applying for loans and the process is expected to be competitive, so I urge any Lehigh Valley companies interested in applying for these loans to do so as quickly as possible.

PIDA’s Small Business First Fund will provide $61 million to help businesses through the emergency. Under PIDA’s COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program (CWCA), for-profit small businesses with 100 or fewer employees worldwide could be eligible for working capital loans up to $100,000.

Lehigh Valley Economic DevelopmentA detailed list of items required and forms that must be filled out as part of the application can be found on the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation website, lehighvalley.org/covid19-pida, along with other details about the program.

Additional information can be found at this fact sheet and these program guidelines provided by the state.

Below are additional facts about eligibility and other details related to the loans. Any questions should be directed to mailto:msierra.serfass@pasenate.com

What You Need to Know:

  • Eligible Businesses: For-profit businesses located in Lehigh and Northampton counties with 100 or fewer employees may qualify for disaster relief loans.
  • Loan Amount: The maximum loan amount is $100,000.
  • Eligible Costs: Eligible costs include operating costs incurred 3 months prior to the submission of the application. Retail/service enterprises are eligible for up to 50% of working capital costs incurred up to six months prior to submission of the application. Working capital are costs used for operations excluding fixed assets and production machinery and equipment.
  • Interest Rates: Interest rates are 0% for eligible businesses and 2% for agricultural producers.
  • Amortization: 12 years
  • Term: 3 years
  • Repayment: No payment in first year, with amortized payments monthly for the following 24 months, and one balloon payment due at the end of the third year
  • Guarantors: Each individual or other business entities owning 20% or more of applicant business must guarantee the loan.
  • Collateral: The loan shall be secured by a blanket lien on all business assets currently owned or acquired in the future at the highest lien position available.
  • Fees: $750 non-refundable application fee payable at the time of application, and 1.5% of the loan amount.

Governor Requests Waiver to Support Food Security, SNAP Access for College Students

Yesterday, Governor Wolf’s Administration submitted a waiver to the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to waive the student eligibility criteria for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Make PA countFederal regulations state that an individual who is enrolled at least half-time in an institution of higher education shall be ineligible to participate in SNAP unless they qualify for an exemption or are employed for a minimum of 20 hours per week. The Wolf Administration’s waiver request seeks to give the Department of Human Services (DHS) the ability to waive these regulations and deem students eligible for SNAP benefits until COVID-19 health emergency has ended.

Current federal regulations also state that students not meeting additional eligibility criteria are not included in their household’s SNAP eligibility. For example, in a household of three where one member is a student, the household would only receive SNAP benefits for two of the members. Now that students are home, these families may not have the resources, either monetarily or in food supply, to support the additional person now residing with them. The waiver will allow for low-income households with a student who is attending an institution of higher education to receive additional SNAP benefits to feed the whole family during the COVID-19 emergency.

A Government Accountability Office report released in January 2019 found that at least one in three college students do not always have enough to eat. Many of these students come from families working in public service type jobs, which are also seeing a reduction in hours or closure due to the COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

The Wolf Administration is taking steps to ensure access to food does not stop in spite of the COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Details of those efforts, as well as food assistance resources, are available here.

DHS is continuing to process applications for SNAP and encourages people and families who need assistance to apply online at www.compass.state.pa.us. Pennsylvanians who need help feeding themselves or their family should find and contact their local food bank or pantry through Feeding Pennsylvania and Hunger-Free Pennsylvania.

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Offices of State Senator Lisa M. Boscola

www.senatorboscola.com

BETHLEHEM OFFICE
One East Broad Street
Suite 120
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 868-8667
Fax: (610) 861-2184
Toll-free: 1-877-535-1818
EASTON OFFICE
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Easton, PA 18042
(610) 250-5627
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HARRISBURG OFFICE
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Harrisburg, PA 17120-3018
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Fax: (717) 783-1257
Senate of PA:
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