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Boscola Bulletin

Governor Tom Wolf mandated that all non-life-sustaining businesses close their physical locations

Yesterday, Governor Tom Wolf  made the decision to close non-life-sustaining businesses as the Commonwealth, and the nation, are in the midst of a public health crisis to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and help save lives of ALL Pennsylvanians. Today, we have 85  new cases of COVID-19 – bringing our total to 268 confirmed cases.

The Coronavirus, COVID-19, provides a danger to all Pennsylvanians as it could been anywhere & everywhere.  Taking the steps necessary to implement mitigation actions to protect the health & well-being of all our constituents is our main priority right now to help stop the spread of this virus. 

To view the governor's list of non-life-sustaining vs. life-sustaining businesses, click here. (In extenuating circumstances, special exemptions will be granted to businesses that are supplying or servicing health care providers.)

Failure to comply with these requirements will result in enforcement action that could include citations, fines, or license suspensions. 

Enforcement Actions for Non-Compliance will begin at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 21.

Unsure if your business is considered life-sustaining or not?

Update for Insurance Companies

As one of the largest employers in the Commonwealth, the insurance industry has a special responsibility not only to serve policyholders, which is always the priority, but also to look out for the health and safety of the employees.

The Administration recognizes there are functions within many insurance companies that must continue to ensure the critical needs of your policyholders are met. With that in mind, the announcement also put forth that special exceptions may be provided in limited circumstances. Pennsylvania Insurance Department has been given oversight of applying that exceptions process for our regulated entities. To do so effectively, the Department offers the following guidance:

  • ANYTHING that can either be handled via telework or foregone all together for a period of time should be done so
  • ANYTHING that can be done to minimize the number of people needed in the office and/or the number of people needed in the office at one time should be done
  • Very limited personnel, such as very limited on site IT support to monitor network operability for a large workforce operating via telework or a minimal staff to process mail, where social distancing is inherently applied because of the small number of people anticipated to be present in the office, is acceptable without the need for processing of an individual exception
  • Services needed to directly support otherwise deemed life-sustaining functions are acceptable without the need for processing of an individual exception; if this is unclear, please discuss with the Department. In these cases, social distancing and other preventive measures should be applied to the greatest extent possible. (the only example of this the Department is aware of is an integrated delivery system providing child care for working medical professionals in their health system, where the child care center is located within the insurance entity's offices)
  • If there are any truly essential functions that under no circumstances can be foregone or executed via telework, therefore requiring a significant number of employees in a given office space, PID will need to individually grant an exception. In order to obtain such an exception, regulated entities should email me at and outline: 
    • Why these functions are absolutely essential
    • Why these functions cannot be completed via telework
    • Processes the company has implemented or will implement immediately, such as social distancing, to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 amongst employees

Small Business Assistance

small businessDuring this time of great uncertainty, I wanted to take the opportunity to inform the small business owners in my district that my office will be a main point of reference for you by providing information on potential funding programs to you as soon as information is available.  Please send your contact information to Sierra Serfass at sierra.serfass@pasenate.com to make sure will receive our updates.

Waiver of Penalties on Accelerated Sales Tax Prepayments

The Department of Revenue is waiving penalties for businesses that are required to make Accelerated Sales Tax (AST) prepayments by the today’s deadline.

Additionally, for April sales tax payments, the department is waiving the AST prepayment requirement and asking businesses to simply remit the sales tax that they have collected in March.

Visit the Department of Revenue’s page on Accelerated Sales Tax Prepayments for more information on how to calculate your prepayments.

All businesses are encouraged to remit online using e-TIDES, the department’s online tax system for businesses. Find the REV-819 on the department’s website for a schedule of return and prepayment due dates. You can also  visit the department’s Online Customer Service Center to find answers to common tax questions or submit a question to the department.

Federal

Yesterday afternoon, the Small Business Administration has just opened their applications for Disaster Loan Assistance. Please see the link below to apply. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides low-interest, long-term disaster loans to businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners, and renters to repair or replace uninsured/underinsured disaster damaged property. SBA disaster loans offer an affordable way for individuals and businesses to recover from declared disasters. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.  As a small business, small agricultural cooperative, small business engaged in aquaculture, or private non-profit organization you may borrow up to $2 million for Economic Injury.  Check out the brochure on the three-step loan process on how to apply for the Disaster Loan Assistance.

State

Staff at the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), as well as local partner networks, are available to help businesses through this challenging time.

The Commonwealth is creating an emergency response fund to aid Pennsylvania small businesses impacted by COVID-19.  Specifically, the Small Business First Fund, administered by the PA Industrial Development Authority (PIDA), will initially have $61 million available for business assistance. The applications are expected to be available within the next week.

In addition to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation and their partners are seeking your help to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the regional economy to assess business needs. Their survey is linked here.

Private

Facebook announced on Tuesday a $100 million program to help small businesses as governments throughout the country urge gyms and restaurants to close their doors to slow the coronavirus pandemic. Facebook said the grants will be available for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries. That would be an average of $3,333 per business. It could help businesses experiencing a sharp drop in traffic, but it’s a fraction of Facebook’s typical revenue.

Facebook will begin taking applications in the coming weeks. In the meantime, you can sign up to receive more information when it becomes available.

Commonwealth Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update from Department of Health

As the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) work together to implement mitigation efforts, the following are most notable in terms of preparation:

  • Testing --Increasing testing capacity among DOH, commercials labs and hospitals.
  • Supplies--DOH and PEMA are coordinating to increase supplies and equipment, and have received additional supplies from the national stockpile.  Distribution has already occurred to 47 counties and will continue to occur in a very strategic manner, targeting health care professionals/facilities and first responders first.
  • Personal Protective Equipment --Looking at innovative ways to provide supplies, such as whether masks used by the mining industry can be converted.
  • Ventilators – Discussions have already taken place with manufacturers to increase production.
  • Hospital Beds – DOH and PEMA are working with the Hospital Association of PA and assessing bed capacity across the state. This includes how many beds a hospital/healthsystem can expand to accommodate, the potential use of recently shuttered hospitals and possible use of ambulatory surgical facilities, among others.  DOH has already waived regulations to allow for this expansion and use.
  • Healthcare Practitioners – DOH fully supports actions already taken by the Department of State to waive regulations to increase the healthcare workforce and supports other actions that would allow for the inclusion of medical students and retired physicians to be accessed. 

How to get tested for COVID-19

Before you get tested, make sure your symptoms warrant further action.

You can get screened through an e-visit by completing a questionnaire at MyLVHN.org or the MyLVHN app. Learn more at LVHN.org/Evisit. You can also try a secure video visit with an LVHN health care provider at LVHN.org/videovisit. Or, you can call the hotline at 888-402-5846.

St. Luke’s University Health Network offers a similar telephone and email hotline to respond to inquiries from patients and the public, alike. Those with questions and concerns are encouraged to call 866-785-8537 (STLUKES) and press option 7, or email coronavirus@sluhn.org.

It's Okay to ask for help

Tax Day 2020 Moved from April 15 to July 15

TaxesThe federal government has given Americans an additional three months to file their taxes - Tax Day has been shifted to July 15 from the usual April 15. The deadline delay comes as millions of people are self-isolating and millions more cope with "shelter-in-place" orders due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties.

Update on Veteran’s Affairs Amid the COVID-19 Crisis

While the Pennsylvania Department of Veteran’s Affairs has implemented social distancing, employees are processing applications for all programs as they are received.

  1. Veterans Temporary Assistance (VTA) & Military Family Relief and Assistance Program (MFRAP) – The turnaround time for fully developed  claims is less than five days. We continue to process applications for Veterans Temporary Assistance and the Military Family Relief Assistance Program as hey are received. Applications for VTA are initiated through the County Director of Veterans Affairs (CDVA). If the CDVA staff are not available due to county office closure the veteran may contact us directly at 800-547-2838 or by email at Ra-vta@pa.gov. Applications for these programs are our priority.
  2. Disabled Veteran Real Estate Tax Exemption Program – These applications must be initiated by the local County Directors’ Office of Veteran Affairs. A decrease in the number of applications is anticipated as county offices close or are unable to accept in-person appointments. The next tax cycle occurs in the July/August time frame. Therefore, it is not anticipated that there will be an effect on applicants at this time. However, we are looking at future options. For example, regulatory requirement exemption related to 43 Pa Code §5.25, effective date of exemption.
  3. Military Family Relief Assistance Program (MFRAP) - Application forms are available online (veterans.pa.gov) or from PNG Family Assistance Centers. Applications may be mailed to DMVA, MFRAP, Building 0-47, FTIG, Annville, PA 17003-5002. To expedite the application process, applications and supporting documents may be faxed to 717-861-9084.
  4. Pension Programs (Amputee & Paralyzed & Blind) – We do not anticipate any delay in April payments.
  5. Educational Gratuity – We do not anticipate any delay in April payments.
  6. Discharge Records Request Programs - We do not anticipate an interruption of service related to Veterans Discharge Records Request Program. Requests are being processed as they are received.
  7. Outreach Events – All outreach events have been cancelled until further notice.
  8. PA VetConnect - Regional Outreach Program Coordinators (RPOCs) are available to assist CDVAs and Veteran Advocates to enable them to better serve our Veterans and families with additional resources. All CDVAs have been provided direct contact information for the RPOCs. RPOCs are responding to inquiries from our community partners as they are received.
  9. State Veterans Commission (SVC) – The 4 Apr 20 meeting has been cancelled. We remain in contact with the SVC membership and will provide the meeting materials for their review as scheduled.
  10. Governor’s Advisory Council on Veterans Services (GAC-VS) – We remain in contact with the GAC-VS membership and continue our collaborative efforts to assist the veterans’ community.

How to best protect yourself from COVID-19

Stay Informed, Stay Safe, Stay Home

It's Okay to ask for help

 

How Can I protect myself

 

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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
1701 Washington Blvd.
Easton, PA 18042
(610) 250-5627
(610) 250-5629
Fax: (610) 250-1889
HARRISBURG OFFICE
458 Main Capitol Building
Senate Box 203018
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3018
(717) 787-4236
Fax: (717) 783-1257
Senate of PA:
1-800-364-158 (TTY)