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Boscola Bulletin

Good morning,

I know it may feel like you have been inundated with information the past few weeks however I am trying to make sure all information that may affect some of you is readily available to you in a timely manner.

Currently, my District Office is fully functioning – feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns you may have.  We are all trying our best to practice social distancing so I ask you contact my offices either via phone (610-868-8667) or email.  Thank you in advance!

Statewide Stay-At-Home Orders Effective

Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine yesterday announced all 67 Pennsylvania counties will be under stay-at-home orders as of 8 p.m. last evening.

Stay at Home“This is the most prudent option to stop the spread of COVID-19 across our commonwealth, where cases continue to grow daily,” Gov. Wolf said. “We appreciate the shared sacrifice of all 12.8 million Pennsylvanians; we are in this together and this statewide stay-at-home order is being made after many discussions with multiple state agencies; Dr. Levine; and state, county and local officials as we continue to monitor the most effective ways to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Previously, there were 33 counties on statewide stay-at-home orders. The first orders were issued on March 23 for seven counties.

The statewide stay-at-home order took effect last night and will continue until April 30. All Pennsylvania schools will remain closed until further notice and non-life-sustaining business closures remain in effect. All essential state services will continue.

This statewide stay-at-home order is not just to protect ourselves from exposure to COVID-19, but it protects those on the front lines. 

Individuals may leave their residence only to perform any of the following allowable individual activities and allowable essential travel:

  • Tasks essential to maintain health and safety, or the health and safety of their family or household members (including pets), such as obtaining medicine or medical supplies, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies they need to work from home
  • Getting necessary services or supplies for themselves, for their family or household members, or as part of volunteer efforts, or to deliver those services or supplies to others to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences
  • Engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking or running if they maintain social distancing
  • To perform work providing essential products and services at a life-sustaining business
  • To care for a family member or pet in another household
  • Any travel related to the provision of or access to the above-mentioned individual activities or life-sustaining business activities
  • Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons
  • Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services
  • Travel to return to a place of residence from an outside jurisdiction
  • Travel required by law enforcement or court order
  • Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the commonwealth
  • Anyone performing life-sustaining travel does not need paperwork to prove the reason for travel.

The following operations are exempt:

  • Life-sustaining business activities
  • Health care or medical services providers
  • Access to life-sustaining services for low-income residents, including food banks
  • Access to child care services for employees of life-sustaining businesses that remain open as follows: child care facilities operating under the Department of Human Services, Office of Child Development and Early Learning waiver process; group and family child care operating in a residence; and part-day school age programs operating under an exemption from the March 19, 2020 business closure Orders
  • News media
  • Law enforcement, emergency medical services personnel, firefighters
  • The federal government
  • Religious institutions

At this time, law enforcement will be focused on ensuring that residents are aware of the order and informing the public of social distancing practices rather than enforcement. To report a noncompliant business, contact your local law enforcement agency’s non-emergency number or the nearest Pennsylvania State Police station. Please do not call 911 or the Department of Community and Economic Development to file reports. Law enforcement officers should refer to Business Closure Order Enforcement Guidance available online.

Social Security Recipients: Update to Stimulus Check

Social Security recipients who don’t usually file tax returns need to take NO ACTION and will automatically get their $1,200 payment directly deposited to their bank account. For more  information, check out the following article from the Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/01/bailout-checks-social-security/.

LOCAL UPDATE: Tax Extension Information

Northampton County

taxesThe 2% Discount period for the payment of all Northampton County Real Estate taxes has been extended from March 31, 2020 to May 31. 2020.  The Base period has been extended from May 31, 2020 to August 31, 2020.  Payments that are postmarked later than August 31, 2020 will be assessed a 10% Penalty. 

Please be aware that if a taxpayer is paying in installments, those due dates have not been changed.  The first installment was due on 03/31/2020, the second installment is still due on 05/31/20 and the third installment is still due on 07/31/20.  Your constituents can call the Northampton County Revenue Division at 610-829-6186 for individual information with regard to the payment status of their 2020 Northampton County Real Estate Taxes.
Please note - these extended due dates are for the payment of the 2020 Northampton County Real Estate Taxes only and apply to all Northampton County Real Estate Tax payers.

City of Bethlehem

City of Bethlehem is extending the deadline for paying the Earned Income Tax and Business Privilege Tax to July 15, 2020 because of the hardship caused to many residents by the COVID-19 pandemic.

2020 City of Bethlehem’s Real Estate taxes paid or postmarked before May 11, 2020 will be eligible for the 2% discount. In addition, the due date for full payment of the City Real Estate Tax will be extended from May 29, 2020 to August 10, 2020.

City of Easton

City of Easton is extending the deadline for filing Earned Income Tax forms and payments until July 15, 2020 – Business Privilege Tax until August 1, 2020.  The 2020 City of Easton Real Estate tax deadline has been extended, without penalty, to August 1, 2020.

Local Earned Income Tax

If you pay your local earned income tax through Berkheimer or Keystone Collections, the deadline to file is July 15th, 2020.

Updated Business Waiver Information

BE ADVISED: BUSINESS EXEMPTION SUBMISSION PERIOD
ENDS Friday, April 3, 2020 at 5 p.m.

DCEDThe Business FAQs can be found on the DCED website at  https://dced.pa.gov/resources/ and includes the following revisions:

  • Adds language notifying about the deadline to submit waivers.
  • Car dealership language updated to prohibit leasing in line with letter sent to dealers
  • Adds language on notaries referencing the waiver granted by DOS for certain electronic notary activities and directing to the DOS site on regulations.
  • Adds language prohibiting in person apartment leasing
  • Garden centers prohibited except for establishments primarily engaged in retailing farm supplies, such as animal (except pet) feed. 
  • Short term rentals prohibited
  • Games of Skill Prohibited

Below is a list of changes the administration has made since the industry operation guidance process started (most recent updates are underlined)

No to Yes 

  • Timber Tract Operations 
  • Forest Nurseries and Local Gathering of Forest Products
  • Logging 
  • Support Activities for Forestry 
  • Coal Mining 
  • Metal Ore Mining 
  • Nonmetallic Mineral Mining and Quarrying 
  • Activities for Mining 
  • Sawmills and Wood Preservation
  • Printing & Related Support Activities
  • Glass and Glass Product Manufacturing
  • Lime and Gypsum Product Manufacturing
  • Specialty Food Stores 
  • Miscellaneous Durable Goods Merchant Wholesalers 
  • Insurance Carriers 
  • Insurance and Employee Benefit Funds
  • Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping, and Payroll Services
  • Dry-cleaning and Laundry Services 
  • Private Households 
  • Veneer, Plywood, and Engineered Wood Product Manufacturing
  • Other Wood Product Manufacturing
  • Lumber and Other Construction Materials Merchant Wholesalers

Added Notes But Still No

  • Residential Building Construction – Except emergency repairs permitted
  • Nonresidential Building Construction - Except emergency repairs and construction of health care facilities permitted
  • Utility Subsystem Construction – Except emergency repairs permitted
  • Highway, Street and Bridge Construction – Except emergency repairs permitted
  • Other Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction – Except emergency repairs permitted
  • Foundation, Structure, and Building Exterior Contractors – Except emergency repairs permitted
  • Building Equipment Contractors – Except emergency repairs permitted
  • Other Specialty Trade Contractors – Except emergency repairs permitted
  • Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing - Except defense industrial base manufacturing under CISA advisory is permitted
  • Other Miscellaneous Manufacturing - Except defense industrial base manufacturing under CISA advisory is permitted
  • Clothing Stores - Except uniforms and accessories/supplies for public safety and health care professionals
  • Other Miscellaneous Store Retailers - Except pet supplies stores permitted
  • Securities and Commodity Exchanges - Except for financial services under CISA advisory is permitted
  • Securities and Commodity Exchanges - Except for financial services under CISA advisory is permitted
  • Other Financial Investment Activities - Except for financial services under CISA advisory is permitted
  • Legal Services - Except as required to allow attorneys to participate in court functions deemed essential by a president judge per the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's order of March 18, 2020, or similar federal court directive, and lawyers may access their offices to effectuate such functions and directives.
  • Child Day Care Services – No – Except where permeated by waiver 
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools – No - Except for staff to support residence halls where students must remain
  • Elementary and Secondary Schools – No - Except for essential employees
  • Retail trade and health and personal care -No- Except pharmacies permitted
  • Drinking places  -No- Takeout and delivery permitted
  • All subcategories within educational services -No- Refer to PDE guidance: education.pa.gov/COVID19
  • Direct selling establishments -No- Fuel sellers and bottled water sellers permitted
  • Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing -No- added “transportation” as an additional critical infrastructure sector. 
  • Sporting Goods, Hobby, and Musical Instrument Stores -No- Except that firearms dealers may operate physical businesses on a limited basis to complete only the portions of a sale/transfer that must be conducted in-person under the law, subject to the following restrictions:  1) all such sale/transfers will be conducted by individual appointment during limited hours only so as to minimize social interactions and congregating of persons; 2) the dealer will comply with social distancing, sanitization of applicable area between appointments, and other mitigation measures to protect its employees and the public. 
  • Paint, Coating, and Adhesive Manufacturing -No- Except as authorized under CISA advisory Version 1.1 permitted.
  • Vending Machine Operators -No- Except those serving health care or emergency management facilities permitted
  • Lawn and Garden Equipment and Supplies Stores -No-  Except establishments primarily engaged in retailing farm supplies, such as animal (except pet) feed. 

No to Yes w/ Notes 

  • Agencies, Brokerages, and Other Insurance Related Activities - Yes - In-person sales/brokerage are prohibited.
  • preparation and distribution of meals for children
  • Travel Accommodation – Yes – This category includes hotels and motels 
  • Telecommunication Resellers -Yes- Does not include retailers who sell devices at a public location. 

Yes to No w/ Notes 

  • Other Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services – No - Except veterinary services and translation/interpreter services permitted.
  • Beer, Wine and Liquor Stores – No – Except Beer Distributors 
  • Offices of Dentists -No- Refer to Pennsylvania Department of Health Revised Guidance on COVID-19 for Dental Health Care Personnel in Pennsylvania

Still a yes but without a note now

  • Rooming and Boarding Houses– Yes – “Rooming and Boarding Houses” is no longer on the list 

Still a Yes w/ Notes 

  • Depository Credit Intermediation - Yes - This category includes consumer banks and credit unions using drive-through, ATM, and limited lobby services
  • Services to Building and Dwellings – Yes - This category includes janitorial, pest control,
  • and landscaping services.
  • Personal Household Goods Repairs and Maintenance – Yes- Including motorcycle and bicycle repair (but sales not permitted).
  • Traveler Accommodation -Yes- This category includes hotels and motels, however short term residential rentals are prohibited. 

Small Business & Non-Profit Injury Disaster Loans

United States Small Business AdministrationLow-interest loans for small businesses and eligible non-profits in all 67 counties in Pennsylvania are available through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact.

The interest rate is 3.75 percent for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75 percent.

SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.

Businesses may obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired), or by e-mailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Loan applications can also be downloaded at www.sba.gov/disaster. Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via the SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

Completed applications should be returned to the local DLOC or mailed to:

U.S. Small Business Administration
Processing and Disbursement Center
14925 Kingsport Road
Fort Worth, TX 76155

The deadline to return economic injury disaster loan applications is Dec. 21, 2020.

Additionally, the University of Pittsburgh Small Business Development Center has put together a resource guide that features other loan programs currently available for small businesses. Please click here to access the resource guide.

Self-employed Federal CARES Update

The federal CARES Act will provide unemployment benefits to the self-employed, gig workers, and other individuals who previously were not eligible for unemployment.  Special instructions will be provided to these individuals.  At this time, you should NOT file a claim through the existing online system or phone number if you are not currently eligible for unemployment.

COVID-19-Emergency Request to Temporarily Suspend Regulatory Requirements and/or Permit Conditions

In accordance with Governor Wolf’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency of March 6, 2020 and the Governor’s powers pursuant to the Emergency Management Code, 35 Pa.C.S. §7301, the Governor has authority to suspend regulatory obligations and other legal obligations within his jurisdiction where strict compliance will prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with the COVID-19 emergency.

To request a temporary suspension of regulatory requirements and/or permit conditions, fill out this form and submit to RA-EPCOVID19SuspReq@pa.gov.

*If you are requesting suspension of a Federal requirement, under only Federal authority, please contact US EPA Region III and refer to the US EPA March 26, 2020 Memorandum (COVID-19 Implications for EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program). To the extent the request relates to a federal program delegated to Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania will review requests submitted in this format.

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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)