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Boscola Bulletin

Happy First Day of Spring

Senate Resolution Allows Members to Vote Remotely

Senate ChamberYesterday afternoon, the Senate took an important step to continue its operations safely by passing a resolution allowing members to vote remotely. The temporary emergency rules change will ensure the Senate can continue voting even when members cannot be physically present due to coronavirus mitigation efforts that are ongoing across the Commonwealth.

This resolution has created a mechanism for members to file bills electronically and to participate in committee meetings and session through the use of communications technology. The emergency powers are scheduled to expire July 31, 2020 or 10 days following the expiration of the governor’s emergency order, whichever is sooner.

PennDOT Reopens Select Rest Areas for Truck Parking

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has re-opened select rest areas across Pennsylvania for truck parking. PennDOT rest areas were closed at midnight Tuesday in response to Governor Tom Wolf’s mitigation guidance regarding COVID-19.

Truck StopTo address safety concerns raised, PennDOT has identified 13 of its 30 rest areas in critical locations that will be available for truck parking starting today, March 19.

Each location will have five portable toilets (one of which is ADA-accessible) that will be cleaned once a day. Electronic message signs will be used near the applicable centers to notify drivers near the opened areas. To prevent further spread of COVID-19, PennDOT does not plan to open any of the indoor facilities due to staff availability to keep facilities clean and properly sanitized.

These are the locations that will be reopened for truck parking:

  • Interstate 79: Crawford County NB/SB;
  • Interstate 79: Allegheny NB only; 
  • Interstate 80: Venango County EB/WB;
  • Interstate 80: Centre County EB/WB;
  • Interstate 80: Montour County EB/WB;
  • Interstate 81: Luzerne County NB/SB;
  • Interstate 81: Cumberland County NB/SB;

The department will continue to evaluate and will determine whether additional rest areas can be reopened.

Department of Human Services Restricts Visitation at DHS State-Run Facilities

The Department of Human Services has implemented a series of proactive measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of residents and staff at Pennsylvania’s state centers, state hospitals, youth development centers, and youth forestry camps. These measures, which are consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, include significant restrictions on visitation. 

All visitors are currently prohibited from all state center and state hospital campuses, youth development centers, and youth forestry camps, and the policy will remain in place until guidance from public-health professionals changes. Exceptions to the policy are in place for visits of medical necessity, visits by probation departments or legal counsel, and family or clergy visits approved by the facility director. Residents of state hospitals maintain their rights to attorney consultations. Any visitor permitted will be screened for health concerns upon their arrival. 

  • Pennsylvania’s four state centers, which serve individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism, are: Ebensburg Center in Cambria County; Polk Center in Venango County; Selinsgrove Center in Snyder County; and White Haven Center in Luzerne County.

  • Pennsylvania’s six state hospitals, which provide comprehensive psychiatric treatment and substance abuse services to people with mental illness, are: Clarks Summit State Hospital in Lackawanna County; Danville State Hospital in Montour County; Norristown State Hospital in Montgomery County; Torrance State Hospital in Westmoreland County; Warren State Hospital in Warren County; and Wernersville State Hospital in Berks County. This also applies to South Mountain Restoration Center, a long-term care facility operated by the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

  • Pennsylvania’s youth development centers and youth forestry camps provide treatment, care, and custody services to Pennsylvania's most at-risk youth. The three youth development centers are South Mountain Secure Treatment Unit in Franklin County, North Central Secure Treatment Unit in Montour County, and Loysville Youth Development Center in Perry County. The commonwealth’s two youth forestry camps are in Hickory Run State Park in Luzerne County and in Trough Creek State Park in Huntingdon County. 

PA Game Commission Bald Eagle Cam

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PA Game Commission Bald Eagle Cam

Licensed Health Care Practitioners Can Provide Telemedicine Services to Pennsylvanians

Health Care PractitionersHealth care professionals licensed under any of the Department of State’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA) licensing boards can provide services to patients via telemedicine during the coronavirus emergency.

This new guidance applies to the following boards:

  • Chiropractic
  • Dentistry
  • Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Optometry
  • Pharmacy
  • Podiatry
  • Psychology
  • Osteopathic Medicine
  • Nursing Home Administrators
  • Occupational Therapy Education and Licensure
  • Physical Therapy
  • Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Professional Counselors
  • Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology
  • Veterinary Medicine

Currently, no Pennsylvania law prohibits the practice of telemedicine. 
Governor Wolf also granted the department’s request for a suspension to allow licensed practitioners in other states to provide services to Pennsylvanians via the use of telemedicine, without obtaining a Pennsylvania license, for the duration of the emergency. Out-of-state practitioners must:

  • be licensed and in good standing in their home state, territory or country.
  • provide the Pennsylvania board from whom they would normally seek licensure with the following information prior to practicing telemedicine with Pennsylvanians:
    • their full name, home or work mailing address, telephone number and email address; and
    • their license type, license number or other identifying information that is unique to that practitioner’s license, and the state or other governmental body that issued the license.

Please submit the information requested above to the appropriate board resource account listed on the BPOA website.

All practitioners using telemedicine in Pennsylvania must remain informed on all federal and state laws, regulations and guidance regarding telemedicine, including a practitioner’s obligations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and recent guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Provides Guidance to Licensees

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board today announced exercise of its authority, with authorization from the Governor, to mandate that all retail licensees, clubs, permittees, and producers must cease the sale of food and alcohol for on-premises consumption, effective at 8:00 PM yesterday and until further notice, in the interest of slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus and mitigating the unprecedented public health crisis the commonwealth faces.

Any licensee that fails to comply with this mandate now risks citation by the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement and suspension of operating authority by the PLCB. Any licensee that continues to operate after its license is suspended risks further enforcement action and closure by the BLCE. Ultimately, citations may put the business’s liquor license at risk, both through the citation process and upon application for renewal to the PLCB.

The PLCB, upon authorization from the Governor, has the authority to mandate the closure of licensed establishments in times of emergency.

Impacts of this mandate on specific license types, effective March 18, 2020, at 8 p.m., are as follows:

  • Restaurant, retail dispenser and hotel licensees may not allow the service or consumption of food or alcohol on the licensed premises.  Sales to go are still permitted, as are hotel sales of food and alcohol for consumption in a private room.
  • Licensees holding wine expanded permits authorizing the sale of wine to go may not allow the service or consumption of food or alcohol on the licensed premises. Sales to go are still permitted, as are the operation of a grocery store, convenience store or gas station next to the licensed premises.
  • Airport restaurant license holders may not allow the service or consumption of food or alcohol on the licensed premises.  Sales to go are still permitted.
  • Clubs and catering clubs may not allow the service or consumption of food or alcohol on the licensed premises, and such licensees are not authorized to sell any alcohol to go.  They may continue selling food to go.
  • Permittees including special occasion, off-premise catering, exposition and farmers markets may not allow the service or consumption of food or alcohol on the licensed premises or at public gatherings.
  • Breweries, distilleries/limited distilleries, and limited wineries may not allow the service or consumption of food or alcohol on the licensed premises.  Sales of the producer’s own alcohol for off premises consumption is permitted.
  • Sacramental wine licensees may not allow food or beverage consumption on premise but may sell sacramental wine for consumption off premise.

Complaints regarding licensees not complying with these mandates may be directed to the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement at 1-800-932-0602 or reported through the BLCE’s online complaint form.

The PLCB will constantly re-evaluate this policy, guided by the strategy developed by the Governor’s Office and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and lift restrictions at the appropriate time.

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Offices of State Senator Lisa M. Boscola

One East Broad Street
Suite 120
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 868-8667
Fax: (610) 861-2184
Toll-free: 1-877-535-1818
1701 Washington Blvd.
Easton, PA 18042
(610) 250-5627
(610) 250-5629
Fax: (610) 250-1889
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)