In This Update:
Senator Langerholc Named Chairman of Senate Transportation Committee
Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-34) has appointed Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35) to chair the Senate Transportation Committee for the 2021-22 Legislative Session.
“In this position, I look forward to strengthening our roads and bridges, airports, railroads and other multi-modal forms of transportation, which are crucial to protecting public safety and also jump-starting our economy as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 public health crisis,” Langerholc said. “The work of the Senate Transportation Committee affects every resident in Pennsylvania, whether it involves commuting to work, moving goods from markets to consumers or visiting a Driver License Center to obtain a license. My goal is to ensure a modern, efficient transportation system meets the needs of this great Commonwealth.”
Corman said Langerholc was chosen because of his interest in taking on new transportation challenges in his district and throughout the state. The 35th District is a major transportation hub for the Keystone State, with interstate highways in addition to many secondary and rural roads, airports, railroads and other multi-modal forms of transportation.
“Wayne has demonstrated a broad understanding of the major issues our transportation system is facing, including the need to address our costly and unnecessary vehicle emissions requirements in many parts of the state,” Corman said. “As chairman, I know he will work well with the members, the House and the Administration to improve our vast transportation network,” Corman said.
Langerholc, who previously served as chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said he looks forward to the new challenge because transportation is closely tied to jobs and the economy. He is also a member of the Appropriations, Judiciary, Community, Economic and Recreational Development, and Intergovernmental Operations Committees.
“We need to make smarter decisions in how we invest in the future of our transportation system – it’s crucial to economic recovery and public safety,” Langerholc said. “A long-term investment strategy must address our roads and bridges as well as airports, railroads and other multi-modal forms of transportation that make our communities stronger and more accessible. Safe and reliable transportation isn’t simply a matter of personal convenience. It’s about jobs, economic development, quality of life, recreation, and public safety.”
Federal Stimulus Bill Boosts Unemployment Payments
The federal stimulus bill approved by Congress last month extended the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Program to include an additional $300 in weekly unemployment payments. The additional payments are now being paid out to Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits claimants and will be added for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claimants soon.
The FPUC payments are automatically added to each claimant’s payment and are retroactive to the week ending January 2. The program is scheduled to run through March 13.
Paycheck Protection Program Reopens
Small employers impacted by the pandemic can apply now for loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, which reopened on Monday. The program was originally created to offer loans to cover payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent and utility costs for employers affected by coronavirus mitigation. Eligible expenses were recently expanded to include operations expenditures, property damage costs, supplier costs and worker protection expenditures.
The program is open to new borrowers, as well as existing borrowers who meet certain eligibility criteria. New guidelines are available for both new borrowers and existing borrowers; applicants should contact their local lender for additional information.
New Law Improves Photo ID, License and CDL Requirements
A law approved late last year will help homeless state residents receive a free ID, allow Pennsylvanians with certain visual impairments to receive a driver’s license, and help bring the state into compliance with new federal regulations for commercial driver licenses (CDLs).
As a result of Act 131 of 2020, state residents who are experiencing homelessness can receive a free photo ID or renewal by applying in person at any Driver License Center. In addition, the law allows the use of bioptic telescope lenses to help eligible individuals with visual impairments qualify for a driver’s license. Pennsylvania will join 28 other states in allowing the use of these devices.
The updated CDL requirements include reporting requirements for convictions and violations. In addition, the new law will ensure CDL holders who participate in human trafficking offenses receive a lifetime ban.
Financial Assistance Programs Available for Utility Customers
The COVID-19 pandemic has created financial challenges for hundreds of thousands of families in Pennsylvania, including problems in paying energy bills. It is important for consumers who are affected by unexpected job losses, business closures and other financial difficulties to contact their utility providers to find out whether assistance is available. A list of utility providers is available from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission at the links below.
In addition to programs offered directly through service providers, Dollar Energy Fund works with more than a dozen electricity, water, natural gas and other utility companies to offer financial relief to customers in need. A list of participating providers is available here.
Honoring the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
On Monday, the nation will pause in remembrance of one of the nation’s greatest civil rights icons –Martin Luther King, Jr. As a result of the critical role he played in the struggle for justice in the 1960s, he became the first modern private citizen to be honored with a federal holiday. Dr. King’s writings, advocacy and peaceful activism continues to inspire Americans today, more than 50 years after his assassination in 1968.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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