In this Update:
Senate Passes Measures to Help Pennsylvania Farmers Move Goods
The Senate passed two measures to help Pennsylvania farmers make home deliveries and meet other transportation needs. The bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 736 that I sponsored would enable a farmer to register a farm vehicle for the delivery of milk and other agricultural products to both businesses and homes. Under current law, a farmer is required to purchase, register and maintain a separate commercial vehicle for home deliveries while also maintaining a farm vehicle to deliver products to businesses.
Another measure that I supported would allow farmers to use a Class A, B or C driver’s license when operating farm vehicles with a combined weight of more than 26,000 pounds on roadways.
Act 170 of 2014 clarified that farmers did not need a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) when operating farm trucks, or farm trucks hauling trailers, with a combined weight of more than 26,000 pounds. However, it was unclear as to whether a farmer could use a Class B, Class C or Class A driver’s license when operating those vehicles. A Class A driver’s license is a graduated license above the common Class C license and requires an additional road test and fee.
Hearing on Vehicle Emissions and Electrification
This week the Senate Transportation Committee held a public hearing to receive testimony about vehicle emissions and electrification.
Our air quality has significantly improved, yet the Wolf Administration’s response is to expand the current vehicle emissions program and require more regulations on Pennsylvanians. When our constituents make progress towards cleaner air, we should be rewarding them with common-sense reforms – not additional penalties.
I have been working to address the outdated vehicle emissions program during my entire time in the Senate.
Speakers during the hearing included representatives from the Electrification Coalition, Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Department of Environmental Protection.
The hearing can be viewed on the Committee’s website: https://transportation.pasenategop.com/trans-092721/
Resolution Calling on Congress to Act is Adopted in Senate
Senate Resolution 172 sponsored by myself and Senator John Yudichak seeks assistance from federal lawmakers – as well as the US Department of Transportation – to improve the process of obtaining and maintaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Federal and state clearances can take up to 12 weeks to complete and are burdensome at a time when the industry is experiencing the lowest number of school bus drivers in 100 years.
After hearing from school districts and school bus companies, a major impediment is securing a CDL. The CDL law is governed by strict federal regulations, which is why our resolution urges Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation to re-evaluate the CDL for school bus drivers, while maintaining the safe transport of 1.5 million children in this Commonwealth.
Pennsylvania March For Life
On Monday, I had the opportunity to stop down and see many of my constituents at the Pennsylvania March For Life. It was great to see such a large crowd in Harrisburg for the event.
Temporary Disaster Unemployment Assistance for Bedford County Residents
Pennsylvanians Impacted by Remnants of Hurricane Ida in Bedford and Northampton Counties Can Apply for Temporary Disaster Unemployment Assistance
Deadline to apply for DUA benefits is October 27, 2021
Pennsylvanians living or working in Bedford and Northampton counties who were directly impacted by remnants of Hurricane Ida can now apply for temporary Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). Applications must be submitted by October 27, 2021.
Pennsylvanians eligible to apply for DUA assistance must live, work, or have to travel through impacted areas to reach work in Bedford and Northampton counties. As assessments continue, other counties may be added – visit www.pema.pa.gov/ida for an up-to-date list of eligible counties.
The temporary DUA benefits are only available for individuals, including those who are self-employed, who are unemployed as a direct result of damages caused by remnants of Hurricane Ida.
Individuals eligible for DUA benefits are those who work or live in one of the federally declared counties and lost their jobs directly due to the disaster. Those eligible may also include:
Applying for DUA
Pennsylvanians whose employment is impacted for the reasons listed above under “DUA Eligibility” should file a claim online at www.uc.pa.gov.
Before an individual will be determined eligible for DUA, L&I must first establish that the individual is otherwise not eligible for regular unemployment compensation (UC) benefits under any state or federal law.
The deadline for impacted individuals in Bedford and Northampton counties to apply for DUA benefits is October 27, 2021. It’s important to note that DUA claims filed after the deadline may be ineligible for payment under certain circumstances.
Six counties – Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia, and York – were included in Gov. Wolf’s original disaster declaration request. Individuals in those counties have until October 20, 2021, to apply for DUA benefits.
The Disaster Unemployment Assistance program is part of the federal disaster assistance process but is administered by L&I. DUA provides temporary benefits to individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster and who are not eligible for regular unemployment compensation.
Additional information is available on the L&I website at www.dli.pa.gov.
Capitol All-Stars Softball Game
This week I had the privilege to play in the Capitol All-Stars Softball Game to benefit Hunger-Free Pennsylvania and Feeding Pennsylvania.
The House and Senate, Republicans and Democrats, are assigned randomly to two teams – the Yinz and the Youse. The teams play nine innings of slow pitch softball to raise money to fight hunger in Pennsylvania, and the game is aired live on Pennsylvania Cable Network.
I was joined on Team Youse by Cambria County Representative Jim Rigby and competed against members of Team Yinz including Clearfield County Representative Tommy Sankey and Bedford County Representative Jesse Topper.
Bedford Fall Foliage Festival
The Bedford Fall Foliage Festival is back and will be held Oct. 2 -3 & Oct. 9-10 in beautiful downtown Bedford. Over 400 exhibitors will be there with their unique arts and crafts, specialty foods, musical entertainment and much more!
For more information about the festival, please visit https://bedfordfallfoliagefestival.com/ and make plans to visit one of the largest festivals in the area!
Pennsylvania Fall Foliage
Although most of Penn’s Woods are still forest-green, the recent cooldown and colder nights observed statewide have spurred noticeable changes in the northern tier.
The 10-day forecast indicates seasonable to below-average temperatures, which should compel steady changes throughout the commonwealth.
Abundant rainfall throughout the growing season has primed Pennsylvania forests for a fantastic fall foliage season!
Reminder From the Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging
Just a reminder to all Eligible Seniors that received checks from the Pennsylvania Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program at the Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables in Pennsylvania. You have until November 30th to use your checks at any approved vendor in Pennsylvania. The last day for checks to be mailed out this year was September 30, 2021.
Old Schoolhouse Fall Market
This Saturday from 10-4 enjoy live music, antique and craft vendors and food from the food trucks at Revived & Company in Clearfield! Ride the shuttle over from the Clearfield County Fair Grounds! Experience this small-town event right here in Central PA! For more information visit here!
Legislature Approves Extension of Pandemic Waivers of Government Regulations
The Senate voted to extend waivers of an array of regulatory statutes, rules and regulations to aid in Pennsylvania’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives and signed into law.
The waivers affecting health and human services, as well as consumers and employees, were due to expire Thursday. Enactment of the legislation would extend the waivers until March 31, 2022.
In May, voters stripped Gov. Tom Wolf of the authority he claimed to extend emergency declarations without approval of the General Assembly. Delivering on a promise to the people that we work better together, the General Assembly initially extended these waivers as part of the budget in June.
Approval of the following waivers is critical to providing flexibility in managing the pandemic during a workforce shortage crisis:
Waivers Benefiting Consumers and Employees
Waivers Aiding the Work of Health Care Facilities and Services
Senate Acts to Prevent Repeat of Botched Constitutional Amendment Process
The Senate approved two measures aimed at preventing a repeat of the Pennsylvania Department of State’s devastating failure to carry out a proposed constitutional amendment to help victims of sexual abuse.
In the 2019-20 session, the General Assembly approved a proposed constitutional amendment, which would have given voters the opportunity to decide if a two-year window for victims of childhood sexual abuse to file litigation against their abusers should be created. The Department of State admitted earlier this year that it failed to properly advertise the proposed constitutional amendment, preventing the issue from going before voters and forcing the entire effort to be restarted.
One measure would require the Department of State to create a publicly accessible website to provide Pennsylvanians a transparent way to track every step of the constitutional amendment process, including:
A second bill would require formal training for the Department’s employees regarding their legislative responsibilities and the constitutional amendment process.
A 68-page Inspector General report on the botched handling of the constitutional amendment showed that some Department of State staff lack the formal training needed to properly handle their responsibilities with legislation.
Both bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Program to Battle Opioid Abuse Extended by Senate
The Senate approved a bill that continues a program designed to help doctors and pharmacists battle opioid abuse. The program, set to expire on June 30, 2022, would be extended until Dec. 31, 2028. The bill now goes to the governor for enactment.
The measure extends the successful Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescriptions (ABC-MAP) program that allows access to a patient’s prescription medication history through an electronic system to those who prescribe medications and those who dispense medication.
Electronic access to a patient’s prescription medication history allows doctors, pharmacists and other medical professionals to better treat patients. ABC-MAP enables opioid prescribers and dispensers to identify warning signs of abuse including “doctor shopping” and “pharmacy shopping” that occurs when patients attempt to obtain opioid prescriptions from multiple doctors or pharmacies.
Domestic Violence: Identifying the Signs and Getting Help
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Help is available if you’re experiencing abuse or concerned about a friend or family member:
Call: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)
Text: START to 88788
Chat: At National Domestic Violence Hotline