Apr. 03, 2020 / Weekly Roundup

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#Listrak\DateStamplong# The latest news from the State Capitol
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Teaching Our Kids Despite School Closures

The Wolf Administration announced this week schools will remain closed until further notice. To help ensure our children are continuing to learn at this challenging time, the Department of Education (PDE) has released a set of statewide resources educators can use to help teach their students.

The resources secured by PDE are intended to help all schools that want to use them, including those not currently offering online platforms, those requiring additional technology support and those that may rely on traditional methods, such as paper lessons, to continue educating students. These additional resources follow the technical support that was formally initiated last week through the state’s intermediate units. Click here for more information. 

Also, the department is allocating up to $5 million in state funding for equity grants for schools to purchase computer equipment, such as laptops, tablets and internet hot spots, or to use toward providing instructional materials, such as paper lessons and coursework.

Finally, the department has partnered with Pennsylvania’s public television stations to provide instructional programming to students through the seven individual Public Broadcasting System (PBS) member stations in the state. Public television reaches over 12.4 million Pennsylvanians. These free “Learning at Home” resources are available to families and educators at https://www.learningathomepa.org. Additional information will be added as the partnership expands.
 
 
 
DHS Launches Emotional Support Hotline

The Department of Human Services (DHS) this week announced the launch of a statewide Support & Referral Helpline staffed by skilled and compassionate caseworkers who will be available 24/7 to counsel Pennsylvanians struggling with anxiety and other challenging emotions due to the COVID-19 emergency.

The toll-free, round-the-clock support line is officially operational as of Thursday, April 2. The number to call is 1-855-284-2494.

Many other resources also remain available to Pennsylvanians in need of support, including:
  •   National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  •   Crisis Text Line: Text “PA” to 741-741
  •   Safe2Say: 1-844-723-2729 or www.safe2saypa.org
  •   Veteran Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  •   Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990
  •   Get Help Now Hotline (for substance use disorders): 1-800-662-4357

 
 
New Dates in PA

With mitigation efforts extended until April 30, the state has extended most expiration dates and deadlines. Here are the major Pennsylvania date changes you should know about.

 
 
 
 
License to Carry Extension

If you have a license to carry permit that is set to expire as of March 19 or later, the Pennsylvania State Police announced this week those permits will remain valid through May 30. An additional extension may be considered as that date gets closer.
 
 
Emergency Medical Services Staffing Exceptions

To help ensure vital ambulance services remain ready and available to help people in need, the Department of Health has issued exceptions to several staffing requirements. Specifically, the minimum staffing complement for a Basic Life Support ambulance has been adjusted to one

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and a driver; the minimum staffing complement for an IALS ambulance has been adjusted to one Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT) and a driver; and the minimum staffing complement for an ALS ambulance has been adjusted to one Paramedic and an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR). The requirement that an Emergency Medical Services Vehicle Operator be credentialed in order to operate an EMS vehicle of any type, including QRS, is also suspended.
 
 
 
Gov. Wolf Urges Public Use of Face Masks

The governor today urged all Pennsylvanians to wear a mask anytime they leave their houses.

Instead of using N-95 or paper masks, the Pennsylvania Department of Health asks the public to reserve these supplies for healthcare workers. Instead, the department recommends the use of a cloth or homemade mask. There are directions for making your own at www.health.pa.gov.
 
 
Other Notable News Regarding COVID-19
                                   
Housing
The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) is offering loan forbearance on the home loans it services for more than 60,000 borrowers across the state. Borrowers will not be charged any late fees during the forbearance period, and their credit rating will not be negatively impacted. The forbearance may be extended if homeowners are unable to resume full loan payments at the end of the forbearance period. PHFA has frozen evictions and foreclosure actions for all of its home loan customers who are delinquent on their mortgage accounts.
                                   
As the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) administrator for Pennsylvania, PHFA has also been in contact with apartment owners and managers who receive tax credits and provide affordable rents to their residents. The agency has strongly encouraged LIHTC recipients to be flexible with late payments from renters hurt by the current economic slowdown. Managers of these multifamily buildings have been asked to refrain from evictions during these difficult times.
                                   
Also this week, Attorney General Josh Shapiro stressed that Pennsylvanians cannot be evicted at this time. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered courts closed to eviction proceedings due to the COVID-19 state of emergency. The court’s order is applicable to all Pennsylvania property owners, managers and landlords, as well as mortgage brokers and lenders.
                                   
If you are facing challenges with your mortgage or rent payments, you are encouraged to contact your lender or landlord to discuss your payment options. If you believe you were wrongfully evicted from your home or wrongfully had your property foreclosed, you may file a complaint here.
                                   
Finances
The Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities (DoBS) is warning of an anticipated surge in fraudulent investment schemes. Potential investors should be on the lookout for investments specifically tied to the threat of COVID-19, such as those falsely purporting to raise capital for companies manufacturing medical equipment or miracle cures; touting get-rich-quick schemes that will help pay basic expenses; and targeting retirees and senior citizens, promising to safely recoup any losses to their retirement portfolios. For tips on how to protect yourself from fraudulent investments, click here.
                                   
Recreation
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is encouraging boaters and paddlers to take advantage of a wealth of online educational resources. Many of these resources, designed to enhance knowledge of boating regulations and best safety practices, are free of charge, while some providers charge nominal fees for services. This online learning library can be accessed through a computer, phone or tablet. These online educational experiences will help the entire family learn how to be a safe boater and direct them to the best local boating or paddling destinations when you are ready to spend time on the water. For more information, click here.


 
 
District Office Reminder

In the interest of protecting public health, my offices in Harrisburg, Dallas and Tunkhannock are temporarily closed to walk-in service. However, we remain ready to assist via phone and email during regular office hours Monday through Friday.

We made this decision based on recommendations offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Health to help prevent the potential spread of coronavirus. We encourage you toreach out for assistance with any state-related issues.

For Harrisburg inquiries, please call 717-787-1117 or email bzablots@pahousegop.com.

For Dallas inquiries, please call 570-675-6000 or email ahoussoc@pahousegop.com; or csweeney@pahousegop.com.

For Tunkhannock inquiries, please call 570-836-4777 or email csweeney@pahousegop.com; lcadden@pahousegop.com ;or jwilliams@pahousegop.com.
 
Our District

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Office Locations
105 Lieutenant Michael Cleary Drive, Dallas, PA 18612 | (570) 675-6000, (800) 278-3930
133 West Tioga Street, Suite 4, Tunkhannock, PA 18657 | Phone: (570) 836-4777
41-B East Wing, Main Capitol, PO Box 202117, Harrisburg PA 17120-2117 | Phone: (717) 787-1117
Email: kboback@pahousegop.com
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