Mar. 06, 2020 / Weekly Roundup

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#Listrak\DateStamplong# The latest news from the State Capitol
Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine Expands

A dozen counties have been added to Pennsylvania’s Spotted Lanternfly quarantine zone by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. This brings the total quarantine zone to 26 counties, more than a third of the state’s 67 counties.

The counties added this week are not completely infested, but rather have a few municipalities with a known infestation which led to a quarantine being placed on the entire county out of an abundance of caution. Allegheny, Beaver, Blair, Columbia, Cumberland, Huntingdon, Juniata, Luzerne, Mifflin, Northumberland, Perry and York have been added to the quarantine for 2020.

Homeowners with questions about treatment are encouraged to contact their local Penn State Extension office or learn about management, including approved sprays, online. 

Pennsylvanians who live inside the quarantine zone should also review and sign the Compliance Checklist for residents.

For more information about the Spotted Lanternfly, click here.
Coronavirus: Health Department Issues New Travel Guidelines

This week, the Pennsylvania Department of Health updated its travel guidelines for anyone who returned to Pennsylvania from countries with known COVID-19 outbreaks in the past 14 days.

“If you arrived in Pennsylvania from China or Iran anytime during the outbreaks there, you will be notified by the department to stay home and practice social distancing for 14 days after travel,” said Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine. “If you have returned from travel in Italy or South Korea within the past 14 days, we ask that you call 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258) to let the department know about your travel, and then stay home and practice social distancing for 14 days after travel.”

“While we caution Pennsylvanians to avoid all unnecessary travel to and from countries with a CDC level 3 travel advisory at this time, we understand that it cannot all be avoided,” Dr. Levine said. “In that case, we are urging Pennsylvanians to be aware of and follow these guidelines to protect their health and others around them.”

Travelers who are self-monitoring their health and practicing social distancing are urged to:
  •   Take your temperature with a thermometer twice day and monitor for fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.
  •   Stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school for this 14-day period.
  •   If you must leave your home, do not take public transportation, taxis or ride-shares during the time you are practicing social distancing.
  •   If you must leave your home, avoid crowded places (such as shopping centers and movie theaters) and limit your activities in public.
  •   Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).  

Should the need arise to seek medical care for other reasons, travelers are asked to call ahead to 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258) and to their doctor to inform them about recent travel to an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19. When 14 days have passed since the initial departure date, travelers can return to their regular routine.

Pennsylvanians are encouraged to help stop the spread of viruses by:
  •   Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  •   Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  •   Clean surfaces frequently, including countertops, light switches, cell phones and other frequently touched items.
  •   If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others.

For information and updates related to novel coronavirus, visit the Department of Health website at
Hearings on Governor’s $36 Billion Budget Proposal Conclude

The first step of the budget process is now complete, as the House Appropriations Committee concluded its in-depth review of our state agencies’ funding needs this week.

For the last three weeks, members of the committee examined overspending during the current year’s budget. The committee heard testimony from state agencies in order to identify areas of problem spending or items that should have been anticipated during the budget negotiation process.

With the hearings now finished, lawmakers can move forward with developing a state budget that funds the core functions of government while also considerate of the taxpayers who will foot the bill.

Additional information about the 2020-21 state budget proposal, as well as archived video of the budget hearings, may be found here.  
Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement Program in Effect

As of Wednesday, March 4, drivers speeding through certain active work zones in the state could find themselves being cited for the offense through the new Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement (AWZSE) program.

Designed to slow traffic and improve safety for both highway workers and travelers, the program is being operated by a partnership of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) and Pennsylvania State Police.

Beginning this week, motorists found to be speeding will receive a warning letter for a first offense, a violation notice and $75 fine for a second offense, and a violation notice and $150 fine for third and subsequent offenses. These violations are civil penalties only; no points will be assessed to driver’s licenses.

In 2018, there were 1,804 work zone crashes in Pennsylvania, resulting in 23 fatalities, and 43% of work zone crashes resulted in fatalities and/or injuries. Since 1970, PennDOT has lost 89 workers in the line of duty. The PA Turnpike has lost 45 workers since 1945.
Honoring Our Newest Eagle Scouts

This past Saturday, I congratulated Andrew Molitoris upon achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. I am seen with his parents Andy and Diane Molitoris and his uncle, Ross DeNisco.

Also on Saturday, I was honored to celebrate the Eagle Scout ceremony for Ian McCue and Logan Hoyt. I am seen with Troop 444 Leader Allan Stroud, Ian’s parents Sean and Sharon McCue, Ian’s brother Connor and Ian.

Also pictured are Logan and his parents Tammy and Kris Hoyt plus Troop 444 Leader Ed Yanchik.

I am very proud of our newest Eagle Scouts!
Celebrating Local Commerce at Back Mountain Chamber Awards

Congratulations to the recipients of the Back Mountain Chamber’s Annual Awards Event held on Tuesday, March 3 at Misericordia University.

Those recognized were:
  •   AMP Global Strategies
  •   Pulverman
  •   John Halbing
  •   Fidelity Bank
  •   The Lands at Hillside Farms
  •   Bill Dease
  •   Kevin Yurko
  •   Amanda Faneck
  •   Newberry Estates
  •   and Little Lenny’s Cheesecake Bakery

PennDOT Seeks Summer Interns

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Engineering District 4, which covers Luzerne, Lackawanna, Pike, Wayne, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties, is now accepting applications for summer internships.

PennDOT is seeking students majoring in civil, environmental and other engineering disciplines, as well as non-engineering programs like business administration, communications, accounting, computer science, and more.

Summer internship hours are full-time, and students are employed until they return to school for the fall semester, from as early as April through as late as October. To be eligible for the program, students must have completed their first year of college by the start of the internship and be in good academic standing (a GPA of 2.0 higher).

In addition to the valuable work experience and compensation they will receive during the internship, students may be able to obtain academic credit through participation in PennDOT’s internship program. Interested students should discuss this with their academic advisor to determine if their school offers credit for paid internships.

Application and information can be found at Applications for the summer program will accepted through March 30th.
Spring Ahead: Turn Clocks Ahead One Hour This Weekend

Daylight saving time will begin on Sunday, March 8, at 2 a.m. Be sure to turn your clocks ahead one hour Saturday night before going to bed.

This is also a good time to check and/or change batteries in both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. The alarms should also be replaced every 10 years.

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month

In recognition of March as Problem Gambling Awareness Month, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has launched an updated user-friendly website that provides information about how to recognize the warning signs of a gambling problem and to find treatment options that are available in Pennsylvania.

The new website address is Information about problem gambling treatment and other resources is also available by calling 1-800-GAMBLER.

Gambling can become a problem when a person develops strained relationships with loved ones; borrows money to gamble; gambles to get a “high”; or misses work, school or other activities and obligations in order to gamble. More information, including how to recognize the warning signs of a gambling problem, is available here.
Turnpike Commission Offering Summer Jobs

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is now accepting applications for its summer employment program. Available positions include toll collector, maintenance, clerical, engineering and information technology.

All eligible applicants must be at least 18 years of age and completed a secondary education program such as high school or GED at the time of hiring. Applicants will also be subject to a Pennsylvania criminal background check screening.

All applications must be submitted online, and applicants should select “Summer Work” in the first step of the registration process. Copies of online applications should be sent to my Harrisburg office by Friday, April 10. 
Next Week’s Outreach Hours

On Monday, March 9, my staff will host satellite hours from 9-11 a.m. at the Nicholson Township Municipal Building, located at 716 Fields Brook Road, in Nicholson.

Additionally, members of my staff will be available to assist you at the following locations next week.
  •   Tuesday, March 10, 9-11 a.m. – Hunlock Township Municipal Building
  •   Thursday, March 12, noon to 2 p.m. – Windham Township Municipal Building
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