I am writing with an update on issues relating to the pandemic.
To help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Governor Tom Wolf has ordered all residents of Pennsylvania to stay at home except for those who work in life-sustaining businesses or to go to the grocery store or pharmacy, or for other essential needs. When going out, it’s important to wear a cloth mask, practice social distancing, and frequently wash hands and thoroughly clean all surfaces to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
This week, Pennsylvania joined a multi-state council, along with New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, to work together to develop a fully integrated regional framework to gradually lift the states’ stay at home orders while minimizing the risk of increased spread of the virus. This announcement builds on the states’ ongoing regional approach to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, seeking to safely re-open the economy while continuing to protect its residents and healthcare systems.
Join Our Facebook Live Town Hall on 4/17
My next live Facebook Town Hall will be Friday, April 17th at 4:30 pm. To join the conversation, visit my Facebook page on Friday at 4:30 pm! To receive a notification of when the event starts, and any other time I go live, you can “like” my Facebook page.
50th Anniversary of Earth Day Online Discussion on April 22nd
I am excited to be joining PennEnvironment to host a 50th anniversary of Earth Day online discussion on Wednesday, April 22nd at 6 pm. Learn about the progress made in the last 50 years to protect the environment, important environmental legislation, and actions you can take at home to do your part. Visit my website to sign up for the event.
This week, the General Assembly voted on multiple COVID19-related bills. While there have been some measured and bipartisan pieces of legislation passed, many of the provisions in this week’s legislative session would undermine the policies that are keeping many of us healthy and helping to flatten the curve. Below is a quick summary of some key provisions of the legislation:
Senate Bill 841
SB 841 balances public safety and economic policy by providing for remote sessions for municipal governing bodies and e-notary services. This bill would also give municipalities flexibility to postpone property tax deadlines and would allow schools to renegotiate contracts for on-going maintenance of facilities while they are closed to students during the disaster. This bill passed both the Senate and House and will be going to the governor for signature this week.
Senate Bill 327
SB 327 would provide the authority to county governing bodies to determine if they want to create county level “mitigation plans” that would allow them to open more businesses than are permitted under the Governor’s current closure order. The Senate passed the bill by a 29-21 vote, with all Democratic senators opposing it. I voted against this bill because now more than ever we need to support the Governor’s decision to commit to a regional, multi-state, science-based approach to when it is safe to reopen businesses. The bill has been sent to the House for a vote and the Governor has vowed to veto it should it reach his desk.
Senate Bill 613
SB 613 would also allow for business to re-open before it is safe to do so. Health experts, including the state’s Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, have cautioned against reopening the economy to the extent this bill would make it possible to do so. This bill also passed along party lines and is headed to the Governor for his consideration. I voted “No” along with my Democratic colleagues because a piecemeal opening of businesses undermines the integrity and effectiveness of the Commonwealth’s collective response to this public health crisis.
Unemployment Compensation Update
I know many of you are waiting on unemployment claims to be processed. If your claim was reopened or applied for after March 23rd, it will take time for the claim to be built in the system. There is currently a delay of around three weeks in the processing of claims and reopens of existing claims. If you’ve received a confirmation e-mail for your application, you will get your claim and you will be able to go back and file for your missing weeks. While the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry works through these delays, you should continue filing as you normally would, as payments will continue to be processed. As a reminder, the traditional waiting week has been suspended, so eligible claimants will receive benefits for the first week they are unemployed.
For those that are self-employed and are awaiting the application to apply for unemployment, it should be coming by the end of next week. The Unemployment Compensation website will be updated when the application opens, and I will share updates as soon as it does on my Facebook page. Please check out this page for quick tips on general unemployment compensation questions.
Bucks County Opportunity Council Food Drive on 4/22
The next Bucks County Opportunity Council (BCOC) contactless, drive-through food drive is Wednesday, April 22nd from 9 AM - 12 PM. Food donations can be dropped off at the BCOC administrative office at 100 Doyle Street in Doylestown.
For your convenience, my staff will be in the parking lot of our Newtown office (3 Terry Drive, Newtown) on Tuesday, 4/21 from 11am – 1pm to collect local donations to bring to Doylestown on Wednesday. All donations benefit BCOC food pantries.
Round of Applause
I was excited to learn this week that Mars Fishcare facility in Chalfont, which ordinarily produces fish food and related products, has altered its operations to produce hand sanitizer. Two deliveries, totaling 2,400 16 oz spray bottles – close to 300 gallons – was delivered to Central Bucks Emergency Medical Services and the Pennsylvania Bureau of Public Health Preparedness. The hand sanitizer will be distributed to first responders and hospitals in Bucks County and across the state.
Do you know of a business or individual who is going above and beyond during these unprecedented times to help others? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured in our District Update or on our social media pages.
Please visit the district newsroom to view additional stories, videos, and photos from across the district and the commonwealth.
You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more regular updates.
Offices of State Senator Steve Santarsiero
All offices are temporarily closed to visitors due to COVID-19.
2003 Lower State Road
Building 100, Suite 121
Doylestown, PA 18901
3 Terry Drive
Newtown, PA 18940
184 Main Capitol Building
Senate Box 203010
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3010
|TULLYTOWN SATELLITE OFFICE
500 Main Street
Tullytown, PA 19007
Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM