In This Update:
Senate Passes Interim State Budget and COVID-19 Relief Bills
In the face of an uncertain economic future and working to address the devastating impact of COVID-19, yesterday the Senate passed a $25.8 billion interim budget for Fiscal Year 2020-21, as well as a plan to direct $2.6 billion in federal, CARES funding to support individuals, small businesses, organizations and county governments.
The interim budget will fund critical state services until the long-term impacts of Governor Wolf’s shutdown of the economy are fully known, and more accurate fiscal projections can be made. The CARES funding will help mitigate the damage done.
We need to do everything in our power as a Commonwealth to get the state back to work. Passing a lean, responsible, short-term budget now gives us the flexibility to meet the needs of our communities today while we get a clearer picture of the long-term impacts of Governor Wolf’s statewide shutdown order.
House Bill 2387 is an interim spending plan that provides five months of funding for most state agencies and services for FY 2020-21. The appropriations in HB 2387 are based primarily on current funding for agencies and services in the Fiscal Year 2019-20 budget but allocated at a five-month level. Full-year funding is provided for a few select line items in HB 2387, notably for education and food security programs.
Senate Bill 1108 appropriates a portion of Pennsylvania’s federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) funding for critical needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic, while Senate Bill 1122 and House Bill 2510 provide further direction on how Commonwealth agencies are to distribute the funding.
The initial distribution of Pennsylvania’s share of the federal COVID-19 funding under Senate Bill 1108 will provide financial support for critical needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding is included for nursing homes and other long-term living facilities, small businesses, first responders, early childhood education, services for individuals with an intellectual disability or autism, school districts, higher education, child care services, mortgage and rent assistance for affected workers, county programs and services, and much more.
I look forward to sharing more details about this funding in the weeks ahead.
Has Your Polling Place Moved for Tuesday’s Election?
Because some polling places may be consolidated or relocated due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, it is important for all voters to double-check where they should go to vote before they head out to cast their ballots in the primary election on Tuesday.
Voters can find their polling place on the Department of State’s website by entering their county, city and street name. The department also offers recommendations and additional information for voters.
New Guidance Available on Outdoor Dining, Pro Sports
Restaurants in the green and yellow phase of reopening could add dine-in services in outdoor seating areas under new restaurant industry guidance issued this week. Restaurants in green-phase counties are permitted to offer dine-in services both indoors and outdoors now, so long as social distancing and sanitation measures are in place. Dining venues in yellow-phase counties can begin offering outdoor dine-in services on June 5.
A new order from the Department of Health also details not only the new dining options available, but also additional guidelines for other businesses in counties in the green phase of reopening, including barber shops, salons, gyms and other services.
In addition, new guidance could allow professional sports to resume in counties in the green or yellow phase of reopening if teams develop a COVID-19 safety plan. Spectators would be prohibited on the interior or exterior of the venue property.
Frequently asked questions about the Wolf Administration’s business guidelines are available here.
PUA System Will Now Send Paper Checks to Claimants
The Department of Labor and Industry recently uncovered cases of attempted fraud in which scammers tried to use the personal information of victims to file for benefits and route payments into their own bank accounts. In response to these cases, claimants in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) system will now receive benefits via paper checks delivered through the U.S. Postal Service instead of receiving payments by direct deposit.
Anyone who receives a paper check in the mail who did not file for PUA benefits should return the uncashed check to:
Department of Treasury Comptroller’s Office
More information on combatting unemployment fraud is available here.
Recently Expired Licenses Still Acceptable for Notary Identification
Pennsylvania driver’s licenses are often used as a form of identification for notaries who do not personally know a client. The Department of State recently clarified that any state driver’s license or photo identification that has expired since March 16 still qualifies for notary purposes.
PennDOT recently announced that the expiration date for all driver’s licenses and non-driver photo identification cards that expire between March 16 and June 30 has been extended until June 30.
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