Rep. Kurt Masser Weekly Update 02-19-21

The Weekly Roundup

Friday, February 19, 2021

The latest news from the State Capitol

 
‘Mixed Earners’ UC Program Now Available 

The state Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) is now accepting applications for the new Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) program. Payments will be retroactive and will begin in several weeks.

The MEUC program was created by Congress as part of the federal Continued Assistance for Unemployment Workers Act of 2020 to assist workers who had multiple sources of income that varied in eligibility for traditional Unemployment Compensation. MEUC provides an additional $100 weekly in extra benefits to eligible claimants.

MEUC Eligibility Requirements include:

• You must be receiving an unemployment benefit from a program other than Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
• You must be receiving an unemployment benefit for claims weeks covered by the MEUC program, which are Jan. 2, 2021, through March 13, 2021.
• You must have at least $5,000 in net income from self-employment during the most recent taxable year.
• You must apply for the MEUC program and submit documentation which clearly shows $5,000 net income.

For more information about the program, acceptable document and how to apply, click here.
  

 
Pennsylvanians Urged to Stay Alert for Fraud

Administration officials are again urging everyone to be alert to potential fraud in the wake of additional federal unemployment program funding, which has prompted increased attempts by scammers to steal people’s personal information.

In an effort to create fraudulent unemployment program claims or log into existing claims to redirect benefits payments, fraudsters are working to steal peoples’ usernames, passwords, unemployment Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and Social Security numbers. In many cases, they are relying on phishing or spoofing attempts, such as:

• Contacting intended victims by calling, texting, emailing or messaging via social media.
• Posing as representatives of the PA Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) or other government entities or groups to “help” claimants with issues so they can gather their personal and confidential information.
• Pretending to be unemployment claimants on Facebook or Twitter and offering to help legitimate claimants with their issues via phone or email, with the goal of stealing their personally identifiable information.

Pennsylvanians are reminded that L&I never contacts anyone and asks for their username, password, PIN or full Social Security number. Additionally, L&I does not communicate with claimants over social media and the only valid email addresses to contact Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Compensation Service Center are uchelp@pa.gov and ucpua@pa.gov.

Also be on the lookout for unemployment fraud that may also indicate you have been a victim of identity theft. L&I officials say anyone who received a 1099-G form for unemployment benefits they did not apply for is likely the victim of a widespread national unemployment fraud issue and should take the necessary steps to report the fraud and protect their information.

Additional information about these fraud threats is available at dli.pa.gov.
  

 
Attention Employers: How Can We Help?

The House Majority Policy Committee, of which I am a member, launched a COVID-19 Economic Recovery Business Survey this week. The goal is to gather feedback for use by the caucus’ Economic Recovery Task Force as it works to develop and implement policies to restore the state’s struggling economy.

The survey is open to employers in all sectors and businesses of all sizes. The brief survey seeks information about your business or industry and then invites feedback about the challenges facing your particular business or industry, the type of assistance that would be most beneficial, the one most impactful thing state government could do to support your future success, and any other ideas to kickstart the Commonwealth’s economic recovery.

Please take a few moments to fill out this survey and share your insights and expertise. We must get the Commonwealth on the road to recovery as soon as possible and we can only do that by working together. Click here to take the survey.

We will be taking responses through March 19.
  

 
Budget Hearings Continue Next Week

Several key state agencies are on the agenda for next week’s state budget hearings, including a full day devoted to the state Department of Health, which has been front and center in the state’s COVID-19 response. On Thursday, Feb. 25, the House Appropriations Committee has scheduled two sessions with the department, one beginning at 10 a.m. and the other at 1 p.m. The focus of budget hearings is not only to assess the financial requests of state agencies but also to review the effectiveness of their operations.

Also on tap for next week are the departments of Environmental Protection, General Services, Transportation, Agriculture, and Drug and Alcohol programs. Hearings are also planned with the state Liquor Control Board and Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, as well as officials from state-related universities, which include Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln. All hearings will be streamed live at PAHouseGOP.com.

The committee completed hearings this week with, among others, the Department of Revenue and the Independent Fiscal Office. A major point of discussion in those hearings was the governor’s proposed 46% Personal Income Tax hike, how it would impact families and small businesses, and how it fails to comply with the uniformity clause in the state Constitution. For video of completed hearings and a schedule of hearings coming up, click here.

Earlier this month, Gov. Tom Wolf outlined a budget proposal that seeks to increase state spending by more than $3 billion, or 8%, over the current fiscal year, as well as increase the state income tax on families and small businesses by 46% and impose a new tax on the energy industry.