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Pennsylvania’s Economy Continues Process of Safely Reopening
There are several positive signs this week as Pennsylvania and other states continue the process of
establishing policies and procedures to safely reopen the economy while protecting our citizens
Construction projects were able to restart today (learn more below). Companies and workers are
using social distancing and other guidelines provided by medical professionals to ensure worksites
are safe for employees.
Golf courses, privately owned campgrounds, marinas and guided fishing trips also reopen today and
must follow similar safety policies and procedures to protect workers and customers (scroll down
for more details).
My colleagues in the House and I are working on legislation to reopen the real estate industry,
garden centers, pet groomers and more. In fact, while we were debating legislation in the House to
reopen the real estate business safely, the governor’s office issued new guidance to allow
certain transactions to proceed. Read the updated guidance here.
This piecemeal approach is not ideal. It is, however, showing the governor and others that
Pennsylvania companies and workers can perform their jobs in a manner that abides by guidelines set
by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to protect the safety of both workers and
We Don’t Have to Guess – We Can Test
One of the key factors cited by the governor and the president when it comes to safely reopening
our economy and returning to some normal life activities is testing. It is the only way to address
people’s fears that they may infect loved ones, lose their jobs and livelihoods, and be stuck at
My colleagues in the state House and I adopted an amendment this week that requires the
administration to review the quantity of all tests statewide, and propose a timeline, plan and cost
to disburse testing kits statewide with priority given to those at a higher risk of contracting the
virus. The measure would ensure we don’t have to guess who has the virus; we could test to find out
The bill with this amendment is pending final consideration in the House next week.
The Good News and the Bad News
The good news is a bill passed by the House last week that would help ambulance companies meet
staffing requirements and continue to serve their communities, as well as ensure benefits for first
responders and National Guard members who may be impacted by COVID‐19, has been signed into law as
Act 17 of 2020.
The bad news is a bill to enhance the availability of telemedicine in the Commonwealth was vetoed
by the governor. Telemedicine is a great tool in this time of social distancing, and it would also
boost accessibility and affordability of care in rural and other underserved areas of the
Commonwealth. My colleagues in the state Legislature and I will continue working to ensure
Pennsylvanians have the opportunity to use this important tool.
Other bills passed by the House this week:
• To help our communities and first responders, House Bill 2413 would invest up to $40 million in
grants for fire and emergency medical services companies.
• To help save taxpayer dollars, House Bill 2418 would require a comprehensive review of all
Commonwealth debt to identify opportunities to take advantage of refinancing at lower interest
rates. House Bill 2392 would require the Independent Fiscal Office to include critical risk factors
in its assessment of the Commonwealth’s fiscal condition to help lawmakers better plan and budget
within our means.
• To address regulations, House Bill 2415 would require the Office of the Governor to notify
legislative leaders in writing by electronic means when a specific statute or regulation is
suspended, modified or waived under the authority of the emergency order.
• To ensure intergovernmental cooperation throughout the disaster and recovery period, House Bill
2419 would establish the COVID‐19 inter‐branch Cost and Recovery Task Force.
Questions Abound Regarding State’s Reopening
Not unlike the administration’s business closure orders, the announcement last week of a phased
plan to reopen the Commonwealth has generated more questions than answers. The initial explanation
indicated decisions to reopen would be based on case counts and other data in long‐established
Department of Health regions. The administration has now indicated it is changing course and will
be considering data on a county‐by‐county basis. The exact nature of the data is mostly unknown.
Openness and transparency are vital to building public trust in important decisions about our
health, safety and the economy. I will continue to urge the administration to share this
information as soon as possible.
Construction Industry Back to Work Today
Six weeks after being ordered to shut down by the administration due to coronavirus concerns, all
business in the Commonwealth’s construction industry is permitted to resume in‐person operations
today. This would not have happened without so many of you speaking up about the importance of
going back to work and the ability to do so safely.
All businesses and employees in the construction industry must adhere to the secretary of Health’s
order providing for business safety measures, which requires that every person present at a work
site wear masks/face coverings unless they
are unable for medical or safety reasons, and requires that businesses establish protocols upon
discovery that the business has been exposed to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of
COVID‐19. All construction projects also must maintain proper social distancing and provide
hand‐washing and sanitizing stations for workers, as well as cleaning and sanitizing protocols for
high‐risk transmission areas.
Read more about the guidelines for construction to resume here.
PennDOT Offering Limited CDL Services
With the construction industry back to work, PennDOT is reopening a limited number of driver
license centers to provide Commercial Driver Licensing (CDL) services by appointment only.
Available services for commercial drivers at these locations will include CDL knowledge and skills
testing, hazmat renewals and security threat assessments.
These locations will reopen for CDL services ONLY:
• Lehigh Valley: 1710 Hoover Ave., Allentown.
• Somerset: 5593 Glades Pike, Somerset.
• Lewistown: 13217 Ferguson Valley Road, Yeagertown.
• Selinsgrove: 1015 U.S. 522, Selinsgrove.
Please note that Lehigh Valley only tests Class B and C. All other sites listed test Class A, B and
C. Appointments will be scheduled based on demand and schedule availability. Individuals ‐seeking
request an appointment. When a request is received, PennDOT staff will contact you within one
business day to schedule an appointment. New safety measures must be followed when arriving for a
CDL appointment; details of the requirements will be supplied when the customer is scheduled.
PennDOT further extended expiration dates on Friday for various licenses and other documents.
Effective April 30, expiration dates for driver licenses, photo ID cards and learner's permits
scheduled to expire from March 16, 2020 through May 31, 2020, are now extended through June 30,
2020. Customers may complete various transactions and access multiple resources via the Driver and
The Department of Health announced new guidance that will allow hospitals and surgical centers to
resume non‐ emergency surgeries and procedures, as long as the facilities remain prepared should
they need to respond to COVID‐19 cases. Elective procedures had been put on hold to help reserve
resources and space due to the pandemic. Click here for more information.
The PA Governor also announced the reopening of golf courses, marinas, guided fishing trips and
privately owned campgrounds today. Campgrounds in state parks will remain closed through Thursday,
May 14. People who choose to participate in these activities will have to follow various guidelines to protect against the
spread of COVID‐19. Read more here.
Just over a week after state legislators asked the administration to address a number of food
supply chain concerns, the state Department of Agriculture announced last weekend it would provide
priority testing for workers supporting that supply chain in areas of eastern Pennsylvania with
higher rates of confirmed COVID‐19. Testing will be available at the Montgomery County mass testing
site or the federally funded testing site at Mohegan Sun in Luzerne County. This is
An important step toward preventing food waste and ensuring food remains available in our grocery
stores, though more needs to be done. Read more about the administration’s announcement here.
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) board this week approved a tuition
freeze for the 2020‐21 academic year due to the economic situation related to the COVID‐19
pandemic. This is the second consecutive year that the board has not increased tuition. Since the
system was created in 1983, tuition has only been frozen three times.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is inviting educators and parents in search of remote learning
resources to check out the new Wildlife on WiFi site, a hub of conservation and wildlife‐ themed
educational resources, activities and content to support educators, students and parents with
home‐based learning through the remainder of Pennsylvania’s academic school year. Program themes
include Wildlife Science, Discover Backyard Wildlife and Celebrate Pennsylvania Birds. Click here
for access to resources.
The administration has launched an online portal for individuals, corporations and community
organizations to outline any critical medical supplies available for donation during the COVID‐19
pandemic. Supplies needed most include surgical/procedure masks; form‐fitting respirators (ex.
N95/N99); face masks with integrated shield; medical grade alcohol‐based hand sanitizer; aprons;
protective gloves; protective goggles; isolation gowns; protective suits; and sanitizing wipes.
Details and specifications required for any donated materials are available here from the
Department of Health.
To visit the new critical supply donation portal, click here.
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