Pennsylvania’s lawmakers could also be working from house, however they’re nonetheless introducing quite a lot of payments to take care of the fallout from the coronavirus
By Cynthia Fernandez of Highlight PA and Gillian McGoldrick of LNP | LancasterOnline
This story was produced as a part of a joint effort between Highlight PA, LNP Media Group, PennLive, PA Submit, and WITF to cowl how Pennsylvania state authorities is responding to the coronavirus.
Pennsylvania’s lawmakers could also be working from house, however they’re nonetheless introducing quite a lot of payments to take care of the fallout from the coronavirus.
Right here’s a rundown of what they’ve proposed thus far.
Limiting catastrophe powers
When Gov. Tom Wolf declared a catastrophe emergency on March 6, he was capable of declare expansive powers. Rep. Russ Diamond (R., Lebanon) plans to problem a decision to terminate Wolf’s COVID-19 emergency declaration “if the necessity arises.”
Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin) is drafting a decision that may name on the federal authorities to droop privateness rules for individuals who have examined constructive for COVID-19. There must be “full disclosure of anybody who got here inside quick contact of any contaminated citizen,” Mastriano mentioned in an announcement, “till the COVID-19 disaster passes.”
Lawmakers are drafting a invoice to restrict landlords’ proper to evict tenants when a governor declares a state of emergency. The measure, from Rep. Mary Isaacson (D., Philadelphia) and Rep. Summer season Lee (D., Allegheny), would “present an exemption from eviction for staff who’re unemployed, separated from their employment, or unable to seek out employment.”
Sen. Andy Dinniman (D., Chester) and Sen. Scott Martin (R., Lancaster) are drafting a invoice that may cancel the state PSSA and Keystone exams for the rest of this college yr. The measure would additionally require the state Division of Schooling to waive federal testing necessities.
Dinniman can be drafting a measure that may give college districts authority to ship on-line instruction till the top of the educational yr.
Martin has proposed a invoice that may require schools and universities closed due to COVID-19 to refund all charges paid upfront, together with room and board. The prorated refund would solely apply from the date the establishment shuttered by way of the top of the semester.
Rep. Joe Hohenstein (D., Philadelphia) and Sen. Larry Farnese (D., Philadelphia) wish to require paid sick depart for any staff neglected by a federal invoice on its solution to President Donald Trump’s desk, which is proscribed to staff who have to care for his or her kids. The laws may depart 19.three million staff with none sick pay, the Washington Submit reported.
The state laws would additionally require employers to reinstate staff after they return from depart.
To reduce the influence on small companies, Sen. Tom Killion (R., Chester) plans to introduce laws that may direct desk recreation income to the Division of Neighborhood and Financial Growth to create zero-interest loans.
Reps. Valerie Gaydos (R., Allegheny) and Jared Solomon (D., Philadelphia) additionally plan to introduce laws to create low-to-no curiosity loans to assist small companies survive. The invoice will define two kinds of loans: one will likely be short-term funding to satisfy payroll and overhead bills; the opposite will likely be for “long-term resiliency” to assist companies get better over time.
A measure by Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D., Philadelphia) would enable a 60-day grace interval for reimbursement of pupil loans issued by the Pennsylvania Increased Schooling Help Company.
Taxes and submitting
Rep. David Rowe (R., Union) and Rep. Frank Ryan (R., Lebanon) are writing a measure that may droop gross sales and private revenue tax assortment till the catastrophe declaration is lifted.
The IRS will hold its tax-filing deadline as April 15, however the U.S. Treasury introduced Tuesday it would waive curiosity and penalties for 90 days after that date. Rep. Joe Ciresi (D., Montgomery) plans to introduce laws that may apply a 60-day extension for Pennsylvanians to file state revenue taxes when the state is below a catastrophe declaration.
All Pennsylvanians at the moment are eligible to vote by mail. Rep. Kevin Boyle (D., Philadelphia) needs to encourage that by mailing all voters that sort of poll forward of the April 28 major.
Rep. Dan Williams (D., Chester) plans to introduce laws to permit elections officers to open votes submitted by mail earlier than the polls shut. Home Majority Chief Bryan Cutler (R., Lancaster) beforehand mentioned this is part of discussions with Gov. Tom Wolf to “clean-up” a complete voting reform invoice handed final yr.
A proposed state Senate invoice would assist staff whereas quarantined or in isolation throughout a public well being emergency. Sen. Steve Santarsiero (D., Bucks) mentioned in a memo to his colleagues that Pennsylvania doesn’t have a legislation that addresses whether or not an employer can hearth a employee below these circumstances throughout a state of emergency.
A measure by Rep. Ed Neilson (D., Philadelphia) would supply unemployment compensation for individuals who have been ordered to quarantine or isolate due to the coronavirus. His invoice wouldn’t supply prolonged advantages to individuals who used paid break day or paid sick days throughout quarantine or isolation.
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