Sunday, March 29, 2020

Gov. Wolf Requests Federal Disaster Declaration For State, County, Municipal Governments, Certain Nonprofits, Individuals

On March 29, Gov. Tom Wolf requested a major disaster declaration from the President through the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide additional support for state, county and municipal governments and certain nonprofits, as well as individuals who are struggling during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The COVID-19 outbreak has taxed our Commonwealth and our communities in ways that are almost incomprehensible,” said Gov. Wolf. “I am calling on the President and the federal government to make available to us the assistance that will make a tangible difference in the lives of our friends and neighbors, and the dedicated public servants who are working in overdrive to support them.”
Pennsylvania already received an emergency declaration under the President’s nationwide emergency proclamation, which provides reimbursement for eligible expenses for emergency protective measures to state, county and local governments and certain nonprofits for the duration of the emergency incident. 
The declared nationwide emergency incident started January 20, 2020, and continues.
The request for a major disaster declaration, if approved, will provide the same emergency protective measures available under the nationwide emergency proclamation; the following Individual Assistance programs: Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling, Community Disaster Loans and the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Program; and Statewide Hazard Mitigation.
It is not known how quickly the President will decide to grant or deny Gov. Wolf’s major disaster request for additional federal assistance. Gov. Wolf signed a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency for the COVID-19 outbreak, which is a required step to request a federal major disaster declaration, on March 6, 2020.
For the latest information on the coronavirus and precautions to take in Pennsylvania, visit the Department of Health’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage, Follow them on Twitter, or Like them on Facebook.
NewsClips/Announcements:
Helpful Links:
Responding To COVID-19 In Pennsylvania - General Resource Page All Topics
Attorney General - Coronavirus Price Gouging Updates 
[Posted: March 29, 2020]

March 29 Update On COVID-19 In Pennsylvania

Steps being taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania are constantly changing and evolving.  For the latest information visit--
-- The Department of Health’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage, Follow them on Twitter, or Like them on Facebook.
Helpful Links:
Responding To COVID-19 In Pennsylvania - General Resource Page All Topics
Attorney General - Coronavirus Price Gouging Updates 

As of 8:00 a.m. March 29: On March 28, Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine expanded their stay at home order to now cover Beaver, Centre and Washington counties.
The order now includes these 22 counties: Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Butler, Centre, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland and York counties. 
12 More Deaths
The Department of Health reported 12 more deaths caused by COVID-19 bringing the statewide total to 34.
As of 12:00 a.m. March 28, there are 533 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 2,751 in 56 counties.
Business Assistance
There are several programs now available through the state and federal government to provide help to businesses and nonprofits impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.  The most significant so far are--
-- Businesses - COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program. This $50 million is in addition to the $60 million in new funding provided last week to help small businesses impacted by the coronavirus through a new program under the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority’s COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program (CWCA) which began accepting applications this week from businesses with 100 or fewer full-time employees.  
-- Businesses/Nonprofits - SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans are also available for up to $2 million in assistance and can provide economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. 
The state Department Of Community & Economic Development regularly updates a special Business Resources webpage with information on business assistance programs.
PennDOT - License/Registration
On March 27, the Department of Transportation announced expiration dates for driver licenses, identification cards, learner’s permits, persons with disability placards, vehicle registrations and safety and emission inspections will be extended for Pennsylvania residents in response to statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
Deadlines on the following products will be extended effective March 27, 2020:
-- Driver licenses, photo ID cards and learner's permits scheduled to expire from March 16, 2020 through April 30, 2020, the expiration date is now extended through May 31, 2020.
-- Vehicle registrations, safety inspections and emissions inspections scheduled to expire from March 16 through April 30, 2020, the expiration date is now extended through May 31, 2020.
-- Persons with Disabilities parking placards scheduled to expire from March 16 through April 30, 2020, the expiration date is now extended through May 31, 2020.
These extensions are in addition to those announced on March 16--
-- Driver licenses, photo ID cards and learner's permits scheduled to expire from March 16, 2020 through March 31, 2020, the expiration date is now extended until April 30, 2020.
-- Vehicle registrations, safety inspections and emissions inspections scheduled to expire from March 16 through March 31, 2020, the expiration date is now extended until April 30, 2020.
-- Persons with Disabilities Parking Placards scheduled to expire from March 16 through March 31, 2020, the expiration date is now extended until April 30, 2020.
As a reminder, customers may complete various transactions and access multiple resources via the Driver and Vehicle Services website. 
Federal Actions
On March 18, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law which includes new obligations on employers with fewer than 500 employees to pay sick leave for employees and other changes.  It becomes effective April 1.
The Department of Labor has recently issued its first set of summaries and guidance on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act which the agency has been tasked with implementing--
On March 27, the Phase 3 Coronavirus Stimulus Package,  was signed into law, which includes these provisions, among others--
-- $350 billion to aid small businesses with less than 500 employees through a new special type of SBA 7(a) loan called the “Paycheck Protection Program” to help them make payroll and other expenses.
-- $17 billion to wipe out all principal, interest, and fees on all existing SBA loan products, including 7(a) loans, for six months to provide relief to small businesses negatively affected by COVID-19. Click Here for more detailed information and additional 7(a) details will be released by SBA in the near future.
-- Employee retention credit for employers subject to closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, a refundable payroll tax credit for 50 percent of wages paid by employers to employees during the coronavirus crisis will be available to employers whose (1) operations were fully or partially suspended, due to a COVID-19-related shutdown order, or (2) gross receipts declined by more than 50 percent when compared to the same quarter in the prior year.
-- An additional $900 million for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
-- An additional $15.51 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in anticipated increases in participation as a result of coronavirus.
Additional provisions:
-- A technical correction to the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” that now allows businesses to immediately write off costs associated with improving facilities instead of having to depreciate those improvements over the 39-year life of the building.
-- Direct payments of up to $1,200 to taxpayers depending on income ($2,400 for couples filing joint tax return, $500 additional for every child) that phase out after taxpayer reaches $75,000 in adjusted gross income ($150,000 for couples). No checks for anyone earning more than $99,000, $146,500 for head of household filers with one child, and $198,000 for joint filers with no children. The amount will be based on each taxpayer’s 2019 tax return if filed, or in the alternative their 2018 return.
-- Waives the 10-percent penalty for the early withdrawal of retirement funds up to $100,000 specifically for coronavirus-related purposes.
-- Deductions of up to $300 on charitable contributions made this year.
-- A delay in employer payroll tax payments.
-- Changes to allow companies to utilize net operating losses to increase funding.
-- A change to the loss limitation applied to pass-through businesses and sole proprietors to increase funding.
-- A change that allows companies to recover AMT credits
-- A change increasing the amount of business expenses companies can deduct on tax returns.
$500 billion fund for loans to corporations that will be overseen by an inspector general and a congressional panel.
-- Hospitals will receive over $130 billion.
-- State and local governments to receive $150 billion.
-- BBan on stock buybacks for companies receiving government loans during the term of their assistance plus one year.
Related Articles:
[Posted: March 29, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

Senate, House Have A $172 Million Surplus In Their Accounts, Just Sayin’

The one place state government has a significant surplus is in the operating accounts of the Senate and House--  an estimated  $172 million.  
Maybe that could be put to good use for taxpayers in responding to the COVID-19 crisis, instead of sitting in the Senate and House bank accounts.
This is going to be a very rough ride indeed and even the Senate and House have to sacrifice.
Related Article:
[Posted: March 29, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

A Pandemic Isn’t A License To Litter

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Army Corps of Engineers, county and local agencies that have kept their trails, forests and recreation areas open to the public are now facing a new problem-- an increase in littering.
Agencies are posting photos of cans, bottles, hand sanitizer wipes and other detris park and trail users have left behind in their rush to get outside and away from the worries of COVID-19 for a few hours.
It is well known that forests and natural areas and outdoor exercise has many physical and mental health benefits and that’s why folks are outside.
The value of our recreation and hiking areas has only increased because of the coronavirus outbreak.
If you litter, you’re ruining the experience for the next person.
Don’t be afraid to tell someone you see littering to quit it…. as long as you’re six feet away.
A Pandemic Isn’t A License To Litter.    Leave No Trace!
Related Article:
[Posted: March 29, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

Sunday PA Environment & Energy NewsClips 3.29.20

Sunday PA Capitol & Coronavirus NewsClips 3.29.20 -- Click Here
Helpful Resources:
Click Here for latest Environmental NewsClips & News (Daily Subscriber Email 2:00)
Click Here for latest PA Capitol NewsClips & News (Daily Subscriber Email 2:00)
[Posted: March 29, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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