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The Latest News from Your State Representative
Please do not reply to this e-mail, as I am unable to respond to messages sent to this address. You can contact me directly at vgaydos@pahousegop.com or here.
Continuing to top the news is the status of athletic competition in our schools. Gov. Tom Wolf issued another unilateral ‘recommendation’ made without any advance notice to cancel ALL sporting events until Jan. 1. At the present time, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) has indicated that they will not cancel the fall sports season; instead, the organization will re-evaluate the situation by Aug. 24. I am very disappointed for our student athletes. Their scholarship opportunities are in jeopardy, and they won’t be able to experience the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat. Professional sports and recreational leagues are permitted to compete, but not PIAA sports. I will continue to advocate for local control over these types of decisions.

In better news, legislation to ensure transparency and accountability with the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 response on broad-based coronavirus testing has been signed into law. Act 70 of 2020 requires the governor to submit comprehensive, federally required state-level COVID-19 testing plans to the General Assembly for review.

Finally, I will be teaming up with Moon Township for an ID Theft/Shredding Event on Saturday, Sept. 12 from 9-11 a.m. at McCormick Elementary School in Moon Township. I feel it is very important for you to have a secure way to shred documents that contain sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers or bank account numbers.

Valerie Gaydos
Out and About in the 44th District

I was honored to participate in the garland cutting for the opening of Pittsburgh Botanic Garden “Garden of the Five Senses.” A decade of partnering with our state and local governments has turned this brownfield into a statewide gem for everyone to enjoy. Pictured with me is Beth Exton, development director, Pittsburgh Botanic Garden.

We enjoyed a very big turnout for our recent shredding event. Co-sponsored by Findlay Township, this free event was important because it provided a secure way to shred documents that contain sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers or bank account numbers. We also maintained social distancing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Thank you to everyone who participated.

Last week, I had a meeting with Bobby Patterson, president of the Sewickley Community Center to view renovations to its facility. Last year, I spearheaded a $75,000 Economic Development Fund (GEDF) grant to help with construction to the roof, food bank, kitchen, daycare and parking area. Everything is going well and I am very pleased. The Sewickley Community Center has been serving our area since 1935.
Don’t Miss My Shredding Event

Wolf ‘Recommendation’ Puts Fall Sports in Jeopardy

Earlier this week, I joined more than five dozen fellow House members in calling on Gov. Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) to change recent policy prohibiting spectators at PIAA events, including parents of athletes.  

The letter to the governor is available to read here.

The letter to PIAA officials is available to read here.

Understandably, parents want to watch their student athletes perform and they want to be on hand should their child be injured to make sure he or she is getting the appropriate care and attention. Many parents who have contacted my office about this issue question why they cannot social distance at an outdoor sporting event but can still shop at big box retail stores. I couldn’t agree more.

When questioned by the media about the issue of spectators at school sporting events, the governor chose to answer by saying he is recommending against all school sports until Jan. 1. This response came as a shock to everyone, including PIAA officials who had already made the determination to move forward with school sports in the fall.

This is NOT leadership. The governor keeps moving the goalposts without explaining why. It’s unfair to PIAA officials who are working hard to prepare for fall sports and it is especially unfair to the student athletes who want to compete, as well as their parents.

As of this moment, the PIAA is discussing its options and have a decision by Aug. 24. I will continue to advocate for LOCAL CONTROL over these types of decisions!
Seeking Answers Through RTKs on Wolf No-Sport Edict

Gov. Tom Wolf haphazardly issued a recommendation to halt fall sports, both scholastic and recreational, until Jan. 1. To find out the method he used to reach his decision and pursuant to Act 77 of 2020, Right-to-Know requests have been filed with the Department of Health and the Department of Education requesting the data and models used to reach their new recommendations on youth sports.

Wolf made this major announced in the last minute or so of a press briefing and was haphazard at best.
House Education Committee Hears Testimony on School Reopening

As a member of the House Education Committee, we convened a two-day hearing this week to gather testimony from a variety of education advocates and organizations about the challenges of safely reopening schools this fall.

Among the many issues discussed during the hearing were access to sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment for teachers and staff to change frequently throughout the day; availability of school nurses; liability protections; increased demand for cyber schooling; and ensuring the safety and quality of education for students with special needs.

The committee also heard suggestions for policies to support public schools and students, such as permanent mandate waivers, improved broadband internet access, increased funding for transportation, postponing new state graduation requirements, and requiring clear and detailed quarantine protocols and contact tracing in the event a student or staff member tests positive.

The hearing featured testifiers from the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools, Alliance of Approved Private Schools, PA Cyber Charter School, Agora Cyber Charter School, the ARC of PA and the Association of School Nurses and Practitioners on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the panel of testifiers included representatives invited from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, PA Association of School Administrators, PA Association of School Business Officials and PA State Education Association.

The hearing can be watched in its entirety here.

Don’t Be Victim of Unemployment Benefits Scam

The state Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) is reminding Pennsylvanians of the warning signs associated with the widespread identity theft fraud ring targeting COVID-19 unemployment compensation (UC) benefits programs across the nation. The federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program is the primary target of this sophisticated scam and victims are urged to report instances of fraud to L&I and local police.

The nationwide scam was first identified in May with fraudsters using personal information previously stolen from sources outside of Commonwealth agencies to file for PUA benefits. Many Pennsylvanians are not even aware their identities were stolen in the past until they receive correspondence or a debit card from the state UC office.

Warning signs of the scam include, but are not limited to, receiving a check or direct deposit from the Pennsylvania Treasury Department or a ReliaCard debit card issued by U.S. Bank, despite not having filed for unemployment assistance; someone you don’t know comes to your home and tells you that their unemployment assistance check or debit card was mailed to you by mistake; or someone offers to help you file for unemployment benefits for a fee.

For a full list of scam warning signs, as well as information about how to report the fraud and return any improper benefits payment, click here.
Getting Answers to Problems with Unemployment Compensation

About a week or so ago, My House colleague Seth Grove (R-York) sent Department of Labor and Industry Secretary W. Gerard Oleksiak a strongly worded letter urging him to get the unemployment compensation (UC) system fixed as millions of Pennsylvanians continue to file for unemployment benefits. You can read the letter here.

In the letter, he notes how some families have gone months without receiving benefits after being put out of work by the administration’s business closures. On the same token, some people have continued to receive benefits even though they went back to work and didn’t file for additional benefits.

Unfortunately, the reply, which can be read by clicking here, is unacceptable. Instead of starting ways to fix the problem, Oleksiak provide the same old excuses we’ve been told for months. I will continue to join my colleagues to serve those who are in need of unemployment compensation.
PA Continues to Miss Out on Settlement Money Because it Lacks Anti-Fraud Law

A recent ruling in federal district court highlights the need for Pennsylvania to enact its own False Claims Act.

The U.S District Court awarded $117 million in damages to plaintiffs, which included several states, including Pennsylvania, as part of a global settlement regarding allegations of fraud against Universal Health Services (UHS). Plaintiffs successfully argued UHS violated the Federal False Claims Act and some states also argued the company also violated the state version of the False Claims Act. While Pennsylvania received just over $900,000 as part of the settlement, the Commonwealth does not have the ability to recover Pennsylvania state-specific taxpayer dollars lost to fraud.

States with their own civil liability were able to recover taxpayer money lost to state-specific fraud and the numbers speak for themselves. Take California and New York for example. Their prosecutors recovered $1 million and $1.8 million, respectively, for their taxpayers. After more than 20 years it is well past time for the Commonwealth to enact its own law to create civil fraud law and allow the state to recover taxpayer money lost to fraud.

To ensure the Commonwealth’s taxpayers are protected from fraud, House Bill 2352 was introduced to create the Commonwealth Fraud Prevention Act.
Grants to Help Higher Education Resume Operations

Postsecondary institutions and adult basic education providers will collectively receive $28 million in federal CARES Act funding to assist in implementing public health and safety plans to resume operations in the fall while keeping students, faculty and staff safe from COVID-19.

Grant amounts were determined by the state Department of Education based on both the shares of total enrollments by each postsecondary sector and the number of socio-economically disadvantaged students served by institutions. Additionally, $500,000 of the total funds were set aside to provide relief to adult basic education providers.

Grant funds may be used for a variety of initiatives to aid in the safe reopening of schools, including the purchase of protective equipment, hand sanitizer and cleaning products; equipment or technology to take classrooms online; installation of barriers or other protective devices in building structures; or to purchase health apps to assist in contact tracing and monitoring of students

More information is available here.
Latest Census Information

Census takers have started to visit homes from people who have not responded to the 2020 Census.

If someone visits your home this year to collect information for the 2020 Census, check to make sure they have a valid ID badge with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. Census workers may also carry Census Bureau bags and other equipment with the Census Bureau logo.

Census takers will wear masks and follow local public health guidelines when they visit your home. All census takers complete a virtual COVID-19 training on social distancing and other health and safety protocols before beginning their work in neighborhoods.
Census takers are hired from Butler County, and their goal is to help you and everyone in your home be counted in the 2020 Census. It is very important that we all complete the Census because this information is used to help make funding decisions at both the state and federal level.

For more information on the United States Census click here.
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District Office:
1009 Beaver Grade Road, Suite 220, Moon Township, PA 15108 | Phone: (412) 262-3780, Fax: (412) 262-3783
Capitol Office:
Room 428, Irvis Office Building, PO Box 202044, Harrisburg PA 17120-2044 | Phone: (717) 787-6651 |
Email: vgaydos@pahousegop.com