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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.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health care leaders have noted the benefits to our children to safely return to in-person education. This week, the Department of Health and the Department of Education released new guidelines on safely reopening schools and for them to operate under three different levels of assessment: “Low Risk” means full in-person education, “Moderate Risk” means blended learning is advisable, and, “Substantial Risk” is defined as the deployment of full remote education. You can read more about it by clicking here.

Our children, parents and teachers from across the Commonwealth have been asking for guidance and support to ensure that our schools reopen safely and most importantly, that our kids are provided with the consistency in education that they need in order to learn.

While this late-in-the-game, patchwork approach to closing and opening schools provides no predictability or assurances for our kids, working parents and educators, at least it is a start. Our children deserve the best possible educational opportunities that we can provide, and parents deserve to feel that their kids are not only learning but learning safely.

Rep. Valerie Gaydos
Bills to Provide Reason, Clarity to Education, School Sports, Activities

We recognize the stress and uncertainty created by ever-changing “guidance” from the Wolf administration regarding reopening the state’s schools and resuming sports and other activities while we continue to deal with COVID-19.

In response, two bills were unveiled earlier this week to provide reason and clarity for families and students across the state. House Bill 2787 simply would ensure Pennsylvania’s local school boards are the people making decisions regarding fall sports and other extracurricular activities for the students in their districts.

Further, to ensure all students have the best educational opportunities, House Bill 2788 would allow students and families to have the option to continue the student’s education and extracurricular activities for an additional year to make up for the loss of instruction and competition during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years.

Back in June, the administration issued guidance that would allow each school district to develop an appropriate health and safety plan to resume sports-related activities. In late July, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) announced its plan to resume fall sports, but without spectators. When asked at a press conference about his thoughts on the policy regarding spectators, the governor responded by saying he didn’t believe any school sports should take place until at least Jan. 1, 2021.

The abrupt nature of this partial announcement, without any preliminary discussions with PIAA or school district officials, and without science or data to back it up, is both unfair and disrespectful to student athletes, their parents and the school and PIAA officials who have been working so hard to conduct fall sports safely.
Gaydos Demands Action from Department of Labor and Industry

The unemployment compensation system needs to be fixed now. Rep. Gaydos and her House colleagues continue to work 24/7 to make sure that people who have lost their jobs be compensated properly. This week, Gaydos crafted a correspondence to the Department of Labor and Industry.

Also, this week, the House Labor and Industry Committee, chaired by Rep. Jim Cox (R-Berks), held an informational meeting Wednesday to discuss the many failures of the unemployment compensation system.

The program, which is intended to provide a safety net to people who have lost their jobs, virtually imploded when the Wolf administration’s drastic business closure orders prompted a record 3.5 million Pennsylvanians to apply for benefits. Many waited weeks for a response, let alone a check, at a time when they were otherwise without an income to help keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables. Some are STILL waiting.

While Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry officials, including Secretary W. Gerard Oleksiak, tried to focus their testimony on people who did receive help, lawmakers who have heard many heartbreaking stories from constituents struggling to obtain the benefits they are owed continued to press for answers about why the system failed so miserably.

The full hearing is available for viewing here.
Instructions on How to Return UC Payments Fraudulently Disbursed

Rep. Gaydos’ office has been working diligently to assist residents of the 44th Legislative District who have received fraudulent unemployment compensation payments.

The Pennsylvania Department of Treasury issued this week updated guidance on how to best return unemployment compensation benefit payments that a person did not originally seek and that were fraudulently disbursed.

What to do if you have received an unemployment compensation payment in error, via a U.S. Bank ReliaCard:

Receiving a US Bank ReliaCard in error should not activate the card. To aid Treasury’s internal investigation operations and prevent a fraudulent expenditure of Commonwealth funds, any person who erroneously receives a US Bank ReliaCard should follow one of the procedures below:

• Email a picture of back of the US Bank ReliaCard, or the number on the back of the card, not the front. Please include the individual’s name, along with their phone number and email address, to the PA Treasury Office of Investigations at officeofinvestigations@patreasury.gov.

What to do if you have received an unemployment compensation payment in error, via paper check:

1. Write, “VOID” on the front of the Commonwealth check
2. Email a photo of the front and back of the voided check to officeofinvestigations@patreasury.gov, including your name, phone number, and email address.
3. Mail the check back to Treasury at the below address:

Pennsylvania Treasury Department
Department of Treasury Comptroller’s Office
Attn: Mark Accorsi
Room 113, Finance Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120

Rep. Gaydos’ district office in Moon Township can also be of assistance to you. Please call us at 412-262-3780 for more information.
Letter Seeks Answers on State Employees Working Remotely

Over the past two months Rep. Gaydos’ office and many of her colleagues' offices have interacted with constituents who often complain they cannot speak with anyone in our state agencies. These constituents are not among the hundreds who have and continue to contact us about unemployment issues. Rather these Pennsylvanians cannot get ahold of agencies such as PennDOT, Department of Revenue or are seeking occupational licenses and struggle to get a response from the respective board on their application.

With most state agency’s offices still closed in response to COVID-19, a letter written by Rep. Seth Grove (R-York), dated Aug. 7, seeks answers to a series of questions about state employees who are working from home and to ensure that these valued workers are being provided with the right tools to work from home in order to appropriately address the needs of our constituents.

To read the letter, click here.
Gaydos Introduces Non-Partisan Congressional and State Redistricting Act

Rep. Gaydos will be introducing legislation that would maintain the responsibility for redistricting with the Legislature but enable non-partisan staff within an existing non-partisan body to draw the lines.

Every 10 years, a temporary redistricting advisory commission will be created within the Legislative Reference Bureau. This commission will consist of five members. Four members will be appointed by the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate. Once those four members are chosen, they will select a fifth member who will also become the chairperson.

The commission will create a plan and introduce them as identical bills in the House and Senate. If the plan fails in either chamber, the plan, along with information as to why the plan was not approved will be sent to the commission for deliberation. When the commission has come up with a second plan, it will go through the regular legislative process and will be subject to amendment from the General Assembly.

The system of drawing the lines has a proven track record of working in Iowa since 1980. Housing the commission within an existing body, with an existing structure which is already set up to provide bill drafting for all member of the legislature, will provide greater savings to taxpayers.
Protecting PA’s Corrections Officers

A bill that ensures the punishment fits the crime when an inmate assaults a corrections facility employee has been signed into law.

Act 63 of 2020 lowers the threshold that must be met to charge an inmate with a felony. Specifically, the inmate commits a felony of the second degree when he or she assaults a correctional facility employee with a deadly weapon or instrument, or by any means or force likely to produce bodily injury. If the means or force is likely to produce serious bodily injury, the grading would be increased to a felony of the first degree.

This bill is part of a package introduced after the murder of Sgt. Mark Baserman, an employee at State Correctional Institute-Somerset, who was fatally beaten by an inmate on Feb. 15, 2018.
African Americans in Aviation Traveling Museum Coming to Sewickley

Rep. Gaydos is invited all of her constituents from the 44th District to visit Chauncey Spencer and his African Americans in Aviation Traveling Museum on Aug. 25, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Sewickley.

Spencer will be visiting the Tuskegee Airman’s Memorial at Sewickley Cemetery, along with the Tuskegee exhibit at the Pittsburgh International Airport.

Spencer will be traveling from Palm Springs to Washington, D.C. for the Civil Right March on Aug. 28.

His goal is to teach a piece of American history that has been left out of America, what most people refer to as “Black History.”

Please try to stop by and visit this amazing traveling museum. Click here for more information.
COVID-19 Information for Travelers

My primary goal is your health and safety. The Pennsylvania Department of Health tells us that when you hit the road to another state, you and your travel companions (including children) may spread COVID-19 to other people including your family, friends, and community for 14 days after you were exposed to the virus.

Don't travel if you are sick or if you have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days. Don't travel with someone who is sick. It is recommended that you quarantine for 14 days upon return from these states. Click here.
Call Before You Dig

Aug. 11 marked National 811 Day – a day dedicated to reminding residents, contractors and utility workers of the importance of calling 8-1-1 before digging to help ensure the safety of excavation projects across the state.

Every time an underground utility line is hit, there is a risk to the contractors or homeowners who are doing the digging; to utility workers and emergency responders who are mobilized to deal with the damage; and to bystanders who live, work or travel near the locations of the incidents. During the first half of 2020, a total of 2,617 line hits were reported to PA One Call, compared to 2,785 for the same period last year – a reduction of about 6%, despite a near-record number of line-location calls.

State law requires contractors and residents to contact PA One Call at least three business days prior to excavation – triggering alerts to all utilities within an intended digging area and prompting utilities to mark where their facilities are located. Pennsylvanians can dial 8-1-1 to connect with the One Call system, while out-of-state residents or businesses can call 1-800-242-1776.

Learn more at PA1call.com.
Application Period Opened for Rail Freight Grant Programs

PennDOT’s Bureau of Rail, Freight, Ports and Waterways has opened the application period for the 2020 Rail Transportation Assistance Program (RTAP) and the Rail Freight Assistance Program (RFAP).

Pennsylvania ranks first in the country in the number of operating railroads, with 65, and ranks near the top in total track mileage, with more than 5,600 miles.

In the 2019 grant period, PennDOT awarded $40 million for 26 rail freight projects. PennDOT manages two grant programs, RTAP, a capital budget grant program funded with bonds, and RFAP, which is underwritten through the Multimodal Fund created by Act 89 of 2013.

For eligible organizations wishing to apply for funding through either program, applications for both programs will be available on the bureau’s website beginning on Monday, August 3, 2020 and ending at 4:00 PM on Friday, August 28, 2020.
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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