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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.
Pennsylvania is one signature away from giving school districts the power to decide who can attend fall sporting events. Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature is what is needed to make House Bill 2787 law.

What will the governor do?

Legislation that would give schools the authority to make sports and extracurricular decisions for themselves, including whether or not to allow spectators in the stands, has been passed by both the House and Senate with bipartisan support which also reflects the overwhelming support of the people in my district. In a few days, House Bill 2787 will land on the governor’s desk and he will have 10 calendar days to sign it into law, veto it or do nothing and allow it to become law.

The governor has already granted local school officials the authority to make decisions about how best to approach student instruction this year so it makes no sense that the governor has stated that he will veto the bill. His cookie-cutter limits of no more than 25 people for indoor events and no more than 250 people for outdoor events does not work for school sports activities. If Gov. Wolf can allow the Carlisle Car Show entertain thousands of spectators to see cars, then there should be no reason not to permit a few parents to watch their kids play sports. Since school sports and other activities are also part of our children’s educational experience, it makes sense for those decisions to be made at the local level as well.

Thus, I urge the governor to sign House Bill 2787.

Valerie Gaydos
Gaydos Reports Policy Committee Examination of Economic Recovery Challenges for Small Business, Health Care, Social Services

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, the negative impacts on many segments of the state’s economy continue to mount. The House Majority Policy Committee convened two public hearings this week to take testimony from the retail sector, and the health care and social services sectors about the challenges they face in trying to recover from the pandemic.

On Wednesday, the committee met in Bensalem, Bucks County, for a discussion about impacts on the retail and hospitality industries, with testifiers indicating restaurants aren’t the only businesses suffering. According to the PA Retailers Association, sporting goods sales are down 40%, electronics are down 60%, furniture is down 66% and clothing sales are down 89% compared to this time in 2019. Pen Ryn Estate, which hosted the hearing has postponed 180 weddings, affecting both their own business as well as other vendors involved in wedding receptions.

On Thursday, the committee met in Breinigsville, Lehigh County, for a hearing to discuss impacts on the health care and social services sectors. Common concerns raised by testifiers include the continued need for personal protective equipment (PPE), threats of frivolous lawsuits and skyrocketing costs for implementing measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Both hearings offered valuable insight into measures the Legislature can take to help reopen the state’s economy safely. The hearings are available for viewing at www.PAHouseGOP.com.
Gaydos Says State’s Bars, Restaurants Need Freedom to Open Safely

Gov. Tom Wolf now says restaurants my increase indoor occupancy to 50% but only after a bill was introduced in the House to do the same and just before a Senate committee voted to increase capacity. The governor then announced another round of changes to his COVID-19 restrictions for the state’s bars and restaurants earlier this week, but the changes provide little to no relief for these struggling businesses.

Starting Sept. 1, restaurants would be permitted to increase their indoor seating to 50% of capacity (instead of the current 25%). However, they will also have to go through a self-certification process to qualify to make the change. Self-certification, are you kidding me? According to the governor, restaurants that self-certify will be included on a new statewide database to help consumers “make more informed choices about the food establishments they are looking to patronize.” While the change is welcomed, it is alarming that the governor would go to self-certification when existing guidelines and best practices already exist via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Restaurant Association. Unlike the governor’s order, the legislation which he is threatening to veto, requires compliance with each of them.

Another changed ordered by the governor will require alcohol sales to close at 10 p.m. each evening.

Once again, Gov. Wolf offered no explanation or data behind his changes, the timing of his changes or why stopping alcohol sales at 10 p.m. is expected to make a difference in the spread of COVID-19.

While the changes are appreciated and are consistent with public opinion, we need to assure restaurant owners that these capacities will remain so they can plan their purchasing, schedule employees, advertise properly, etc. What has been done to them is unconscionable. It’s time to stop the unilateral decisions-making and statewide, blanket orders that are harming small businesses across the Commonwealth and to ensure that decisions are based on a plan, based on science, CDC and CISA guidelines and are open and transparent.

To read the governor’s announcement, click here.

A list of frequently asked questions about the self-certification process is available here.
Gaydos Provides Update on Lost Wages Assistance Program Payments

The Department of Labor and Industry will begin making payments to individuals eligible for the federal Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program next week. Individuals who apply and qualify will begin receiving their payments as early as Monday, Sept. 14.

Only individuals who are fully or partially unemployed due to COVID-19 disruptions may apply for this benefit. To qualify for the extra $300, the LWA program also requires that eligible individuals must have a benefit rate and dependence allowance totaling $100 or more per week in benefits, and must receive a benefit payment for each week from one of the following qualifying programs: Regular Unemployment Compensation (UC); Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC); Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA); Pennsylvania Extended Benefits (EB); Shared Work or Short-Time Compensation (STC); and Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA).

Although the federal government announced the end of this program effective Sept. 5, eligible workers are encouraged to apply as soon as possible for claim weeks from Aug. 1 to Sept. 5.

For more information about who qualifies and how to apply, click here.
Elk Cam Now Live!

To help people across the state and beyond experience the wonder of the state’s elk population, the Pennsylvania Game Commission again has installed a camera on State Game Lands 311 in Elk County, in a field that typically is a hub of elk activity as the bugling season heats up.  

The livestream, which is provided by HDOnTap and made possible with the help of the North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission, is the latest in a string of real-time wildlife-watching opportunities offered by the commission.

The stream can be accessed at www.pgc.pa.gov by clicking on the Elk Country Live Stream button. Viewers can expect not only to see elk, but also turkeys, deer and other wildlife. The stream is slated to run until the end of the bugling season, likely sometime in mid-October. The top time to see elk on camera is late in the afternoon.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Noting childhood cancer is the second leading cause of death in children under 15 years of age, the state House passed a resolution last week designating September 2020 as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 11,000 new cases of childhood cancer will be diagnosed in children under the age of 15 in the United States this year. While major treatment advancements have led to an overall five-year survival rate of 84%, this rate varies widely depending on the type of cancer and other factors.

House Resolution 962 is intended to bring awareness to childhood cancer, to encourage young Pennsylvanians who are fighting cancer, and to honor young people who have lost their lives to childhood cancer. The resolution also expresses gratitude to the doctors and nurses who provide special care to patients and families affected by childhood cancer and encourages all residents in this Commonwealth to join the fight against childhood cancer. 
Spotted Lanternfly Swarming Behavior

Spotted Lanternfly, having grown into adults after storing up the summer warmth and energy, are beginning to swarm. In areas of heavy populations, thousands of the invasive insect will gather in masse on trees, houses and other tall structures, to launch themselves into the wind and glide, looking for food and a safe place to lay their eggs. This intense flurry of activity comes as the cooling weather informs the lanternfly that the time has come to prepare for the next generation. While lanternfly do not pose a danger to humans, this display disrupts outdoor activity and will cause many to retreat indoors.

These swarming events also give researchers a good idea of where large populations might exist today, and where egg masses will likely be found in the winter months. Reporting these swarms via the Public Reporting Tool will aid researchers and treatment staff alike; both to pinpoint areas for study and to target areas to treat next season.

Why should you report Spotted Lanternfly?

In 2019, more than 90,000 reports were made to the PA Department of Agriculture’s Public Reporting Tool, hosted by Penn State Extension, with the majority coming in after the Spotted Lanternfly adults appeared, and peaking during the September swarm. In 2020, we have seen a 50-80% increase in the number of early season reports compared to 2019. But what does the PA Department of Agriculture and their partners do with these reports and the data associated with them?

As noted above, one way this reporting data is used is to help determine where large populations of lanternfly exist, and where we can expect to find their egg masses. By asking the public to report the approximate numbers of lanternfly they see we can begin to get a true idea of the size of populations over an area. The Department of Agriculture also closely follows up on reports outside the known quarantine areas to find new populations, determine pathways for spread and improve our prediction models for where Spotted Lanternfly might be found next.

Please note that most people who report a Spotted Lanternfly sighting will not be contacted. The data provided is used to help the Pennsylvania Spotted Lanternfly Program partners better understand this invasive pest.

By having Commonwealth residents’ support in reporting Spotted Lanternfly, we can work together to slow the spread of this invasive insect! For more information, click here.
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1009 Beaver Grade Road, Suite 220, Moon Township, PA 15108 | Phone: (412) 262-3780, Fax: (412) 262-3783
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Room 428, Irvis Office Building, PO Box 202044, Harrisburg PA 17120-2044 | Phone: (717) 787-6651 |
Email: vgaydos@pahousegop.com