Boost in Funding for Direct Support Professionals, Senior Protection Legislation Heads to Pa. Senate
Legislation boosting funding for direct support professionals, protections for seniors in long-term care moves forward.

On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed legislation introduced by the Speaker of the House, Mike Turzai, that establishes the Senior Protection Act. The bill, House Bill 2510, would create a framework to protect seniors and others living in long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as provide significant funding to protect front line professionals.

Specifically, the bill would create six regional collaboration groups partnering with health care facilities to promote COVID-19 response readiness, improve the quality of care and expand testing of the facilities. Speaker Turzai said he worked closely with UPMC health experts to develop the proposal to protect seniors and others living in Pennsylvania's nursing homes, personal care homes and assisted living residences. He said the bill includes a process on how to help keep residents, and staff, in these facilities safe.
Earlier this week the bill was amended to include provisions that would direct federal CARES Act money to the Department of Human Services for Long-Term Care, Long-Term Managed Care, Community HealthChoices, Intellectual Disabilities Community Waiver Program and Autism Intervention Services. The additions to the bill will help ensure front line providers who deliver support and services to seniors and individuals with intellectual disabilities and/or autism are protected.
Advocates within the intellectual disability and autism community welcomed the additions to the bill stating it provided much needed relief for providers who are struggling with a workforce crisis that existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Providers across the state were seeing almost a 40 percent turnover of their workforce each year, while also struggling to hire new employees. The money appropriated by this bill would help providers offset the additional costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation is now before the state Senate, and advocates are hopeful the legislature, along with the governor's office, can find away to allocate these funds quickly in the coming weeks.

In addition to Speaker Turzai's proposal, the House also passed two additional measures meant to protect vulnerable citizens in the Commonwealth. The House sent a proposal to the Senate that would strengthen protections for people with physical and intellectual disabilities. The bill, House Bill 2056, named "Cody's Law," is dedicated to Cody Overdorff who was attacked by four individuals back in August. The House also passed House Bill 1827, also known as "Shawn's Law," that would impose stronger penalties for anyone convicted of causing or aiding suicide of a minor, or anyone with autism or an intellectual disability.
Pa. General Assembly: Week in Review

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives returned to session this week. Here is a review of some of the issues they addressed:

A House committee on Thursday morning advanced legislation that would terminate Gov. Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 emergency disaster declaration, effectively ending the governor's authority to institute stay-at-home and business shutdown orders. Along partisan lines, the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee voted to send House Resolution 836 to the full chamber for consideration.

The committee vote to end the governor's declaration came less than 24 hours after the House failed to override Gov. Tom Wolf's veto of House Bill 2388, legislation that would have required the state to issue waivers to Gov. Tom Wolf's business shutdown order for several industries across the Commonwealth. The House needed two-thirds of the chamber to approve the veto override, but fell just short of the required number of votes.

House Republicans, with a few Democratic supporters, passed additional legislation to allow for other businesses to immediately reopen. This includes legislation to allow for bars and restaurants throughout the state, as well as outdoor sportsmans clubs and residential cleaning services, to reopen if they follow social distancing and other mitigation efforts to limit the spread of the virus. These proposals have been sent to the Senate for its consideration.

In a moment of bipartisanship, the House passed legislation that would require the state to develop a report documenting the success and/or failures with Pennsylvania's 2020 primary election. The state has seen a record number of requests for mail-in ballots for the upcoming June primary, which was delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The House also approved legislation to further protect law enforcement officials from harassment and potentially dangerous confrontations with the public. The proposal, House Bill 2016, would prohibit any person from intentionally or knowingly causing an officer to come into contact with saliva or other bodily fluids by throwing, tossing or spitting the fluid at the officer.

The House is scheduled to return to session next week, after the Memorial Day holiday. It is rumored that the House could begin to pass a short-term, bridge budget when they return. The Senate is scheduled to return June 1.
Gov. Wolf to announce on Friday more counties moving to 'yellow,' some counties could go 'green.'

Gov. Tom Wolf will announce on Friday more counties moving to the "yellow" phase of his plan to reopen the Commonwealth. The governor also said he may announce tomorrow counties who could be eligible to enter the "green" phase, which would be the first announcement of its kind for Pennsylvania.

Earlier this week, the state's Health Secretary said the state has not yet established its plan for counties to enter the "green" phase and that the administration was still working on the details. More details on the governor's announcement in tomorrow's Capitol Buzz .
Daily COVID-19 update for Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 980 new positive confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide, bringing the state total to 65,392. In addition, 4,869 Pennsylvanians have died from complications from the virus. To date, there have been more than 303,000 negative cases across the state.

Gov. Tom Wolf is still asking all Pennsylvanians who must leave their homes for life-essential reasons to wear a mask to help stop the spread of the virus . An executive order was issued on April 15 requiring customers entering a place of business to wear a mask.

Daily COVID-19 update for Ohio

The Ohio Department of Health reported 30,167 cumulative cases of COVID-19 and 1,836 deaths, including probable cases, by Thursday afternoon. There have been 5,295 hospitalizations and 1,397 ICU admissions.
Other News...
OSHA taking steps to resume pre-COVID-19 procedures. Earlier this week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revised its guidance for enforcement and reporting requirements issued in April to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Attorneys with McNees Wallace and Nurick's Labor and Employment as well as Environmental Law and Toxic Tort practices groups outline the rescinded and newly revised OSHA guidelines that will go into effect May 26.

PA Chamber's 'Bringing PA Back' initiative to host free, 5-part webinar series. The Pennsylvania Chamber is hosting a free webinar series as part of its "Bringing PA Back" initiative to help businesses be ready to reopen their doors. The Chamber is working with leading professionals to bring this essential training to companies across the Commonwealth to help businesses navigate important regulations for a safe re-opening of the state's economy.

Pa. food distributors to receive $50 million in federal funding for USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program. Gov. Tom Wolf announced this week that Pennsylvania food distributors will receive $50 million in funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers to Families Food Box program. The governor said the funding will be used to purchase surplus milk and other dairy products, as well as chicken, pork and fresh produce from Pennsylvania farmers who lost markets for their products due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gettysburg National Military Park to start phased reopening on Friday. With Adams County moving into the "yellow" phase of Gov. Tom Wolf's reopening plan, the Gettysburg National Military Park will begin to allow guided operations and special park uses on Friday. The reopening of the park will comply with state guidance, including social distancing and other mitigation efforts to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

NCAA to allow 'voluntary' sports activities by June 1. The NCAA Division I Council earlier this week approved plans to allow voluntary activities for athletes in certain sports to resume June 1, according to several news reports. Guidelines have not been released at this time, nor has the NCAA officially announced or confirmed the vote which took place on Wednesday afternoon.
Unprecedented times, but McNees is here to help
The situation surrounding COVID-19 is changing by the hour. Capitol Buzz will do its best to keep our readers as up-to-date as possible as to local, state and federal actions relating to the virus.

As we have stated in previous editions, for those businesses seeking guidance or assistance on how to proceed during this unprecedented time, please contact the McNees Labor and Employment Practice Group , or for government relations and nonprofit consulting assistance please contact the McNees Strategic Solutions Group (MSSG) .

You can also visit the McNees COVID-19 Article & Resource Page for more information on various legal and political issues created by the novel coronavirus.

For more information on what you can do to protect yourself and others, check out the CDC's coronavirus information page or visit .

The Senate stands in recess until the call of the President Pro Tempore.

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The House stands in recess until the call of the chair.

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