News for Constituents – May 14, 2020

PA Senate Committees Exercise Oversight of COVID-19 Response

The Pennsylvania Senate standing committees have held numerous hearings recently on the Wolf Administration’s response to the COVID-19 health emergency.  A listing of these oversight hearings follows along with a link to watch:

  • May 13, 2020 – Joint hearing of the Senate Local Government and Aging and Youth Committees to hear from medical experts and county officials about how to protect older Pennsylvanians and others at the highest risk from COVID-19 as counties begin the process of reopening: https://www.pasenategop.com/blog/051320-2/
  • May 7, 2020 – Joint hearing of the Senate Aging and Youth and Health and Human Services Committees on the serious challenges facing Pennsylvania nursing homes during COVID-19: https://aging.pasenategop.com/050720/
  • May 6, 2020 – Senate Law and Justice Committee regarding issues with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, including the closure of the state’s Fine Wine & Spirits stores during COVID-19 without any official action by the PLCB or the Governor: https://law.pasenategop.com/050620/
  • May 5, 2020 – Joint hearing of the Senate Labor and Industry and Communications and Technology Committees to examine the problems with the Unemployment Compensation system that created significant delays in assistance and extreme frustrations from claimants: https://communications.pasenategop.com/050520/
  • April 23, 2020 – Joint hearing of the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development and Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committees to address concerns raised about the Wolf Administration’s response to COVID-19: https://community.pasenategop.com/042320-2/

On April 30, 2020 the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee also held a meeting to adopt a motion to subpoena the records related to the process by which employers could request a waiver or exemption from the Governor’s business closure order of March 19, 2020:  https://veterans.pasenategop.com/043020-2/.

Keep informed about future hearings and other legislative actions by following the PA Senate GOP Facebook page and at pasenategop.com. 

Peace Officers Memorial Day and the History of the Pennsylvania State Police

In 1962, a proclamation designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week it falls within as Police Week to pay special recognition to law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.  It is an observance that pays tribute to the local, state, and federal peace officers who have died, or who have become disabled, in the line of duty.  This special recognition pays tribute to law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and to voice appreciation for all those who currently serve on the front lines of the battle against crime.

The Pennsylvania State Police, which just celebrated its 115th anniversary, was created as an executive department of state government by legislation signed into law by Governor Samuel W. Pennypacker on May 2, 1905.  The Department became the first uniformed police organization of its kind in the United States and served as a model for other state police agencies throughout the nation.

The Pennsylvania State Police controlled mob violence, patrolled farm sections, protected wildlife and tracked down criminals, establishing a reputation for fairness, thoroughness and honesty.  A detailed history of the Pennsylvania State Police can be found at psp.gov.

Thank you to all of our past and present local, state and federal police officers!

Virtual Capitol Tours and Senate Library Exhibits

The Pennsylvania Capitol and PA Senate Library are both now on the web providing virtual scavenger hunts and video tours of the Capitol building proclaimed as one of the most beautiful in the nation!  Visit pacapitol.com to learn about the capitol, and the interactive welcome center to learn about the Pennsylvania legislature and state history.  Don’t forget to visit the Senate Library exhibitions to learn about the history of the Pennsylvania Senate, its chamber and its members – past and present.

Also, follow the PA Capitol Tours Facebook page, and the PA Senate Library Facebook page, to see all things celebrating our great Commonwealth and the institutional history of the Senate!

Report Poor Road Conditions and View Upcoming PennDOT Projects

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is directly responsible for approximately 40,000 roadway miles and 25,000 bridges in Pennsylvania.  The PA Transportation Projects page offers visitors the ability to learn about active construction projects that are underway beginning this year, or those being bid this year on the Construction Projects section.  The Act 89 Progress section indicates the status of project commitments made possible by the state’s transportation funding plan that was signed into law in 2013.  Information on bridges and their condition can be found using the Bridge Conditions map. 

Potholes and maintenance issues on state routes can be reported year-round to the PennDOT Customer Care Center.  Motorists can also express concern with construction projects, signs and signals, speed limits and personal property damage by calling 1-800-FIX-ROAD (1-800-349-7623).  Urgent roadway concerns outside of regular business hours can be reported directly to the appropriate PennDOT Regional Office.

PennDOT Driver and Vehicle Services During COVID-19

PennDOT has announced that expiration dates for driver’s licenses, identification cards and learner’s permits scheduled to expire from March 16, 2020 through May 31, 2020 will be extended through June 30, 2020 for Pennsylvania residents in response to statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts.  Customers can complete transactions and access resources via the Driver and Vehicle Services website.  Services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

PennDOT also announced it will use existing photos on file for customers renewing driver’s licenses and identification cards.  All customers renewing online or through the mail will receive a new product using the most recent photo that exists in PennDOT’s system.  No camera cards will be issued to these customers, and they will receive their new product by mail within 15 days.

Individuals who renewed on or before May 10, 2020 will receive a camera card in the mail and will need to visit a PennDOT Photo License Center to obtain an updated photo.  Certain Driver License and Photo License Centers in yellow phase counties have reopened offering limited services.

If a customer’s license is nearing expiration and they were planning to get a REAL ID at the time of renewal, they can renew their license or ID and get a standard, “NOT FOR REAL ID PURPOSES” product.  The issuance of REAL ID is currently suspended as a mitigation effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has extended the REAL ID enforcement deadline until October 1, 2021.

Once REAL ID issuance has resumed, customers with a non-REAL ID product can upgrade to a REAL ID and their new product will include any time remaining on their current product, plus an additional four years – customers will not “lose” time they have already paid for, and after the initial REAL ID product expires, there is no additional fee (beyond regular renewal fees) to renew a REAL ID product.

Virtual Wild Encounters at the Pittsburgh Zoo!

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium may be closed for in-person visits, but you can still experience wild encounters virtually!  Check out the Zoo’s web cams, podcast and the additional fun and educational programming they have created for families at home, including:  the Penguin Web Cam; the Cheetah Web Cam; the One Wild Place Podcast – a behind the scenes and hands-on perspective from those working directly with wildlife and conservation; and more!