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Governor Wolf Extends Stay at Home Order Statewide

Earlier this week, Governor Tom Wolf extended his Stay at Home Order across the entire Commonwealth -- ordering all Pennsylvanians to stay at home until April 30 to avoid an exponential growth in the number of COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania.

The Stay at Home Order states that all individuals in Pennsylvania's 67 counties must STAY AT HOME except for certain essential activities and work to provide life-sustaining business and government services.

Some of the essential activities allowed under the order include tasks to maintain personal health and safety or the health of their family by obtaining medicine, medical supplies or visiting a health care professional; getting necessary services or supplies for yourself of your family, or to deliver services or supplies to others such as food, consumer products and other supplies necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operation of your residence; and engaging in outdoor activities if you practice social distancing.

For a list of what are considered essential activities that are allowable under the Stay at Home order, click here.

Unprecedented Remote Senate Session

Last week, for the first time since the Pennsylvania Senate began meeting in 1791, the state Senate participated in a remote session as part of the statewide measures to promote social distancing and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

We voted on a number of important bills related to the Commonwealth's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the bills that were passed and signed into law by the Governor was legislation authorizing the Secretary of the Budget to transfer $50 million from special funds under the Governor’s jurisdiction to a restricted account to acquire medical equipment and supplies, like N95 masks and ventilators, for health care entities during the pandemic. This was signed into law as Act 10 of 2020

The General Assembly also passed legislation necessary to assist our school districts that were shut down in mid-March. Signed into law as Act 13 of 2020 by Governor Wolf, this bill eliminates 180-day instructional requirement on all K-12 public and private schools for the 2019-20 school year; permits the state Education Secretary to increase the number of allowable flexible instruction days and waive the timeline regarding those days; waives the student-teacher 12-week requirement; allows the Pennsylvania Department of Education to apply for federal waivers to cancel standardized testing for this school year; requires school entities to provide written notice to parents/guardians who have an IEP of the plans to ensure students receive free and appropriate education; and ensures that school districts make a “good faith effort” to develop a plan to offer continuing education during the closure of schools. Additionally, the legislation ensures that school employees responsible for cleaning during the pandemic have appropriate cleaning materials and protective gear.

The Senate will return to remote voting session next week and as always, you can follow session live online by clicking here.

Pennsylvania Primary Election Date Moved to June 2, 2020

Another piece of legislation that was passed in our recent remote session was Senate Bill 422 (signed into law as Act 12 of 2020) which delays the Pennsylvania Primary Election from April 28 to June 2, 2020.

The bill also provides process improvements to Act 77 of 2019, to allow counties to begin processing and tabulating mail ballots beginning at 7 a.m. on election day, rather than after the polls close at 8 p.m. Additionally, the measure allows counties to temporarily consolidate polling places without court approval and eases other rules regarding location and staffing of polling places for the primary to respond to county concerns about a potential shortage of poll workers and appropriate polling place locations.

If you are interested in mail-in voting for the Primary Election, you can apply online at www.votespa.com/ApplyMailBallot. Mail-in applications and absentee ballot applications are being accepted until May 26, 2020. Mail-in and absentee ballots must be returned to the County Elections office by 8 p.m. on Election Day, June 2. Lastly, the deadline to register to vote in the June 2 Primary Election is now May 18, 2020.

For more information on the Primary Election and all of the changes that will be in effect for this election, click here.

Deadline to File State, Federal, Local Taxes Extended to July 15, 2020

The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue recently announced that the deadline for taxpayers to file their 2019 Pennsylvania personal income tax returns is extended to July 15, 2020. This means taxpayers will have an additional 90 days to file from the original deadline of April 15.

The Internal Revenue Service also extended the federal filing deadline to July 15, 2020.

The Department of Revenue will also waive penalties and interest on 2019 personal income tax payments through the new deadline of July 15, 2020. This extension applies to both final 2019 tax returns and payments, and estimated payments for the first and second quarters of 2020.

Although the filing deadline has been extended, the Department of Revenue is encouraging taxpayers who are able to file their returns electronically to do so. This will enable the department to continue to process returns as commonwealth offices are closed. If you are expecting a refund from the commonwealth, filing electronically will help avoid a delay in the release of your refund.   

Taxpayers can electronically file their Pennsylvania tax returns for free through Padirectfile, a secure, state-only electronic income tax filing system that is available through the Department of Revenue's website. For more information or to begin filing, visit Padirectfile.

The Department of Revenue also extended the due date for corporations with tax returns due in May to August 14, 2020.  

Act 10 of 2020, which was voted on last week in remote session, also extends the deadline to July 15, 2020 for the filing of informational returns related to Pennsylvania S corporations and partnerships (Form PA-20S/PA-65), and estates and trusts (Form PA-41). Additionally, it extends the filing date by three months for certain information returns (1099-R, 1099-MISC, and W2-G). 

In addition to the due dates changed by Act 10 of 2020, the federal due date for calendar year corporation returns that is normally April 15 has been moved back to July 15. As a result, the due date for corporations with Pennsylvania returns and payments due on May 15 is now August 14. There is no extension for the June 15 estimated payment due date for corporations.

Telephone Town Hall Audio Available Online

Last Friday, we had over 1,000 people participate in our live Telephone Town Hall to discuss the state, federal and local response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you to Dr. Jeff Jahre from St. Luke's University Hospital for joining us to add an important medical perspective to the conversation.

If you were unable to participate, the audio from our Telephone Town Hall is now available to listen to online at www.senatorblake.com/audio/. While we were unable to get to every question asked during the Town Hall, you can always reach my office with any questions or concerns at 570-207-2881 or by email at senatorblake@pasenate.com

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For updates on this and other legislative initiatives, stay in touch with me through my website or on Facebook and Twitter.

Offices to Serve You

 

District Office
Oppenheim Building
409 Lackawanna Ave., Ste. 210
Scranton, PA 18503
Phone: (570) 207-2881
Fax: (570) 207-2897
Toll free: 1-877-346-5721
Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Harrisburg Office
Room 17 East Wing
The State Capitol
Senate Box 203022
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3022
Phone: (717) 787-6481
Fax: (717) 783-5198
Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

 
 
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