In This Update:
Senator Scavello Condemns Violence and Urges Peace
Last Wednesday, when the violence began at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. I swiftly and forcefully condemned the acts. However, after reading the comments on my post, I decided to remove the statement due to the tenor of those commenting on my remarks. Since then, I have spoken to countless constituents in person, on the phone, and via email about the violence. Now as a week has passed, I wanted to share my expanded thoughts on what happened that day and my hope for America.
The events we witnessed in Washington D.C. on the afternoon of January 6th weigh heavy on the hearts of all Pennsylvanians and certainly in my own. I completely condemn the violence that we saw that day. The storming of the U.S. Capitol has absolutely turned our stomachs and just as I condemned the multiple violent protests over the summer, these actions cannot be tolerated. No matter where these types of events occur, Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis or any other location, they must be equally condemned. Wherever protests of any kind turn violent or riotous they must be denounced, and I denounce them.
It cannot be said often enough – we are a nation of laws. Peaceful protests are righteous. America was built upon the right of our citizens to peacefully protest and the necessity for the democratic process to peacefully unfold. Naturally, we don’t always agree when it comes to politics. But there are three things I know are fundamentally right.
Rioting is wrong. Looting is wrong. Violence in any form it may take is wrong and must not be tolerated.
As Americans, we have always prided ourselves on civility in our politics, and on the ability for two sides to come together and discuss matters in a meaningful and respectful fashion. We must hold up the virtue of vigorous debate and respectful dialogue while forcefully condemning acts of political violence.
What we saw that afternoon is not American. Violence is not our way. The rule of law must always be followed, and chaos can never be allowed to take over. It is the duty of every patriotic citizen to support the rule of law.
Those who participated in the attack on our government need to be identified and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Their actions are repugnant to our democracy. The scenes of chaos that we witnessed at the Capitol do not reflect the true America.
It is incumbent upon us to summon the strength to unite, to turn the page on this dark chapter and to join together and begin to heal the wounds of that day. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “We shall nobly save or merely lose the last, best hope on Earth.”
Despite what we saw on that day, I am always optimistic about this nation and its incredible potential to be an overwhelming force for good. It is that potential that caused my parents to risk everything and immigrate to this country.
There has never been anything that we cannot achieve so long as we work together. It is time to reunite and recommit to living up to the ideal that is our great nation.
I pray for civility. I pray for unity. I pray for peace. God bless America.
Federal Stimulus Bill Boosts Unemployment Payments
The federal stimulus bill approved by Congress last month extended the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Program to include an additional $300 in weekly unemployment payments. The additional payments are now being paid out to Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits claimants and will be added for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claimants soon.
The FPUC payments are automatically added to each claimant’s payment and are retroactive to the week ending January 2. The program is scheduled to run through March 13.
Paycheck Protection Program Reopens
Small employers impacted by the pandemic can apply now for loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, which reopened on Monday. The program was originally created to offer loans to cover payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent and utility costs for employers affected by coronavirus mitigation. Eligible expenses were recently expanded to include operations expenditures, property damage costs, supplier costs and worker protection expenditures.
The program is open to new borrowers, as well as existing borrowers who meet certain eligibility criteria. New guidelines are available for both new borrowers and existing borrowers; applicants should contact their local lender for additional information.
New Law Improves Photo ID, License and CDL Requirements
A law approved late last year will help homeless state residents receive a free ID, allow Pennsylvanians with certain visual impairments to receive a driver’s license, and help bring the state into compliance with new federal regulations for commercial driver licenses (CDLs).
As a result of Act 131 of 2020, state residents who are experiencing homelessness can receive a free photo ID or renewal by applying in person at any Driver License Center. In addition, the law allows the use of bioptic telescope lenses to help eligible individuals with visual impairments qualify for a driver’s license. Pennsylvania will join 28 other states in allowing the use of these devices.
The updated CDL requirements include reporting requirements for convictions and violations. In addition, the new law will ensure CDL holders who participate in human trafficking offenses receive a lifetime ban.
Financial Assistance Programs Available for Utility Customers
The COVID-19 pandemic has created financial challenges for hundreds of thousands of families in Pennsylvania, including problems in paying energy bills. It is important for consumers who are affected by unexpected job losses, business closures and other financial difficulties to contact their utility providers to find out whether assistance is available. A list of utility providers is available from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission at the links below.
In addition to programs offered directly through service providers, Dollar Energy Fund works with more than a dozen electricity, water, natural gas and other utility companies to offer financial relief to customers in need. A list of participating providers is available here.
Capitol and District Offices Working Remotely January 16-20
All Capitol and Senate district offices will be conducting all business remotely beginning Friday, January 15 at 5 p.m. until Thursday, January 21 at 8 a.m. My staff and I will be available by phone and email during this time, so community residents who have questions or need help still receive assistance.
Honoring the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
On Monday, the nation will pause in remembrance of one of the nation’s greatest civil rights icons –Martin Luther King, Jr. As a result of the critical role he played in the struggle for justice in the 1960s, he became the first modern private citizen to be honored with a federal holiday. Dr. King’s writings, advocacy and peaceful activism continues to inspire Americans today, more than 50 years after his assassination in 1968.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of NEPA Annual Telethon
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