In this Update:
Parents have until July 15 to Choose Additional Year of Education for their Child Following Pandemic Disruptions
Parents have until July 15 to take advantage of a new state law empowering them to decide whether their children should advance to the next grade level or be held back a year due to learning disruptions created during COVID-19.
Parents who wish to pursue the additional optional year of education for their children must complete and return a standardized form to their school district by the July 15 deadline. This allows school districts enough time to plan for changes in class sizes for the upcoming school year.
The additional optional year of education was provided by the newly enacted Act 66 of 2021. The option would only apply to the 2021-22 school year to help manage learning loss caused by the pandemic.
Northampton County Small Business Grant Program NOW OPEN
The Northampton County COVID-19 Relief Small Business Grant Program has re-opened and is now accepting applications! Northampton County Council has approved this Grant Program and partnered with the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce to distribute $15 million dollars of ARP Funds to Northampton County small businesses with 100 or fewer employees.
Please visit https://www.lehighvalleychamber.org/norcogrants.html to view or download the eligibility guidelines and to apply for up to $15,000 to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 related expenses.
Please Note: This grant is eligible to businesses that have NOT previously received the Northampton County COVID-19 Relief Small Business Grant.
Deadline to apply: Tuesday, August 31, 2021
For more information or any questions, please reach out to Jessica O’Donnell at 610-673 4010 or Brittany Keal 610-295-9824.
In Person Veterans Assistance Office Hours Resuming
Veterans Assistance office hours will once again be offered IN PERSON at both of my district offices beginning in July. During the pandemic, this service was still available but only by phone. Going forward, we will return to in person appointments with an American Legion Service Officer. If you would like to setup an appointment for a veteran please call the office which is most convenient.
Pen Argyl (Northampton County):
Appointments are available beginning on July 21st and then on the third Wednesday of each month thereafter between the hours of 10am and 2:30pm. For appointments please call 610-863-1200
Scotrun (Monroe County):
Appointments are available beginning on July 13th and then on the second Tuesday of each month thereafter between the hours of 10am and 2:30pm. For appointments please call 570-620-4326
$804,000 in State Funding for 40th District Fire & Ambulance Companies
I announced last week that $804,183.91 will be awarded to volunteer fire and ambulance companies throughout the 40th District by a grant program administered by the Office of the State Fire Commissioner.
In the 40th District, Monroe County companies received $222,489.17 and Northampton County companies received $581,694.74.
The Fire Company and Emergency Medical Service Grant Program provides grants to improve and enhance firefighting, ambulance and rescue services capabilities of fire companies and emergency medical services throughout the Commonwealth. It is open to all fire and EMS companies, as well as volunteer rescue squads.
Due to the passage of Act 93 of 2020 in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, fire and EMS companies may now use the grants for more areas, including education of the public regarding fire prevention and community risk reduction; recruitment and retention programs; volunteer firefighter length of service programs; and revenue loss for grants issued in 2020 or 2021. Grants may also be used to fund the purchase or repair of equipment, construction or renovation of facilities, debt reduction and training.
After more than a year where fire and EMS companies were prevented from holding their regular fundraising events due to the pandemic these grants are even more critical. This grant funding coupled with the added flexibility of Act 93 will help them to continue to provide life-saving care and services to the residents of Monroe and Northampton Counties.
2021-22 State Budget in Detail
Last week, I reported that the Senate approved a 2021-22 state budget that holds the line on taxes, supports Pennsylvania’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and provides a financial safety net for the future.
This year’s budget was unlike almost any other given the amount of pandemic recovery federal funding involved. The goal was to drive state and federal funds to where they are most needed, while holding back money to balance next year’s budget responsibly. You can take a closer look at the spending plan here.
Bills of Note Passed by the Senate in 2021
Legislation giving citizens a voice in disaster response and protecting the vulnerable during the pandemic received the most attention this year, but the Senate tackled many more issues in the first six months of the two-year legislative session.
From strengthening schools, to reducing regulatory burdens, improving health care and more, here’s a roundup of notable bills passed by the Senate in 2021.
Bipartisan Task Force Recommends Steps to Improve Juvenile Justice System
The bipartisan Pennsylvania Juvenile Justice Task Force recently released a comprehensive final report with policy recommendations that protect public safety, increase accountability, achieve savings for reinvestment, and improve outcomes for youth, families and communities.
The 30-member task force assessed the state juvenile justice system and reviewed data from court and state agencies and examined how practices can better align with what research says works to improve outcomes for youth and families. The task force received input from more than 500 stakeholders.
If adopted, the policy recommendations are expected to safely reduce the population of young people in out-of-home facilities by 39% by 2026, freeing up nearly $81 million for reinvestment.
Avoiding Tick Bites and Lyme Disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control’s latest statistics (2019), Pennsylvania leads the nation in the number of confirmed Lyme disease cases.
The best way to avoid it is to avoid tick bites. Some tips:
You can read more about how to avoid tick bites, as well as how to spot Lyme disease symptoms and other related topics, here.
Around the 40th District
Wonderful to see all of you who came out to the Bushkill Township Volunteer Fire Company Carnival last week. I shared a booth with PA State Rep. Ann Flood where we met with constituents, answered questions, and distributed literature about state programs and agencies. Look for us next at the Plainfield Farmers Fair (July 20-24th). After 2020 it is AMAZING to get back to normal and back out to the fair!
I recently joined local officials and dog lovers to celebrate the grand opening of the Pen Argyl Dog Park! What a great opportunity for the pups and their humans to enjoy some socializing in the great outdoors! This is a great and much requested addition to Weona Park.
Congratulations to DLP Real Estate Capital, DLP Real Estate Management, and Huratiak Homes L.L.C on the grand opening of DREAM Lehigh Valley in Wind Gap. Our office joined PA State Rep. Ann Flood‘s office in presenting the companies with a joint certificate of recognition during last week’s ribbon cutting ceremony.
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