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Boscola Bulletin

Juneteenth in the Commonwealth

Juneteenth The Governor declared tomorrow, June 19, as Juneteenth National Freedom Day in Pennsylvania. Governor Wolf is encouraging Pennsylvanians to reflect on the importance of the state holiday and the continued need for a fair and just society.  In honor of this declaration, the Governor closed the state offices under his jurisdiction tomorrow, Friday, June 19th.   We are honoring the Governor’s declaration and closing our office, as well, to honor the African American history and reflect on how each of us can promote equality for all.

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.  I am a proud member of the Senate Democratic Caucus which has been at the forefront of acknowledging Juneteenth for decades. Under the leadership of my friend and former Senator Shirley Kitchen (D-Philadelphia) for 20 years, followed by Senator Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) in the past four, a member of the caucus has always offered a resolution in the Pennsylvania Senate marking this holiday.

June 19 is celebrated as the end of slavery, rather than the date of the Emancipation Proclamation because there were hundreds of slaves through the South who did not know they had been freed by President Abraham Lincoln’s earlier decree. On June 19 of 1865, Major General Gordon Granger of the Union Army reached Galveston, Texas and was finally able to announce to slaves in the southern-most region of the country that they had been freed. Celebrations began almost immediately when General Granger’s order was read:

"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer."

*Due to the outstanding issues surrounding unemployment compensation, and other COVID-19-related issues, we will be monitoring our phones (610) 868-8667 and emails to continue to assist you.*

Boscola Licensure Compact Legislation Reported Out of Committee

Last week, three of my bills addressing licensure compacts were reported from the Senate Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee unanimously.  Senate Bill 655 authorizes Pennsylvania to join the national Nurse Licensure Compact, a reciprocal licensure agreement for registered nurses between 34 states.  Even prior to COVID-19, our state was facing a nursing shortage in the future, with our increasingly aging population in need of licensed health care professionals.  The Committee also adopted Senate Bills 1186 and 1187 which address an outstanding issue with the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC) – a national compact for physician licensure.  Our state was authorized by Act 112 of 2016 to join the IMLC, however due to issues raised on background check confidentiality from the U.S. Department of Justice, our state has not been fully vested in the compact, where PA licensed physicians could practice in the 27 other states within the compact.  In working with the Pennsylvania State Medical Board, Osteopathic Medical Board, counsel with the Pennsylvania Department of State and the Compact staff and counsel, we were able to introduce these bills – with companion bills introduced in the State House – which would address these issues.  If passed, Pennsylvania to be a fully-fledged member of the IMLC.

All three of these bills need to advance through the Senate, and if adopted will be referred to the House of Representatives for further consideration in that chamber.

Rental Assistance Available Soon

Rental Assistance$150 million will be available in the very near future for rental assistance in Pennsylvania. This funding has been allocated from the $2.6 billion of federal CARES Act money released by Governor Wolf last month.

The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) will manage the rental assistance program. It will provide rental assistance up to $750 a month for six months. You will be eligible if you suffered a job loss or significant reduction of income due to COVID-19.

Applications for CARES assistance for renters will be available starting June 29.  Please visit the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency website for additional information. 

Funding Now Available for Hard-Hit Dairy Industry & Food Distribution for Low-Income Citizens

Dairy Indemnity Program

Earlier this week it was announced that $40 million in funding, through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, is now available to support Pennsylvania’s hard-hit dairy industry and food security programs.

$15 million will provide an opportunity for dairy farmers to receive direct relief payments and $5 million will reimburse dairy farmers who participate in the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS) program by donating excess dairy product to the commonwealth’s charitable food system.

Supporting Pennsylvania’s farming industry is one critical component in getting this Commonwealth back on its feet and to provide the necessary boost which will enable our farms to continue to provide all Pennsylvanians access to fresh, healthy foods. 
Dairy farmers who experienced financial losses due to discarded or displaced milk during the COVID-19 emergency disaster may apply for assistance. Each farm with a documented loss will receive a minimum of $1,500 and an additional prorated share of the remaining funds, not to exceed the actual amount assessed by the handler. The deadline to apply for the Dairy Indemnity Program is September 30, 2020.

The announcement also included a $15 million allotment that will go to the State Food Purchase Program, which provides cash grants to counties for the purchase and distribution of food to low-income individuals.

Another $5 million will go to the PASS program to reimburse the agricultural industry for the costs involved in harvesting, processing, packaging and transporting food that they donate to the charitable food system. The PASS program helps to support Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry in all 67 counties and reduce waste of agricultural surplus by making connections between production agriculture and the non-profit sector.

New Spotted Lanternfly Control Tool Available

With the summer months arriving, Spotted Lanternfly will become more mobile, gain size and strength and towards July, spread its wings in the adult phase. This increased mobility means they will be more visible and able to travel greater distances.

Spotted Lanternfly Control ToolFortunately, 2020 has brought improved control methods for property owners with the release of modified circle traps. While sticky bands are still an effective means of control for the younger life-stages, adult Spotted Lanternfly are strong enough to spring off the adhesive bands. Circle traps offer better catching power for adult Spotted Lanternfly and minimize the ecological impact on non-target species.

The circle trap is made of mesh and wraps completely around the tree. As Spotted Lanternfly climb the tree, the mesh guides them up and into a collection bag where they are unable to escape. The bag can be replaced as it fills, while the rest of the trap remains in place all season long.

Partners at Great Lakes Integrated Pest Management Company, the USDA, PDA and Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Penn State Extension worked to modify an existing trap design to optimize its capture of Spotted Lanternfly. CLICK HERE to purchase a trap or CLICK HERE to download directions for how to build your own.

Pennsylvanians: Beware of Ticks this Summer

Prevent Tick Bites

All Pennsylvanians are reminded to take proper steps to prevent against tick bites and recognize the symptoms of Lyme disease.  Ticks can carry Lyme disease, among other dangerous diseases, that can be severe if not treated properly.

Preliminary data show that more than 8,500 cases of Lyme disease were reported in Pennsylvania in 2019. The department is continuing to compile complete Lyme disease data, and final numbers for 2019 should be available within the next month. Over time, if not treated, Lyme disease can lead to severe symptoms that affect the heart, nervous system and joints.

You are at risk of getting a tick any time you are outside, including in wooded and bushy areas, areas with high grass and leaf litter, and even in your own yard. This is why it is important to take steps to decrease your chances of getting bitten.  To reduce your chances of a tick bite:

  • Walk in the center of trails and avoid areas with high grass and leaf litter;
  • Use a repellent that contains at least 20% DEET;
  • Wear light-colored clothing;
  • Conduct full-body tick checks on yourself and on your pets after spending time outdoors; and
  • Take a bath or shower within 2 hours after coming indoors.

If you have been bitten by a tick, make sure to monitor the area for any kinds of symptoms and contact your health care provider immediately. Symptoms of Lyme disease can include:

  • A red, swollen bulls-eye shape rash;
  • Fever;
  • Chills;
  • Headache;
  • Fatigue;
  • Muscle and joint aches; and
  • Swollen lymph nodes.

Early stage symptoms of Lyme, like the ones mentioned above, may appear in as few as two days or as long as 30 days after exposure. Later stage symptoms like arthritis, heart and neurological issues may appear months later. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with few to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.

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Offices of State Senator Lisa M. Boscola

One East Broad Street
Suite 120
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 868-8667
Fax: (610) 861-2184
Toll-free: 1-877-535-1818
1701 Washington Blvd.
Easton, PA 18042
(610) 250-5627
(610) 250-5629
Fax: (610) 250-1889
458 Main Capitol Building
Senate Box 203018
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3018
(717) 787-4236
Fax: (717) 783-1257
Senate of PA:
1-800-364-158 (TTY)