WILKES-BARRE – State Treasurer Stacy Garrity announced this week that the first payments under the American Rescue Plan Act’s local and state coronavirus tax recovery fund program have been sent to municipalities of Pennsylvania eligible.
“These funds will be heavily used by communities across Pennsylvania,” Garrity said. “It is a top priority for the Treasury to ensure that these payments reach local leaders quickly and efficiently so that they can be used to help combat the effects of the pandemic.”
Pennsylvania counties, towns, boroughs and townships are eligible for $ 6.15 billion from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program to help recover from the pandemic. Nationally, $ 350 billion has been allocated to the program.
The state is responsible for disbursing funds to municipalities with less than 50,000 inhabitants. To receive payments from the state, eligible municipalities must apply for funds through the Ministry of Community and Economic Development. Large municipalities must apply to receive payments directly from the federal government.
Payments from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund will be processed in two batches – the first 50% of the allocation will come out with payments starting this week, while the remaining 50% of the allocated funds will be disbursed approximately 12 months later. Current payment information can be found on this interactive map on the Treasury website. The map will be updated as additional payments are made.
Disbursements made this week include payments to 487 municipalities. The Consolidated Revenue Fund will continue to pay municipalities as they complete the necessary steps to receive payment. Pennsylvania has more than 2,500 municipalities eligible for these payments.
Municipalities can use payments from the Local Tax Recovery Fund to fight coronaviruses to address the negative economic impacts of the pandemic, replace lost public sector income, support public health, help essential workers, and invest in health. ‘improvement of infrastructure such as water, sewage or broadband services.
The Pennsylvania Department of the Treasury is the custodian of these federal funds and, in conjunction with DCED and the Bureau of the Budget, is responsible for disbursing them to qualifying municipalities in Pennsylvania.
More information on eligible uses for local tax relief funding is available in the Federal Treasury’s Frequently Asked Questions for Local Tax Relief Funds.
DEP publishes oil 2020
and Gas Annual Report
Natural gas production in Pennsylvania has increased, while drilling for new wells declined in 2020, according to the 2020 Oil and Gas Annual Report released this week by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
Production from natural gas wells continues to increase. More than 7,100 billion MCF of natural gas were produced, continuing an upward trend compared to previous years. Due to the increase in volume, Pennsylvania is currently the second largest producer of natural gas.
Other details of the annual report:
• 1,017 drilling permits were issued; 918 unconventional and 99 conventional.
• 527 wells were drilled; 476 unconventional and 51 conventional.
• DEP conducted 25,883 inspections and found 9,363 violations.
• The DEP collected $ 33.3 million in fines and penalties in 2020.
“The DEP will continue to improve systems to better serve the Commonwealth and will remain vigilant in regulating the Commonwealth’s oil and gas industry,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.
DEP continues to identify and plug orphaned and abandoned wells in Pennsylvania, many of which predate regulatory oversight – a result of Pennsylvania’s 160-year history of oil and gas development.
DEP estimates that there could be as many as 200,000 abandoned oil and gas wells in the state that can leak methane into the air and eventually contaminate groundwater or surface water. On average, it costs $ 33,000 to plug a well.
“There are thousands of wells that need to be plugged,” McDonnell said. “Finding solutions to plug these wells will make the Commonwealth a healthier place for our current and future residents. “
Legislation updates states
Medical Marijuana Act
Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation this week that will provide important updates to Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law to ensure better access for patients.
House Bill 1024 responds to the Department of Health’s recommendations to revise the Medical Marijuana Act, which was enacted in 2016.
Specifically, it protects the patient safety standards and product quality of the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program while empowering the Medical Marijuana Advisory Council to continue to review new medical conditions for eligibility. It will also retain certain flexibilities enacted as part of the state’s COVID-19 disaster declaration that patients and clinics have found convenient.
“It has been five years since Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana, and during that time the Department of Health has reviewed the successes and challenges of the program and made important recommendations to improve the law,” he said. Governor Wolf said. “This legislation provides important updates to our state’s medical marijuana program to ensure patients have better access to medication.”
$ 20 million for NEPA in
INVEST in America Act
U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic and several colleagues held a press conference last week to highlight key Pennsylvania infrastructure investments in the transportation bill expected to pass the House this week.
The INVEST in America Act is a surface transportation reauthorization program that will create well-paying jobs in the United States by rebuilding safe roads and bridges, providing reliable public transportation and modern passenger trains, and ensuring that water comes out of the tap safely. It invests in American manufacturing and makes the United States more competitive with smarter, safer and more resilient infrastructure that reduces carbon pollution.
Earlier this month, Representative Cartwright announced that the 11 Member Designated Project Applications (CDMs) totaling nearly $ 20 million that were submitted to the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) committee have been included in the INVEST in America law.
This week, the House is expected to pass the legislation, an important step toward implementing key priorities in the U.S. Jobs Plan and bringing that federal money to northeastern Pennsylvania.
This direct funding would be in addition to other resources authorized for distribution by various federal agencies if this bill is enacted.
“This investment in our infrastructure will help modernize our roads, bridges, railroads, water and sewer systems – all of these things handed down from the greater generation that we have left to fall into disrepair,” said the representing Cartwright. “On top of that, we’ve secured direct funding for projects across northeastern Pennsylvania that will improve the experience on our roads and transit, and create well-paying jobs. Passing the INVEST in America law is an important step towards securing a major infrastructure package on President Biden’s desk and ensuring that those investments come back to us in our region.
L&I highlights a growing career
in public safety, emergency response
To encourage more Pennsylvanians to embrace careers in public safety and emergency response that are in high demand, Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier said our workers at Public safety and emergency services have been heroes during the pandemic, helping our state and nation through this difficult time, and more people are needed to enter these careers.
“These jobs offer good pay and benefits, and each person will know that they are providing an incredibly important service to their community,” said Berrier. “Students can prepare at institutions like HACC, which provide the opportunity and flexibility to get the training they need to start their careers.”
Ambulance and paramedic and police and sheriff patrol jobs are high priority occupations for 2020 and are expected to reappear on the list for 2021, which will be released in July. These careers are sought after by employers, offer good wages and stable employment for Pennsylvanians, as well as pathways up a career ladder to higher positions in the public security sector.
PA CareerLink® serves as a link between local Workforce Development Boards, employers and training programs for Pennsylvanians looking to retrain or find a new career. Pennsylvanians looking to learn more about training opportunities in their area can search the PA CareerLink® website or contact their local office.
The Wolf administration has focused on investing to expand vocational training through programs such as PAsmart, which was launched in 2018. The initiative has supported registered apprenticeships, industry partnerships, STEM education and IT and vocational training by companies looking for skilled workers.
This year’s state budget projects a historic increase of $ 416 million in public education, including nearly $ 5 million for community colleges.