Bartolotta Releases Statement on Coronavirus Mitigation Measures

HARRISBURG – Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46) issued the following statement today in response to preventative measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus:

“Although we have not received reports of any confirmed cases of the coronavirus in our area, the spread of this disease is a serious concern that deserves our attention. Some people have compared this to a flu outbreak, but this strain of the coronavirus spreads very quickly, and we do not have the same options to mitigate its effect, such as vaccines or remedies. The consequences for individuals who are affected can be severe, particularly those who have a compromised immune system or respiratory problems. The best way to deal with this pandemic is to take steps to contain the virus and limit its spread.

“We have been assured that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) will all continue to monitor the situation and provide further updates as more information becomes available.

“I support the efforts of these agencies to protect the health of Pennsylvania communities, including the closure of the Capitol Building in Harrisburg to visitors and events. I encourage community residents who had plans to travel to the state Capitol in the near future to continue to monitor the situation and make alternative plans as necessary. A number of organizations throughout our area have already taken steps to mitigate the spread of coronavirus by canceling large gatherings and allowing students and employees to work at home, and these efforts are appreciated and encouraged.

“Recommendations to avoid spreading the coronavirus include frequently washing hands with soap and water, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, covering all coughs and sneezes, and staying home and contacting your doctor if you exhibit the symptoms of this virus. Community members at the greatest risk of complications from the virus should also try to avoid crowds and large social gatherings to prevent exposure.

“As the situation develops, I strongly urge community residents to follow all guidance and recommendations from the CDC, PEMA and DOH. These organizations are the best sources for information on how to contain the spread of this disease.”

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CONTACT:   Katrina Hanna (717) 787-1463

Grant Supports Efforts to Boost Local Education, Career Training

HARRISBURG – A $100,000 grant awarded by the Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) today will improve the ability of local schools and businesses to work together to better prepare students for different career paths, according to Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46).

The grant to the Southwest Corner Workforce Development Board – which serves Beaver, Greene and Washington counties – will support programs to connect schools, employers, and students to career-related experiences and opportunities locally. Some of the programs could include soft-skills development, internships, workplace shadowing, and career mentoring.

“This grant is a win-win for both the business community and the education community because it ensures students leave school with the skills they need to be successful in the workforce,” said Bartolotta, who chairs the Labor and Industry Committee in the Senate. “I am thankful that this grant will not only support a better-trained workforce, but also will help students train for jobs in their own communities so they do not have to leave the area to find a great job.”

The funding was provided through the Business-Education Partnerships grant program, which is administered by L&I and funded by the federal government. The grant to the Southwest Corner Workforce Development Board was one of 19 grants totaling $2.4 million that were awarded statewide in the current round of funding.

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CONTACT: Katrina Hanna (717) 787-1463

Grant Awarded to Waynesburg University to Boost Campus Security, Reduce Sexual Assault

HARRISBURG – Waynesburg University will receive a $29,799 grant to help improve campus security and provide resources to reduce the risk of sexual assault, according to Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46).

The grant was awarded through the Pennsylvania Department of Education as part of a national initiative to raise awareness of campus security risks and improve reporting of sexual assault on college campuses.

Grants can be used to create programs including training for students, faculty and staff, institutional campaigns to raise awareness of the reporting process, and resources for survivors.

“Serious crimes like sexual assault deserve an equally serious response from lawmakers and university officials alike,” Bartolotta said. “I am thankful that this funding will help Waynesburg offer new resources for students to help limit the number of these crimes and ultimately provide a safer environment for students.”

A total of $1 million was awarded statewide to 36 public and private colleges and universities serving nearly 250,000 students.

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CONTACT: Katrina Hanna (717) 787-1463

Statement on Unemployment Compensation Savings for Employers

HARRISBURG — Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46) issued the following statement today regarding savings to employers under the state’s Unemployment Compensation program:

“I am pleased to announce that we have begun the year with good news for Pennsylvania’s job creators.

“Thanks to the efforts of many Senate Republicans, particularly Senator John Gordner who was the prime sponsor of Act 60 of 2012 and Chair of the Labor and Industry Committee at the time, the Commonwealth was able to refinance unemployment compensation debt through a bond, saving employers roughly $57 million in interest costs.

“The bond was recently fully repaid, triggering the elimination of an interest tax on employers. The elimination of the interest tax will result in an estimated $552 million in savings to employers this year. This is a significant development that benefits the employer community and I am proud of the leadership the Senate Republican Caucus took to get us here.

“As the current Chair of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee, I will continue to advocate for policies that support a vibrant economy where businesses can grow and individuals can readily find family-sustaining jobs.”

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CONTACT: Katrina Hanna (717) 787-1463

Rail Freight Grants Awarded in Washington, Beaver Counties

HARRISBURG – Several rail freight improvement projects in Washington and Beaver counties will receive state grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, according to Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46).

In Washington County, a $1.1 million grant will help Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway repair structural damage and drainage issues in State Tunnel. Also, a $249,900 grant to National Lime and Stone will support the construction of new tracks for the rail-truck transload facility.

In Beaver County, a $700,000 grant will help Pittsburgh Intermodal Terminals, Inc. rehabilitate approximately a mile of track in critical operations areas. The project includes replacement of ties and switch timbers, new ballast and surfacing.

“The rail freight industry plays a critical role in our state and local economy by transporting products safely and efficiently without subjecting our roadways to additional wear and tear from truck traffic,” Bartolotta said. “Keeping our local infrastructure in good working order will support the development of many different industries, as well as greater job growth in the region.”

A total of 26 rail freight improvement projects statewide received grants in the current round of funding.

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CONTACT: Katrina Hanna (717) 787-1463

State Grant Will Support Learning Opportunities for Local Students Facing Extended School Absences

HARRISBURG – Students throughout the region who are facing extended absences from school due to injuries or illnesses will soon have new educational resources thanks to a state grant that was awarded this week, according to Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46), who supported the creation of the new grant program.

A $30,000 grant to Intermediate Unit 1 from the Keystone Telepresence Grant Program will support the purchase of audio and video equipment that will allow students to participate in classroom activities in real time from home. The organization serves students throughout southwestern Pennsylvania.

The grant program was created earlier this year to support students facing the potential of significant educational and developmental challenges due to extended school absences. A total of $300,000 was awarded through the program statewide.

In current practice, homebound education is available to students who cannot attend school due to serious medical issues. However, many schools struggle to find a qualified teacher to provide instruction, and the extended amount of time away from classmates and teachers can also create difficult circumstances for children, Bartolotta said.

“Students who are homebound for weeks or months while fighting to recover from illnesses or injuries should not also face the risk of falling behind in school and missing out on valuable time with their peers,” Bartolotta said. “This grant will help more children continue to learn alongside their classmates and benefit from the support of their friends and teachers at a time when they need them most.”

The Keystone Telepresence Grant Program is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

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CONTACT: Katrina Hanna (717) 787-1463