Senate Acts to Put the Brakes on PennDOT’s Bridge Tolling Plan
The Senate approved a plan this week to reform the Public-Private Transportation Partnership (P3) statute and to void the PennDOT Pathways Major Bridge P3 Initiative.
On November 12, 2020, the P3 Board, under PennDOT’s jurisdiction, supported an ambiguous proposal to impose user fees or tolls on major bridges throughout the interstate system. This was the first time in the P3 Board’s history to consider a proposal with user fees.
The reform legislation will:
Free Rides Available Between Bradford Regional Medical Center and Olean General Hospital
Good news for McKean County residents: Beginning May 1, the Area Transportation Authority of North Central Pennsylvania (ATA) will begin providing FREE non-emergency transportation between Bradford Regional Medical Center (BRMC) and Olean General Hospital (OGH).
Transportation services will be demand-based at no cost to non-emergency patients and visitors at both facilities. All riders must wear masks and appropriate COVID-safe seat spacing must be followed. The service will run by reservations only, 10 hours per day, seven days a week, including holidays. Reservations will be accepted from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Friday, and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and major holidays.
Pick-ups and Drop-offs also will be made at Tops Friendly Markets in Bradford. Keep an eye out as arrangements are being finalized to add more pick-up and drop-off locations within the community such as local pharmacies.
Non-acute patients and visitors should call 866-743-3282 or 866 RIDE ATA to reserve their ride. Reservations can be made up to two weeks in advance. Priority transportation for same-day service will be offered to visitors with loved ones admitted for an inpatient stay at OGH in order to accommodate visitation.
The Upper Allegheny Health System is supporting the cost of the new service and is reaching out to state and federal elected officials to look at long-range opportunities and funding that would allow for the expansion of health care-related transportation between the two cities in collaboration with ATA.
Federal Transportation Funds Available for Modernization, New Infrastructure
Local communities are eligible to apply for $1 billion in grant funding available through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE).
Projects for RAISE funding will be evaluated based on merit criteria that include safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life, economic competitiveness, state of good repair, innovation, and partnership. Within these criteria, the U.S. Department of Transportation will prioritize projects that can demonstrate improvements to racial equity, reduce impacts of climate change and create good-paying jobs.
The program is highly competitive with 680 projects funded out of over 9700 applications. It is one of the few DOT discretionary programs for which regional and local governments can directly compete for multimodal transportation funding. To ensure that the benefits of infrastructure investments benefit communities large and small the Department will award an equitable amount, not to exceed half of funding, to projects located in urban and rural areas respectively.
To provide technical assistance to prospective applicants, DOT is hosting a series of webinars. To register for the webinars visit www.transportation.gov/RAISEgrants/outreach. The deadline to submit an application is 5 p.m. July 12.
Senate Approves Legislation Permitting Essential Family Caregiver Nursing Home Visits During Emergencies
The Senate approved legislation to allow a family member or other designated person to visit and care for a long-term care facility resident during a disaster emergency involving a communicable disease.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many residents of such facilities have been denied the ability to see and receive care from their loved ones, causing traumatic distress.
The legislation allows long-term care facilities to designate Essential Family Caregivers for regular visits. A participating facility must follow necessary health precautions outlined by federal and state governments.
Senate Passes Plan to Establish a New Funding Stream for Pediatric Cancer Research
More than $100 million in private donations over the next 10 years could be raised to support childhood cancer research under a bill passed by the Senate.
The legislation establishes a tax credit program for qualifying donations to a Pennsylvania pediatric cancer research hospital. The program would be capped at $10 million per year over the next 10 years.
More children die from cancer than any other disease and currently, only 4 percent of National Cancer Institute research dollars are spent on pediatric cancer. Since 1975, pediatric cancer incidence rates have increased every year.
Senate Approves Program to Train Next Generation of PA Firefighters
The Senate approved creation of a pilot program to train high school students interested in firefighting and help alleviate the pressing need for volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania.
According to the bipartisan SR 6 report on the serious problems facing volunteer fire companies, Pennsylvania is experiencing a severe shortage of volunteer firefighters. The current number of volunteers is down to less than 15 percent of the number in the 1970s.
The legislation creates a pilot program for Pennsylvania community colleges and universities to give interested high school students training in firefighting. The goal is to demonstrate that students receiving training will show an interest in becoming the next generation of firefighters. The bill requires a follow-up study to measure the program’s success.
Honoring Veterans of Persian Gulf War and Global War on Terrorism
Two new designations could honor veterans of the Persian Gulf War and the Global War on Terrorism under legislation recently approved by the Senate. The bill would designate March 6 as Persian Gulf War Veterans Day and October 7 as Global War on Terrorism Veterans Day.
Under the bill, the governor would be required to encourage schools to observe the contributions of veterans in these conflicts. However, the observations would not be mandatory for schools.
Monday is the Deadline to Register for May 18 Primary Election
Monday, May 3 is the last day to register to vote in the May 18 primary election.
You can register to vote online, by mail or at several government agencies.
Other Key Dates:
May 11, 5 p.m. – Applications for a mail-in or absentee ballot must be received by your county election board.
May 18, 8 p.m. – Voted ballots must be received by your county election office.
Friday is the Final Day to Submit Comments on 2020 General Election
Friday is the final day for Pennsylvanians to share their experience from last year’s election with the Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform.
The surveys seek input from Pennsylvanians who voted by mail or in person in 2020.
The committee is expected to use the survey responses and testimony gathered during its series of public hearings to produce a report with recommendations that will be presented to the General Assembly.
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