By Rep. Anita Kulik
First, let me express my thanks for the privilege of serving as your state representative, and for the privilege of being able to do so for two more years. As I write this, we are in between formal sessions — Nov. 30, was the official end to the 2019-20 Legislative Session.
The new term begins on Dec. 1, although representatives and senators are not sworn-in until Jan. 5.
My office, along with those of my colleagues, are remaining functioning as usual. We continue to help constituents with COVID-19 related matters, including unemployment compensation (UC) claims and other matters where assistance is needed (yes, unfortunately, there are still problems with the UC matters.)
The last day of session for the House was Nov. 20. A budget was passed in the late evening to get the Commonwealth through to June 30, 2021. I did not vote for the budget or the fiscal code as I did not agree with the use of the monies from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act fund. I will not say that the monies are not being used in good ways, but the funds were not used to directly help those in the hospitality industry or other small business industries that are in dire need of help.
I believe that the clear legislative intent of the CARES Act funding was to directly assist small businesses and individuals. With the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, many people are more often staying at home.
As we have seen in the past year, this has a particularly negative impact on small businesses, especially bars and restaurants. I have talked about this before, and I urge you again — as we enter the holiday shopping season — please patronize the small shops and restaurants in our area.
They have so much to offer that you cannot find on online shopping sites, chain stores or big-box stores. Diners and restaurants have great to-go and delivery services, so we can spend more time on holiday activities rather than in our kitchens.
Legislators and other government officials are hoping the federal government will come through with additional CARES Act funding. As of this writing, I have spoken with various people on the federal level and all are hoping for bi-partisan movement before the federal terms end.
Unfortunately, there appears to be so much division and animosity, and there is no guarantee that any additional relief will be coming from Washington.
As we get ready for the end of this year, I want to remind everyone of programs with which my staff and I can provide assistance.
The 2020-21 Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program season opened on Nov. 2 and provides assistance for home heating bills to low-income residents during the winter months. The program is available for homeowners and renters. The application period continues to April 9, 2021.
As a reminder, the Pennsylvania Property Tax or Rent Rebate Program deadline has been extended to Dec. 31, 2020 for the program year 2019. This program is available to income-qualifying seniors and persons with disabilities.
If you have not applied for a REAL ID and want to do so, the deadline has been extended to Oct. 1, 2021. Getting the necessary paperwork together can take time if you need to order birth or marriage certificates or other court records. My office can assist in retrieving and compiling these necessary documents. The COVID-19 crisis has caused delays in the processing of requests from Vital Records so please contact us as soon as you can for assistance.
For information on any of these programs and application processes, feel free to contact my office for assistance.
Take time this week to enjoy your holiday preparations and activities. Stay well and safe and contact my office if we can be of any assistance at (412) 264-4260.