The state Senate yesterday approved a comprehensive $912 million relief measure to help restaurants, schools, employers, and tenants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Senate Bill 109 transfers $145 million in funds from the Workers’ Compensation Security Fund to the COVID-19 Response Restricted Account to provide county block grants to the hospitality industry. Grants would be provided in increments of $5,000 up to $50,000 to those in the restaurant industry based on certain priorities.

The Mifflin County School District sent a letter to parents yesterday detailing criteria for several recent school closings within the district. Many parents had questions and concerns after the closings this week of Indian Valley Elementary Center and Mifflin County Middle School due to COVID-19. Recommendations for school closings were announced in late December by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). The PDE requested that school districts track the number of COVID-19 cases within a rolling 14-day period, and use the case count in conjunction with the level of community transmission in the county to determine school closings. A new link has been added to the Mifflin County School District website to include the COVID-19 rolling 14-day case count chart. That chart, along with the COVID-19 Dashboard, will be updated continually by the administration.

A new Pennsylvania law waives the requirement for PA residents who are current and former military members, and who operated a commercial vehicle as part of their duties, to take a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Knowledge Test when applying for a CDL. Act 131 of 2020 allows PennDOT to waive the CDL Knowledge Test for Pennsylvania residents on active or reserve military duty, or recently honorably discharged veterans, provided those service members have at least two years of experience operating a commercial motor vehicle as part of their military job requirements. The waiver applies to CDL applicants who wish to operate vehicles similar to those they operated in the military. Doubles, triples and school bus endorsements cannot be waived under this program.

The Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus has elected members to open leadership positions following a vacancy in the position of caucus chairman after the passing of Representative Mike Reese (R-Westmoreland/Somerset). The new caucus chairman is George Dunbar of Westmoreland County. Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) remains speaker of the house. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) remains majority Leader.