State news briefs: Friday, Aug. 21

state news briefs

State news briefs for Friday, Aug. 21, include bills to help schools and offer grants to struggling bars and restaurants.

Bills to help schools deal with COVID-19 interruptions advance

The House Education Committee advanced a trio of bills Thursday designed to help Pennsylvania schools adjust for COVID-19 impacts. Only one of the three had unanimous support.

A bill from Sen. Wayne Langerholc that would temporarily ease some licensing requirements for educators had already passed unanimously in the Senate and earned the backing of the entire committee as well.

Rep. Mike Reese’s proposal to let local school districts decide whether to move forward with athletics advanced on a 17-8 vote. Rep. Jesse Topper’s bill to allow students to gain an extra year of education and extracurricular opportunities moved forward on a 18-7 vote.

The three bills will now be considered by the full House of Representatives.

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Environmental panel plans hearing on greenhouse pact

Pennsylvania House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Chairman Darryl Metcalfe announced Thursday that his committee will be holding another hearing to discuss the prospect of the state joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

RGGI, as the multistate compact is known, seeks to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released by member states by imposing fees on industries that produce them. The Wolf administration has signaled its intent to join RGGI, a move that Metcalfe opposes.

The hearing is set for 10 a.m. Aug. 24.

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Bill seeks to offer grants to struggling local restaurants, bars

Democratic state Reps. Joe Ciresi and Tina Davis announced Thursday that they had introduced a bill to help bars and restaurants that are struggling during the coronavirus crisis.

House Bill 2791 would offer grants to local establishments, excluding chain restaurants. The money for the grants would come from federal CARES Act funds.

To be eligible, the establishment would have to show gross receipts of less than $5 million in the prior year. The bill, as written, provides for funding of $100 million.

Grant program aims to attract doctors to underserved areas

The Wolf administration announced Thursday that it is establishing a grant program to recruit primary care physicians in areas of the state that are lacking in options.

The PA Primary Care Loan Repayment Program has about $625,000 in state and federal funding on hand to help medical practitioners who take part. It would help practioners py off outstanding loans if they agree to work in areas of need. The Department of Health intends to pursue additional funds for the program.

“This funding helps us ensure that those living in underserved areas have access to primary medical, dental and behavioral health care services,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said in a news release.

– The Center Square