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Pennsylvania Senate approves $912 million COVID-19 relief bill

A bill that would allow for the distribution of $912 million in COVID-19 relief measures to restaurants, schools, employers, tenants and landlords has been approved by the Pennsylvania Senate.

On Wednesday, Senate Bill 109, sponsored by Sen. Joe Pittman (R-Armstrong, Butler, Indiana and Westmoreland) was passed unanimously in the Senate and now awaits consideration by the House of Representatives.

The bill would allocate $569.8 million for Rental and Utility Assistance, $197 million for education programs and $145 million to support the state’s hospitality industry.

Funding for the Rental and Utility Assistance program would be provided by federal Coronavirus stimulus money and would be divided up to counties by population size.

For the hospitality industry, the funds would provide grants to small business taverns and licensed restaurants by establishing a Hospitality Industry Recovery Program. The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association wrote in a statement that the funds come at a critical time for the industry.

“We thank the Senate for acting to help those in the industry who have been most impacted by prevention and mitigation orders during the pandemic,” the association wrote in its statement. “But hopefully, this is just the start of the General Assembly helping the many mom and pop hospitality establishments that make up the backbone of every Pennsylvania town across the Commonwealth. We now urge the State House to quickly move SB 109, so that this desperately needed funding can be made available before more of these businesses are forced to close permanently.”

Grants through the program would be provided in increments of $5,000 up to $50,000 and could not be used for the same operating expenses already covered by a federal PPP loan or through the state’s Small Business Assistance Program.

Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) said in a statement that the federal dollars will be provided to the entities most in-need.

“I appreciate the feedback from the residents of the 28th District who have contacted me to express the need for assistance for our locally owned bars, restaurants and taverns that have borne the brunt of the governor’s unilateral economic shutdown,” said Phillips-Hill.

Ioannis Pashakis
Ioannis Pashakis covers health care, the gig economy, cannabis and technology. Email him at ipashakis@bridgetowermedia.com.

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