In this month’s column, Rep. Wheatley, who was recently sworn in for a new term to represent the 19th Legislative District, discusses his new role as the Democratic chairman of the House Professional Licensure Committee.

Photo: Office of Rep. Wheatley

2021 has certainly ushered in quite a few changes, among them a new president and vice president. Last month, I was honored and humbled to be sworn in for a new term to represent the 19th Legislative District.

This new term in office also gave me a new committee – I am now the Democratic chairman of the House Professional Licensure Committee. This is a committee that reviews bills pertaining to businesses that require state licensing, including beauticians, pharmacists, auctioneers, and many more.

I see this committee being among the most vital in directly impacting our state’s workforce, especially now as we try to find our collective financial footing during the ongoing pandemic. This pandemic has led to extreme stress and anxiety for so many, including people who want to work and have struggled, due to no fault of their own, to get or renew the proper licensing they need for their jobs. A strong, robust workforce will truly be the foundation toward our state’s recovery, and I will do all I can to make the licensing process for employees and businesses as smooth and efficient as possible in order to get – and keep – more Pennsylvanians working.

I will continue to work with my colleagues to secure needed relief for residents and minority-owned businesses in our communities – and honestly, that relief can’t come soon enough. According to a recent national study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 41% of Black-owned businesses, 32% of Latino-owned businesses, and 26% of Asian-owned businesses shut down between February and April 2020, compared to 17% of white-owned businesses during that same time period. It clearly shows that we – as a state and as a nation – must do more to secure vital help for residents and minority-owned businesses who continue to be adversely impacted.

Recently, a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) launched. It includes specific changes designed to avoid issues that affected the first round, where many women and minority-owned businesses struggled to secure the loans last year. You can visit the following link to get more information, including how to apply: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program

Please know that I will continue to push and advocate in Harrisburg for the help and support you need and deserve during these challenging and stressful times. Please reach out to The People’s Office if you need assistance or have questions about any state-related program or service at 412-471-7760 or by emailing me at jwheatley@pahouse.net.

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