Rep. Jake Wheatley details some of his legislative efforts re: COVID-19.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
As our communities continue to recover from the effects of an unprecedented pandemic, I remain committed to paving the way to help affected individuals, businesses, and institutions with immediate and long-term assistance and support.
I know that residents here in Allegheny County and across our state are hurting, and I am working diligently with my colleagues in the House to bring each of them immediate relief—that includes our family-owned small businesses, our hospitality and health care workers, our seniors, and our schools. While there has been some federal help offered, we know that many of our residents just cannot wait—they need our immediate support and help during this extremely difficult time.
To date, I’ve introduced several measures to provide relief and support, including the Emergency Relief of COVID-19 Workers Act, which would provide additional wages and support for essential workers, including those who have lost their jobs, and the creation of a special uncompensated care fund for Pennsylvanians who have lost their employer-provided health insurance coverage, due to being out of work.
I am also working on a $10 billion business relief package that would set aside $5 billion for our state’s small businesses, $3 billion for minority businesses, $1.5 billion for our state’s food and hospitality industry and $500 million for sole proprietors. My package would help preserve and bolster our small-business owners, the backbone of our commonwealth’s economy.
Another bill I have introduced would require the state Departments of Health and Human Services to work closely with local officials and private labs to ensure proper collection of data, notably in low-income communities of color.
This is important to me because I am extremely concerned that minority populations, who are more likely to be at risk for contracting COVID-19, are not being properly tracked, which significantly hampers efforts to curb the virus’s spread. These populations have higher rates of chronic diseases, including asthma, hypertension, and heart disease, which increases their risk of becoming ill.
I am thankful and appreciative of the governor’s commitment to ensuring every person has a voice in our state, especially our communities of color. Governor Wolf recently announced the creation of a special equity task force to address the root causes of racial disparities in our communities—in our healthcare systems, our electoral process and in our workforce. My hope is that this task force will begin by addressing structural and systemic barriers, with the goal of creating a transparent, accountable, and equitable process for how we allocate state resources.
Please know that my staff and I can help you with any questions or concerns you may have, or if you need food or other assistance. You can always contact The People’s Office at 412-471-7760 or via email at RepWheatley@pahouse.net.
Rep. Jake Wheatley represents Pittsburgh’s 19th District. He’s also the Democratic chairman of the state House Finance Committee.