HARRISBURG — Rep. Jason Ortitay (R-Washington/Allegheny) today announced that he plans to soon introduce two bills to direct federal CARES Act money to fire and EMS companies in order to recoup costs associated with COVID-19 and to frontline workers to create an incentive pay program.
“Many volunteer fire and EMS companies have been negatively impacted by the state’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts,” Ortitay said. “These organizations rely in part on money raised through community fundraisers which have had to be canceled to follow mitigation rules. Without these important fundraisers, it will be difficult for some of our fire companies to have the money to stay afloat. Over the past 40 years, the number of volunteer firefighters has dwindled. We need to help ensure fire companies are available and able to respond in an emergency.”
The first bill would direct $250 million from the federal CARES Act to volunteer fire and EMS companies across the Commonwealth. Companies would submit a copy of any costs incurred between March 6 and Dec. 31, 2020, because of COVID-19 to the Treasury Department. This includes the average lost revenue from their fundraisers which were canceled due to mitigation for the virus. The legislation also would put in place accountability measures to ensure taxpayer money is not misused.
“Our frontline workers have bravely served day in and day out during this pandemic, despite the risk of being exposed to the virus,” Ortitay said. “While everyone has felt worry during this time, these workers have shown up without complaint in order to ensure vital services remain open to their friends and neighbors. This is one way to thank them.”
The second bill would dedicate $400 million from federal CARES Act funding to create a program which would allow individuals to apply for hazard incentive pay from the Commonwealth if they are employed by a:
• Hospital or hospital network.
• Long-term care facility.
• Retail grocery store.
• Licensed pharmacy.
• Police, fire, EMS or volunteer fire department,
• Social advocacy organization.
• Financial institution.
“These employees have throughout the entirety of the pandemic continued to work and risk exposure to provide our community with critical services,” Ortitay continued. “This hazard payment in recognition of their increased risk of exposure is a way by which the Commonwealth will demonstrate appreciation for everything they are doing for us in the midst of a global pandemic.”
To be eligible, these employees would be required to apply through a process established by the Department of Revenue. Additionally, the employee must have been working at the employer’s physical location and not remotely. The Department of Revenue will establish a maximum amount an applicant can receive under the program based upon the number of applicants approved. Payment would then be awarded using the same payment percentages used by the federal government for stimulus checks under the CARES Act.
The 46th Legislative District includes Collier and South Fayette townships and Bridgeville, Heidelberg, McDonald and Oakdale boroughs in Allegheny County. It also encompasses Canton, Cecil, Mt. Pleasant, Robinson and Smith townships and Burgettstown, McDonald and Midway boroughs in Washington County.
Representative Jason Ortitay
46th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tracy Polovick