COVID-19 Updates September 9th, 2020

COVID-19 Updates September 9th, 2020

Federal

Odds shrink for a coronavirus relief deal

  • The Senate is set to vote Thursday on the GOP’s narrow relief proposal that even Republicans acknowledge will not pass. Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the Trump administration’s lead negotiator, is tamping down expectations that an agreement can be reached.
  • Senate Republicans released their new coronavirus relief proposal Tuesday, after weeks of discussion during the August recess. The bill would provide $300 in boosted federal weekly unemployment benefits through the end of December, another round of money for the small business Paycheck Protection Program and liability protections for schools, businesses and health care providers, a top priority for McConnell. It also includes $15 billion in grants for childcare and a two-year tax credit for donations to scholarships and grants.

With Rule Changes, Trump Launches ‘an Attack on Fair Housing From All Sides’

  • The Trump Administration has fundamentally revised how the federal government polices bias by landlords, lenders, and others in the housing industry.
  • The Trump Administration released its final rule regarding the “disparate impact” making it harder to prove disparate impact claims and challenge discriminatory policies. The administration also dialled back the requirements for state and local governments to abide by the federal anti-segregation mandate known as “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing,” or AFFH.
  • Consequences of the new disparate impact rule could fall particularly hard on people with disabilities, who file the most fair housing suits.
  • While the Federal Housing Act still requires communities that receive federal housing dollars to ensure that they are not contributing to patterns of discrimination, the rule replacing AFFH know has a voluntary standard for compliance (a “general commitment to use the funds in good faith and accompanied similar certifications not to violate various civil rights statutes”). 

State

Gov. Wolf expands indoor dining capacity to 50%

  • Pennsylvania restaurants can increase their indoor dining capacity to 50% later this month, Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday.
  • The increase — double the 25% limit that has been in place since July — can begin Sept. 21, according to Wolf’s announcement.
  • He said restaurants must complete a self-certification process showing they’re complying with all guidelines and state orders. Restaurants that complete the certification process will be listed in a searchable online database.

Pa. Senate’s vote to curb executive power devolves into partisan shouting match

  • Today, the Republican-controlled senate chamber passed two pieces of legislation to curb the powers of the state’s executive branch.
  • One of the bills would effectively bar Pennsylvania from entering the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multi-state cap-and-trade program that limits carbon emissions. Gov. Wolf will veto the bill. 
  • The second bill the Senate approved would grant local school districts authority over school sports and extracurriculars during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Wolf said he will also veto this bill. 

City

Powers of Philly’s proposed police oversight commission remain unknown

  • Philadelphia voters will decide whether to form a citizen police oversight commission in November amid months of national protests over police killings of Black men. The new commission would replace the Police Advisory Commission, which was formed in 1993.
  • Many of the details remain unknown . This lack of details drew skepticism from the Rev. Mark Kelly Tyler, member of the interfaith community group POWER and pastor at Mother Bethel A.M.E.
  • state law governing police arbitration over disciplinary proceedings would limit the proposed commission’s ability to discipline officers found guilty of abuse. Changes to those protections would require support from state legislators.

Philadelphia renters get temporary reprieve from evictions with ban until Sept. 23

  • Philadelphia tenants can’t be kicked out of their homes for the next two weeks, according to the president judge of Philadelphia Municipal Court.
  • The order limits the number of eviction notices the city’s landlord-tenant officer can serve until Sept. 21.  In addition, officers  must also serve notices explaining the new nationwide moratorium on many evictions for nonpayment of rent and give tenants the blank form they must fill out in order to be protected under the federal ban.
  • City Councilmember Helen Gym announced Wednesday that she would introduce a bill on Thursday to extend the city’s eviction moratorium through Dec. 31, which is when the federal moratorium ends. Gym said a city moratorium would protect tenants who are unaware of the CDC requirements. 

Good News of the Day

World’s Biggest Rooftop Greenhouse in Montreal is as Big as 3 Football Fields – Now Can Feed 2% of the City

Via The Good News Network – Launched in 2009, Lufa Farms now has four such rooftop gardens. The latest addition, built atop their own distribution center of 160,000 square feet (15,000 square meters), is about the size of three football fields, and cultivates 100 different varieties of fruits and vegetables using hydroponics.

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