PA public health policy must also include protection from fracking

(Jul 02, 2020)

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Tom Wolf has demonstrated his willingness to go to great lengths to protect the health and safety of the public. It is time to bring the same political will to the issue of fracking. In its two-year investigation of the unconventional oil and gas industry, Pennsylvania’s 43rd Statewide Investigating Grand Jury “uncovered systematic failure by government agencies in overseeing the fracking industry and fulfilling their responsibility to protect Pennsylvanians from the inherent risks of industry operations.” (Source: Office of Attorney General Josh Shapiro ) The report outlined eight recommendations to protect Pennsylvanians from the risks of fracking and address the lack of oversight of the unconventional gas industry. In his public statement on June 25, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro painted a vivid picture, describing parents’ testimony that their children “would repeatedly wake up at night with severe nosebleeds caused by increased levels of gas in the air around the fracking sites.” While we are encouraged by the attorney general’s strong language regarding the health effects on children and others who live near fracking infrastructure, the eight recommendations miss an obvious first step: Stop the bleeding. The grand jury report provides irrefutable information and facts – 243 pages’ worth – demonstrating that people are Read more

 

Renter and homeowner aid available

(Jun 29, 2020)

Renters and homeowners who were financially impacted by the economic slowdown related to the coronavirus pandemic will be able to access applications for rent and mortgage relief beginning Monday, June 29. At that time, applications will be accessible from a red banner on the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency’s website at www.PHFA.org . Homeowners who became unemployed after March 1 or who suffered at least a 30 percent reduction in annual income due to reduced work hours and wages related to COVID-19 may be eligible for financial assistance to help with missed mortgage payments. To qualify for the Pandemic Mortgage Assistance Program, the applicant must be an owner-occupant of their residence, the dwelling must consist of one or two separate units, the mortgage must be at least 30 days delinquent, and the applicant-homeowner’s annual household income must not exceed the Area Median Income for their county of residence adjusted for the number of people in their home. For renters to be eligible for financial assistance under the CARES Rent Relief Program, they will need to document at least a 30 percent reduction in annual income since March 1 related to COVID-19, or they must have become unemployed after March 1. If unemployed, they must have filed for Unemployment Compensation. Their household income cannot exceed the Area Median Income for their county of residence adjusted for the number of people in their home. For more information Read more

 

Small Business Assistance grants available

(Jun 29, 2020)

Applications are expected to be available June 30 for a new program aimed at providing critical funding to local businesses hurt by the coronavirus. The first round of the $225 million COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance grant program is expected to open for applications on Tuesday, June 30 and will remain open for 10 business days. Additionally, applications will continue to be accepted after 10 business days to be considered for future rounds of funding. Those rounds will be announced soon. This program will award grants ranging from $5,000 - $50,000 to small businesses economically impacted by the coronavirus, and money is specifically set aside for businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged people. For an application preparation checklist, criteria for eligibility and consideration, and a full list of participating Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), please click below to go to the COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance website. https://pabusinessgrants.com/ Read more

 

Representative Otten statement on veto override votes

(May 22, 2020)

I understand that the shutdown has been challenging for everyone, lonely and isolating for many, and financially devastating for some. I understand how difficult this continues to be for small business owners, and for workers and independent contractors still waiting to receive unemployment benefits or stimulus payments, and for teachers and families trying to work and learn from home. My husband and I are working with two young children at home -- children who are missing their classmates and too young to handle Zoom calls or online assignments independently. We all want this shutdown to end. I support ending it safely, gradually, and responsibly, to save lives, protect livelihoods, and prevent us from having to do this again. The public officials and medical professionals who have been training for their entire lives in public health and emergency management—not the legislature—are best suited to lead our reopening plans at this time. I believe that we can ultimately reopen faster, more safely, and more sustainably if we work together. While Chester County is still in the “red phase,” there are reasons to be hopeful. We have done extremely well at flattening the curve, and our commissioners and county department of health are optimistic that our numbers will support moving to “yellow” by June 4. This week, I voted “No” on motions to override Governor Wolf’s vetoes of HB 2412 and 2388. In the Read more

 

Otten, Muth submit joint comments on proposed pipeline projects

(May 11, 2020)

EXTON, May 11 – Last week, state Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester, and state Sen. Katie Muth, D- Berks/Chester/Montgomery, submitted joint statements to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection expressing concerns over the safety of one pipeline project and transparency in the permit review process for another. Tuesday, May 5, marked the end of a five-day public comment period on Sunoco/Energy Transfer’s geophysical survey report for Mariner East pipeline segment HDD-310 in Uwchlan and Upper Uwchlan townships. Previous drilling at the site caused a 25-foot by 20-foot by 30-foot sinkhole. In their comments to DEP, the legislators cited concerns about unstable soil conditions, the risk of additional sinkholes, and the pipeline operator’s failure to address questions raised by residents and DEP about ground stability. On Friday, Muth and Otten submitted a joint statement expressing their objection to the cancelation of public hearings on a major modification request to Mariner East pipeline segment HDD-280. In 2019, Sunoco requested major modifications to both the route and installation method of this segment, with the proposed changes affecting Meadow Creek Lane in Upper Uwchlan Township. DEP first accepted written public comments on the modification request in December 2019 and January 2020, and a public hearing was scheduled for April 15. When the hearing was canceled to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a new written public comment Read more

 

Otten and Muth public comment on HDD-310

(May 11, 2020)

Rep. Danielle Friel Otten and Sen. Muth issue a joint statement on Sunoco’s geophysical survey report at HDD 310 in Uwchlan and Upper Uwchlan townships Read more

 

Otten and Muth public comment on HDD-280

(May 11, 2020)

Letter from Rep. Danielle Friel Otten and Sen. Katie Muth to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection objecting the cancelation of public hearings on Sunoco’s major modification request to HDD280 in Upper Uwchlan Township Read more

 

Otten staff coordinates volunteers to sew 1,000 masks and counting for Chester County organizations

(May 05, 2020)

EXTON, May 5 – State Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester, and her staff organized a volunteer effort to create cloth masks for community organizations in need. To date, the volunteers have made and donated more than 1,000 face masks to nursing homes, senior living facilities, personal care homes, and fire and ambulance companies in the 155th Legislative District. Otten said the idea to help came from a Facebook post she saw written by a volunteer at a senior living facility in her legislative district stating that they were in urgent need of masks. While the facility’s requests for personal protective equipment for its medical staff were filled through the county, Otten and her staff contacted the facility and learned that they needed 500 cloth masks for residents, volunteers and non-medical staff. Otten’s outreach events coordinator Sarah Heil immediately began mobilizing volunteers to fill the facility’s request, as well as calling other organizations in the district to determine who else may be in need. Through social media and personal contacts, Heil connected with the Chester County chapter of Sew for PA, a group formed in recent weeks to sew face masks for essential workers. The Sew for PA group quickly filled the order for 500 masks for the senior living facility and now has 200 more in the queue to be delivered to the East Brandywine Fire Co. Heil also recruited 12 volunteers from t he Read more

 

COVID-19 Resources for Seniors

(Apr 17, 2020)

Pennsylvania Department of Aging The Pennsylvania Department of Aging is the agency that oversees all programs and services providing aid to Pennsylvania’s seniors. They are available to assist seniors with caregiver support, transportation, senior housing, prescription assistance, nutrition services, and more. They can be contacted at 717-783-1550 or aging@pa.gov . Chester County Department of Aging The Chester County Department of Aging can connect you to programs and services that can help you stay home and stay safe. While the department’s physical offices are closed, they are still operating to provide essential services and answer questions. Please call 610-344-6350 or email ccaging@chesco.org . Protective Services One of the primary responsibilities of the County and State Departments of Aging is to protect older adults by investigating suspected cases of abuse quickly and thoroughly. During the COVID-19 crisis, they are taking steps to reduce the risk of exposure to older adults. If you suspect elder abuse, please call the county hotline at 1-800-564-7000 or the statewide abuse reporting hotline at 1-800-490-8505. These hotlines operate 24/7, 365 days per year. PA Link The PA Link assists older adults and individuals with disabilities by providing information and connecting them to supports and services they need (non-medical and medical) to live safely in Read more

 

Substance Abuse/Withdrawal Resources

(Apr 08, 2020)

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on every aspect of our communities. We understand this time has been difficult for many, especially those who are dealing with, or have a family member dealing with, substance abuse or withdrawal symptoms. In extreme cases, limited access to alcohol may put some individuals at risk for alcohol withdrawal syndrome, which can be life threatening. Below is a list of county, state, and federal resources available to meet your specific needs. The availability of some resources may be affected by COVID-19. Please see individual websites for adjusted hours and services. Substance Use Resources: PA Get Help Now: A 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year hotline staffed by trained professionals who will stay on the phone with the caller until a treatment provider with an opening is identified. Phone, Chat, and Text options available: 24/7 Help Line: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) 24/7 Text: 717-216-0905 24/7 Chat Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs: Resource Page Resources for Individuals Resources for Families Chester County Drug and Alcohol Services: Resource Page Chester County: The Family Help Book guide to addiction and recovery resources in Chester County U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: SAMHSA National Helpline Support Groups/Programs Read more

 

COVID-19 Food Resources

(Apr 03, 2020)

My office has received many questions about resources for individuals and families in need of food as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Below is a list of resources and services available to ensure no one goes hungry during this difficult time. If you have any questions, please contact my office at 484-200-8259 or repotten@pahouse.net . Food Banks and Pantries Lord’s Pantry 610-873-1149 141 E Lancaster Ave., Downingtown Monday and Tuesday 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Qualifications Chester County Food Bank The Chester County Food Bank will continue to serve the community while taking the recommended COVID-19 precaution measures. To find a food bank near you visit: https://chestercountyfoodbank.org/community-partners/member-agencies/ 610-873-6000 Spring City Food Pantry Spring-Ford Project Outreach is continuing to offer pantry services to clients. Clients are asked to wait outside and provide their green ID card or proof of residency. 484-431-3493 145 Chestnut St., Spring City Thursdays 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Senior Centers If you are a senior living in Chester County and you need assistance obtaining breakfast or lunch, please reach out to the Phoenixville Area Senior Center or the Coatesville Area Read more

 

Domestic Violence Resources

(Apr 02, 2020)

While we continue to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the state and county outlets to report child abuse, elder abuse, neglect, domestic violence, and rape continue to serve our communities. The following are resources available for you to report abuse or suspected abuse: Domestic Violence Center of Chester County : The DVCCC provides intervention, education, outreach, advocacy, and programs to prevent, reduce, and remedy domestic violence in Chester County. All services are free and confidential. To learn more or to report domestic violence, call their 24-hour, free hotline 888-711-6270 or 610-431-1430 Crime Victims’ Center of Chester County : The CVC provides free, immediate, and confidential crisis response and compassionate support to children and adults impacted by crime and violence. They can provide assistance through counseling, advocacy, resources, and education. To learn more contact 610-692-1926. To report a sexual assault, contact their 24-hour hotline at 610-692-7273. To report other crimes, contact their 24-hour hotline at 610-692-7420. Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence : The PCADV is a statewide collaborative membership organization committed to ending intimate partner violence and all forms of violence against women. Together, the local programs and statewide coalition work to deliver services, support, and systems to help victims and survivors find safety, obtain justice, and build lives free of Read more

 

State Reps. Fiedler, Innamorato, Lee and Otten to introduce legislation freezing rents and mortgages during pandemic

(Mar 31, 2020)

HARRISBURG, March 30- Pennsylvanians are experiencing layoffs and furloughs in unparalleled numbers due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, and they need relief. On Friday, state Reps. Elizabeth Fiedler, D-Phila, Sara Innamorato, D-Allegheny, Summer Lee, D-Allegheny, and Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester, announced they are working on legislation to ease the burden on and increase protections for all Pennsylvanians by implementing a rent and mortgage freeze. “Across the commonwealth, families are facing the terrifying prospect of not being able to pay their rent or mortgage for the foreseeable future,” Fiedler said. “People are making choices about whether they will pay their mortgage or rent, buy food, or pay for medicine. By freezing rent and mortgage payments we can ease some of the financial stress our constituents face right now.” "These bills uphold a social contract: we're asking folks to stay home, so our responsibility is to protect those homes," Innamorato said. "April 1st is right around the corner and we have to keep people safe and economically secure as they navigate an unprecedented crisis." Other states are also looking at ways to provide relief from rent and mortgage payments; New York’s state legislature has introduced S8125A, a bill suspending rent payments for certain residential and small business tenants for 90 days, while both New York’s and New Jersey’s governors announced a 90-day Read more

 

Otten: DCED waivers should prioritize public health, small business

(Mar 27, 2020)

EXTON, March 27 – State Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester, released the following statement regarding Department of Community and Economic Development waivers and exemptions for businesses affected by COVID-19: “The COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest challenge most of us have faced in our lifetimes, and I appreciate the difficult work Governor Wolf and our state agencies are doing to protect the health of Pennsylvanians. “Our public health and safety must remain our top priority. I am also concerned about the interests of our small business owners, who have a strong personal stake in the neighborhoods where they live and work. Local business owners support our food drives, school fundraisers and little leagues; they pay taxes that support our commonwealth and our public schools. The money we spend in locally owned businesses stays in and strengthens our communities. Allowing waivers and exemptions to large corporations and special interests that directly compete with locally owned businesses, while denying waivers to small businesses in the very same sectors, not only harms our local economies, it also endangers the lives of workers in truly life-sustaining industries, like healthcare workers on the front lines, and grocery store employees.” In a March 26 letter to Governor Wolf and DCED Secretary Dennis Davin , Otten noted that large corporations are more likely than small, locally owned Read more

 

COVID-19 Update and Community Resources

(Mar 24, 2020)

COVID-19 Update and Community Resources Read more

 

RESOURCES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES – COVID-19

(Mar 20, 2020)

This page will be updated as information is released by the Governor and programs or funding to assist businesses become available. The site contains links to various agencies, departments, and authorities that can assist small businesses. Read more

 

COVID-19 HELPFUL RESOURCES

(Mar 20, 2020)

My staff and I have been working diligently to ensure we are sharing the most important information. While there is a lot of information being shared, I want to make sure you know where to go for the most up-to-date and reliable information. Read more

 

Services still available by phone and email

(Mar 16, 2020)

My office will be closed to walk-in service until further notice. Please note, my staff will be able to answer your questions by email and phone. Read more

 

Otten announces event cancelations and district office updates in response to COVID-19

(Mar 13, 2020)

Exton, March 13 – State Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester, has canceled all remaining events for the month of March in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Otten’s district office will remain fully staffed and will continue to provide constituent services by email and phone. “My office is taking every precaution necessary to ensure the safety of our community,” Otten said. “We are following recommendations from the PA Department of Health and the Chester County Health Department to practice social distancing and limit person-to-person contact in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve .” Canceled events include Otten’s Census Recruitment Event previously scheduled for March 13, a SEPTA Key Senior ID Card Event previously scheduled for March 16 and a Real ID Information Session previously scheduled for March 30. The office is working to reschedule these events for a later date. Constituents in need of assistance with state-related services are encouraged to email repotten@pahouse.net or call 484-200-8259. Read more

 

3/12/20 – State of the Care Workforce in PA – Exton

(Mar 12, 2020)

Materials from a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing hosted by State Rep. Danielle Friel Otten. Read more