SHIPPENSBURG – The Senate Majority Policy Committee held a public roundtable discussion today, at the request of State Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33), to receive feedback on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted veteran’s clubs, as well as charitable and service organizations.
Chaired by Senator David Argall (R-29), the committee heard testimony from local veteran’s groups, as well as the statewide American Legion and VFW. Other organizations included the Moose International, Catholic War Veterans Post 1342, the Franklin-Fulton County Federation of Clubs, the Adams County Federation of Clubs and the VFW Post 41.
Mastriano noted that the heavy-handed and flawed edicts by the Wolf administration have resulted in many clubs closing their doors, as they are unable to comply with mandates.
“It is an unfortunate situation, because these clubs do so much for our local communities,” said Mastriano. “These charitable organizations have tried to stay afloat, but every day the Governor changes his mind and imposes new rules. Some clubs have closed, and those that remain open are having trouble paying the bills.”
Mastriano believes clubs should be able to operate under their own health and safety practices, without government overreach and unclear mandates impacting their business.
“As state lawmakers, we need to do everything possible to help our clubs rebound from the pandemic,” explained Mastriano. “When clubs thrive, so do our communities.”
Guy Hayslett, representing the Shippensburg American Legion, told lawmakers that his club has sponsored a local midget football team for four decades. But because of restrictions placed upon the organization by the Governor, the Legion has been unable to conduct any fundraising, so they were unable to sponsor the team this year.
Also, the Shippensburg American Legion donated $245,000 back to the community in 2019. Pandemic issues have prevented those types of charitable endeavors in 2020.
Similarly, Wayne Smith – representing Catholic War Veterans Post 1342 – pointed out that the constantly changing edicts by the Governor are adversely impacting maintenance costs and other fixed expenses.
Moose International representative Phillip Febus explained that his statewide agency has been unable to donate “close to one-tenth” of the proceeds it previously provided local communities.
Many club leaders predicted that if the Governor’s business restrictions remain in place, their organizations will cease to operate by the end of the year.
During the Governor’s business shutdown, many clubs were forced to close, as they were not considered to be “life-sustaining.” Subsequently, with limited opening capacity guidelines from the Wolf administration, many of these organizations continue to struggle economically, as well as with their charitable work.
Mastriano introduced a bill in March that would allow clubs to retain 100 percent of their Small Games of Chance revenue for three months, to help offset operational costs. The legislation – Senate Bill 1143 – is currently assigned to the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee.
Tuesday’s workshop was held at the Shippensburg American Legion.
A video of the hearing is posted here.