|By Rep. Jerry Knowles - 124th Legislative District
During the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, most government offices locked their doors and sent their staffs home to work remotely. I am very proud to say that my office, following the Department of Health guidelines, has remained open for business during the pandemic, even if we weren’t accepting walk-in visitors. Despite all counties in Pennsylvania now being in the “green” phase, which means that business can open safely, agencies under Gov. Tom Wolf’s jurisdiction continue to be closed. Nearly all his employees continue to “work from home,” and I feel this is unacceptable.
Following the necessary health and safety guidelines, the governor needs to have a plan in place to bring his employees back to the office.
I do not believe the governor fully understands the problems Pennsylvanians are experiencing with state employees working remotely. I have been dealing with it as taxpayers contact me daily to share their frustrations with calling offices and getting nothing but an answering machine, a busy tone, or extremely long waits. Title transfers aren’t being processed in a timely manner and vehicle owners are being cited, while notaries and dealers are running out of license plates to provide for customers. With more than 3.3 million unemployment compensation claims, an overwhelmed system is further hindered by employees required to work from home.
Taxpayers have a right to call a state agency and be able to speak to someone and have their question or concern answered timely and properly. In some instances, employees do not have full access to technology platforms. While modern technology has made it easier than ever for remote employees to work from anywhere, there are situations in which data security or consumer protection concerns might prevent employees from having full access.
My staff and I, and all my House Republican colleagues, have been assisting constituents as best as we can, but we are also running into the same roadblocks. Governor: Get your workers back to work.
Representative Jerry Knowles
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Rick Leiner