I am pleased to present my electronic newsletter. These e-newsletters enable me to provide information about issues, events and activities in Harrisburg and around the 47th Senatorial District to you in a timely manner while saving postage costs.
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A Special Thank you to our veterans at the Veterans Breakfast at CCBC. We had a great turn out and I always look forward to honoring current and former members of our armed forces.
Hunters Sharing the Harvest
Just a reminder to everyone that today, Monday November 27th, is opening day for hunting season. I wanted to take a moment to make you aware of a way hunters can help feed the hungry this winter.
Hunters Sharing the Harvest is Pennsylvania’s charitable venison donation program for hunters who share their extra venison via a statewide network of participating butchers to food banks across PA. Participating butchers coordinate meat deliveries to more than 5,000 local food assistance provider organizations such as food pantries, missions, and the Salvation Army.
Click here for more information and to locate a participating butcher in our area.
To further help my constituents I have also added a link on my website for safe hunting tips that can be reached by clicking here.
In previous newsletters, I talked about the upcoming proposed PA state constitutional amendment regarding the Homestead Exemption. On November seventh, the constitutional amendment was voted on and passed. I wanted to give an update on what this amendment is going to do.
Before November 7th the state constitution allows up to “one-half of the median assessed value of all homestead property within the taxing district” to be exempt from taxation. This is what is known as the “homestead exclusion” and its impact is felt by nearly every homeowner in Pennsylvania whose effective property tax has been lowered by it.
Now that the amendment is passed, the General Assembly is authorized to enact legislation exempting up to “100 percent of the assessed value of each homestead property within a local taxing jurisdiction” if they wish. As a result, the General Assembly can now choose to increase the amount of the homestead property exempted from local property taxes up to a maximum of the full value of each individual homestead.
If you have any questions regarding the new amendment please call my office at 724-774-0444. I will keep you apprised of any new information dealing with the Homestead Exemption.
Congratulations to Megan Royer the 2017-18 Centre County Grange Fair Queen.
Real ID Update
The REAL ID Act is a federal law passed by Congress after Sept. 11, 2001, that establishes specific minimum federal standards for state-issued driver's licenses and ID cards to be accepted for certain federal purposes, like entering a federal building or boarding a domestic commercial flight.
Since Act 3 of 2017 was passed in May of this year, planning the deployment of REAL ID has been a key operational focus for PennDOT. PennDOT has committed to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that REAL ID-compliant products will be available to customers by spring 2019.
Due to PennDot’s progress to this point, an extension was granted to Pennsylvania from the DHS so that PA citizens can continue to use current state driver licenses/photo ID’s for domestic travel through October 10, 2018. Pennsylvania will attempt to receive further extensions until the spring of 2019 when PennDot will be in compliance with the Real ID Act, and it is anticipated that PennDot will be granted these exemptions. I will provide further updates on this issue as more information becomes available. If you have any other questions you can call my office at 724-774-0444 or visit the link below, which will take you to PennDot’s online page with frequently asked questions regarding Real ID.http://www.dmv.pa.gov/Pages/REAL-ID-Frequently-Asked-Questions.aspx#extension
Attorney General Scam Advisory
Beware of Phone Calls Falsely Claiming to be from the Office of Attorney General
Scammers are spoofing an Office of Attorney General phone number in an attempt to get citizens to pay them money. Spoofing is a tactic which allows people to mimic the phone numbers of legitimate businesses on the receiving party’s caller ID.
Some of the scammers are posing as agents from the Office of Attorney General and fraudulently claiming the call recipient owes money. The calls appear to originate from the Attorney General’s office, but are actually coming from another phone number.
Other individuals reported scammers are using the “Grandparent Scam” from the same phone number. These callers falsely claim a grandchild of the call recipient is in jail and needs bail, or has been in an accident and needs funds. These scams frequently target senior citizens.
If you have received one of these fraudulent calls, please call the Office of Attorney General Bureau of Consumer Protection hotline at 800-441-2555, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some tips from the Federal Communications Commission:
Free Counseling for Medicare Open Enrollment
The Pennsylvania Department of Aging is reminding Medicare beneficiaries that the annual Medicare open enrollment is taking place now through Thursday, December 7, 2017. Any new coverage selected by beneficiaries will take effect January 1, 2018.
During open enrollment, new Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for Medicare Prescription Drug coverage and health plans to compliment Medicare for the first time; and current Medicare beneficiaries can review and make changes to their current coverage so that it better meets their needs. Pennsylvania offers free, objective health benefits counseling through its APPRISE Program, which is designed to help Medicare-eligible individuals, their families, and caregivers make informed decisions about their healthcare benefits.
With over 700 trained APPRISE counselors in the commonwealth, the APPRISE Program provides objective, easy-to-understand information about Medicare Supplement Insurance, Medicare Advantage Plans, and prescription drug plans in order for Medicare beneficiaries to compare the plans and determine what best meets their needs. The APPRISE Program also holds Medicare open enrollment events through the Area Agencies on Aging across the commonwealth. Last year, nearly 300,000 of the commonwealth’s 2.5 million Medicare beneficiaries were advised by APPRISE counselors.
To learn more about the APPRISE Program or to find an open enrollment event in your area, call 1-800-783-7067 or visit aging.pa.gov/insurance. Medicare beneficiaries can also make their own plan comparisons by using the Medicare plan finder tool at medicare.gov/find-a-plan or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE.
I am pleased to announce that several grants have been awarded to Beaver and Lawrence County organizations.
The Safe School Initiative grants for the training of school resource officers and security equipment have been awarded to schools in Lawrence and Beaver County. In Beaver County the schools awarded were Beaver Area School District, Blackhawk School District, Central Valley School District and Midland Borough School District. In Lawrence County the schools awarded the Safe School initiative grant were Laurel School District, Lawrence County Career and Technical Center, New Castle Area School District and Shenango Area School District.
The Borough of Baden and the West View Water Authority will receive a Multimodal Transportation Fund to construct an access road to Baden’s new water treatment plant off of Tevebaugh Hollow Road.
The boroughs of Ambridge and Rochester will receive grants from the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program. The funds for Ambridge are for improvements at the 8th Street and Walter Panek parks, including greater ADA accessibility, a wheelchair swing, new playground equipment, and reconstruction of basketball courts. The funds for Rochester will serve to rehabilitate two adjacent memorial parks, which feature the Rochester Area War Memorial and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.
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