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Follow the Redistricting Process Online

Redistricting is the process through which elective districts (House and Senate and Congressional) are redrawn in order to provide that districts are as equal as possible, based on population. In PA, the House and Senate districts are drawn by a Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC) . This year, for the first time, you can follow along with the process as it evolves.

The LRC website – www.redistricting.state.pa.us – went live this past Thursday. It contains information about the redistricting process, information about the Legislative Reapportionment Commission created by the state Constitution, access to the geography and population data used for redistricting, interactive maps, and more. You can also see video of meetings and get ongoing updates on the process.

The PA Constitution requires that the legislative districts for the House of Representatives and the State Senate be redrawn each decade, after the federal census is done. This process is mandated so that each citizen's vote ultimately carries the same weight in the ballot box.

Congressional redistricting is not handled by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission. Instead, the boundaries of Congressional seats are redrawn by legislative action – a bill with the new boundaries must be passed by both chambers and signed into law by the Governor. Historically, those plans have been referred to the state government committee in each chamber.

Now that the census population data has been received by the Commission, they have 90 days to file a preliminary reapportionment plan with the elections officer of the Commonwealth. The Commission will also be holding two public hearings on the plan – the first will be on September 7th in Allentown and the second will be on September 14th in Pittsburgh. More information will be available on the website as details emerge.

Internet Access for Low-Income Families

Internet Access for Low-Income Families

Last week, I attended a press conference with Comcast to launch the Internet Essentials program to provide internet service at a reduced rate to low-income families. I was proud to lend my support to the announcement as the program helps children to discover new learning opportunities online.

The Internet Essentials program allows families with children who qualify for free lunch under the National School Lunch Program to purchase high-speed internet for $9.95 per month with no activation fees or equipment rental fees. The plan is being offered through Comcast as part of an agreement with the Federal Communication Commission as a condition of the company’s purchase of NBC Universal.

The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh is also getting involved in the program and will be providing access to digital literacy training programs for families taking part in the plan. To request an application for the reduced-rate internet program, call 1-855-846-8376. To find out if your child qualifies for the National School Lunch Program, which provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to students, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture website.

Pennsylvania is National Leader in Public Funding for Higher Education

PHEAAA recent study by the National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs found that Pennsylvania was 1st in support of need-based grants, as a percentage of public funding for higher education, among the states with the highest dollar support for need-based aid. The survey also ranked Pennsylvania in 3rd place behind only California and New York in total award dollars provided to undergraduate college students through its need-based grant program.

It’s just one more reason why I am proud to be Vice Chairman of the PA Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA). Our board does everything within our power to ensure that there are resources available to students who want to pursue an education beyond high school – and this survey reflects that success.

For the 2011-12 academic year, the Commonwealth appropriated $380.9 million to the state grant program. Additionally, our Board approved an additional allocation of $50 million from PHEAA’s business earnings to make approximately $430 million available for state grant awards in 2011-12.

Help Point State Park Win Up to $100,000!

Point State ParkDid you know that just visiting Point State Park this summer could help it win big in the America Is Your Park campaign? The title of “America’s Favorite Park” and a $100,000 recreation grant are up for grabs – and your vote can make all the difference.

The America Is Your Park campaign encourages families to get active outdoors in parks across the country and vote to help their favorite win one of three recreation grants made possible by the Coca-Cola Live Positively initiative. So, if you like rollerblading, biking, running, playing ball, walking your dog, enjoying the river or just like to attend any of the numerous activities hosted at Point State Park, vote for the park. This funding can help support needed restoration projects that make it an even better place for you and your family to spend time.

Put your votes and support behind Point State Park by:

  • Logging onto LivePositively.com to vote
  • Uploading photos from the park to LivePositively.com
  • “Checking in” to Point State Park via Facebook Places
  • Uploading videos of activities in the park to LivePositively.com

You can also help by spreading the word about the contest – urge people to vote by reminding park visitors, sending emails, posting a status on Facebook or sending a message on Twitter about why you love Point State Park.

America Is Your Park was developed by Coca-Cola in collaboration with the National Park Foundation, America’s State Parks and the National Recreation and Park Association. In addition to the top park receiving a $100,000 recreation grant, Coca-Cola will award a $50,000 grant and a $25,000 grant to the second- and third-place parks. These grants will help restore, rebuild or enhance recreation areas in parks where people can play and be active.

Our very own Point State Park could be crowned “America’s Favorite Park” this summer. But it’s up to you – so get outdoors, play in the park and don’t forget to vote by September 6th!

Grants for Small Businesses Available

Small-business owners interested in projects that prevent pollution, improve energy efficiency and cut costs can apply now through next Monday, August 29th, for a Small Business Advantage Grant through the Department of Environmental Protection.

Businesses can apply for 50-percent matching grants of up to $7,500 to adopt or acquire energy-efficient or pollution prevention equipment or processes. Applicants must be a for-profit corporation, LLC, partnership, sole proprietorship or other legal entity with 100 or fewer full-time employees. Any proposed project must save the business at least 25 percent, plus $1,000 annually in energy- or pollution-related expenses.

All grant projects must be completed by June 30, 2012. An application package, including guidance, instructions and application form, is available on the DEP website. Small business owners may also stop by any one of my district offices for more information or to pick up an application.

Did You Know…

Did you know that in 2010, DEP awarded grants to 90 small businesses through the Small Business Advantage Program to reduce energy and pollution? In the first year, these grants will help businesses save 1.3 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, 110,421 therms of natural gas, 28,000 gallons of kerosene and fuel oil, and more than 40,000 gallons of diesel fuel.

Car Free Fridays

Car Free Fridays

BikePGH is challenging us to a day of car free commuting each week. It’s good for your body, the environment and your wallet. To help you track the miles you bike and walk to commute, run errands, and shop instead of drive, check out this Car Free Calculator. Each mile logged contributes to the health and vibrancy of our region. BikePGH will award raffle prizes to random winners as certain milestones are reached. Since December of 2010, the Pittsburgh region has logged more than 64,000 miles with the Car Free Calculator. Keep an eye on the totals and have fun tracking your own miles as you make your way around the city. Click here for more information on Car Free Fridays and events.

Around the District

Following is a list of just a few of the activities going on in the district this coming week. If you have an event that you’d like to have highlighted, please e-mail the details.

All Month Hollywood Theatre August Schedule

Wednesday, August 24th

4:00 p.m.

McKees Rocks Ukranian Festival
Helen & Ella Streets, McKees Rocks Bottoms

5:30 p.m. – Allegheny Brass Band Performance
7:00 p.m. – Parade
8:15 p.m. – Memorial Service for Veterans
8:30 p.m. – Spike Real the “Digital DJ”

Thursday, August 25th

4:00 p.m.

McKees Rocks Ukranian Festival
Helen & Ella Streets, McKees Rocks Bottoms

8:00 p.m. – Zabava (Ukrainian Band) Performance

5:00 p.m. August Family Fun Nite & Back to School Celebration
Sto-Rox Family Center
Celebrate going back to school – and see the movie “Rio!”
RSVP to 412-771-6817
8:00 p.m. The Psychic – South Park Theatre Presentation
Corrigan Drive & Brownsville Road, South Park
Tickets $12 and $15 or Call 412-381-8552

Friday, August 26th

9 a.m.–2 p.m. Child Car Seat Inspection & Education
Pittsburgh Bureau of Police – 312 South Main Street, West End
Call for an Appointment: 412-937-3051
4:00 p.m

McKees Rocks Ukranian Festival
Helen & Ella Streets, McKees Rocks Bottoms

6:00 p.m. – Zabava (Ukrainian Band) Performance
8:00 p.m. – “The Marcels”

8:00 p.m. The Psychic – South Park Theatre Presentation
Corrigan Drive & Brownsville Road, South Park
Tickets $12 and $15 or Call 412-381-8552

Saturday, August 27th

10:00 a.m. Lowe’s Build & Grow Clinic – Build a Locker!
2100 Washington Pike, Carnegie PA
Open to All – For Information Call 412-788-9223
4:00 p.m.

McKees Rocks Ukranian Festival
Helen & Ella Streets, McKees Rocks Bottoms

4:00 p.m. – “Lumar” Ukrainian Dance Group
5:00 p.m. – Clueless the Clown
6:00 p.m. – Zabava (Ukrainian Band) Performance
8:00 p.m. – The Skyliners with Jimmy Beaumont

8:00 p.m. The Psychic – South Park Theatre Presentation
Corrigan Drive & Brownsville Road, South Park
Tickets $12 and $15 or Call 412-381-8552
8:30 p.m. Movies in the Park – Featuring “Despicable Me”
Scott Park

Tuesday, August 30th

9:00 a.m. Highmark Medicare Forum
Andrew Carnegie Free Library, Reception
300 Beechwood Avenue, Carnegie
No Reservations Required
11:30 a.m.

Highmark Medicare Forum
Andrew Carnegie Free Library, Reception
300 Beechwood Avenue, Carnegie
No Reservations Required

2:30 p.m. Highmark Medicare Forum
Andrew Carnegie Free Library, Reception
300 Beechwood Avenue, Carnegie
No Reservations Required

Reminder: Wednesday, September 1st is the deadline for applications for the Pittsburgh Citizen’s Police Academy. Class size is limited to 30 people so apply today.

University of PittsburghFontana Fact

On this date (August 23rd) in 1910, left fielder Fred Clarke made a Major League record-tying four outfield assists for the Pirates in a 6-2 win over the Phillies. As a player and manager for the Pirates, Clarke helped the team win four National League pennants and a World Series championship.

Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana

 
Transportation Funding Advisory Commission Report
Transportation Funding Advisory Commission Report Run Your Rox 5th Annual Walk on Sunday PHEAA Website Car Free Fridays