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Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Large Non-Profits Paying Their Fair Share

Last week, Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced the city of Pittsburgh would be filing a lawsuit against University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) seeking a removal of UPMC’s tax-exempt status and payment of back payroll taxes.  I commend Mayor Ravenstahl and the city for challenging UPMC’s non-profit status and for bringing this issue before the Court of Common Pleas to determine whether UPMC deserves its current non-profit status.  UPMC should welcome the opportunity to provide transparency and prove to the public that they are truly non-profit, once and for all.

The time has come to address whether all large non-profits are paying their fair share.  I have re-introduced legislation that would amend the Purely Public Charity Act to require all large non-profits to pay real estate taxes based on the value of their land.  Senate Bill 143 (SB 143) would require non-profit organizations that own real property to pay taxes on the assessed value of the land only (not buildings), with the first $200,000 of land value being exempt from taxation.  The exemption would apply to all property owned by the organization, not per parcel.

My legislation seeks to address the imbalance created by organizations where profit is clearly a driving factor.  Exempting the first $200,000 of land value from taxation ensures that smaller non-profits that provide services that government would otherwise have to perform are not affected.  Large non-profits, including UPMC, buy large parcels of land but because of their status, are exempt from paying certain taxes.  Requiring large non-profits to pay taxes on only their land value begins to address the inconsistency that currently exists and reduces the burden currently being placed upon individual taxpayers.

Adult Mentored Hunting

In 2011, over 13.7 million people nationwide participated in hunting activities.  However, unlike this national trend, participation in the sport continues to see a steady decline in Pennsylvania. Hunting in Pennsylvania reached a high point during the 1980-81 season when more than 1.3 million general hunting licenses were sold according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC).  By 2011, the number declined to 933,208 licenses issued. 

Understanding the economic impact hunting has for our state, I introduced legislation for the last four legislative sessions that would help reverse this trend.  Last week, the state Senate unanimously passed legislation which I jointly sponsored – Senate Bill 623 (SB 623) – that would authorize the PGC to expand its very successful Mentored Youth Hunting programs to all ages. The proposal is similar to Senate Bill 140 (SB 140) which I have re-introduced. 

Pennsylvania’s Youth Mentored program was launched in 2006 to allow a licensed hunter, age 21 or older, to take a child under the age of 12 hunting.  The adult serves as a guide to the sport to teach proper use of a firearm, hunter safety and wildlife identification.  The mentored-youth must remain within arm’s reach of the licensed adult hunter and the adult carries the firearm while moving until the youth is ready to shoot.  Only one child may accompany the mentored adult and only one hunting weapon may be carried during the activity.

The PGC established the mentored youth permit during the 2009-10 season and participation in the program continues to grow significantly. Since its inception, over 32,615 permits have been issued through November 2012. In fact, the Mentored Youth Hunting program in Pennsylvania has been so successful that it has become a model for other states. 

Over the past several years, the number of individuals getting involved in hunting has not kept pace with the number of adults getting out of the sport. By expanding this voluntary opportunity to all ages, the goal of SB 623 is to offer prospective hunters the opportunity to explore the sport in a safe way while gaining a better understanding with an experienced mentor thereby creating a new generation of hunters. 

Skills for Success - Register Today!

Skills for Success - The Fontana Series Skills for Success: The Fontana Series. Register Online! It’s not too late to register for the next round of workshops in the Skills for Success:  The Fontana Series which returns to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP), Brookline branch, beginning April 3rd.  The series will run each Wednesday during April at the CLP-Brookline branch, located at 708 Brookline Boulevard.  If you are currently looking for a job, or are interested in boosting your skills that will help you land a desired position, sign up today for one of these free workshops, which will serve as a great resource for you.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) I was proud to partner with CLP in 2011, providing grant funding for this free series aimed at building skills and creating excellent resumes and applications that aid job seekers in achieving the positions they desire.  Whether you have already built a resume and are looking to fine-tune it, if you are starting from scratch and need help with organizing your work history, need assistance with searching for positions online, or require help in improving your interviewing skills, this free workshop will benefit you.

Rachel Masilamani and Richard Brzustowicz will again lead the Skills for Success: The Fontana Series, bringing over 10 years combined experience assisting library visitors with job hunting, online applications and resume writing.  The series features two separate workshops:  one focused on resumes and cover letters, and the other dedicated to interviews and networking.  The series also contains a career lab where attendees can work on online applications and explore library resources that can assist them in the job searching process.

Job seekers today face fierce competition in securing employment.  The Skills for Success: The Fontana Series aims to equip job seekers with the tools they need to improve their chances at landing a desired position.  Due to limited space, registration is required for workshops; however, walk-ins are welcome for the career labs.  The schedule for the next round of workshops in the Skills for Success: The Fontana Series is listed below.  Following Brookline, the series will move to CLP branches in West End and Mt. Washington.  To register for a workshop at any of these locations please call 412-281-7141, ext. 2012 or email careerworkshops@carnegielibrary.org.

CLP – Brookline
708 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA  15226
Wednesday, April 3 – Resumes & Cover Letters
Wednesday, April 10 – Interviewing & Networking
Wednesday, April 17 – Resumes & Cover Letters
Wednesday, April 24 – Interviewing & Networking
Workshops: 3-5 p.m., Career Labs: 5–7 p.m.
CLP – West End
47 Wabash Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15220
Tuesday, May 7 – Resumes & Cover Letters
Wednesday, May 8 – Interviewing & Networking
Tuesday, May 14 – Interviewing & Networking
Wednesday, May 15 – Resumes & Cover Letters
Workshops: Noon-2 p.m., Career Labs: 2-4 p.m.
CLP – Mt. Washington
315 Grandview Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15211
Thursday, May 23 – Resumes & Cover Letters
Thursday, May 30 – Interviewing & Networking 
Thursday, June 6 – Resumes & Cover Letters
Thursday, June 13 – Interviewing & Networking
Workshops: 1-3 p.m., Career Labs: 3-5 p.m.

Offices Closed

All Senate offices will be closed on Friday, March 29th in observance of Good Friday.  My offices will re-open on Monday, April 1st as scheduled.

DEP Hosts Webinar on Household Waste

DEPThe Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is hosting a “DEP at Home” webinar on April 3rd beginning at 7 p.m. to educate participants about the proper disposal of common household items.  The webinar, “Watch your Waste,” will last about an hour and features presentations from DEP’s Bureau of Waste Management, the Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, educating participants about improving their home environment and safeguarding their health.  “Watch your Waste” will provide information on how to dispose of old electronics devices as well as the disposing of old paints and paint-related products, pesticides, pool chemicals, drain cleaners, and degreasers and other car care items.  To participate in the webinar click here.  Space is limited and participation is based on a first-come, first-served basis.

Free Online Tax Preparation

TaxesIf you earned $57,000 or less in 2012, you are eligible to e-file your federal tax returns at no cost.  The Free File Alliance, a coalition of industry-leading tax software companies has again partnered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to offer the IRS Free File Program.  Since its inception in 2003, Free File has offered 70 percent of U.S. taxpayers free access to leading commercial tax preparation software.

To file your federal tax returns online please visit the IRS Free File page.  Make sure you have a copy of your tax return from last year and all W-2’s and 1099 forms before getting started.  For more information on the IRS Free File Program please contact the Pittsburgh Taxpayer Assistance Center at 412-395-5667.

Did You Know…

Did you know that more than 36 million tax returns have been filed through IRS Free File since its inception in 2003?

Iron Disorders

HemochromatosisWith recent celebrations concluding after the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, I wanted to make you aware of a disease that can affect individuals of Irish decent and other northern European countries.  Hemochromatosis is an inherited disorder that causes the body to absorb and store too much iron.  The extra iron builds in vital organs such as the liver, heart or pancreas, and damages them.

Hemochromatosis affects one of every 200 people with northern European descent and one in ten people are carriers of the gene mutation disorder, meaning it can be passed on to your children.  This disease can affect individuals from any ethnicity but it is most common in individuals that descend from Ireland, Scotland, England, Sweden, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain or France.  Some factors that accelerate iron overload are alcohol use, consuming a meat-rich diet, and taking an oral iron supplement.  Signs and symptoms of Hemochromatosis often mimic other conditions and it can be difficult to diagnose if it is not tested.

To learn more about having your iron levels tested, you should speak with a doctor.  You can also learn more about Hemochromatosis by visiting www.hemochromatosis.org.

Greentree Borough Green Tree Borough Summer Employment in Green Tree

Green Tree Borough has several positions available during the summer months.  Lifeguards and concession stand workers at Wilson Park Pool are needed as well as counselors for the Summer Recreation Program.  Applications can be downloaded from the Green Tree Borough website and must be submitted to the Green Tree Municipal Center Office by 4 p.m. on April 26th.  Previous seasonal employees must still submit an application before the deadline.  For more information please visit www.greentreeboro.com.

Bishop Canevin Wins State Title

Congratulations to the Bishop Canevin girls’ basketball team on winning the Class AA PIAA State Basketball Championship last week!  Bishop Canevin defeated York Catholic 45-38 in the championship game on Friday in Hershey to win their first ever state championship.  Bishop Canevin finished the season with a record of 27-4 and earlier this month, won their first W.P.I.A.L. championship. 

MoneyFontana Fact

Fred Rogers created and developed children’s educational television programming over the course of six decades.  Mister Rodgers Neighborhood, produced in Pittsburgh, first debuted in 1967 and was made available for national distribution in 1968, helping young children develop the emotional and social skills needed for learning in and out of school.  In addition to receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the TV Critics Association, Fred Rogers was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1999 and in 2002 received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush.  Fred passed away in 2003 and last week March 20th, was his 85th birthday.  Mister Rogers’ legacy continues today and Pittsburghers everywhere are still proud to call him their “neighbor.” 

Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana

  Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Phone: 412-344-2551
Fax: 412-344-3400
Harrisburg
543 Main Capitol
Box 203042
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Phone: 717-787-5300
Fax: 717-772-5484
Kennedy Township
Kenmawr Plz.
524 Pine Hollow Rd
Kennedy Twp, PA 15136
Phone: 412-331-1208
Fax: 412-331-2079
Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
Phone: 412-343-2080
Fax: 412-343-2418
Hemochromatosis Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)