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Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Senator Fontana attended Representative Dan Miller’s Children and Youth Disability and Mental Health Summit and participated in the legislative panel. 

Senator Fontana attended Representative Dan Miller’s Children and Youth Disability and Mental Health Summit and participated in the legislative panel on March 5th.  Pictured are (left to right):  Representative Erin Molchany; Representative Dan Miller; Senator Fontana; Representative Ed Gainey; Senator Matt Smith; and Representative Dan Frankel.

Veterans Designation on Driver’s License

Veterans LicenseThanks to recently enacted legislation, PennDOT last week launched a program that allows all Pennsylvanians who have served in the military to apply for a driver’s license or identification card that specifically identifies them as a veteran.  With many businesses and other organizations throughout the region and the Commonwealth routinely offering veterans discounted or specialized services, the special designation will better allow veterans to prove their eligibility for such programs.

Qualified applicants for a Veterans Designation on their license or identification card include those who have received a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty/DD214 or equivalent for service in the United States Armed Forces.  This includes a reserve component of the National Guard who were discharged or released from such service under conditions other than dishonorable.

There is no fee for the Veterans Designation but qualified applicants must pay any initial issuance, renewal, or duplicate driver’s license or identification fees.  If a veteran is renewing his or her license, the Veterans Designation is free with the cost of renewal.  Veterans who wish to change their current, valid license or identification card to add a Veterans Designation prior to their renewal date, must pay the duplicate license fee.

To learn more about the new Veterans Designation license and identification cards, please visit www.dmv.state.pa.us.  You may also call or stop by any of my district offices and my staff will be happy to help you apply.

Did You Know…

Did you know there are over 950,000 veterans living in Pennsylvania that day?

Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania's 75th Anniversary

Western Pennsylvania Junior Achievement’s 75th Anniversary

Senator Fontana is joined by Dennis Gilfoyle, President of Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania and Robbie Zaremberg, Development Specialist with Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania on March 10th.  Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania is celebrating its 75th Anniversary and several members visited the Capitol where Senator Fontana recognized them by introducing a Senate Resolution.

Yesterday, I introduced a resolution recognizing the 75th Anniversary of the Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania.  Founded in 1919, Junior Achievement (JA) was brought to Pittsburgh in 1939 by the Chairman of Westinghouse, A.W. Robertson and other businesses like Koppers, United States Steel, and Gulf Oil.  Today, JA can be credited with contributing to the economic vitality of the Commonwealth. 

Junior Achievement’s mission is to help prepare young people for the real world by showing them how to generate wealth and effectively manage it, how to create jobs which make their communities more robust, and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace.  This has been achieved by corporate and community volunteers who deliver relevant, hands-on experiences that give students the skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. 

This undertaking has made Junior Achievement the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy.  In fact, over 6,000 business, community and parent volunteers touch the lives of more than 250,000 students each year in kindergarten through grade 12 in public and private school systems.  Furthermore, volunteers from JA have contributed over 5,900,000 hours of their time to impact over 4,424,500 students in nearly 187,300 classrooms in Pennsylvania during the last 60 years. 

The success of this program is evident.  Eight out of 10 JA students agree that participation in these programs reinforces the value of staying in school.  Furthermore, 95 percent of teachers report that students who participated in JA have a better understanding of how the real-world operates. 

Some notable Pittsburgh Alumni of JA include TV personality Patrice King-Brown, former Bishop of Pittsburgh and now Cardinal of the Diocese of Washington D.C. Donald Wuerl, Business Entrepreneur Mark Cuban and former Pittsburgh Steeler Max Starks. 

The recognition of the anniversary of Junior Achievement in Pittsburgh shows the promise that these programs have made and will continue to make in the future that sustain our democracy by strengthening communities and preparing students for work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy through hands-on learning. 

If you would like more information about being a volunteer for the Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania, please visit http://www.jawesternpa.org/.

Heating Assistance

LIHEAP LIHEAP I want to remind constituents that the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is accepting applications through April 4th from low income families that need assistance in paying their heating bills.  You can apply and check the status of your application on the state’s COMPASS website or by calling the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095.  You can also pick up an application in my district offices, or download one yourself from DPW’s LIHEAP website.  Completed paper applications should be returned to one of the Allegheny County Assistance Offices.

After your application is reviewed, you will receive a written notice explaining your eligibility and the amount of assistance you will receive.  Payments are generally sent directly to a utility company or fuel provider and are credited to your account.

Additionally, the LIHEAP Crisis Program is also accepting applications through April 4th.  The Crisis Program assists families that are in an emergency situation that includes broken heating equipment or leaking lines that need fixed or replaced, lack of fuel, termination of utility service, and the danger of being without fuel or having service terminated.  If a crisis situation arises, please contact one of the Allegheny County Assistance Offices.

Funding for LIHEAP is provided by the federal government and eligibility is based on Federal Poverty Income Guidelines.  The income limits this season are as follows:

Household Size

Income Limit

1

$17,235

2

$23,265

3

$29,295

4

$35,325

5

$41,355

6

$47,385

7

$53,415

8

$59,445

9

$65,475

10

$71,505

Property Tax/Rent Rebate

Property TaxThe Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is accepting applications for the 2013 Property Tax/Rent Rebate program.  If you received a rebate last year, you should receive an application in the mail.  If you have not received an application, or did not apply last year and wish to apply this year, the applications can be obtained from any of my district offices and my staff would be happy to assist you in preparing your application.

The Property Tax/Rent Rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and over; widows and widowers age 50 and over; and people with disabilities age 18 and over.  Homeowners with a yearly income of $35,000 and renters with a maximum yearly income of $15,000 are eligible for a rebate.  The maximum standard rebate is $650.00 and the deadline to apply is June 30th.

FAFSA Completion Assistance

In recent editions of my News & Views, I have written about the importance of completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) by students interested in attending a post-secondary school.  The FAFSA is the federal form that all students must submit to determine eligibility for most forms of need-based financial assistance, including the Pennsylvania State Grant, the Federal Pell Grant, work-study programs, the PA Targeted Industry Program (PA-TIP), various scholarships, some school-based aid, and federal student loans.

FAFSA FAFSA In my role as Vice-Chair of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), I want families and students to know there is free help available to them when applying for financial assistance for college.  PHEAA, in conjunction with the PA Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (PASFAA) is offering FAFSA Completion Sessions across the Commonwealth through April.  A listing of these free sessions can be viewed by visiting the FAFSA Completion Help Page on PHEAA's website.

Additionally, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) is hosting FAFSA Completion Saturdays where students and families can get assistance in completing the FAFSA.  If you’re interested in attending one of these sessions, please call the library location to register.  The following is a listing of scheduled sessions:

March 29th       CLP-Carrick (412-882-3897)
April 5th           CLP-Main (412-622-3133)
April 12th         CLP Beechview (412-563-2900)

Students and families will be able to complete the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov and will need the following information when beginning the application process:

  • Social Security Numbers
  • Student’s driver’s license
  • Alien registration number, if not a U.S. citizen
  • W-2 Forms
  • Records of untaxed income received, including workers’ compensation, child support, payments to tax-deferred pension and savings plans, etc.
  • Federal income tax return (1040, 1040A, 1040EZ)
  • Current bank statements and records of stocks, bonds, and other investments

Please remember it is better to complete and submit the FAFSA as soon as possible as schools’ financial aid deadlines vary.

PA American Water Grants

Pennsylvania American Water is accepting applications for its 2014 Environmental Grant Program which supports projects that protect and/or restore drinking water sources and surrounding watersheds.  Awards are available to environmental, community, and watershed organizations that are planning projects within Pennsylvania American Water 2013 Stream of Learning Scholarship Program the company’s service area.  Applications will be evaluated on criteria such as environmental need, innovation, community engagement and sustainability.

To be eligible for a grant award, projects must:

  • Address a source of water or watershed protection need in the community
  • Be completed between May 1, 2014 and November 30, 2014
  • Offer a new or innovative program for the community, or serve as a significant expansion to an existing program
  • Be carried out by formal or informal partnerships between two or more organizations
  • Provide evidence of sustainability
  • Be located within one of Pennsylvania American Water’s service areas

For more information on the program and to download an application, please visit www.pennsylvaniaamwater.com and click on the “Water Quality & Stewardship” tab.  All applications must be postmarked by March 31st.

Supporting Focus on Renewal Food Pantry

FORAll food and financial donations made to the Focus On Renewal (FOR) Emergency Food Pantry during the months of March and April will be matched by The Feinstein Foundation.  For the 17th consecutive year, Alan Shawn Feinstein, a Rhode Island philanthropist, will divide $1 million among hunger-fighting agencies across the country.  Cash, checks and food (valued at $1 per item) will qualify.

If you are interested in contributing by making a financial donation, mark “Feinstein” on the memo line of a check and mail it to:

            Focus On Renewal
            701 Chartiers Avenue
            McKees Rocks, PA  15136

Anyone interested in donating non-perishable items can drop them off at FOR’s Community Center, located at 701 Chartiers Avenue in McKees Rocks during regular business hours Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Carnegie Science Center Finalist for National Award

Carnegie Science CenterCongratulations to the Carnegie Science Center on being named a finalist for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor conferred on museums and libraries for service to the community.  The Science Center is one of 30 finalists selected from over 100 nominations across the country.  Finalists are selected from nationwide nominations of institutions that demonstrate innovative approaches to public service, exceeding the expected levels of community outreach.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is encouraging community members who have visited the Carnegie Science Center to share their story on the IMLS Facebook page, www.facebook.com/USIMLS.  This page will also allow visitors to learn more about how these institutions impact the communities they serve.

National Medal for Museum and Library Service winners will be announced this spring.  Congratulations again to the Carnegie Science Center and best of luck!

Fontana Fact

This Saturday, March 15th, is the annual Pittsburgh St. Patrick’s Day Parade, recognized as the second-largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the country.  On March 13, 1993, one of the largest snow storms in the city’s history dumped over 23 inches of snow on Pittsburgh, but it did not shut down the annual parade which went on as scheduled.  Two snow plows led the parade as it wound through the streets of downtown Pittsburgh.

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
Focus On Renewal (FOR) Carnegie Science Center