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Senator Wayne D. Fontana

 

Senator Fontana visited with preschoolers at the Tender Care Learning Center in Green Tree on June 5th. 

Senator Fontana visited with preschoolers at the Tender Care Learning Center in Green Tree on June 5th.  After reading the children a story, Senator Fontana answered questions from the children and spoke with the Center’s Director about their programs.

Legislation to Address Sewage Laterals Approved by Senate Committee

property taxI introduced Senate Bill 1262 (SB 1262) that would provide municipalities and various authorities throughout the Commonwealth the ability to establish policies to address some of the financial responsibility placed on homeowners. Specifically, a public entity could assume or assist with the financial duty of repairing certain private laterals instead of placing the task on the homeowner.  A special fund could be created within the local jurisdiction specifically for this matter.  Please remember that this is only enabling legislation and no jurisdiction would be required to use this available tool.  

A sewer lateral is an underground pipe that connects a residence or business to the publicly-owned main sewer line.  Many homeowners are unaware that they own and are responsible for the sewer laterals that are on their property.  More recently, local municipalities have come across problems when privately owned sewer laterals are compromised and need repair.  These repairs are often essential for human health and safety; however, they come at a steep cost with many homeowners unable or unwilling to pay. 

The problem lies in what is known as I & I which is infiltration and inflow.  When you have broken laterals, I & I of contaminated water or sewage enters into the clean part of the system instead of staying out of it.  Identifying and removing I & I from our aging collection system is absolutely necessary because not only are they a cause of two to three potholes or sinkholes a month in our region, but also pose a risk to residents’ health and safety. 

Addressing sewer lateral issues has become a challenge across the state, particularly for local municipalities, since prices for repairs range between $5,000 and $35,000.  Furthermore, many authorities have found very few homeowners comply with the requirement to make these necessary repairs, thus compromising our sewer system even more. 

My legislation was considered and unanimously approved last week by the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.  I look forward to SB 1262 continuing through the legislative process in the coming weeks and working with the various industry representatives so that a real solution can be created.  After all, we owe it to Pennsylvania’s residents to put mechanisms in place to protect everyone’s health and safety. 

Status of Environmental Regulations

Below is a copy of a letter Senator Fontana sent to the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary E. Christopher Abruzzo last week concerning emission regulations in Pennsylvania.  The Environmental Quality Board, chaired by the DEP Secretary, is accepting public comments through June 30th on additional RACT Requirements for Major Sources of NOx and VOCs.  You can read about these proposed regulations and offer public comments by clicking here.

May 30, 2014

Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board
Attn: The Honorable E. Christopher Abruzzo, Chair
P.O. Box 8477
Harrisburg, PA  17105-8477

Dear Secretary Abruzzo:

On May 27, the Environmental Quality Board held a hearing in their Pittsburgh offices on proposed rules for controlling the emission of NOx and volatile organic compounds, necessary due to much of the Commonwealth’s nonattainment of federal standards. As you serve as the board’s chair, we have both heard from my constituents about this undeniably important matter.

The general mood, it seems, is anything but positive. My constituents worry that these rules are not strong enough to effectively combat the Commonwealth’s air quality issues because they loosen the standard by which polluters may measure their emissions to a thirty-day rolling average and allow power plants to use outdated emission control technology instead of proven-effective selective catalytic reduction equipment. In my own examination of the proposed rules, it seems as though the Board is giving polluters every possible opportunity to evade federal standards altogether, which is also worrisome.

It is my firm belief that every Pennsylvanian has a right to know if there are dangerous substances in their water and air and, if so, what exactly those substances are. I have introduced bills to this effect, but if the Commonwealth does not act seriously to reduce these primary components of ground-level ozone, the people will not need a law to let them know that something is wrong with their air. I urge you to revisit these rules and strengthen them so that the DEP can better guarantee our constitutional right to clean air.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,
Wayne D. Fontana
State Senator, 42nd Senatorial District

10th Annual FontanaFest Changing Venues

I am excited to announce that FontanaFest, the 10th annual, is changing venues this year.  This year’s annual community event is being held at Highmark Stadium at Station Square, home of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Saturday, August 9th from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.  Children in attendance will have the opportunity to participate in soccer activities with members of the Riverhounds on the field at Highmark Stadium.  Other activities include inflatables, balloon making and crafts, along with the chance for children and families to receive important information on exercise, nutrition, healthy lifestyles, health care, education and jobs and jobs training.  Lunch and beverages will be provided, and once again, IT’S ALL FREE!  Station Square will be providing free parking in the Stadium’s West Lot for attendees from 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Make sure you save the date, Saturday, August 9th and note the change in venues this year.  I will make sure to update you with more information on the 10th Annual FontanaFest as the summer moves along.

Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program

Property Tax/Rent Rebate Have you filed for a rebate through the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program?  The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is accepting applications through June 30th for the 2013 Property Tax/Rent program.  If you received a rebate last year, you should have received an application in the mail.  If you did not receive 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 to receive a rebate.  The maximum standard rebate is $650.

National Homeownership Month

PHFA Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) June is recognized as National Homeownership Month and I want to take this opportunity to remind constituents that the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) is available to assist homebuyers.  The PHFA offers free counseling to homebuyers and can walk them through the homebuying process.  They also offer assistance to individuals with low credit scores and can help them improve their credit ratings.  Additionally the PHFA has a variety of affordable mortgage loans available to assist potential homebuyers.  Renters can also benefit from the PHFA’s online apartment search tool that is both free and easy to use.  Anyone looking for a place to rent can start by visiting www.PAHousingSearch.com.

For more information on National Homeownership Month and for additional services available through the PHFA, please visit them online at www.PHFA.org.

Did You Know…

Did you know that over 38 percent of homeowners in the Pittsburgh region are free and clear of mortgage debt which is the highest percentage of outright homeownership of the 30 largest metropolitan areas in the country?

Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program

farmers marketThe 2014 Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) is available to eligible consumers across Allegheny County.  Eligible individuals can receive one set of checks, worth a total of $20, to be spent at participating farmers’ markets through November 30th on produce that is grown in Pennsylvania or purchased directly from a Pennsylvania farmer.

All Allegheny County residents who will be 60 years of age or older by December 31st and who meet the income guidelines are eligible.  For a one person household, the income limit is $21,590 and for a two person household, the income limit is $29,101.  Married couples may each receive one set of checks.

Checks will be distributed on June 17th at select times at well over 50 senior center locations throughout Allegheny County.  For a complete schedule, please click here and then click on the link titled “2014 Farmers’ Market Distribution Locations and Times.”  You will be required to show proof of residence upon picking up the checks.  If an eligible consumer requires a proxy to receive their checks, the proxy is responsible for signing for and spending the checks for the individual.  All individuals must complete a proxy form in order to have a proxy receive checks for them.  Proxy forms can also be obtained by clicking on the link provided above and then clicking on the link titled “2014 Farmers’ Market Proxy Form.”

Future of Public Transportation

Port Authority Port Authority Forum The Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT) is inviting transit riders and local citizens to share their vision for the future of public transportation in our region through PAT’s new community engagement website.  Forward Thinking, located at http://paac.mindmixer.com/ presents a variety of questions on topics including capital projects, barriers to transit use, and accessibility for seniors and riders with disabilities.  Participants can share their thoughts or weigh in on ideas submitted by others.  The site will help PAT collect ideas from riders and local citizens and collectively will assist in generating a vision of a modern transit system throughout Allegheny County.

Members of the Port Authority’s Board of Directors, CEO Ellen McLean, and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald will be participating in the discussion and listening to participants’ thoughts and suggestions.  The site will be active through at least June 13th.  If interested in participating in this online forum, please visit http://paac.mindmixer.com/ to get started.

Summer Food Program

Through August 15th, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services is operating the SummerFood program, a free breakfast, lunch and recreation program.  The program is open for children up to 18 years of age and individuals with disabilities.  Nutritious meals will be available on weekdays at more than 80 sites throughout the County.  A site supervisor and accompanying staff will be present to ensure the well-being of children.

For more information on the SummerFood program, including site locations, meal times and disability eligibility please call 1-800-851-3838 or visit the Food Assistance page at www.alleghenycounty.us.

Smart Investments Workshops

North Hills Community OutreachThe North Hills Community Outreach is hosting a series of free Smart Investments workshops this month for individuals who need help with budgeting and financial skills.  The topic for Smart Investments workshops for June is Credit – The Importance of Credit to your Everyday Life.  The other areas covered in these workshops include assistance with obtaining a job, help with finding an apartment, and acquiring auto insurance.  Smart Investments workshops is a United Way funded partnership between the North Hills Community Outreach, South Hills Interfaith Ministries and NeighborWorks.

The schedule for June workshops is listed below.  If interested in registering, please call NeighborWorks at 412-281-9773.

June 16th – 10 a.m.
North Hills Community Outreach North Boroughs
AGH-Suburban Campus
100 S. Jackson Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA  15202

June 18th – 2 p.m.
North Hills Community Outreach Millvale
416 Lincoln Avenue
Millvale, PA  15209

June 20th – North Hills Community Outreach Allison Park
1965 Ferguson Road
Allison Park, PA  15101

Taylor LehmanLocal Pitcher Drafted

Congratulations to Taylor Lehman, a senior at Keystone Oaks High School on being drafted by the Miami Marlins in the 2014 Major League Baseball Entry Draft.  Taylor, a left-handed pitcher and native of Dormont was drafted in the 34th round in last week’s draft.

Fontana Fact

The Three Rivers Arts Festival, which runs from June 6th – June 15th, is now in its 55th year.  It was originally founded in 1960 by the Women’s Committee of the Carnegie Museum of Art and became a production of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust in 2009.

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
Three Rivers Arts Festival North Hills Community Outreach