Inauguration of Governor Tom Wolf
Today, Tom Wolf will be sworn in as the 47th governor of Pennsylvania. The governor-elect will take the oath on the Capitol steps at noon following the swearing-in ceremony for the Lieutenant Governor Michael J. Stack III, at 10 a.m. After the swearing-in takes place, an Inaugural Exhibit of the Pennsylvania Arts and Children’s Program will begin at 1 p.m. at the State Museum of Pennsylvania. A tour of the Governor’s Residence will also be available at that time.
Every governor coming into office has their own unique twist on what they want their inauguration days to consist of with Governor-Elect Wolf choosing a more low-key inauguration day. At night, there will be a "Let's Get Started" celebration at the Hershey Lodge which is open to the public with the purchase of a ticket for the event.
I have been invited to attend the swearing-in ceremony and plan to participate with my fellow legislative members in a "march" into the inaugural party with governor-elect Wolf.
Going forward, I’m very excited with the change of leadership and hope that the Legislature can work with the new governor in a bipartisan fashion. I expect many challenges will come before the governor-elect in the coming years and hope Mr. Wolf will accept our caucus’ willingness to be a resource to his administration. As always, I will continue to advocate for more economic development and job training investment, cutting property taxes and properly funding schools.
Did You Know…
Did you know that Pennsylvania’s first governor was Thomas Mifflin,
who served from December 1790 – December 1799?
I am pleased to announce that on February 5th, I will open a mobile office in the Strip District at the Pittsburgh Public Market (PPM), located at 2401 Penn Avenue. This office will be open every Thursday, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., and by appointment. The PPM is located near several bus lines and street and garage parking is available in close proximity. A handicapped entrance to PPM exists on 25th Street.
My office in Brookline, located at 932 Brookline Boulevard, will continue with the same hours, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday as will my Kennedy Township office, located at Kenmawr Plaza on Pine Hollow Road, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday – Friday. Beginning February 3rd, my Beechview satellite office, located at 1660 Broadway Avenue will be open from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and will be open every Tuesday and by appointment.
With the redistricting taking effect, the 42nd Senatorial District has changed and I want to do everything I can to be accessible to each corner of the district. I hope to add one additional mobile office and will announce that location and schedule, once details are finalized.
DCNR Recreation & Conservation Grants
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR) is accepting applications for recreation and conservation grants through April 16th. DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation has provided grant assistance for over two decades that has helped plan, acquire, and develop parks, recreation facilities, trails, and conserved critical conservation areas and watersheds; supported education and training on conservation and recreation topics; and built conservation, heritage, and recreation partnerships. The 2015 DCNR grant program encourages applications that advance local conservation and recreation vision and applications that implement Pennsylvania's Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan. The plan is expected to focus on the following:
- Community Park Major Renovations and Rehabilitation Projects – The planning and development of improvements to existing park and recreation facilities that incorporate green/sustainable features, upgrade playgrounds, and modernize facilities to bring them into compliance with current standards for safety, ADA, and the Universal Construction Code.
- Land Conservation – Land conservation projects that protect critical habitat, forested watersheds, wetlands, and riparian corridors.
- Rivers Implementation – Projects that implement river conservation plan recommendations, enhance water trails, and expand public river access to aquatic resources, or increase awareness of Pennsylvania’s river systems.
- Trails – Trail projects that close gaps in major statewide or regional recreation, conservation, or heritage projects that convene, educate, or provide training; build capacity; undertake special purpose studies or implementation projects; or offer mini-grants to grassroots partner organizations.
All applications must be submitted electronically through the Environmental eGrants System. Bureau of Recreation and Conservation staff is available to assist in developing a successful grant application. For more information on available webinars and workshops, please
Information for Tax Collectors
All local tax collectors need to be aware of some changes in state requirements that take effect in 2015. Act 164 of 2014 changes the Local Tax Collection Law by expanding existing tax collector education programs and requirements, and requires that all tax collectors become certified. Additionally, the legislation also provides for criminal background checks for anyone running for the office of tax collector and provides for the appointment of a deputy tax collector in cases where the tax collector becomes incapacitated.
Tax collectors will be required to obtain certification as a “qualified tax collector” before they take office and the certification must be presented to the secretary or clerk of the municipality where they were elected. Tax collectors in office on the legislation’s effective date do not need to take an initial certification exam and will be issued qualified tax collector certificates by the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED). The grandfathered tax collectors will be required to take the six hours of continuing education mandated by the legislation.
For more information about these requirement changes and information on training programs, please click here or visit www.newpa.com.
Completing the FAFSA
As the Vice-Chair of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), I want to encourage high school seniors and their families to prepare to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as soon as possible. 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, Federal Pell Grant, work-study programs, PA Targeted Industry Program (PA-TIP), various scholarships, some school-based aid, and federal student loans.
Last week, a troubling report was issued by NerdWallet which said that nationally, 47 percent of all high school graduates did not complete their FAFSA forms in 2013, leaving over $2.9 billion in free federal grant money on the table. In Pennsylvania, nearly 65,000 graduates did not complete the FAFSA and of those that did, over 28,000 students were Pell-eligible. The only way to find out if you qualify for awards is to complete and submit the FAFSA. Students who are eligible for awards can reduce their family’s out-of-pocket expenses and make the cost of higher education more manageable.
Now is the time to get a jump on the application process by preparing, before sitting down to complete the FAFSA application. As of January 1st, students and families have been able to complete the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. The following information is needed 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
The FAFSA can be submitted beginning January 1st and it is better to complete and submit the FAFSA as soon as possible after that date as schools’ financial aid deadlines vary. Once again in 2015, PHEAA will host FAFSA Completion Sessions across the commonwealth where PHEAA, in partnership with PASFAA (Pennsylvania Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators), provides free assistance to families needing assistance in completing the FAFSA. You can click here to view a listing of scheduled FAFSA Completion Sessions. PHEAA will continue to update this listing as more sessions are scheduled in the coming weeks.
Winter Driving Awareness
As we concluded Winter Driving Awareness Week over the weekend, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) reminds drivers to make sure they are prepared for winter weather. Prior to traveling, PennDOT encourages you to check your vehicle’s fluid levels, tires, wipers and make sure all lights are functioning properly. In the event you become stranded, having an emergency travel kit that includes bottled water, blankets, first aid supplies, ice scraper, snow shovel, and anything you may need for family travel, can help.
When winter weather is occurring, PennDOT asks drivers to be extra cautious around operating snow-removal equipment. When encountering a plow truck, drivers should:
- Stay at least six car lengths behind an operating plow truck and remember that the main plow is wider than the truck.
- Be alert since plow trucks generally travel much slower than other traffic.
- When a plow truck is traveling toward you, move as far away from the center of the road as is safely possible, and remember that snow can obscure the actual snow plow width.
- Never try to pass or get between several trucks plowing side by side in a “plow train.” The weight of the snow thrown from the plow can quickly cause smaller vehicles to lose control, creating a hazard for nearby vehicles.
Never travel next to a plow truck since there are blind spots where the operator can’t see and they can occasionally be moved sideways when hitting drifts or heavy snowpack.
- Keep your lights on to help the operator better see your vehicle. Also remember that under state law, vehicle lights must be on every time a vehicle’s wipers are on due to inclement weather.
To assist drivers in making decisions on whether to travel during winter weather, PennDOT encourages
visiting www.511PA.com, where you can check on road conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles, traffic delay warnings and weather forecasts. For more information on safe winter travel you may also visit www.JustDrivePA.org.
Small Business Resources
On February 2nd, City of Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s Office along with the Urban Redevelopment Authority are hosting a complimentary, government-focused, Small Business Week Resource Fair. The purpose of the event is to offer City of Pittsburgh small business owners in-person access to representatives from all relevant city departments such as zoning, permits, ADA compliance, and more, all in one location. The goal is to simplify the process for entrepreneurs to start their business and increase the number of small businesses in the City of Pittsburgh.
The Small Business Week Resource Fair on February 2nd is being held at the City-County Building, located at 414 Grant Street, on the 6th floor from 6 – 8:30 p.m. For more information please contact Henry Pyatt at 412-255-2945.
Table Games Revenue Rises
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board recently announced that revenue from table games in December increased more than 15 percent compared with December 2013 and that gross table game revenue for 2014 was 2.7 percent above 2013 numbers ($749.5 million compared to $729.8 million).
Revenue from both table games and slot machines in 2014 remained over $3 billion for the 4th consecutive year. Tax revenue in 2014 from the combined play of slot machines and table games was over $1.3 billion. Slot machines are taxed at 55 percent in Pennsylvania while table games are taxed at 14 percent. Tax revenue from slot machines is directed as follows: 34 percent for property tax reduction; 12 percent supporting the horse racing industry; five percent is placed in a state economic development fund; and two percent goes to local governments that host casinos. Table games are taxed at 14 percent with revenue directed into the state’s General Fund (12 percent) and the remaining funds directed to local governments.
The state’s casino industry employs over 17,700 people and generates an average of $3.7 million per day in tax revenue from slot machines and table games. For more information on this and other reports from the Gaming Control Board, please visit them online at www.gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov.
Snow Angels Volunteers Needed
Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh are looking for volunteers, county-wide, to help elderly and disabled residents stay safe this winter through the Allegheny Snow Angels program. Snow Angels is a program that pairs volunteers with elderly or disabled residents to assist with snow removal.
Snow Angels was originally launched in 2011 by the City of Pittsburgh’s servePGH initiative, which successfully matched hundreds of volunteers to shovel over 50,000 square feet of city sidewalks. In 2013, the program was adopted by the United Way’s Open Your Heart to a Senior program, giving volunteers the opportunity to make an even larger, county-wide impact. This season, Snow Angels is working in partnership with Family Services of Western Pennsylvania, and North Hills Community Outreach.
This volunteer opportunity is open to anyone living in Allegheny County, and is great for families and high school students. Volunteers are asked to help at least one resident for the entire 2014-15 winter season. Shovels and salt are available by request. To receive assistance from a Snow Angel, residents must reside in Allegheny County, be age 60 or older or have a physical disability and must lack alternative snow removal resources.
To learn more about the program or to register as a volunteer, please call 412-863-5939 or 2-1-1, visit http://alleghenysnowangels.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since its inception in December 1983, the Homeowners’ Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP), administered by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA), has helped Pennsylvania families having temporary financial setbacks avoid foreclosure by providing mortgage assistance loans. The program has helped save the homes of more than 46,000 families in Pennsylvania, almost half of whom have totally repaid their loans. In the 42nd Senatorial District, over 1,100 homes have been saved from foreclosure.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana
|| Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
543 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120
524 Pine Hollow Rd
| Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15216