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Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Legislation to Tighten the Rules on How Local Government Units Borrow Money

capitolIn 2012, a series of hearings took place by the Senate Local Government Committee that looked into the fiscal crisis in which the state government had to take over the City of Harrisburg to prevent possible bankruptcy due to the $300 million in debt the city had incurred.  The problems arose from the then-mayor’s aggressive use of bond financing for pet projects and budgetary needs which were approved and executed by municipal authorities.  As a result of the hearings, it was found that multiple deficiencies in state law allowed this situation to occur. 

Recently, the State Senate passed a series of bills to help eliminate ambiguities in state law to avoid this type of discretion from happening elsewhere in the state:

Senate Bill 340 (SB 340) – The bill vests the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) with oversight of local government borrowings by instituting a 30-day preliminary review process followed by a second 20-day final review process.  DCED can require the local government to provide documentation of its current financial condition and its proposed borrowing.  The legislation could also limit the local government’s borrowing, eliminate the ability to charge a fee for issuing a guarantee and bar law firms or financial advisors which a member has been convicted from assisting a local government from any activity for 2 years.   

Senate Bill 341 (SB 341) – Currently, the State Ethics Commission does not have the jurisdiction to investigate alleged ethical violations by individuals involved in financial transactions by municipal authorities.  If ethic violations are found, they would be considered a violation to the state Public Official and Employees Ethics Act.  This legislation changes the jurisdiction to the Ethics Commission and would also prohibit proceeds from borrowing under the Local Government Unit Debt Act to be used for any purpose unrelated to the project for which the debt was incurred, nor placed in any account used by the local government for any unrelated purposes. 

Senate Bill 344 (SB 344) – The legislation would close a loophole by limiting the types of financial security required to be furnished to the contracting body by prime contractors prior to performing any work exceeding $10,000.  This would provide municipalities with a safeguard if the project fails.  

I applaud the Senate for passage of these bills that provides more transparency by broadening state oversight over municipal borrowing and requiring bonds to be secured.  Anything to prevent risky financial schemes by local governments is a step in the right direction. 

Early Voting

On Wednesday, Nov. 2, I will host and co-chair a Democratic Policy Committee hearing on the issue of early voting and other election reforms.  I have introduced Senate Bill 255 (SB 255), allowing early voting in Pennsylvania. This hearing will take place at the August Wilson Center in the Highmark Room at 10:00 a.m.  The August Wilson Center is located at 980 Liberty Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh. The hearing is open to the public and I encourage everyone to attend.

Did You Know…

Did you know in 2012, more than 32 million Americans participated in some type of early voting?

Dispose of Unused Medications in Brookline

prescription drugsAllegheny County Sheriff William Mullen recently implemented an initiative to help residents safely eliminate unused and expired narcotic medications.  Project D.U.M.P. (Disposal of Unused Medications Properly), allows citizens to contact a Sheriff’s Office Evidence Custodian who will report to their residence and take possession of any unwanted medications.  The Sheriff’s Office established this program to help curtail opioid and heroin related overdoses and overdose deaths in Allegheny County.

I’m pleased that Sheriff Mullen is taking Project D.U.M.P. on the road and his office will be collecting unwanted and/or unused medications in my Brookline office on Tuesday, Nov. 22 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.  My Brookline office is located at 932 Brookline Boulevard.

The Sheriff’s Office continues to stress that drug take-back programs are among the safest options for disposing of unused prescription narcotics, and that medications such as Vicodin, Percocet, and Oxycontin should not be thrown in the trash, flushed down the toilet, or left around the house for others to access.

If you have any medications you want to dispose of, I encourage you to visit my office on Nov. 22.  Anyone with questions on Project D.U.M.P. can contact Deputy Joe Cirigliano at 412-459-5000.

State Parole Agent Testing Period Open

State Parole AgentsThe Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole recently announced that the State Civil Service Commission (SCSC) has opened the testing period for individuals seeking to become state parole agents.  The SCSC is offering the parole agent 1 civil service exam to all interested applicants through Nov. 30.

Applications are available on the State Civil Service Commission’s website at www.scsc.pa.gov.  Anyone interested can also contact the Board of Probation and Parole Bureau of Human Resources by phone at 717-787-5699, ext. 1322 or email at ra-pbpprec@pa.gov.

To be eligible to apply as a parole agent applicants must:

  • Have civil service status based on prior commonwealth employment or competitive civil service testing.
  • Be a Pennsylvania resident at the time of application and possess a valid Pennsylvania driver’s license.
  • Be a United States citizen at the time of initial application.
  • Meet the minimum education and experience requirements of four years of paraprofessional experience which includes two years of paraprofessional social services, human services, corrections, or law enforcement experience OR two years of paraprofessional social services, human services, corrections, or law enforcement experience, and an associate’s degree OR a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, law enforcement, legal studies, political science, behavioral science, or a related field OR an equivalent combination of experience and training.

The selected applicant must be free of criminal history that would preclude a Commonwealth Law Enforcement Assistance Network (CLEAN) certification.  Individuals convicted, or under indictment, for any felony; for any misdemeanor where more than one year in prison can be imposed, or any computer crime are precluded from CLEAN certification.  Individuals selected as a result of the examination process must successfully pass an extensive ten-year background investigation, fingerprinting requirement, drug screening, medical examination and psychological evaluation before appointment as a parole agent.  Individuals must complete the intense eight-week Basic Training Academy in Elizabethtown, PA.  The starting salary for new agents is over $40,000 annually.
More information on how to apply can be found by visiting www.pbpp.pa.gov and clicking on the Apply for Jobs tab on the right side of the homepage.

Volunteer Fire Company/Ambulance Grants – DEADLINE FRIDAY

fire osfc I want to remind volunteer fire companies and ambulance services that the Pennsylvania Office of the State Fire Commissioner (OSFC) is accepting online grant applications for the 2016-17 Fire Company, Emergency Medical Service Grant Program (FCEMSGP).  The application period is open through this Friday at 4 p.m.  No applications will be accepted after this Friday.

All fire companies, emergency medical services and volunteer rescue squads are eligible to apply for grant funding.  Eligible projects include:  construction and/or renovation of the fire company’s or ambulance service’s facility; purchase or repair of fixtures and furnishings necessary to maintain or improve the capability of the company to provide fire, ambulance and rescue services; purchase or repair of firefighting, ambulance or rescue equipment; debt reduction associated with the facility or equipment; training and certification of members; or training and education materials regarding fire prevention for the general public.

Grant applications are available online by clicking here or by visiting www.osfc.pa.gov.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast CancerOctober is Breast Cancer Awareness Month all across the country and I want women to be aware of the resources offered by the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition (PBCC).  The PBCC was formed in 1993 by a dedicated, active, and effective group of breast cancer survivors who had one common mission – to find a cure for breast cancer.  The organization has a network across Pennsylvania that exists to provide help and support to women diagnosed with breast cancer and their families.

In addition to legislative advocacy and educational programming, the PBCC helps direct low and moderate income women who are uninsured to get free treatment through the Pennsylvania Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Program.  The PBCC also offers support groups, raises needed funds for research, and much more.  You can visit them online at www.pabreastcancer.org to learn more about the organization and the many ways they can help.  If you are in need of treatment, I also encourage you to call the Pennsylvania Department of Health's Healthy Woman Program at 1-800-215-7494.

Halloween Schedules

treak or treatWhile the official date of Halloween is October 31, some communities celebrate the holiday at different times with trick-or-treat schedules varying by neighborhood and various parades and other celebrations taking place in the days leading up to the official holiday.  Please be mindful of this if you are driving through neighborhoods where children are out trick-or-treating and watch your speed.

The following is a listing of trick-or-treating schedules and other Halloween events taking place throughout the 42nd Senatorial District.  The City of Pittsburgh will be holding official trick-or-treat hours on October 31 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.  Various neighborhoods throughout the city will be holding parades and other events.  For more information about city neighborhood events please call 412-255-8977 or click here.

 

Avalon Borough
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.
Parade – Oct. 29, 10 a.m.

Baldwin Township
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.
Parade – Oct. 29, 1 p.m.

Bellevue Borough
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.
Parade – Oct. 29, 10 a.m.

Ben Avon Borough
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.
Parade – Oct. 29, Noon

Carnegie Borough
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.
Promenade – Oct. 29

Castle Shannon Borough
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.
Parade – Oct. 23, 2 p.m.

Coraopolis Borough
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 27, 6 – 8 p.m.

Crafton Borough
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.

Dormont Borough
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.
Fall Festival – Oct. 29, noon – 4 p.m.

Green Tree Borough
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.
Parade – Oct. 30, 1 p.m.

Heidelberg Borough
Trick-or-treat – TBA

Ingram Borough
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 29, 2 – 4 p.m.
Parade – Oct. 29, 1:30 p.m.

Kennedy Township
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.

McKees Rocks Borough
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.

Neville Township
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 27, 6 – 8 p.m.

Reserve Township
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Scott Township
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.
Costume Parade – Oct. 23, noon, Orchard Spring
Costume Parade – Oct. 29, 2:30 p.m., Raven

Sharpsburg Borough
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.

Stowe Township
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.

Hell on Hills

Hells on HillsCongratulations to the organizers of Hell on Hills, which took place this past Saturday in Beechview.  Hell on Hills was billed as the steepest 5K race in the world, featuring four of the biggest hills in Pittsburgh, including Canton Avenue, the steepest public street in the United States.  More than 250 runners registered for and participated in the first annual event.  In addition to the tremendous challenge race organizers put together for runners, Hell on Hills brought positive attention to Beechview with many of the participants coming from both near and far, including from out of state.  Congratulations to race organizers Bethany Ruhe, Melissa Harmon, Missy Sorg, and Casey Smith and thanks to all the volunteers who assisted them and all the members of the community who embraced this event.  Best of luck with the planning of the 2nd annual Hell on Hills next year!

Trunk or Treat

The Salvation Army The Salvation Army The Salvation Army - Pittsburgh Temple, located at 1060 McNeilly Road, is hosting their inaugural Trunk or Treat event on Friday, Oct. 28.  The free event runs from 7 – 8:30 p.m. and seeks to make the community aware of its presence and the several programs available for children, teens, and adults.  Kids are welcome to dress up in their Halloween costumes and enjoy candy, food, games and more.  For more information on the event or if you’re a business interested in participating please contact Tony at 412-207-2127, ext. 104.

Fontana Fact

Last Tuesday, Oct. 11 was the final day to register to vote for the General Election in Pennsylvania, and with it came a surge of registrants applying online. 87,746 individuals registered on the state’s newly-enacted online voter registration website on Tuesday, the highest daily total recorded since the launch of online voter registration in August 2015.  The day before, Monday, Oct. 10, was the second highest daily total with 77,440 users registering to vote. 

Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Phone: 412-344-2551
Fax: 412-344-3400
Weekdays – 9 am – 5 pm
Harrisburg
543 Main Capitol
Box 203042
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Phone: 717-787-5300
Fax: 717-772-5484
Weekdays – 8:30 am – 5 pm
Kennedy Township
Kenmawr Plaza
524 Pine Hollow Road
Kennedy Twp, PA 15136
Phone: 412-331-1208
Fax: 412-331-2079
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
Phone: 412-343-2080
Fax: 412-343-2418
Tuesdays – 10 am – 4 pm
Northside (Mobile Office)
Carnegie Library
Allegheny Branch
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Wednesdays – 10 am – 4 pm
Lawrenceville (Mobile Office)
Carnegie Library
279 Fisk Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Thursdays - 11 am - 4 pm
Hells on Hills