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Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Three Local Projects Receive Funding

Last week, I was pleased to announce that three projects in the 42nd Senatorial District are receiving state grant funding.  These funds will be used for land development, revitalization and as economic generators in our region.

The state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) projects approved in the 42nd District are:

  • $1.5 million to Oxford Development for a new Riverfront Office Complex at Three Crossings, a mixed-use development located between 25th and 27th Streets along the Allegheny River in the Strip District.  The office complex will consist of two four-story, 125,000 square-feet buildings.
  • $1 million to the Ferchill Group for the Heinz Lofts II development project.  The development is expected to help transform a vacant 1930’s historic building on the Northside in the Troy Hill neighborhood into energy efficient, cutting-edge market-rate housing.  While maintaining the historic features of the building, the renovation will create 173 new apartments, including micro-units.
  • $2 million to the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County for the 78-acre Sports & Athletics Complex at Montour Junction in Coraopolis.  The project will include site preparation, construction of three synthetic turf fields with lighting, a parking lot and fencing.  Smaller portions of the site are located in neighboring Moon and Robinson Townships.

The state’s RACP program is used for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvement projects.  Qualifying projects have a regional or multi-jurisdictional impact, help create or maintain jobs and generate economic activity.  I was happy to support these projects in the Strip District, Troy Hill and Coraopolis and look forward to continue seeking state support for projects in the district that advance economic expansion.

Five New Laws to Prevent Opioid Addiction

In October, I wrote about how Governor Wolf held a joint session of the General Assembly to address the epidemic of overdose deaths from prescription painkillers.  At that time, he expressed the need for new laws and initiatives to prevent the steady rise in addiction based on the magnitude the commonwealth is currently experiencing.  I was very pleased by the swift and bipartisan legislative movement on many of these bills before the end of the 2015-16 session.

In early November, a press conference was held to sign these five opioid abuse bills into law: 

  • Act 122 – The Safe Emergency Prescribing Act states that a health care practitioner may not prescribe any more than a seven-day supply of an opioid drug to an individual seeking treatment in an emergency department or urgent care center unless in their professional medical judgement the individual has an acute medical condition that requires it or if the patient has pain associated with cancer.  The new law also states that a health care practitioner shall refer an individual for treatment if the patient is believed to be at risk for substance abuse while seeking treatment at the ER or urgent care.  A heath care practitioner who complies with the provisions of this act are presumed to be acting in good faith and has immunity from civil liability.   

  • Act 123 – The law allows for the safe and complete destruction of unused prescription drugs and over-the-counter pharmaceutical waste generated by a household. Law enforcement stations, medical facilities like hospitals and nursing homes and licensed pharmacies are permitted to become drop-off-sites for expired and unneeded prescription drugs or over-the-counter pharmaceutical products. 

  • Act 124 – The act would strengthen the Monitoring All Prescriptions Program by requiring all who are licensed as dispensers or prescribers under the Department of State’s jurisdiction to complete two hours of continuing education in pain management or in the prescribing practices of opioids as a condition for license renewal.

  • Act 125 - Beginning August 1, 2017, this law requires state and medical schools to develop curriculum on safe opioid prescriptions and pain management.  The act also allows a patient to issue written instructions requesting that they not have a controlled substance containing an opioid.

  • Act 126 – Under this law, a doctor can only prescribe to a minor a seven-day supply of a controlled substance containing an opioid unless there is a medical emergency that puts the minor’s health or safety at risk.  The act does include exceptions to the seven-day supply like management of pain associated with cancer, use in palliative or hospice care or management of chronic pain.  A prescriber must also discuss with the minor and the minor’s parent the risks of addiction, overdose associated with an opioid, and the increased risks of addiction for individuals suffering from mental or substance abuse disorders.  A minor’s parent will provide written consent for the prescription.

Although passage of these five new laws are promising, Governor Wolf has expressed that Pennsylvania has a long way to go in responding to the opioid crisis.  Specifically, during the upcoming new legislative session, he would like to see more funding for treatment for addicts, require insurers to cover abuse resistant painkillers, and give doctors additional resources and tools to enable them to collaborate with their patients to control pain in a way that doesn’t come with such a high risk of addiction. 

Did You Know…

Did you know that since 1999, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids, including prescription opioid pain relievers and heroin, have nearly quadrupled?

Senator Fontana is joined by Allegheny County Sheriff William Mullen and Deputy Joe Cirigliano on Nov. 22 at his Brookline office promoting the Sheriff’s Project D.U.M.P. initiative.

Senator Fontana is joined by Allegheny County Sheriff William Mullen and Deputy Joe Cirigliano on Nov. 22 at his Brookline office promoting the Sheriff’s Project D.U.M.P. initiative.

Project D.U.M.P.

I want to thank Allegheny County Sheriff William Mullen and Deputy Joe Cirigliano for bringing Project D.U.M.P. to my Brookline office last Tuesday.  Many constituents stopped by the office and delivered over 20 pounds of unused or unwanted medications that Deputy Cirigliano was able to collect and dispose of.   

Earlier this year, Sheriff Mullen 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.

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 contact Deputy Cirigliano at 412-459-5000 and make arrangements to have the medication properly disposed of through Project D.U.M.P.  To read more about the program, please visit www.sheriffalleghenycounty.com.

Heroin & Opiate Awareness Events

addictionHeroin and opioid-related overdoses are the leading causes of accidental deaths, killing more Pennsylvanians than traffic accidents.  Right here in Allegheny County there were 422 accidental overdoses in 2015 alone.  This epidemic crosses all social, geographic and political lines, killing seven Pennsylvanians each day.

I am joining Representative Dan Deasy in hosting two Community Awareness Town Hall meetings to discuss ways to combat this epidemic.  Presentations will be made by a panel of experts and will be followed by a question-and-answer session.  Expert panelists will include representatives from:  Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office; Allegheny County District Attorney’s office; Allegheny County Sheriff’s office; Gateway Rehabilitation; local District Magistrates; local law enforcement; Allegheny County Department of Human Services; and more.

Attendees can also bring unwanted or unused prescription medication to either event and the medication will be collected and safely disposed of by the Allegheny County Sheriff’s office as part of their Project D.U.M.P. initiative.

These community awareness events are scheduled for the following dates:

Monday, Dec. 5, 6 p.m.  
Crafton Elementary
1874 Crafton Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA 15205
Wednesday, Dec. 14, 6 p.m.
St. Catherine of Siena Church, Beechview
1810 Belasco Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216

Clean Diesel Grants

DEP Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is accepting applications for the Pennsylvania State Clean Diesel Grant Program.  School districts, municipal authorities, political subdivisions, state agencies, non-profits, corporations, and limited liability companies or partnerships incorporated or registered in Pennsylvania that operate diesel fleets are eligible to apply. This program is funded through an annual allocation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s State Clean Diesel Program.

The Clean Diesel Grant Program’s goal is to improve air quality by decreasing emissions from diesel-powered motor vehicles.  The program supports projects that re-power or retrofit fleet vehicles to curb emissions, purchase and install idle-reduction technology, or purchase clean alternative-fuel fleet vehicles.

DEP will be holding an informational webinar tomorrow to provide general information about the program and to answer any questions from attendees relating to the program, including questions about the application form and instructions.  To register for the webinar please visit  http://www.dep.pa.gov/DataandTools/Webinars/Pages/default.aspx.

All applications must be postmarked on or before Dec. 28, 2016.  Faxes and electronic copies will not be accepted.  To apply for a grant or to learn more about the program, please visit www.dep.pa.gov/Business/Air/BAQ under the heading “Grant Availability.”

LIHEAP is Open

LIHEAP LIHEAP I want to remind everyone that the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is accepting applications for this season’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  The program helps low income families pay their heating bills.  You can apply and check the status of your application on the state’s COMPASS website.  You can also pick up an application in my district offices or download one yourself from the DHS LIHEAP website.  Completed paper applications should be returned to the Allegheny County Assistance Office, 5947 Penn Avenue, 4th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA, 15206.

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

Household Size Income Limit
1 $17,820
2 $24,030
3 $30,240
4 $36,450
5 $42,660
6 $48,870
7 $55,095
8 $61,335
9 $67,575
10 $73,815

After your application is received 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 will be credited to your heating account.  Crisis grants may also be available if you have an emergency situation and are in jeopardy of losing your heat.  For more information, please contact the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095.

Table Games Revenue Rises

table gamesThe Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced recently that gross revenue from table games play at Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos during October was up 5.35 percent over revenue generated during October 2015.  Revenue generated from table games in October was more than $71 million compared to the $67.5 million generated in October 2015.  Total tax revenue from table games in October was over $11.5 million.

The increase in table games revenue during October combined with October slots revenue resulted in an overall gaming revenue decrease for the month of less than 1 percent.

Table games in Pennsylvania are taxed at 16 percent with the majority of that revenue directed into the state’s General Fund and the remaining funds directed to local governments.  Slot machines are taxed at 55 percent in Pennsylvania and 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.

The state’s gaming industry employs over 17,000 people and generates more than $1.4 billion annually in tax revenue from both table games and slot machines.  For more information on gaming in Pennsylvania and to read reports from the Gaming Control Board, please visit www.gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov

Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour

Allegheny WestThe Allegheny West Civic Council is hosting the 35th annual Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour on Friday, Dec. 9 and Saturday, Dec. 10.  This popular guided tour features lovingly restored Victorian homes plus the historic Calvary United Methodist Church, famous for its beautiful Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass windows.  Also, housed in Holmes Hall, guests can visit one of the world’s largest toy train museums – a private collection of hundreds of colorful train sets from the early 20th century – many rolling through enchanting miniature villages.

These guided tours afford a rare opportunity to glimpse a by-gone era and experience the warmth of the season in a truly “old fashioned” style.  Most homes in Allegheny West are over 100 years old and Victorian in architectural style.  Lavishly decorated for the holidays, they recall the late 19th century birth of the traditional American Christmas, elaborately decorated mantels, towering Christmas trees and pine, holly and mistletoe on stairs and chandeliers.

All tours will originate from Calvary United Methodist Church, located on the corner of Allegheny and Beech Avenues in the Allegheny West Historic District.  Allegheny West is located just west of the Aviary and West Park and north of the stadiums on the North Shore.  Free parking is available throughout the neighborhood and in select CCAC parking lots.

Tours will be scheduled at 12-minute intervals between 5 – 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9 and 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10.  Reservations are required.  For more information on the Tour please visit http://alleghenywest.org/tour/old-allegheny-victorian-christmas-house-tour/.  To purchase tickets please call 1-888-718-4253 or visit https://www.showclix.com/event/OldAllegheny2016.

Dormont Library

Dormont LibraryThe Dormont Public Library is hosting its second annual Holiday House Tour on Sunday, Dec. 4 from 3 – 7 p.m.  The Holiday House Tour is a festive tour celebrating the distinctive mixture of classical and contemporary highlighted in participating homes and businesses.  This year’s tour will focus on the various transformations and traditions that capture the spirit of the holidays and bring each structure to life.  In addition to a wide array of unique decorations, selected stops on the tour will also be accompanied by a variety of baked goods and festive music for guests to enjoy.

Tickets for the House Tour are available at the library and at http://dormontlibrary.org/.  Tickets will also be available for purchase on the day of the House Tour from 2 – 5 p.m. at the library.  Proceeds from this event benefit the Dormont Public Library.  For more information, please call the library at 412-531-8754 or email them at dormontprogramming@einetwork.net.

Light up NightFontana Fact

“Energy Flow,” the 27,000 LED lights that debuted recently at Pittsburgh’s annual Light Up Night on the Rachel Carson Bridge, is being powered by 16 wind turbines.  “Energy Flow” is a collaboration between environmental artist Andrea Polli and Ron Gdovic of WindStax, a Pittsburgh-based wind turbine manufacturer.  You can read more about this unique project by clicking here.

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
Tuesdays – 10 am – 4 pm
Northside (Mobile Office)
Carnegie Library
Allegheny Branch
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Wednesdays – 10 am – 4 pm
Light Up Night Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour