Today is Election Day!
All Senate offices are closed today for Election Day. Polls across Pennsylvania are open today from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. If you have any questions related to voting, I encourage you to visit www.votespa.com. You may also reach the Allegheny County Elections Division by phone at 412-350-4500.
Polling Place Locator
If you are a newly-registered voter, have recently moved or have not voted in a while, and are unsure where your polling place is located, you can visit the Polling Place Locator Page at www.county.allegheny.pa.us/elect/index.aspx. You will be asked to enter your municipality, house number and street name. Once that information is entered, the site will inform you of your polling place and provide the address. You will also be provided an opportunity to enter your name and birth date to determine if you are a registered voter and will also be able to view the ballot you will be presented with at your polling place. If you are unable to find your polling place on this site, or if any of your information is listed incorrectly on the site, please contact the Elections Division office at 412-350-4500.
How to Register Election Day Complaints
Any registered voter who wishes to file a complaint about alleged election law violations can do so by visiting www.votespa.com and clicking on the “Election Complaints” tab. The voter will be asked to enter their first and last name, address, county of residence, and date of birth to ensure they are a registered voter. Once submitted, these complaint forms will be directed to the county election board for the county in which the voter making the complaint resides. Written statements of complaint are available at all polling places and the Allegheny County Board of Elections. You may also call 1-877-VOTES-PA (1-877-868-3772) to obtain a complaint statement.
All Senate offices will be closed this Friday, Nov. 11 in observance of Veterans Day. My offices will re-open on Monday, Nov. 14 as scheduled.
New Veteran-Friendly Laws
In remembrance of those who have served in the military and to recognize those who are currently serving for our country, I want to highlight some of the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s pro-veteran measures that have been signed into law recently that I was proud to support:
- Act 82 – This act aligns state law with federal law and will eliminate confusion when a veteran applies for state benefits. The law adds a section that provides for the character of discharge of an individual from military service that is used for determination of benefit eligibility under certain programs. Specifically, recipients of a discharge under conditions other than dishonorable include: an honorable discharge, a general discharge under honorable conditions or a discharge other than honorable conditions for which the recipient has been determined to be eligible for benefits by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA).
- Act 109 – The Veterans Trust Fund was established in 2012 to provide grants to statewide charitable organizations that assist veterans under the “Veterans Emergency Assistance Program.” This new law made several changes including to the name which will now be the “Veterans Temporary Assistance Program.” The law also ensures uniformity with the administration of grants, clarifies that any statewide charitable organizations with the primary mission that services veterans are eligible for grants, and designates that the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) administers the funding.
- Act 110 – Currently, the Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel Death Benefit Act covers those firefighters, first responders, and National Guard members who perish in the line of duty. Under Act 110, the $100,000 death benefit will be extended to members of the Pennsylvania Civil Air Patrol. According to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, the Pennsylvania Civil Air Patrol has about 1,900 members, which include senior members and cadets, across the commonwealth who assist State agencies with aerial search and rescue missions, disaster recovery and aerial photographic intelligence missions.
- Act 135 – The new law will grant an exemption for a newly opening veteran-owned or reservist-owned business from the payment of a business fee. A business fee is a payment required to be given to Pennsylvania or a political subdivision of the state for starting or opening a business.
- Act 143 – This law would require the Pennsylvania Department of Education expedite the process for permanent teaching certificates of active members of the military, veterans and their spouses within 14 days of receiving their applications. The act also reduces the certification fee to no more than $10 and for the professional educator discipline fee to no more than $25 for these individuals.
- House Bill 192 (HB 192) – This act requires the Civil Service Commission to advertise that veterans’ preference is provided to veterans and the spouses of deceased or disabled veterans on all civil service exams. The new law also disqualifies certain individuals from serving on the Civil Service Commission as well as provides for a uniform job application method for commonwealth positions. The legislation is awaiting the governor’s signature.
Faces Never Forgotten
The Pennsylvania Department of Military & Veterans Affairs (DMVA), in partnership with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF), is still hoping to locate photos of Pennsylvanians who sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War as part of the Wall of Faces program.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund wants to collect photos for each of the 58,307 men and women whose names are inscribed on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., so that they can keep the legacies of these service members alive for future generations. Since the photo campaign was launched in 2009, the VVMF has located photos for more than 41,000 of the names inscribed on the Memorial. Of the 3,148 service members from Pennsylvania whose names are on the Vietnam Memorial, over 250 photos are still needed, 63 from Allegheny County Veterans.
For a complete listing of Pennsylvania service members whose photos are still needed please visit www.dmva.state.pa.us and click on the “Wall of Faces” tab. For information on how to submit a photo please visit http://www.vvmf.org/faces-never-forgotten.
Dispose of Unused Medications in Brookline
Allegheny 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.
Senior Community Center Grant Program
The Pennsylvania Department of Aging has $2 million of grant funding available for Pennsylvania’s Senior Community Centers. The Senior Community Center grant program provides funding for initiatives/projects that enhance and increase participation and programming in Pennsylvania’ Senior Centers. Its purpose is also to attract a new generation of older adults and to enable Senior Centers to provide a safe and healthy environment for participants. Maximum funding awards are $150,000 and minimum awards are $5,000.
Applications can be found by clicking here or by visiting www.aging.pa.gov and are due no later than Dec. 12 at 5 p.m. Questions related to the application process may be submitted to SCCgrants@pa.gov by 5 p.m. on Nov. 18. Questions will be collected, answered, and posted on the Department of Aging’s website as a “Frequently Asked Questions” document. For more information, please visit www.aging.pa.gov.
Medicare Open Enrollment
The Pennsylvania Department of Aging is reminding all Medicare beneficiaries that the annual Medicare open enrollment period began on October 15 and runs through December 7. Any new coverage selected takes effect beginning January 1, 2017.
During open enrollment, new Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for Medicare Prescription Drug coverage and health plans to compliment Medicare for the first time, and current Medicare beneficiaries can review and make changes to their current coverage so that it better meets their needs.
In order to help Medicare beneficiaries navigate through their options, Pennsylvania offers a free, objective health benefits counseling program called APPRISE, which is designed to counsel and empower Medicare-eligible individuals, their families, and caregivers to make informed healthcare benefit decisions. With over 700 trained APPRISE volunteers in Pennsylvania, the APPRISE program provides easy-to-understand information about Medicare Supplemental Insurance, Medicare Advantage Plan, and prescription drug plans in order for Medicare beneficiaries to compare plans and determine which plan best meets their needs. Additionally, APRRISE holds a series of Open Enrollment events around Pennsylvania.
To learn more about the program or to find an Open Enrollment event, please call 1-800-783-7067 or visit www.aging.pa.gov/insurance.
Did You Know…
Did you know that in 2015 approximately 295,000 of the commonwealth’s 2.5 million Medicare beneficiaries were advised by APPRISE volunteers?
LIHEAP is Open
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is now 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:
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.
McKees Rocks – Jingle Bell Rocks
The McKees Rocks Event Committee is celebrating the start of the holiday season in downtown McKees Rocks with the 2nd annual Jingle Bell Rocks. The event is scheduled for next Wednesday, Nov. 16, from 6 – 9 p.m. and will take place at the Roxian Commons at 507 Chartiers Avenue. Attendees can enjoy live music, horse and carriage rides, food trucks, and the chance to meet Santa! This event is a great opportunity to visit with neighbors and see first-hand the great progress being made in rebuilding the McKees Rocks business district.
It was on this day in 1960 that John F. Kennedy, then a United States Senator from Massachusetts, was elected the 35th President of the United States. At the age of 43, Kennedy was the youngest person ever elected president in the country’s history.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana
| Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Weekdays – 9 am – 5 pm
543 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Weekdays – 8:30 am – 5 pm
524 Pine Hollow Road
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
| Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
Tuesdays – 10 am – 4 pm
|Northside (Mobile Office)
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Wednesdays – 10 am – 4 pm
|Lawrenceville (Mobile Office)
279 Fisk Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Thursdays - 11 am - 4 pm