New Rear-Facing Car Seat Mandate
On Friday, a new law went into effect that requires children under the age of two to ride rear-facing in a secured car seat. However, there is a provision in the law to exempt those who have outgrown the manufacturers’ height or weight requirements. Pennsylvania now becomes the fourth state to enact a rear-facing seat law joining New Jersey, Oklahoma and California.
Before passage of Act 43, Pennsylvania law was pretty vague in child safety seat requirements. Children under the age of four had to be restrained in an approved child passenger restraint system, but did not specify which direction. Children between four and eight years old will still need to be in a booster seat.
The new law was a recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Research has shown that rear-facing is safer when there’s a collision or crash. In fact, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA), children between the ages of 12 and 24 months are five times less likely to die or be seriously injured in a crash if they ride in a rear-facing car seat. This is because rear-facing safety seats support the head, neck and spine better and are designed to distribute the crash force across the shell of the car seat. Experts also suggest that the two-year mark may still not be enough for many children if they are petite or slim for their age. A parent should consider waiting to switch to front-facing even longer.
For the first year, officers will only be handing out verbal warnings. After that, each violation of Act 43 will carry a penalty of $75, plus costs and fees, raising the total to $125. However, the law would be enforced as a secondary offense, meaning drivers would be cited for a car-seat violation only if pulled over for other reasons.
12th Annual FontanaFest
I want to remind everyone that the 12th Annual FontanaFest is scheduled for Saturday, September 24 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Highmark Stadium, home of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
Once again, parking will be free in the stadium’s West Lot, compliments of Forest City!
The annual community event is perfect for families and children, promoting healthy and active lifestyles by providing many fun activities and crafts. Children will have the chance to play on several inflatables, an obstacle course, and a climbing wall and visit with a face painter and balloon maker. All attendees also are provided with the opportunity to engage with several organizations from around the region, participating in crafts and games, while also receiving important information on available services and programs, nutrition, health care, jobs and jobs training. I’m also thrilled that once again this year, students from Pittsburgh Musical Theatre will join us to perform at 11:15 a.m.!
Stay tuned for updates on the schedule of events, participants, and more.
Flu/Pneumonia Shot & Senior Clinic
I will be hosting my annual Flu/Pneumonia Shot & Senior Clinic on Friday, September 30 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. in Quinn Hall at the Church of the Resurrection in Brookline. American HealthCare Group will be providing free vaccinations to any senior with the Medicare Part B health insurance card. Make sure to bring your card with you.
I am also pleased that several organizations from around the region will be present to provide seniors with important information on available services and resources. Organizations scheduled to participate thus far include: AARP; Allegheny County Bar Association; Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh; Duquesne University Mylan School of Pharmacy; Office of the Consumer Advocate; Public Utility Commission and the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office. I will continue to update you with additional information on this year’s Flu/Pneumonia Shot & Senior Clinic throughout the summer.
School Bus Safety
As another start to the school year is quickly approaching, I want to encourage parents and students to visit www.justdrivepa.org to view tips offered by the PA Department of Transportation (PennDOT) for kids to stay safe while riding the bus. I also would like to remind motorists of the state’s School Bus Stopping Law and that anyone convicted of violating the School Bus Stopping Law can face penalties including a $250 fine, five points on your driving record, and a 60-day license suspension. Below are important items to remember when driving. If you are driving in areas with a high concentration of students waiting for the bus, please slow down and be careful.
- Motorists must stop when meeting a school bus with red signal lights flashing and stop arm extended.
- Motorists must stop at least 10 feet away from school buses.
- Motorists must wait until the red lights have stopped flashing and the stop arm has been withdrawn before moving.
- Do not proceed until all children have reached a place of safety.
- Motorists approaching an intersection where a school bus is stopped with red signal lights flashing and stop arm extended must stop whether on the same street or the cross street.
- Motorists do not have to stop on a highway with clearly defined dividing sections or physical barriers providing separate roadways. This only applies when the school bus is on the opposite side of the road.
Did You Know…
Did you know that 1.5 million children are transported on Pennsylvania roads each day and that these children are transported more than 346 million miles to school each year?
Back To School Immunizations
The PA Department of Health is holding immunization clinics across the commonwealth from August 1 to September 2 to provide vaccines at little or no cost for children through 18 years of age who are Medicaid eligible, uninsured, underinsured, or American Indian or Alaska Native.
The cost is $5 per child for families above income guidelines. No child will be turned away because of an inability to pay.
The Allegheny County Health Department will be performing these immunizations here locally. They are located at 3441 Forbes Avenue in the Oakland neighborhood in the City of Pittsburgh. Immunizations are available from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and from 1 – 8 p.m. on Wednesdays. For more information please call 412-578-8062.
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 nearly 400 photos of Pennsylvanians who sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War as part of the Wall of Faces program.
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.
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, nearly 400 photos are still needed.
Reminder - Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program
I want to remind everyone that the deadline to file for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue 2015 Property Tax/Rent Rebate program was extended through December 31. Applications are available at www.revenue.pa.gov or at 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 maximum yearly income of $35,000 and renters with a maximum yearly income of $15,000 are eligible for a rebate. Keep in mind half of Social Security income is excluded. Some applicants who previously received rebates may continue to qualify despite Social Security cost-of-living adjustments that may have pushed their income past eligibility limits.
If you have already filed an application, have not received your rebate yet and wish to check on its status, please click here or visit www.revenue.pa.gov and click on the tab “Where’s My Property Tax/Rent Rebate?” on the home page.
Welcoming Week at Dormont Library
The Dormont Public Library is participating in the nationwide Welcoming Week again this year, Sept. 16 – 25. Welcoming Week was created by the Welcoming America network to bring together immigrants and visitors from other countries and those born in the United States. It encourages greater unity and acceptance of individuals from different backgrounds through programs which emphasize our similarities and the benefits of welcoming others to the United States, rather than focusing on our differences.
Dormont Library has several events scheduled during Welcoming Week including: a Melting Pot Bake Sale; interactive class to strengthen English skills; basic Spanish; global film series, an International Covered Dish Dinner on Sept. 21; and much more. For more information on Welcoming Week, the schedule of events, and how to register, please visit www.dormontlibrary.org. You may also register by stopping in the Library, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling 412-531-8754.
Beechview Junior Chess Club
All Beechview children between the ages of 8 – 16 are welcome to participate in the new Beechview Junior Chess Club. The new club meets weekly, every Tuesday from 4 – 5 p.m., at the Brew on Broadway, located at 1557 Broadway Avenue. The Beechview Junior Chess Club is being led by Pittsburgh Police Officer Tiffany Costa. Similar clubs have taken place in Hazelwood and Sheraden neighborhoods. Anyone with an interest in chess, no matter whether a beginner or advanced, is welcome to play.
Reading over the summer can make a difference during the school year. Young people who do not read over the summer break fall behind their classmates. Research shows that summer learning loss adds up, especially for low-income students. According to the U.S. Department of Education, by 8th grade, that lost learning time accounts for two thirds of the achievement gap between low-income children and their more affluent peers.
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