Senator Fontana stood with nurses from around Pennsylvania at a Capitol rally on May 9
and spoke about his Senate Bill 336.
Legislation to Improve the Staffing Levels of Nurses
On May 9, I joined nurses from the Nurse Alliance of SEIU-PA, the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, and JNESO (professional health care workers labor union) at a Capitol rally. The nursing professionals were here to support my Senate Bill 336 (SB 336) that aims to improve staffing levels and the delivery of care in Pennsylvania hospitals. My legislation would also assist residents with making educated healthcare choices and enable nurses to make more informed employment decisions.
Specifically, SB 336 would require hospitals to compile and maintain daily reports in each patient care unit, including:
- Staffing levels for Registered Nurses (RN), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), Certified Nursing Assistants (CAN), and other unlicensed personnel responsible for direct patient care;
- The ratio of patients to RNs, LPNs, CNAs and unlicensed direct care personnel;
- RN, LPN and CAN turnover rates.
This legislation would mandate that unit staffing reports be posted publicly in patient care areas. The Pennsylvania Department of Health would compile and publish quarterly reports on staffing levels for each Pennsylvania hospital. In addition, whistle blower protections would be put in place to offer security for the hospital workforces who speak up about staffing quality of care issues in their facility.
Studies have shown that patient’s health is in danger when there are not enough nurses on a shift. In 2011, a large study by a team of researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles, Mayo Clinic and Vanderbilt University determined that a patient’s mortality risk rises as the number of below-target nursing shifts they are exposed to increase. Additionally, the study found that when nurses’ workloads increase during shifts because of high patient turnover, mortality risk also increases.
My legislation offers residents more transparency when it comes to their healthcare as well as puts into place a proactive approach that an individual will receive quality care. SB 336 currently resides in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
Did You Know…
Did you know the state of California mandates a minimum of one registered nurse to six patients in medical-surgical units?
Senator Fontana visited the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Allegheny branch on Saturday for a special event recognizing Pittsburgh Public School third-grade readers who have been participating in CLP’s BLAST Northside program. Students from Pittsburgh Allegheny, Pittsburgh King, Pittsburgh Manchester, Pittsburgh Morrow and Pittsburgh Spring Hill have been working hard to develop their reading and other skills for school success as part of this initiative.
Election Day Information
Today is Election Day! For any questions related to voting, I encourage everyone to visit www.votespa.com. The website offers information on voting rights, answers to frequently asked questions, and provides you with the ability to confirm your registration and much more.
Locate Your Polling Place
If you are not sure where to vote today, or wish to confirm your polling place, Allegheny County and the Pennsylvania Department of State offers a simple-to-use online Polling Place Locator. Click on the previous link to get started. Simply enter your county, municipality, house number and street name. Once you have entered that information, your polling place address will be displayed.
If you feel your information is inaccurate in any way, or have any further questions regarding your polling place or ballot, please call 412-350-4500.
Polling Place Changes
There are 16 polling place locations in Allegheny County that have changed since the November 2016 General Election. Voters in these districts have been notified of these changes by mail from the Allegheny County Elections Division. The following are locations in the 42nd Senatorial District that have changed:
||A Giving Heart, 816 Climax St.
||A Giving Heart, 816 Climax St.
|| New Life Fellowship Church, 725 Lorenz Avenue
||YMWAH Association, 1205 Boyle Street
| Stowe Township
|| Holy Trinity P.N. Church, 200 Grace Street
How to Register Election Day Complaints
Any registered voter who wishes to file a complaint about alleged election law violations can do so online 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 in the county in which the voter making the complaint resides.
In Allegheny County, written statements of complaint are available at all polling places and the County Board of Elections. You may also call 1-877-VOTES-PA (1-877-868-3772) to obtain a complaint statement or visit www.votespa.com.
PA ABLE Savings Account Program
Last week the Pennsylvania Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) Savings Program opened. This program provides tax-exempt accounts for individuals with qualified disabilities and their families.
PA ABLE was created through Act 17 of 2016, legislation I was proud to co-sponsor and support. It was modeled after the college 529 savings account programs. PA ABLE accounts allow eligible individuals with qualifying disabilities and their families to save for housing, education, transportation, medical, and other expenses without jeopardizing government benefits. The federal tax-free savings and investment options are offered to encourage individuals with a disability and their families to save private funds to support health, independence, and quality of life.
Under the PA ABLE Savings program, eligible individuals can:
- Save up to $14,000 each year.
- Grow accounts tax-free.
- Use account to pay for a wide range of disability-related expenses.
- Make federal and state income tax-free withdrawals when used for qualified disability expenses.
- Open accounts that are exempt from Pennsylvania inheritance tax.
For more information on PA ABLE, please visit www.paable.gov.
Tax Amnesty Program
I want to remind everyone again of the Pennsylvania Tax Amnesty program. This program was authorized by Act 84 of 2016. The PA Tax Amnesty program represents a limited opportunity for individuals and businesses to pay past-due taxes with all penalties and half of the interest waived. The program opened on April 21 and will close on June 19.
Individuals and businesses with unfiled or unpaid Pennsylvania taxes due as of the end of 2015 are generally eligible for the Tax Amnesty program. Delinquent taxpayers known to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue will receive a written notice by mail informing them of tax delinquencies and the availability of the PA Tax Amnesty program. Those who are eligible but do not take advantage of the Tax Amnesty program will receive a five percent penalty on amnesty eligible liabilities that remain unpaid after June 19.
While tax amnesty is an incentive for individuals who are delinquent on their taxes to pay immediately, they will still pay more than if they paid their taxes on time.
There are currently 862,598 taxpayers eligible for the program with more than 680,000 from Pennsylvania. There are nearly 60,000 delinquent taxpayers in Allegheny County.
Anyone interested in applying or learning more can call 1-844-PA-STATE-TAX (1-844-727-8283). You can also apply online at www.backtax.pa.gov and click on the “Apply Now” tab. Applications must be submitted by June 19.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program
I want to remind everyone that the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is accepting applications for the 2016 Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. If you filed a paper rebate last year, you should receive an application in the mail. Applications are also available at my district offices, online at www.revenue.pa.gov or by calling 1-888-222-9190. As always, my staff would be happy to assist you in preparing your application.
The Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters. Please 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 the eligibility limits.
Applications are due to the Department of Revenue by June 30. The program is funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery and revenue from slots gaming.
Northside Sandwich Week
The 6th annual Northside Sandwich Week is scheduled from May 18 – 28. The annual event celebrates the best sandwiches in restaurants and pubs. Look for the Sandwich Week banners to identify participating establishments.
Kicking off Northside Sandwich Week on May 18 is the Northside Sandwich Sampler where attendees can sample all the sandwiches beginning at 1 p.m. at Pittsburgh’s Grand Hall at the Priory, located at 614 Pressley Street. This year’s Sandwich Sampler will feature complimentary onion rings provided by the Priory Grand Hall Kitchen and a Beer Garden with beer from local breweries.
Also, taking place during Northside Sandwich Week is the 3rd annual Le Tour de Sandwich, a short bike ride through the Northside with stops at participating Sandwich Week locations.
For more information on Northside Sandwich Week events and to purchase tickets, please visit sandwichweek.pittsburghnorthside.com.
It was on this day in 1866 that the U.S. Congress authorized a new composition for the 5-cent coin — an alloy of 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel. At the time, the cost per coin was about 1 cent. The new coin was 5 grams in weight and the same size as today's 5-cent coins.
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
|Northside (Mobile Office)
Carnegie Library |
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212