Senator Fontana spoke at the annual Memorial Day ceremony in Beechview on Saturday, May 27
REAL ID Update
Senate Bill 133 (SB 133) was signed into law last Friday, which repeals Act 38 of 2012, the REAL ID Nonparticipation Act. Five years ago, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed Act 38 which prohibits the commonwealth from participating in a federal anti-terrorism program that sets standards for state driver’s licenses and identification cards. Our state opted out of the REAL ID requirements citing privacy, constitutional and financial concerns. However, more recently, failure to comply with the federal standards would mean Pennsylvania driver’s licenses and state-issued ID cards would not be considered a valid form of identification for the purposes of boarding a domestic flight or entering a federal building or a military base. In January, the commonwealth was granted an extension by the U.S. government to bring the state into compliance by June 6.
The General Assembly passed SB 133 creating a two-tiered system that gives residents the choice of whether they want the standard-issued driver’s license and photo card or the REAL ID compliant card. Pennsylvanians who do not obtain a REAL ID can still board a domestic flight or enter a federal building but would need to use their passport to do so. The measure also specifies that the cost of the REAL ID compliant license must be borne solely by those who want or need it. Early estimates suggest the REAL ID card will cost around $67 million in the first two years and around 8.9 million licensed drivers will need the enhanced form.
State officials hope that the U.S. government will delay enforcement of a REAL ID requirement for Pennsylvanians until October 2020 when compliant licenses will be needed to enter certain facilities. Until then, existing driver’s licenses will be accepted. Pennsylvania licenses already match most of the federal requirements, such as digital photos, issuance and expiration dates and a unique identification number. However, the commonwealth falls out of compliance on a handful of REAL ID mandates like not having a special federally approved symbol that is supposed to make tampering and forgery more difficult.
PennDOT will begin working on the new REAL IDs immediately and hope to have the compliant cards available by March 2019. If you have additional questions about the new law, please contact my office so we can provide further assistance. You may also click here to get more information about REAL ID.
Beware: Unclaimed Property Scams
The Pennsylvania Treasury Department and State Treasurer Joe Torsella, are warning Pennsylvanians of a surge in unclaimed property scams targeting victims through fake letters and emails in which scammers portray themselves as National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) or state Treasury representatives. The phony correspondence in many instances has been found to utilize NAUPA letterhead, where it claims the state is holding on to your unclaimed property, which may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Scammers then request personal information along with the need to collect a small fee with the promise to obtain the unclaimed property.
Each year, the Treasury Department receives millions of dollars in unclaimed property. This includes items such as abandoned bank accounts, forgotten stocks, uncashed checks, and contents of safety deposit boxes. The property remains available for claim by the owners or their heirs in perpetuity and the Treasury Department serves as the custodian until it can find and verify its rightful legal owner.
Claimants can search for unclaimed property by clicking here or visiting http://www.patreasury.gov/claim/. My district staff would be glad to assist you in searching for unclaimed property and filing a claim.
Please know that “finders” may be in contact with individuals who have unclaimed property with an offer to assist. State law requires that all “finders” and property recovery professionals who assist potential claimants assemble a claim for a fee must complete an application and be certified as a “finder” by the Pennsylvania Treasury Department. “Finders” may provide their services for a fee, capped at 15 percent. However, my offices are available to assist free of charge.
For more information on unclaimed property please visit http://www.patreasury.gov/claim/ or call 1-800-222-2046.
Did You Know…
Did you know that approximately 10 percent of all Pennsylvanians have unclaimed property with the Pennsylvania Treasury?
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.
Health Care Speak-Out
The Western PA Coalition For Single-Payer Healthcare and Healthcare4AllPa.org are hosting
“Health Care Speak Out,” a community meeting to discuss federal House Resolution 676, the bill that would establish the Medicare for All program nationally. The event is scheduled for this Thursday, June 1 form 6 – 8 p.m. in Pittsburgh City Council Chambers, located on the 5th floor of the City-County Building in downtown Pittsburgh.
Opening comments will be made by Congressman Mike Doyle and attendees will have an opportunity to speak and share a health care story. Federal H.R. 676 will:
- Cover every person in the U.S.
- End deductibles and co-payments
- Cover all necessary medical care including
- Prescription drugs
- Oral surgery and periodontics
- Hospital, surgical, outpatient and emergency services, primary and preventative care
- Dental and vision
- Mental health
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Durable medical equipment
- Palliative, chiropractic and long-term care
For more information on H.R. 676 and the event this Thursday please visit www.wpasinglepayer.org or call 412-215-4141.
Advocacy Training for Education
The Pennsylvania PTA is inviting parents, grandparents, PTO members, educators, teachers, and all stakeholders concerned with education of students to attend a free advocacy training session this Saturday, June 3. This session will: grow your skills as an advocate for your child; develop new skills to help you fight for public education; learn more about the federal Every Child Succeeds Act; and become a champion for your child and all children.
The training session is scheduled for this Saturday, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy (Room 225), located at 107 Thackeray Street in the City’s Oakland neighborhood. Light breakfast and lunch will be provided in the cafeteria and childcare is available.
Anyone interested in attending can register online by visiting http://www.papta.org/ or clicking here. For more information, please contact Bonita Allen at 412-422-4350 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Cynthia-Grace Devine-Kepner at 412-780-5957 or by email at email@example.com.
Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program
Qualifying seniors in Allegheny County will soon be able to pick up vouchers for locally grown fruits and vegetables. The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is a federal program that is administered at the state level by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. This program attempts to provide seniors who are nutritionally at risk a means to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from approved Pennsylvania farmers.
The program provides recipients with four $5 voucher checks for a total year benefit of $20 to redeem at qualified farmers’ markets. Checks may be spent through Nov. 30 on produce that is grown in Pennsylvania or purchased directly from a Pennsylvania farmer.
Some examples of produce that may be purchased under the vouchers are apples, beans, berries, carrots, grapes, melons, spinach and tomatoes. Customers must spend the entire $5 check and change will not be given.
The distribution of voucher checks will take place on June 13 at senior centers throughout Allegheny County. Checks are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Seniors are asked to bring identification showing proof of age and residency to the distribution site.
To be eligible, individuals must be an Allegheny County resident who will be 60 years old by December 31, 2017. The income limit for a one-person household is $22,311 and is $30,044 for a two-person household. Married couples may each receive one set of checks. If an eligible consumer requires a proxy to receive their checks, the proxy is responsible for signing for and spending the checks for the individual. All individuals must completely fill out a proxy form in order to have a proxy receive checks for them.
For a complete listing of voucher check distribution locations and times, or to download a proxy form, please visit the Allegheny County Department of Human Services website at http://www.alleghenycounty.us/dhs/olderadults.aspx. A listing of distribution sites, farmers’ market locations and proxy forms can also be picked up in my district offices. Anyone with questions on the program can also call the Allegheny County SeniorLine at 412-350-5460.
Connecting in Station Square
The public is invited to join the Port Authority of Allegheny County for a Station Area planning workshop on Wednesday, June 7. Station Square is a multimodal transit facility where buses, light rail (the T), and the Monongahela Incline all come together to provide people with options and connections. The Port Authority is creating a plan for this area that will include recommendations for how to make the area safer, easier to use, and more attractive.
Part of creating this plan is talking to people who have an interest in the area, including nearby residents, business and property owners. To involve those stakeholders, the Port Authority’s planning team is holding workshops that are open to public participation on:
Wednesday, June 7
Sheraton Station Square, Woodlawn Room
Session 1: 9 – 10:30 a.m. or Session 2: 6:30 – 8 p.m. (choose one)
For questions, and to confirm your attendance, please contact Karen Brean at Brean Associates by phone at 412-977-0271 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May is National Pet Month and serves as a good reminder to all dog owners to get a license for your dog. It shows you care for your pet and it happens to be the law. Annual dog licenses in Allegheny County are valid from January 1 – December 31 each year. All dogs three months or older must be licensed. Annual licenses cost $8.50 and are $6.50 if your dog is spayed or neutered. Discounts are also available to seniors and people with disabilities.
For more information on getting a dog license or to download an application, please visit the Allegheny County Treasurer’s office at http://www.alleghenycounty.us/treasurers-office/dog-license.aspx or click here. Dog owners in the City of Pittsburgh can visit http://www.pittsburghpa.gov/animalcontrol/dog_licenses.htm or click here.
Bellevue Borough Celebrating 150 Years
Bellevue Borough is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2017! From June 8-11, the community is welcome to attend a celebration of Bellevue that will include a Fireman’s Parade, carnival, live entertainment, arts and crafts, and much more. For a complete schedule of events for the weekend, please visit http://www.bonafidebellevue.com/ or click here.
Rally for McNally 5K
The 2017 OLSH Rally for McNally 5K Run/Walk is taking place on Saturday, June 10. The course will take participants through the school’s beautiful campus. The 5K race will begin at 9 a.m. and the walk will begin at 9:15 a.m. The start/finish lines and parking will be at the OLSH AAC (gymnasium building) located at 1504 Woodcrest Avenue, Coraopolis, PA 15108. Following the run/walk will be a fun day for the whole family including music, refreshments, face painters, and more! Medals will be awarded to the top 3 male and female finishers in each age group and the overall top 3 male and female finishers. Register by June 1 to guarantee your t-shirt. The proceeds of this event will fund the Michael McNally Endowed Scholarship Fund, which was started in honor of Michael, a 2007 OLSH graduate. For more information or to register, please visit http://www.olsh.org/alumni/rallyformcnally/.
The Mattress Factory, located on Pittsburgh’s Northside, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year! Since its founding in 1977, the museum has presented and commissioned new installation and performance works by more than 650 artists and its education department serves more than 20,000 students, teachers, adults and families annually through a wide range of programs.
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