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Senator Wayne D. Fontana
Senator Fontana participated in a ceremony in Sharpsburg on Saturday, honoring the Borough’s 175th birthday.  Senator Fontana participated in a ceremony in Sharpsburg on Saturday, honoring the Borough’s 175th birthday. 
Senator Fontana participated in a ceremony in Sharpsburg on Saturday, honoring the Borough’s 175th birthday.  The ceremony took place during Sharpsburg’s Open Streets program.  Senator Fontana was joined at the ceremony by: Sharpsburg Councilman & Mayor-Elect, Matt Rudzki; Sharpsburg Borough Council President, Karen Pastor; Sharpsburg Mayor, Richard Panza; Allegheny County Council President, John DeFazio; Allegheny County Councilman, Ed Kress; State Representative, Dom Costa; Senator Fontana; Director of Governor Wolf’s Southwestern PA Office, Erin Molchany; and Sharpsburg Borough Manager, Bill Rossey.

Pittsburgh and the Paris Climate Accord Response

It was a speech heard around the world.  In early June, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord.   Unfortunately, the president decided to use our great city as an example by stating “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”  This spurred local and state government officials, including myself, to pledge our commitments to the Paris Accord despite the president’s disastrous decision.   

In December 2015, representatives from 196 nations made a historic pact in Paris to adopt green energy sources, cut down on climate change emissions and limit the rise of global temperatures.  The accord acknowledges that the threat of climate change is urgent and potentially irreversible and it will take the cooperation of nearly 200 nations to make deep reductions in global emissions. 

Senator Fontana says he doesn't think that President Trump spoke for Pittsburghers when he pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord.

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As we are all aware, Pittsburgh has worked extremely hard over many decades so that our residents and visitors are not faced with the dangerous levels of pollution like they encountered in the past.  Pittsburgh is a city that literally has risen from the ashes – an incredible story of success and determination. So why would Pittsburgh even consider reversing these changes that allow us and our future generations to breath the clean air we enjoy today?  Using our transformation and our environmental progress as part of the president’s questionable environmental policy is inexcusable.

For this reason, I am calling on President Trump to meet with leaders from the City of Pittsburgh to understand the impact of his decision to exit the Paris Accord.  I would hope that a meeting of this sorts would help him understand that using the City as an example for the world without consideration of the effect of his decision on jobs and local economies like ours is misguided. 
 
Furthermore, if President Trump is going to build his agenda on the back of Pittsburgh, then he needs to meet with our leaders to give us insight into his decision.  Pittsburgh is unrecognizable from what it was 60 years ago, or even 30 years ago. Leadership, foresight, and most of all, the great spirit and determination of Pittsburghers allowed the City to pick itself up and reinvent itself, playing a prominent role in a 21st century economy, serving as an example for cities across the globe.

I am hopeful that President Trump will recognize the positive spotlight that has been placed on Pittsburgh because of our environmental advances and will allow us to continue to govern our own policies.  Our leaders understand what is best for our residents.  But if necessary, I am willing to introduce legislation that commits our City to continue joining with other nations to tackle climate change and address other environmental issues addressed under the Paris Climate Accord.     

Remembering POW/MIA Service Members

Remembering POW/MIA Service Members

I was honored to participate in a pre-game ceremony at PNC Park last Thursday night prior to the Pirates-Marlins game where the team honored the sacrifices made by more than 92,000 American service men and women who are Prisoners of War or Missing in Action since World War I by dedicating “one empty seat” at the ballpark.

The seat is located on the PNC Park main concourse and is accompanied by a bronze plaque that reads, “You are not forgotten. Since World War I, more than 92,000 American soldiers are unaccounted for. This unoccupied seat is dedicated to the memory of these brave men and women and to the sacrifices each made in serving this country. God Bless You. God Bless America.”

The program is in partnership with Rolling Thunder, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness of American POW and MIA service members.  I commend the Pirates’ organization led by President Frank Coonelly for their efforts in honoring our military and especially those soldiers who remain unaccounted for.

Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program Extended

Property TaxesThe deadline to file for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue 2016 Property Tax/Rent Rebate program has been extended through December 31.  Rebate distribution will begin on July 1 for anyone who returned their completed application by June 30.  After June 30, rebates will be distributed as claims are reviewed and processed by the Department of Revenue.

If you filed a paper rebate last year, you should have received a 2016 application by now.  If you have not received an application, or did not apply last year and wish to apply this year, 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.

Did You Know…

Did you know that as of May 26, the Department of Revenue had received 465,064 rebate applications and that since the program’s inception in 1971 older and disabled adults have received more than $6.5 billion in property tax and rent relief?

New Turnpike Policy

penndot PennDOT Beginning August 4, a new law takes effect that will allow the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to suspend the vehicle registration of any Pennsylvania motorist who has unpaid Pennsylvania Turnpike toll violations that total $500 or more, or six separate instances of violation.

turnpikeBefore this new law takes effect, the PA Turnpike is running a partial amnesty program.  This amnesty program will run July 5 – August 4.  Any toll violations that are newer than 60 days can be settled by paying in full the outstanding toll amount and all other fees will be forgiven.  Toll violations older than 60 days that have been referred to collections may be settled by paying in full the outstanding toll amount and a portion of the outstanding fees.

To take advantage of this program, motorists can call 1-877-PENNPASS (1-877-736-6727) beginning July 5.  Anyone who thinks they may be a violator can access the Turnpike’s unpaid balance lookup system by clicking here or visiting www.paturnpike.com.

Fontanafest

FontanaFestSave the Date! – 13th Annual FontanaFest

I’m pleased to announce that the 13th Annual FontanaFest will once again be held at Highmark Stadium, home of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds!  Save the date – Saturday, August 19 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.  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 also have the chance to play on several inflatables, an obstacle course, and a climbing wall.  All attendees also are provided with the opportunity to engage with several organizations from around the region and receive important information on available services and programs, nutrition, health care, jobs and jobs training. 

Stay tuned throughout the summer for updates on the schedule of events, participants, and more!

Summer Food ProgramSummer Food Program for Children

Children ages 18 and younger can participate in the Allegheny County Summer Food program which began yesterday.  Summer Food will run in over 80 locations in Allegheny County through August.  At these locations children can receive a free breakfast and lunch during the summer recess from school.  For more information on the program, including information on locations and times, please call the Allegheny County Department of Human Services at 1-800-851-3838.  You may also click here to view a listing of locations.

Vouchers for Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program Available TODAY!

The distribution of voucher checks as part of the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is taking place today 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.

Farmers MarketThe 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.

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.

Medical Marijuana Program Update

Med Marijuana Medical Marijuana Recently, the Pennsylvania Department of Health published regulations for physicians to participate in the Medical Marijuana Program in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, available at www.pabulletin.com.

The Practitioner Temporary Regulations outline the process for a physician with an active Pennsylvania license to register as a practitioner in the Medical Marijuana Program.  Registration allows a practitioner to certify that a patient has a serious medical condition as defined in Act 16 and offer his or her recommendations on a course of treatment for the patient that includes obtaining medical marijuana at a Pennsylvania permitted dispensary.

The Medical Marijuana Program became law with the signing of Act 16 of 2016 in April 2016, legislation I was proud to support.  Since that time, the Department of Health has:

  • Completed the Safe Harbor temporary guidelines and Safe Harbor Letter application process, as well as approved 257 applications;
  • Completed temporary regulations for growers/processors, dispensaries and laboratories which have been published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin;
  • Released Phase One permit applications for growers/processors and dispensaries;
  • Developed the Medical Marijuana Physician Workgroup;
  • Drafted temporary regulations for practitioners to participate in the program; and
  • Selected MJ Freeway to implement the program’s seed-to-sale tracking system.

The Medical Marijuana Program became effective on May 17, 2016 and is expected to be fully implemented in early 2018. The program will offer medical marijuana to patients who are residents of Pennsylvania and under a physician’s care for the treatment of a serious medical condition as defined by Act. 16. 

Questions regarding the Medical Marijuana Program can be emailed to RA-DHMedMarijuana@pa.gov and more information on the program is available at www.health.pa.gov.

Tax Amnesty Program

PA Tax Amnesty PA Tax Amnesty Program I want to remind everyone that the Pennsylvania Tax Amnesty program will close next Monday, June 19. 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. 

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 Monday.

Strip District Sammich Showdown

Sammich ShowdownStrip District Neighbors is hosting the Strip Search 2017 Sammich Showdown Food Festival on Saturday, June 24 from noon – 8 p.m.  The event features a city-wide showdown between Pittsburgh restaurants in search of the best sandwich in the 'Burgh. Restaurants include Meat & Potatoes, Kelly O's Diner PGH, Spork, Edgars Best Tacos in Pittsburgh, Bull Dawgs, Pittsburgh Sandwich Society, Peppi's Subs-Pittsburgh, Strip District Meats, Lucy's Original Banh Mi and Wholey's Fish Market.  There will be live music by Chase and the Barons and Juan Vasquez, as well a beer truck with Southern Tier Brewing Company's Nuskool IPA, Great Lakes Brewing Company's Holy Moses Belgian Wit, Yuengling and Labatt Blue Light, cocktails from Wigle Whiskey and wine from Pittsburgh Winery and party games.  Come on out to the Strip to get a taste of Pittsburgh's best sandwich!

For more information, you can visit Strip District Neighbors’ on Facebook or visit them online at www.stripdistrictneighbors.com.

pensFontana Fact

Among the many impressive achievements associated with the Penguins claiming their 5th Stanley Cup championship on Sunday night, was the team’s head coach, Mike Sullivan, becoming the first American-born head coach to win the Stanley Cup twice.

Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Phone: 412-344-2551
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
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
By Appointment
Northside (Mobile Office)
Carnegie Library | Allegheny Branch
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
By Appointment
FontanaFEST! turnpike Strip District Neighbors