A Call for Action Against Childhood Sexual Abuse
Last week, I stood with Representatives Mark Rozzi, Dan Miller and Dan Frankel along with advocates for a midday rally at the City-County Building in downtown Pittsburgh pushing for the General Assembly to pass Senate Bill 261 (SB 261) which allows for adults to sue over childhood sexual abuse. An amendment will be offered this week to this legislation that would create a two-year “window of opportunity” opening by extending the statute of limitations for civil abuse claims. The amendment will also raise the cutoff age – from 30 to 50 years old – when victims may bring civil litigation against the accused abusers.
Senate Bill 261 as amended is expected to pass the House with flying colors. However, the majority party leaders in the Pennsylvania Senate is where the resistance resides. When SB 261 originally passed in the Senate in February 2017, the window of opportunity language was not included.
These changes to SB 261 are recommendations that were part of last month’s grand jury report announced by state Attorney General Josh Shapiro regarding the abuse by priests in the Roman Catholic Church that has taken place for decades. The report was chilling, frightening and devastating which not only detailed what the predatory priests did, it also provided a clear picture of how the church hierarchy covered up unlawful actions. The grand jury report displayed how bishops were not accountable to victims and did little to stop the abuse. Survivors were left to deal with the attacks on their own and suffer through pain, anxiety and despair.
Our eyes have now been opened and the political leadership in Harrisburg must open their ears and hear the pleas for fairness. Although the Pennsylvania Legislature passed a measure that took steps towards addressing the plight of the victims, we did so before the grand jury made its report. And for those reasons the General Assembly needs to revisit this legislation and grant justice for all the survivors who have bravely come forward with their stories.
While this seems to be common sense, there are still those who fear the unknown and oppose opening the window because of the potential legal exposure and costs. Some majority party leaders believe that opening the window now is unconstitutional. Well if that is the case, then allow Senate Bill 261 to pass. If someone wants to challenge the constitutionality, the courts should get to decide on the matter, not the Legislature.
With that being said, I firmly believe that these arguments are obstacles and barriers that have been continually thrown in front of victims over the years to prevent a full accounting of what happened. Too many issues…too many legal problems, they have been told. Well now is the time to sort out all these problems. Now is the time to quit delaying justice.
It is unfathomable to me what the sexual abuse victims had to endure. They should no longer have to live their pain in silence. It’s time we stand up to these institutions and say no more. Priests and anyone else that have preyed on the innocent need to be held accountable for their decisions and actions. The Pennsylvania General Assembly needs to open a window of opportunity for these survivors. After all, it is what is right, fair and just.
$2 Million in Grants Approved for Small Water and Sewer Projects, Recreation
More than $2 million in state grants were approved by the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) last week for nine projects in the 42nd Senatorial District.
Small Water and Sewer Projects were approved by the CFA for Reserve Township, Neville Township, Avalon Borough, McKees Rocks, Coraopolis Water and Sewer Authority and West View Water Authority.
Upgrading our water and sewer systems continues to be a priority. These grants will help complete local projects, improve water quality, make sewer systems more efficient and add to a community’s quality of life.
The projects approved for funding by the CFA include:
West View Water Authority
Coraopolis Water and Sewer
|Irwin Lane Waterline Replacement
Catherine Street Storm Sewer Separation
Sanitary Sewer Improvements
Neville Road Waterline Improvements
Water Supply Inter-Connection
Howard Street Sanitary Inflow Removal
Other key grants for recreation (Act 13) were also approved by the CFA. These include $100,000 for the McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation for work on the Sto-Rox Community Activities Field Project. Another Act 13 grant approved was for Bellevue Borough. The $225,000 will be used for the borough’s Memorial Park Project. The Sports and Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County will also receive a grant ($250,000) for the I-579 Urban Connector Project.
The state grants are critical for our communities and our region. Many of these projects lean heavily on state resources for funding and would not be possible if grant funding was not available. Acquiring state grant funding eases the local tax burden while ensuring that key projects are being completed.
Job Fair Thursday!
This Thursday with Rep. Dan Deasy and Rep. Anita Kulik, and in partnership with Building Bridges for Business and U.S. Probation & Pre Trial Services, we will be hosting a Job Fair for any interested job seekers. The Job Fair is being held at the VFW VESLE Post 418, located at 1242 Chartiers Avenue in McKees Rocks.
The Job Fair will feature local companies looking to fill positions now. There will also be representatives in attendance to talk about apprenticeships and other technical training programs to help individuals gain information on acquiring new skills to become gainfully employed.
Many job seekers face barriers to employment like issues related to a past criminal record, a suspended driver’s license, lack of high school diploma or necessary job skills. Therefore, the Job Fair will include three breakout sessions that address these barriers. From 4:30-5 p.m., attendees can join a breakout session to learn more about the driver’s license restoration process. From 5:30-6 p.m., a session on pardons and record expungement will take place. Anyone wishing to learn more about improving job skills and short-term training programs can attend the session from 6:30-7 p.m.
If you are looking for work or have difficulty because of any of the barriers listed above, please consider attending this Job Fair. If you have family or friends who may be interested, please share this information with them.
Upcoming Shredding Event
With Rep. Dan Deasy and Rep. Anita Kulik, we will be hosting a shredding event on Saturday, Oct. 13 in McKees Rocks. It will be held from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m. (or until the shred trucks are full) at the McKees Rocks Shopping Center, located at 114 Chartiers Avenue.
Documents will be shredded on-site by a reputable and bonded company. Also, all papers must be loose, no binder clips or paper clips, and documents cannot be in binders.
With consumer fraud and identity theft continuing to be an issue, we are hosting these events to not only to raise awareness and promote prevention, but also to provide individuals with the opportunity to have unneeded, confidential documents destroyed free of charge. You may bring documents that contain personal information such as social security numbers, credit card numbers and bank account numbers.
Additionally, this year, Deputy Sheriff Joe Cirigliano will be on hand to collect any unused, unwanted, or expired medications as part of Allegheny County Sheriff Bill Mullen’s Project D.U.M.P. initiative. This program allows residents to bring any unused, unwanted or expired medications so they can be properly disposed.
Funds Available for School and Business Partnerships to Expand Job Training in Pennsylvania
Local workforce development boards (LWDBs) are encouraged to apply for $2.5 million in Business-Education Partnership (BEP) grants that will connect businesses and school districts and lead to new career opportunities across Pennsylvania.
The grant funding is available through the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) to LWDBs; regional entities whose main role is to direct federal, state, and local funding to workforce development programs in their areas and oversee the PA CareerLink locations.
A total of $2.5 million in funding is available to LWDBs to implement Business-Education Partnership programs. These programs increase awareness of in-demand technical careers for students, parents, guardians, teachers, and school faculty. Each of the 22 statewide LWDBs are urged to apply.
These partnerships connect schools, employers, parents, and students to provide career-related experiences and opportunities through soft-skills development, internships, workplace shadowing, and career mentoring, all with the goal of engaging more students in the need for technical skills required by employers.
The Business-Education Partnership grants are funded through federal money made available from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act. Additional details and the grant application can be found on L&I's website. Applications are due by October 31.
Did You Know…
Did you know according to the Governor’s office that last year, nearly 9,000 young people throughout the commonwealth participated in Business-Education Partnership activities?
Voter Registration Deadline & Absentee Ballot Information
The deadline to be registered to vote in the Nov. 6 General Election is Tuesday, October 9. Anyone not registered can do so online at www.votespa.com or by clicking here. In addition to registering to vote, users can utilize the site to confirm registration status, update your registration, or locate your polling place. You may also pick up paper applications in my district offices or download a paper application at www.votespa.com.
Anyone needing an absentee ballot can download an application at www.votespa.com or can pick one up at my district offices. The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is October 30.
Casino Revenue Increases
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced recently that gaming revenue in Pennsylvania increased 2.8 percent in August compared with August 2017. Revenue from slot machines in August totaled more than $201.7 million, a 4.4 percent increase from last August’s slot machine revenue of $193.1 million. Revenue from table games in August was more than $73.2 million, a slight decrease from August of last year. Combined tax revenue generated from both slot machines and table games in August was roughly $116.8 million.
The state’s gaming industry employs about 18,000 people and generates approximately $1.4 billion annually in tax revenue from both slot machines and table games. For more information on gaming in Pennsylvania and to read reports from the Gaming Control Board, please visit them online at www.gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov.
Pittsburgh Student Police Academy
The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is offering an opportunity for students, free of charge, to become closely acquainted with the roles and responsibilities of the Police Bureau. The Pittsburgh Student Police Academy will bring the Pittsburgh Police and the high school youth together in a setting that offers a sample of police training to each student.
The 2018 fall session of the Student Police Academy will begin on Wednesday, Oct. 10 at Point Park University, located at 201 Wood Street in downtown Pittsburgh. The program will be held each Wednesday from 6 – 9 p.m. for 10 weeks. Students will receive training in many of the varied functions of law enforcement. They will experience some of the highlights of police training and are exposed to the operations of the bureau.
Class size is limited to 25 participants. Interested students must complete an application and permission slip and send their application no later than Oct. 6 to:
John Tokarski, City of Pittsburgh Dept. of Public Safety
City-County Building, 414 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Applications can be downloaded by clicking here. For more information please contact John Tokarski at 412-255-2117 or email@example.com.
The Greater McKees Rocks Area Rotary Club is hosting their fifth annual Roxtoberfest this Friday, Sept. 28. The event is scheduled from 6 – 10 p.m. at Olivia’s, located at 318 Forest Grove Road in Kennedy Township.
A ticket includes a four-course dinner with beer pairings, limitless appetizers, live music, Roxtoberfest beer stein and swag bag, community networking, auctions and raffles. To purchase tickets please call Ashley Strouse at Nationwide Insurance Agency at 412-771-6781. All proceeds raised by the Greater McKees Rocks Rotary benefit the Sto-Ken-Rox community.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month in the United States. As of January 1, 2014 (the most recent date for which data exists), approximately 419,000 survivors of childhood and adolescent cancer (diagnosed at ages 0 to 19 years) were alive in the United States. You can visit www.cancer.org to learn more about the disease and ways you can help.
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
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1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216