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Senator Wayne D. Fontana
Senator Fontana joined Dr. Paul Hennigan, president of Point Park University, and several of his legislative colleagues on a special insider’s tour of the school’s new Pittsburgh Playhouse.  Senator Fontana joined Dr. Paul Hennigan, president of Point Park University, and several of his legislative colleagues on a special insider’s tour of the school’s new Pittsburgh Playhouse. 
Senator Fontana joined Dr. Paul Hennigan, president of Point Park University, and several of his legislative colleagues on a special insider’s tour of the school’s new Pittsburgh Playhouse.  The $60-million, on-campus facility is partially funded by the state and will officially open in mid-October of this year.  Point Park is ranked in the top 10 of schools most represented on Broadway and the new facility will help the school improve upon that success.

Equal Pay Executive Order

It’s no secret that Pennsylvania has a pay disparity problem. On average, a woman in the commonwealth earns 79 cents to a man’s dollar.  That means a woman living in our state needs to work nearly 15 months for the same paycheck a male worker earns in a year.  Over a course of a lifetime, that difference means $1 million less.  These statistics result in Pennsylvania ranking 29th out of the 50 states in pay inequality.  With 42 percent of mothers being the primary breadwinners of their families today, we need to rectify the discriminatory practice and we need to do it now. 

Governor Wolf recently signed an Executive Order that prohibits employers under his authority from asking an applicant for their salary history in hopes of closing the gender pay gap.Governor Wolf recently signed an Executive Order that prohibits employers under his authority from asking an applicant for their salary history in hopes of closing the gender pay gap.  Titled “Equal Pay for Employees of the Commonwealth,” state agencies will now use other qualifications to determine one’s pay scale when applying for a job rather than what they made in a previous position.  Specifically, state agencies will:

  • No longer ask job applicant their salary history during the hiring process;
  • Instead, base salaries on job responsibilities, position pay ranges, and the applicant’s job knowledge and skills;
  • Clearly explain the pay range on the job posting. 

The order, which applies to management-level positions or who are not subject to collective bargaining agreements, will take effect in 90 days.  There are more than 2,000 open positions in these categories with the potential for this number to grow in the coming years since some union contracts force the administration to ask this question in the hiring process.  Governor Wolf has vowed to work with unions to eliminate this provision in future agreements. 

Wage discrimination in the commonwealth is a real problem.  The General Assembly passed the Pennsylvania’s Equal Pay Law in 1959, but it has not been updated in over fifty years.  Women with the same education, training, skills and job responsibilities as their male counterparts should be compensated with the equivalent amount.  But that’s not happening. This Executive Order is only a small step forward in closing the gap but a vital step in leveling the playing field and attracting more women to serve in state government. 

Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program Extended

Property TaxThe deadline to submit an application to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue for the 2017 Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program has been extended from June 30 to Dec. 31, 2018.  If you filed a paper rebate last year, you should have received 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.

The program is funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery and revenue from slots gaming.

Did You Know…

Did you know that as of June 1, the PA Department of Revenue had received 472,564 rebate applications?

PUC Hosting Public Input Hearings

PUC The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has scheduled Public Input Hearings concerning proposed rate increase requests by Duquesne Light and Columbia Gas of PA.

The PUC will be holding two Public Input Hearings concerning Duquesne Light’s request this Thursday, June 14.  This first is scheduled for 1 p.m. in Room 2019 at Piatt Place, located at 301 Fifth Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh.  The second is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Park Inn by Radisson, located at 7195 in Beaver Falls.

The PUC will also hold a Public Input Hearing concerning Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania’s request.  This Hearing is scheduled for Thursday, June 21 at 6 p.m. at the Courthouse Square Building in Washington, PA.

Anyone with questions regarding any of these upcoming Public Input Hearings can contact the PA Office of Consumer Advocate at 1-800-684-6560 or consumer@paoca.org.

Slot Machine Revenue Rises Slightly

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced last week that revenue from slot machines in Pennsylvania increased slightly in May compared with May 2017.  Revenue from slot machines in May totaled nearly $204 million, a 0.4 percent increase from last May’s slot machine revenue of $203.2 million.  Tax revenue collected from slot machines during May totaled more than $106.4 million.

The state’s gaming industry employs over 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.

Upcoming APPRISE Lunch & Learn

Immunizations apprise The next APPRISE/Allegheny Link Lunch & Learn event is scheduled for Thursday, June 21 at the Human Services Building, located at 1 Smithfield Street in downtown Pittsburgh.  The program will begin at noon with greetings and introductions with the presentation and Q&A session running from 12:15 – 3 p.m.

APPRISE is the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for Pennsylvania’s Medicare beneficiaries.  The Pennsylvania Department of Aging created APPRISE to help citizens with Medicare understand their health insurance options so they can make informed decisions about which plan is best for them.

The topic for the June 21 Lunch & Learn is “The Medicare Appeals Process.” The presentation will define and describe a Medicare appeal; what grievances can be appealed; how and when to initiate an appeal; and the specific steps in the appeal process. Presenters will also look at the issue of In-Patient verses Observation status for hospital provided services provided under Medicare.

Anyone interested in attending should R.S.V.P. to Bill McKendree at mckendreew@fswp.org or 412-661-1670, ext. 645.

Italian StrEAT Festival

Downtown Italian StrEAT FestivalThe Downtown CDC is hosting the 2nd Annual Highmark Italian StrEAT Festival on July 7-8. The Festival will span across two weekend days and will be located between 6th and 9th Streets on Penn Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh.

From noon – 8 p.m. each day, take a walk through the Festival and experience the tastes, sights, and smells of Italy! The Festival will feature live shows by local Pittsburgh bands and performers, cooking demonstrations by local chefs, Italian wine, a bocce court, raffles, kids activities, and much more. Admission is free.

The Italian Festival brings a vibrant cultural event to Downtown Pittsburgh that benefits the community and provides an opportunity to learn more about the rich Italian and Italian American Heritage that has long been a part of Southwestern Pennsylvania. For more information on vendors and volunteer opportunities please visit www.highmarkstreatfestpgh.com.

flag dayFontana Fact

This Thursday, June 14 is Flag Day.  In 1949 Congress passed legislation making Flag Day a national holiday. It is not, however, a federal holiday. In fact, it’s only an official holiday in any capacity in one state, Pennsylvania.  On May 7, 1937 Pennsylvania became the first state to establish the June 14 Flag Day as a legal holiday.

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