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Senator Wayne D. Fontana

REAL ID Update

Real IDLast week on March 1, PennDOT began issuing REAL IDs to customers for the first time. I wanted to take this opportunity to remind everyone who is interested in obtaining a REAL ID how they could go about doing so.

If you received your first Pennsylvania driver's license, learner's permit or photo ID card AFTER September 2003, PennDOT may already have your required REAL ID documentation on file.

If you fall into this category and would like PennDOT to verify that your required REAL ID documentation is on file, please click here to begin the REAL ID Online Pre-Verification application process. Once PennDOT has reviewed your record, you will receive an email stating whether your documentation is on file with the department. If you did not provide an email address, once PennDOT has reviewed your record, you will receive a postcard stating whether your documentation is on file with the department. If your documentation is on file with PennDOT, you will be able to order your REAL ID online without visiting a driver's license center at www.dmv.pa.gov and your REAL ID will be sent through the mail.

Individuals who wish to obtain a REAL ID and received their first product BEFORE September 2003 must visit a PennDOT Driver License Center with the required documentation to pre-verify in person. Required documentation includes the following:

  • Proof of Identity (original or certified copy of a birth certificate with a raised seal, issued by an authorized government agency, or a valid U.S. Passport)
  • Social Security card
  • Proof of all legal name changes (marriage certificate, court order or divorce decree)
  • Two proofs of current, physical PA address (examples include a current PA license or ID and no more than a 90-day old bank statement or utility bill with the same name and address)

For additional information about REAL ID in Pennsylvania please visit www.penndot.gov/REALID or  http://www.pasenate.com/RealID/.

Getting a REAL ID is optional for Pennsylvania residents but as a reminder, beginning October 1, 2020, Pennsylvanians will need a REAL ID-compliant driver's license, photo ID card, or another form of federally-acceptable identification (such as a valid passport or military ID) to board a domestic commercial flight or enter a federal building or military installation that requires ID.

Clean Air Standards

Last week, the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) issued an enforcement order against U.S. Steel’s Mon Valley Works facilities (Edgar Thompson Plant, Irvin Plant and Clairton Coke Works) for continued Article XXI permit violations for daily sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions after a Dec. 24, 2018 fire occurred at the Clairton Coke Works. Per the order, U.S. Steel must reduce its use of coke oven gas and its daily SO2 emissions across all Mon Valley facilities, including the Peachtree flare at the Irvin Plant, through one or more of the following ways until the repairs at the Clairton Coke Works are complete, or June 30, 2019, whichever comes later:

  • Reducing the volume of coal in each coke oven;
  • Further extending coking times from 22 hours to 30-36 hours;
  • Putting as many coke oven batteries as necessary under “hot idle” to achieve compliance with the hydrogen sulfide (H2S) emission standard; and/or
  • Proposing its own plan to reduce SO2 emissions with demonstrated ability to comply with the daily permitted limit for its facilities.

I applaud the ACHD for following through on oversight and enforcement of Clean Air Standards. The public has a right to clean air and U.S. Steel has an obligation to ensure that they are meeting Clean Air Standards while also providing a safe work environment for its workers. 

Upcoming Job Fair

Job FairOn Thursday, March 28, with Rep. Dan Deasy and in partnership with PA Career Link and Building Bridges for Business, we will be hosting a Job Fair for any interested job seekers.  The Job Fair is being held in the Social Hall at St. Catherine of Siena Parish, located at 1810 Belasco Avenue in Beechview from 4 – 7 p.m.

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.

If you are looking for work or are interested in potential apprenticeships or other technical training, please consider attending this Job Fair.  If you have family or friends who may be interested, please share this information with them.

DCED Multimodal Fund

DCED The Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) is accepting applications for the Multimodal Transportation Fund program.  This program provides grants to encourage economic development and ensure that a safe and reliable system of transportation is available to the residents of the commonwealth.

Funds may be used for the development, rehabilitation and enhancement of transportation assets to existing communities, streetscape, lighting, sidewalk enhancement, pedestrian safety, connectivity of transportation assets and transit-oriented development. Those eligible to apply include: municipalities; councils of governments; businesses; economic development organizations; public transportation agencies; and ports. 

Applications must be submitted no later than July 31 and will be considered at the November Commonwealth Financing Authority board meeting.  For more information on the program and to apply, please click here or visit https://dced.pa.gov/.

Tax Refund Anticipation Loans

The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is reminding Pennsylvanians to use caution and look at all their options when considering tax refund anticipation loans. A refund anticipation loan (RAL), is a loan made by a lender or business to a taxpayer in anticipation of a taxpayer’s state or federal income tax refund. RALs are often advertised as a quicker option for taxpayers to get their money, but they often reduce taxpayers’ refunds because of high interest rates and substantial service fees charged by the lender. RALs are not always the quickest way to receive a tax refund, and the full amount of the loan may be required to be repaid even if the refund is not granted or is lower than the anticipated amount.

RALs are typically offered around the start of tax filing season through the filing deadline to submit tax returns, which is April 15, 2019. They are often obtained through tax preparation businesses that prepare personal income tax returns. However, car dealerships, check cashing services and other businesses have been known to offer RALs.

The Department of Revenue reminds taxpayers that lenders of RALs are required to:

  • Advise taxpayers of all fees, interest and other known deductions paid from their refunds, as well as the remaining amount the taxpayers will actually receive.

  • Ensure taxpayers understand they will not receive their refunds from the Department of Revenue or the IRS. Instead, the refund will be sent directly to the lender.

  • Advise taxpayers they may be liable to the lender for additional interest and other fees if the lender does not receive the refund within the expected timeframe.

  • Secure the taxpayer’s written consent to disclose tax information to the lending financial institution in connection with an application for a refund-related financial product.

  • Adhere to advertising standards and fee restrictions, which state lenders may not base fees on a percentage of the refund amount or compute fees using any figure from tax returns.

Taxpayers who are considering a refund anticipation loan are encouraged to read the fine print and ask questions to identify what fees are being charged, the interest rate and what happens if the refund is less than anticipated before signing off on the loan. As an alternative, the department is urging taxpayers to consider filing their Pennsylvania personal income tax returns electronically and opting for electronic deposit of their refunds.

Please visit the Department of Revenue’s website at www.revenue.pa.gov for more information on electronic filing options.

Adult Trout Stocking Schedules Available

Adult Trout Stocking Schedules AvailableThe Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) have 2019 adult trout stocking schedules  available online and on the PFBC’s “FishBoatPA” mobile app. Anglers can easily search the trout stocking schedules for locations and dates of interest. To view the list, go to www.fishandboat.com, click on the link “Fish” in the upper right corner, then select Stocking Schedules. From there, select a county and enter start and end dates from the calendars at the top of the page. Then press “Go.” For anglers with smartphones, view the schedules through the FishBoatPA app, which is available for free from the Apple App and Google Play stores.

The PFBC continues to stock approximately 3.2 million adult trout in 707 streams and 127 lakes open to public angling. These figures include approximately 2.1 million rainbow trout; 640,000 brown trout; and 440,000 brook trout. As with past practice, the average size of the trout produced for stocking is 11 inches in length. The PFBC also plans to stock about 9,600 trophy golden rainbow trout that weigh an average of 1.5 pounds and measure at least 14 inches long. Thousands of trophy size brood trout are also stocked throughout PA waters.

The 2019 season will open Saturday, March 23 with the Mentored Youth Trout Fishing Day program in 18 southeastern counties, including: Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, Philadelphia, Schuylkill and York.

The following weekend – Saturday, March 30 – kicks off the Regional Opening Day of Trout Season in the same 18 southeastern counties.

A second Mentored Youth Trout Fishing Day will be held on April 6, the Saturday before the April 13 regular statewide opening day of trout season.

To participate in the mentored youth program, adult anglers (16 years or older) must have a valid fishing license and trout permit and be accompanied by a youth. Youth anglers must obtain a free PFBC-issued permit, or a voluntary youth fishing license (only $2.90 including all fees). Both are available at www.GoneFishingPA.com or at any of the more than 700 licensing agents across the state.

For every voluntary youth license sold, the PFBC receives approximately $5 in federal revenue from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration Act program, which provides funds to states based on a formula that includes the number of licenses a state sells. All revenues earned from a voluntary youth fishing license are dedicated to youth fishing programs.

Did You Know…

Did you know Pennsylvania’s fishing opportunities include more than 85,000 miles of streams and rivers, along with 4,000 inland lakes and ponds covering 160,000 acres, plus 470,000 acres of Lake Erie?

Ohio Valley Hospital’s Diabetes Day

Ohio Valley Hospital Ohio Valley Hospital is hosting their 11th annual Diabetes Day, located in the School of Nursing Auditorium at the hospital on 25 Heckel Road in Kennedy Township. The event is scheduled for Thursday, March 21 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and will provide attendees the ABC’s of Free Testing: A1c, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Cooking demonstrations and expert lectures will also be featured, and guests can receive free samples and visit with vendors.  Free parking will be provided.  For more information please call 412-771-6205.

Fontana Fact

This Sunday, March 10, Pennsylvania celebrates its 338th birthday.  Pennsylvania was created when England’s King Charles II granted a charter to William Penn in 1681. The land granted to Penn eventually became the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Charter Day, as it is known in Pennsylvania, is always celebrated on the second Sunday in March.

Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Brookline District
1039 Brookline Boulevard
Suite 2
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
10 a.m. – 3 p.m. – First Tuesday of each month or by appointment