Subscribe to this e-update.
Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Absentee Ballots, What About Early Voting?

The Pennsylvania Department of State is encouraging eligible Pennsylvania voters to submit applications for primary election absentee ballots well before the May 14 deadline. Under the state election code, applications for absentee ballots must be received no later than one week before Election Day. For this year's May 21 primary election, the deadline falls on Tuesday, May 14. Voted ballots must be received by the appropriate county election office by 5 p.m. on Friday, May 17.

Vote PA Voter Registration Absentee ballots may be cast by individuals with illnesses or disabilities, individuals who will be away from their municipality on business on Election Day, Pennsylvania students attending out-of-state colleges or universities, and deployed members of the military.

Completed ballots may be returned in person or mailed to the Allegheny County Elections office, located at 542 Forbes Avenue, Suite 609, Pittsburgh, PA 15219. The voted ballots must be received in the county office by 5 p.m. the Friday before the May 21 primary. A timely postmark is not sufficient.

Absentee ballots can be picked up in any of my district offices or downloaded at www.votespa.com.

early votingOf course, the issue of a quick turnaround between the last day an absentee ballot can be requested, the ballot is received by the voter, and then the voter returns the completed ballot in time to be counted could be avoided if Pennsylvania passed an Early Voting law.

Early voting provides citizens with more options to make it more convenient to participate in the process. My bill, Senate Bill 294 (SB 294), would allow voting to take place 15 days prior to Election Day. The polling places would be geographically located and open on both weekdays and weekends so that electors are provided an equal opportunity to participate in the process.

If we’re going to ask voters needing absentee ballots to request their ballots well before the deadline to ensure they have time to receive a ballot, complete it, and return it in time for their vote to count, then it makes perfect sense to allow all voters the chance to vote early.

Did You Know…

Did you know that Pennsylvania is only one of 12 states without some form of early voting?

State Supreme Court to Hear Arguments Regarding UPMC-Highmark Decision

Highmark/UPMCEarlier this month, a Commonwealth Court Judge ruled that the Consent Decree between UPMC and Highmark would expire June 30, 2019, as planned.  State Attorney General Josh Shapiro quickly appealed the denial of the lower court’s decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court seeking emergency relief before the Decree’s scheduled expiration date or for the Court to keep the Consent Decree in place while litigation against UPMC proceeds.  Many members of the Allegheny County Delegation are very pleased with the Supreme Court’s willingness to take up the appeal as quickly as they have agreed to, with the hopes that access to affordable health care will continue.   

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments when it meets May 14-16 with the task to determine whether the Attorney General has the authority to change the June 30 expiration date of the Consent Decree.  As many are aware, without an extension, Highmark Medicare Advantage members and other Highmark members with certain chronic conditions will lose in-network access to UPMC hospitals in Pittsburgh and Erie, as well as access to most UPMC physicians.  If the appeal is successful, Attorney General Shapiro would like to use the Consent Decree as a vehicle to seek new concessions and requirements by UPMC which include forcing it to contract with Highmark and any other interested providers or insurers.  He would also like UPMC to drop its controversial prepay rule for out-of-network patients as well as replace a majority of UPMC’s board. 

Additionally, Senate and House Democrats jointly filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of the Attorney General’s request to modify the existing Consent Decree.  An amicus brief is a legal document filed by individuals or groups that are not involved in the case but who have a strong interest in the subject matter and outcome. Our hope is that the Supreme Court will review the information and arguments we submitted when considering the effects an extension of a Consent Decree will have on Western Pennsylvania’s access to affordable care. 

Real ID Information Session

Real IDI encourage anyone looking to learn more about REAL ID to attend an Information Session that Rep. Dan Deasy and I are hosting.  The REAL ID Information Session is scheduled for this Thursday, April 25 from 6:30 – 8 p.m. at the Crafton Borough Community Center, located at 140 Bradford Avenue.  Representatives from PennDOT, Department of Vital Records, Department of Health and Allegheny County Courts will be on hand to answer questions.

As I wrote in the March 5 edition of my News & Views, REAL IDs are now available. If you have questions about how to obtain a REAL ID I hope to see you on Thursday.

Upcoming Shredding Events

I want to alert everyone about three upcoming shredding events.  On Saturday, May 4, along with Rep. Dan Deasy and Crafton and Ingram Boroughs, we will be holding a shredding event from 8 – 11 a.m. (or until trucks are full) in the parking lot at Crafton Park, located at 167 W. Steuben Street.  The following week, Saturday, May 11, in conjunction with Rep. Deasy and Green Tree Borough, a shredding event will be held in the parking lot at Green Tree Park, located at 905 Green Tree Road, from 8 – 11 a.m. (or until trucks are full).  Documents at both events will be shredded on-site by a reputable and bonded company. All papers must be loose, no binder clips or paper clips, and documents cannot be in binders.

At both shredding events, the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office will be present to collect any unused/unwanted prescription medications that will be disposed of safely as part of their Project D.U.M.P.

Additionally, on May 11, along with Rep. Adam Ravenstahl and Rep. Sara Innamorato, we will be hosting a shredding event in Lawrenceville at the Busy Beaver parking lot, located at 4743 Plummer Street. Papers must be loose, with no binder or paper clips and documents cannot be in binders. There is a 5 bag/box limit at this event.

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.

Gaming Revenue Record

Pennsylvania Gaming Control BoardLast week, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced that revenue generated from the combined play of slot machines and table games reached an all-time monthly high during March 2019. Revenue generated in March totaled more than $309.1 million, a 2.86 percent increase over March 2018, the only other month since casinos opened in late 2006 where overall revenue was above $300 million.

March’s numbers were driven by the highest single month for table games revenue of more than $82.5 million, coupled with the third highest monthly slot machine revenue of more than $226.5 million. March’s table games numbers represented a 4.35 percent increase compared to March 2018.

The Gaming Control Board also posted its March Sports Wagering Report. The report encompasses the full month returns from:

  • Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
  • SugarHouse Casino
  • Rivers Casino
  • Parx Casino
  • South Philadelphia Race and Sportsbook
  • Harrah’s Philadelphia

Additionally, it also contains partial month returns from

  • Valley Forge Casino Resort (opened March 13)
  • Valley Forge Race and Sportsbook (opened March 14)

The monthly report provides a breakdown of the total handle collected, gross revenue, and taxes paid to the Commonwealth.

Casino

Handle

Revenue

Tax

Rivers Casino

$11,901,967

$1,344,398

$483,983

SugarHouse Casino

$9,223,827

$1,237,301

$445,428

Parx Casino

$7,965,932

$984,339

$354,362

Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course

$5,337,483

$521,864

$187,871

Harrah’s Philadelphia

$3,794,014

$326,752

$117,631

South Philadelphia Race and Sportsbook

$3,550,264

$534,253

$192,331

Valley Forge Casino Resort

$2,047,998

$449,597

$161,855

Valley Forge Race and Sportsbook

$706,089

$120,836

$43,501

Statewide Total

$44,527,574

$5,519,340

$1,986,962

Tax revenue generated:

  • State Tax (34% of adjusted gross revenue):                                   $1,876,576
  • Local Share Assessment (2% of adjusted gross revenue):              $110,386

The state’s gaming industry employs about 17,000 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.

Neville Township Litter Pickup

Neville Green is hosting an Earth Day Litter Pickup event this Saturday from 9 a.m. – noon in Neville Township. Volunteers will meet at the Neville Fire Station, located at 5300 Grand Avenue.  Gloves, safety vests and trash bags will be provided, and water, coffee and donuts are sponsored by Neville Green. Certificates will be issued to all participants. To register as a volunteer please call 412-965-7574 or email dorothy15225@gmail.com.

Fundraiser for Addiction Recovery Ministry

TeaEveryone is welcome to attend the Royal Princess High Tea on Saturday, May 4 from 12:30 – 3 p.m. at St. Pamphilus Social Hall, located at 1000 Tropical Avenue in Beechview. Tickets include specialty teas, scones and dainty treats.  There will be fun activities with real princesses and a life-sized Cinderella carriage. Attendees are encouraged to dress in a princess costume or best hat.  The proceeds from this fundraiser benefit Addiction Recovery Ministry. For more information or to order tickets online, please visit www.addictionrecoveryministrypittsburgh.org/events.  Questions can be directed to Rosemarie at 412-218-5410 or Julie at 412-888-7417. Learn more about Addiction Recovery Ministry by visiting them at www.addictionrecoveryministrypittsburgh.org.

Fontana Fact

It was on this day in 1954 that Hank Aaron hit the first of his 755 Major League home runs. Aaron played 23 years from 1954-1976 for Milwaukee and Atlanta. His 755 career home runs were a record that stood until 2007.

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