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Senator Wayne D. Fontana
Senator Fontana participated in a Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing on methane emissions at the Teamsters Temple in Lawrenceville.

Last week, Senator Fontana participated in a Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing on methane emissions at the Teamsters Temple in Lawrenceville. The hearing focused on strategies for combatting climate change by reducing methane gas emissions.

Elimination of Certain Driver’s License Suspensions

Act 95 of 2018, that was signed into law in October, went into effect last week. This Act eliminates a mandatory driver’s license suspension as a penalty for those convicted of certain nondriving violations.  As a result, Pennsylvania will no longer automatically suspend some 20,000 licenses annually, significantly reducing the number of residents who have been unable to drive to work, run errands, pick up their children from after-school programs or perform many other basic parental duties. 

The new law eliminates the suspension of a driver’s license for the following offenses:

  • Underage purchase, consumption, possession or transportation of liquor or malt or brewed beverages
  • Purchase of tobacco as a minor
  • Misrepresentation of age to secure liquor, malt or brewed beverages by any person under 21 years of age
  • Carrying a false identification card by any person under 21 years of age
  • Possession, sale, delivery, offering for sale, holding of sale, or giving away of any controlled substance under the law of the United States, the Commonwealth, or any other state

The origin of this law dates back to the 1990’s and the United States’ War on Drugs.  A federal law was passed in which Congress threatened states' highway funding if the state did not mandatorily suspend licenses of people convicted for certain drug crimes.  There were provisions put into the federal law that allowed individual states to opt out, however, Pennsylvania, along with 11 other states chose not to. 

Before passage of Act 95, a first offense carried a mandatory six-month driver’s license suspension with a second offense resulting in a one-year suspension, and a two-year suspension for a third or subsequent offense.  It’s important to point out that Act 95 does not retroactively apply to people who are currently serving license suspensions or suspensions that have already been imposed. 

Over the years, many have argued that the law was overly punitive, counterproductive and irrational and disproportionately affected the poor and minority communities.  The law is supported by the Pennsylvania ACLU, the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, the Justice Action Network and the Pennsylvania Office of Victim Advocate.  

I was supportive of passage of Act 95 and the removal of a major barrier towards employment, in particular for Pennsylvanians who live in areas where public transportation isn’t readily available.   I have heard the struggle of many individuals who are still paying the price for actions from their youth and believe that driving privileges should only be imposed as a consequence for traffic violations and actions that threaten traffic harm and safety. 

Did You Know…

Did you know that between 2011 and 2016, Pennsylvania suspended the driver’s licenses of about 149,000 people who were convicted of drug crimes, unrelated to traffic safety?

Senator Fontana participated in the grand opening ceremony for the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s new MuseumLab at their location on the Northside.

Senator Fontana participated in the grand opening ceremony for the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s new MuseumLab at their location on the Northside on Saturday morning. Museum Lab is a place where kids 10 and older can have cutting-edge experiences in art, tech and learning. He is pictured above speaking during the opening ceremony with Karen Larrimer – Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s Capital Campaign Chair, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Jane Werner - Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s Executive Director, and Michael Duckworth - Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s Board President.

 

Upcoming Shredding Events

I want to alert everyone about three upcoming shredding events.  This 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.

DCED Multimodal Fund

MTF ProgramThe 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/.

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.

Cinco de Mayo Festival

Las Palmas and the Latin American Cultural Union are hosting their annual Cinco De Mayo Festival in Beechview this Saturday, May 4.  The event will take place from noon – 8 p.m. in the parking lot at Las Palmas, located at 1616 Broadway Avenue.  The event will feature inflatables for children, food vendors, artistic presentations, folk performances, raffles, and more!

Fontana Fact

Allegheny County is home to nine County parks that comprises 12,044 acres and 181 total trail miles.

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