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Senator Wayne D. Fontana
Senator Fontana participated in a press conference on voting access with members of the Senate and House of Representatives on June 4 in the Capitol Rotunda.
Senator Fontana participated in a press conference on voting access with members of the Senate and House of Representatives on June 4 in the Capitol Rotunda. Senator Fontana spoke about his legislation that would allow Early Voting in Pennsylvania, Senate Bill 294 (SB294). SB 294 would provide greater convenience by enabling voters to cast their ballot days or up to two weeks before Election Day. People who work several jobs, travel or are uncertain about their ability to make it to the polls on Election Day would be able to participate in our elections much easier. There are 32 other states that already offer early voting. 

Senator Fontana spoke in the Capitol on June 5 at a press conference to address gun violence. 
Senator Fontana spoke in the Capitol on June 5 at a press conference to address gun violence. Senator Fontana talked about his legislation, Senate Bill 293 (SB293), which would provide for Extreme Risk Protection Orders in Pennsylvania. The bill would empower families and police officers to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from someone who is a threat to themselves or others. You can view Senator Fontana’s remarks by clicking here.

Advocating for Integrated Delivery Network Contract Dispute Resolution and Patient Access & Consumer Choice Act

UPMC/HighmarkYesterday began deliberations in Commonwealth Court regarding the issue of whether the existing Consent Decrees, governing the current health debacle between UPMC and Highmark, can be extended indefinitely beyond the June 30, 2019 termination date.  As we wait for Judge Robert Simpson’s ruling which should come by week’s end, I am still advocating for swift passage of Senator Costa’s Senate Bill 310 (SB 310) and Senate Bill 311 (SB 311).  These bills would create an appropriate legal structure for the continued relationship between UPMC and Highmark by providing that all integrated delivery networks must contract with any willing insurer.  If the parties are unable to come to an agreement on their own, they will enter mandatory binding arbitration to determine payment and contractual terms.  Additionally, SB 310 establishes a Health Care Competition Oversight Board to monitor the state of Pennsylvania’s health care markets to provide recommendations for keeping it affordable and accessible for consumers. 

In late May, members of the Allegheny County delegation sent a letter to the Chairmen of the Banking and Insurance Committees asking them to please move SB 310 and 311.  We feel that we have an ideal opportunity to provide leadership to protect patients and all health care consumers in Pennsylvania.  This legislation is essential, not just in the UPMC/Highmark service region, but around the state as integrated delivery networks grow and begin to monopolize regional health care markets.  The time is now to get these bills to the governor’s desk and ensure accessibility to protect the public’s health. 

Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program

As I wrote about last week, qualifying seniors in Allegheny County can pick up vouchers for locally grown fruits and vegetables TODAY as part of the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. This program is a federal program that is administered at the state level by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, attempting to provide seniors who are nutritionally at risk a means to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from approved Pennsylvania farmers.

The program provides recipients with four $5 voucher checks for a total year benefit of $20 to redeem at qualified farmers’ markets.  Checks may be spent through Nov. 30 on produce that is grown in Pennsylvania or purchased directly from a Pennsylvania farmer.

Some examples of produce that may be purchased under the vouchers are apples, beans, berries, carrots, grapes, melons, spinach and tomatoes.  Customers must spend the entire $5 check and change will not be given. Lost or stolen checks will not be replaced

The distribution of voucher checks will take place today at senior centers throughout Allegheny County.  Checks are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.  Seniors are asked to bring identification showing proof of age and residency to the distribution site.

To be eligible, individuals must be an Allegheny County resident who will be 60 years old by December 31, 2019.  The income limit for a one-person household is $23,107 and is $31,284 for a two-person household.  Married couples may each receive one set of checks.  If an eligible consumer requires a proxy to receive their checks, the proxy is responsible for signing for and spending the checks for the individual.  All individuals must completely fill out a proxy form in order to have a proxy receive checks for them. 

For a complete listing of voucher check distribution locations and times, or to download a proxy form, please visit the Allegheny County Department of Human Services website at http://www.alleghenycounty.us/dhs/olderadults.aspx.  A listing of distribution sites, farmers’ market locations and proxy forms can also be picked up in my district offices.  Anyone with questions on the program can also call the Allegheny County SeniorLine at 412-350-5460.

Gun Violence Reduction Initiative

End Gun ViolenceThe Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) has announced the availability of $1.5 million in state funds to support Gun Violence Reduction Initiatives. All counties, townships, boroughs, and cities in Pennsylvania are eligible to apply. The primary purpose of this initiative is to support the implementation of strategies that will result in reduced gun violence in local communities.

Applications are due in the PCCD’s Egrants system no later than Friday, July 12.  For assistance with the Egrants system, please contact the PCCD Egrants Help Desk at 717-787-5887 or RA-eGrantsSupport@pa.gov. Applicants with questions about the funding announcement can email ra-pccd-ocjsi@pa.gov through close of business on Wednesday, July 3. PCCD Staff will post responses to all questions received by close of business on Tuesday, July 9. To view the entire funding announcement, please click here or visit https://www.pccdegrants.pa.gov/Egrants/Public/OpenAnnouncements.aspx and then click on the “2019 Gun Violence Reduction Initiative” link.

Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program – Deadline Extended

Property TaxYesterday, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue announced they would be accepting applications for the 2018 Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program through Dec. 31. The previous deadline had been June 30.

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.

Rebates will be distributed by the PA Department of Revenue beginning July 1. The program is funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery and revenue from slots gaming.

Veterans License Plates

honoring our veterans license plate paWith the warmer weather and longer summer days bringing increased travel, the Pennsylvania Department of Military & Veterans Affairs (DMVA) offers an Honoring Our Veterans or the new Honoring our Women Veterans license plates for your vehicles as a great way to show patriotism and to support veterans in need.

Available for passenger cars and light duty trucks up to 14,000 pounds, and motorcycles, an Honoring Our Veterans license plate costs $36, with $15 dollars benefitting Pennsylvania's Veterans' Trust Fund (VTF). The VTF issues grants to statewide charitable organizations that aid veterans service organizations and county directors of veterans’ affairs. These valuable advocates use available grants to assist veterans in need of shelter and necessities of living, among other services. 

Available for a passenger car or truck with a registered gross weight of not more than 14,000 pounds, the Honoring Our Women Veterans license plate costs $35, with $15 benefitting the VTF to be used for programs and resources that assist women veterans.

In addition to the sales of these license plates, there are a number of other programs designed to help fund the VTF in support of Pennsylvania veterans. To learn more about other VTF programs or to purchase an Honoring Our Veterans or Honoring Our Women Veterans license plate, please visit www.vtf.pa.gov.

Did You Know…

Did you know that in February $800,000 of grant money from the Veterans Trust Fund was awarded to 29 Pennsylvania organizations that support veterans’ programs throughout the commonwealth?

Slot Machine Revenue Increases

Slot MachineThe Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced recently that revenue generated from slot machines in Pennsylvania increased 2.7% percent in May compared with May 2018.  Revenue from slot machines in May totaled more than $209.5 million, an increase from last May’s slot machine revenue of $203.9 million.  Tax revenue from slot machine play in May totaled more than $108.1 million.

The state’s gaming industry employs more than 16,000 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.

Vendor Demonstrations of Voting Systems

Voting SystemThe Allegheny County Division of Elections has been holding vendor demonstrations of potential voting systems for Allegheny County at locations throughout the County. The demonstrations are intended to allow the public to try the systems out, ask questions of the vendors, and form an opinion on what systems may best serve residents.

Residents are invited to provide feedback to the Elections Division at the demonstration or can email the Board of Elections Division at boe@alleghenycounty.us.

The remaining vendor demonstrations are listed below:

DATE TIMES LOCATION
Tuesday, June 11 9am-3pm, 5-8pm CCAC Allegheny Campus
Foerster Student Services Center Auditorium
800 Ridge Avenue, Pittsburgh 15212
Wednesday, June 12 9am-3pm, 5-8pm Kane Comm. Living Ctr., Glen Hazel – Auditorium
955 Rivermont Drive, Pittsburgh 15207
Thursday, June 13 9am-3pm, 5-8pm CCAC West Hills Center
Rooms S-1306, S-1307, S-1308, S-1311
1000 McKee Road, Oakdale 15071

Children EatingSummer Food Program

Children ages 18 and younger can participate in the Summer Food Service Program which began in mid-June.  This is a federal program providing free meals and fun activities to kids 18 and under during the summer months when school is out of session. Children can receive breakfast and lunch during summer recess at many locations in Allegheny County. 

To learn more please call 412-460-FOOD or click here to search for locations near you.

Heidelberg Concert in the Park

Heidelberg Borough is holding a Concert in the Park this Friday evening, featuring the band, See the Summer. The event begins at 6 p.m. and will also include the availability to purchase food from Burgh Bites.  The concert and parking are free. For more information please visit http://heidelbergborough.org/.

Fontana FactFruits & Vegetables

The month of June is National Fruits & Vegetables Month. The American Heart Association recommends that adults consume 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day to help build a healthier lifestyle, which is equal to about 4.5 cups. On average, American adults only eat about 1-1.5 cups per day. Increasing the amount of fruit and vegetable you eat, can help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by almost 20 percent.

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