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Senator Wayne D. Fontana
Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert and Senator Wayne Fontana
Senator Fontana attended the 80th anniversary celebration of Moore Park in Brookline on Saturday. The park, named after former principal at West Liberty and Brookline Elementary Schools, Joseph F. Moore, was established in 1939 and opened to the public in 1940. Senator Fontana is pictured here at the celebration with Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert.

Executive Order on Guns

Governor Wolf recently signed an executive order on gun violence and prevention after the El Paso, Dayton and Philadelphia mass shootings.  The order creates state offices to focus on violence reduction and prevention, promote safety, increase collaboration and data sharing among various departments as well as within local, state and federal government agencies.   The governor also highlighted that he would like to see the General Assembly pass legislation that would enact safe storage of firearms to reduce the number of incidents that have occurred by people who should have not had access to guns, a red flag law in addition to a state-level universal background check.  

Gov. Tom Wolf Signs Executive Order on Gun ViolenceThe executive order creates two new state agencies:  The Office of Gun Violence within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) and the Division of Violence Prevention within the Department of Health's Bureau of Health Promotion and Risk Reduction.  Together, the offices will tackle gun violence and prevention from both the public safety and public health perspective and create policy to help tackle the issue.

The Office of Gun Violence’s Special Council will consist of various representatives from the Children’s Advocacy Center Advisory Committee, Criminal Justice Advisory Committee, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee, the School Safety and Security Committee, State Police Commissioner, several Secretaries from the Wolf Administration and the Director of Homeland Security to name a few. Charles Ramsey, Chair of PCCD, will serve as the senior advisor to the Governor for this office.  The council will meet by mid-October and be responsible for the following:

  • Adopting a public health and community engagement strategy that includes gun owners, health care professionals, and victims of gun-related incidents;

  • Reviewing current background check processes for firearms purchases and making recommendations for improvements;

  • Reviewing the best practices and making recommendations that keep weapons from dangerous individuals;

  • Identifying and defining strategies across Commonwealth agencies to align resources to reduce gun violence; and

  • Providing PCCD and the Senior Advisor with recommendations to reduce incidents of community violence, mass shootings, and domestic violence, suicide, and accidental shootings within 180 days of the initial meeting of the council.

Overall, the goals of the executive order are as follows: 

  • Directs all departments to engage in a statewide effort at combating the systemic causes of violence, namely poverty, economic opportunities, mental and behavioral health supports, and hopelessness. 

  • A Violence Data Dashboard will be created to provide a better understanding of the scope, frequency, geography, and populations affected by violence, including counts, rates, and factors contributing to violence. 

  • Expand and support gun buyback programs through the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) and municipal police departments.

  • Direct PSP and the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission (MPOETC) to develop training on community gun violence prevention and focused deterrence.

  • Increase data sharing among jurisdictions to ensure broad geographical data is represented and tracked at the state level.

  • Partner with the courts to grow awareness and utilization of evidence-based juvenile justice programs that are proven to reduce violent crimes.

  • Expand Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS), a proactive approach to improving school safety and promoting positive behavior, in school statewide.

  • Charge PSP with expanding their monitoring of hate groups, white nationalists, and other fringe organizations and individuals, and conducting investigations, online and in communities, related to any threats of violence by these groups/individuals.

  • Expand the “See Something/Say Something” program to receive reports of suspicions of mass shootings by text and use a campaign to raise awareness of the ability to contact police by text.

  • Enroll Pennsylvania in the “States for Gun Safety” coalition, a multistate partnership charged with combating gun violence by sharing information and establishing the nation’s first regional Gun Violence Research Consortium.

  • Direct the Office of Homeland Security to launch an awareness campaign regarding the local, State, and federal resources on safety planning and preparedness.

  • Direct the Suicide Prevention Task Force to make immediate recommendations on steps to reduce suicides by guns.

  • Build on the current Mental Health Stigma campaigns that provide families/communities with real stories and statistics as well as information about how to access resources.

  • Develop a multidisciplinary Suicide Death Review Team to increase data collection and inform prevention efforts and policy decisions.

  • Increase awareness of and strengthen services within the Student Assistance Program, which allow school districts to provide mental health referrals, across the commonwealth by providing technical assistance.

I would also like to remind constituents that for two legislative sessions now, I have introduced an assault weapons ban bill (Senate Bill 292) and an extreme risk protection order bill (Senate Bill 293).  After the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton took place, Senator Baker, Chairwoman of the Judiciary Committee, stated that she will be holding hearings in September regarding gun violence and possible measures the commonwealth could take up to prevent this from happening in our state.  I wrote a letter to Senator Baker requesting that my bills be placed on the hearing’s agenda as some of the topics to discuss.  To read my letter, please click here.  

Did You Know…

Did you know that 17 states and the District of Columbia currently have Extreme Risk Protection Order laws?

Offices Closed

All Senate offices will be closed on Monday, Sept. 2 in observance of Labor Day. My offices will re-open as scheduled on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

Learn About Medical Marijuana, Get a Flu Shot at Annual Senior Fair

Annual Senior FairOn Thursday, Sept. 5, I will be hosting a FREE Senior Fair at the Dormont Recreation Center, located at 1801 Dormont Avenue, next to Dormont Pool.  The Senior Fair will run from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.  Light refreshments will be served.

New this year, attendees will have the chance to learn about Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program!

Do you suffer from chronic pain, cancer, anxiety disorders, or one of the other 23 qualifying medical conditions? Do you have questions about medical marijuana or need help obtaining your Pennsylvania medical marijuana card? Join Dr. John Metcalf and pharmacists from Maitri Medicinals at my Senior Fair for on-site medical marijuana card certifications and education. Contact 1-833-667-4665 or shelly@mms4relief.com to ensure you come prepared to the event with the necessary medical information.

American Healthcare Group will once again be on hand to provide flu shots for attendees.  There is no charge for the flu shots to anyone with a Medicare Part B card.  Please bring your card with you.

At the Sept. 5 Senior Fair, attendees can also:

  • Drop off unwanted medications as part of Sheriff Mullen’s Project D.U.M.P.
  • Have your photo taken to receive a new, updated Senior ConnectCard that will allow you to ride Port Authority buses and light rail for free
  • Visit with a pharmacist from Duquesne University’s School of Pharmacy to ask about medications
  • Get blood pressure checked
  • Receive important information from participating organizations on services and resources available to seniors

Anyone with questions can contact my district office at 412-344-2551.  If you need a flu shot, want to learn more about medical marijuana, have unwanted medications you need to dispose of, or want to receive important information from some of our region’s finest organizations and senior advocates, I hope you’ll consider attending this free event.

New Senior Citizen ConnectCards

Senior Citizen ConnectCardsThe Port Authority of Allegheny County is in the process of issuing new Senior Citizen Connect Cards and my office can assist. The new cards will replace the current blue or yellow PA Senior Transit ID cards and will have a photo of the cardholder on the card. These new cards will enable the user to ride Port Authority and other public transit vehicles for free across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Both my Brookline and Kennedy Township offices are equipped to help seniors get their new cards. Simply visit either office and bring with you ONE valid document that shows proof-of-age.  This includes a driver’s license or state-issued photo ID card, birth certificate, PACE ID card, or passport to name a few. My staff will enter your information into Port Authority’s system and upload your photo and a copy of your proof-of-age document. 

Upon receiving the information from my office, the Port Authority will produce a new Senior Citizen ConnectCard and then mail the card to my office where you can return to pick up the card. New cards should take a couple weeks to arrive at my office from the time Port Authority receives the information. When you return to get your new card, please bring with you your current senior bus pass so we can exchange it for your new ConnectCard.

Anyone age 65 or over is eligible to receive this new card and ride Port Authority and other public transit vehicles for free.

IRS Impersonation Scam

scamLast week, the Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners warned taxpayers and tax professionals about a new IRS impersonation scam campaign spreading nationally on email. Remember: the IRS does not send unsolicited emails and never emails taxpayers about the status of refunds.

The IRS last week detected this new scam as taxpayers began notifying phishing@irs.gov about unsolicited emails from IRS imposters. The email subject line may vary, but recent examples use the phrase "Automatic Income Tax Reminder" or "Electronic Tax Return Reminder."

The emails have links that show an IRS.gov-like website with details pretending to be about the taxpayer's refund, electronic return or tax account. The emails contain a "temporary password" or "one-time password" to "access" the files to submit the refund. But when taxpayers try to access these, it turns out to be a malicious file.

This new scam uses dozens of compromised websites and web addresses that pose as IRS.gov, making it a challenge to shut down. By infecting computers with malware, these imposters may gain control of the taxpayer's computer or secretly download software that tracks every keystroke, eventually giving them passwords to sensitive accounts, such as financial accounts.

The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry, which work together in the Security Summit effort, have made progress in their efforts to fight stolen identity refund fraud. But people remain vulnerable to scams by IRS imposters sending fake emails or harassing phone calls.

The IRS doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. This includes requests for PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.

The IRS also doesn't call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes. Click here to read more about phishing and online scams.

July Gaming Revenue

Pennsylvania Gaming Control BoardThe Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced recently that total revenue generated from gaming in Pennsylvania during July increased just over 1 percent from July 2018. Revenue generated in July totaled more than $281.4 million, a 1.13 percent increase over July 2018.

While revenue generated from slot machines fell nearly 2 percent, revenue generated from table games increased more than 4 percent. Sports wagering and online casino games also contributed to the increase in revenue.

The state’s gaming industry employs over 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.

School Bus Safety

KidsAs the start of the school year is upon us, I want to take this opportunity to remind motorists of the state’s School Bus Stopping Law and that anyone convicted of violating the School Bus Stopping Law can face penalties including a $250 fine, five points on your driving record, and a 60-day license suspension. 

Below are important items to remember when driving.  If you are driving in areas with a high concentration of students waiting for the bus, please slow down and be careful.

  • Motorists must stop when meeting a school bus with red signal lights flashing and stop arm extended.
  • Motorists must stop at least 10 feet away from school buses.
  • Motorists must wait until the red lights have stopped flashing and the stop arm has been withdrawn before moving.
  • Do not proceed until all children have reached a place of safety.
  • Motorists approaching an intersection where a school bus is stopped with red signal lights flashing and stop arm extended must stop whether on the same street or the cross street.
  • Motorists do not have to stop on a highway with clearly defined dividing sections or physical barriers providing separate roadways.  This only applies when the school bus is on the opposite side of the road.

I also encourage parents and students to visit www.justdrivepa.org to view tips offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) for kids to stay safe while riding the bus.

Guinness Book of World Records Fontana Fact

It was on this day in 1955 that the Guinness Book of World Records was first published. The first edition was 198 pages and took 13 ½ 90-hour weeks to complete. Since its first publication in 1955, more than 143 million copies of the book have been sold in over 100 countries and it has been translated into 22 languages. Annually, around 50,000 people apply to Guinness World Records in the hope their achievement will make it into print but only around 1,000 make it.

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