Senator Fontana and Senator Costa speak with Pittsburgh City Council during a post-agenda hearing on the PA Works Now proposal this past Wednesday. Pittsburgh City Council passed a resolution in favor of the package and held the post-agenda hearing to educate themselves and the public further about the proposal.
Senate Sends Texting While Driving & Concussion Safety Bills to Governor
This past week, the Senate passed legislation banning texting while driving. Senate Bill 314 (SB 314) now goes to the Governor for his signature. I supported the legislation.
SB 314 prohibits drivers from engaging in text-based communications while operating a motor vehicle. This includes using a wireless telephone, personal digital assistant, smart phone, or portable or mobile computer while driving to send, read, or write a message. This will be considered a primary offense meaning a driver can be pulled over even if no other violation has occurred. Drivers who violate the law will be ordered to pay a $50 fine.
This legislation is a necessary step to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities throughout the Commonwealth that are caused each year by texting. The International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry reports that in 2000, 12.2 million text messages were sent in the United States. By 2009, that number grew to 135.2 billion. This sharp increase in the number of text messages being sent on a yearly basis has translated into more accidents on our highways. The National Safety Council reports that at least 200,000 crashes and possibly as many as one million crashes last year involved at least one driver who was texting at the time of the accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number one source of driver inattention stems from using a wireless device while behind the wheel.
The Senate also approved amendments to Senate Bill 200 (SB 200) this past week, sending the legislation on the Governor for consideration. I am a co-sponsor of the Safety in Youth Sports Act that establishes standards for the management of concussions and traumatic brain injuries to student athletes. SB 200 will put procedures in place that will ultimately protect our young student athletes from the dangers associated with concussions while better educating parents, coaches and teachers on the signs and symptoms of concussions and other traumatic brain injuries.
Did You Know…
Traumatic brain injuries represent almost 9% of all injuries reported in high school sports.
This legislation requires the Departments of Health and Education to develop materials and guidelines to post online to inform students, parents, and coaches on the risks associated with concussions and traumatic brain injuries. Additionally, schools must present a concussion information sheet to students participating in athletic activities that students and the parents must sign and return.
Under the bill, a coach must remove a student athlete from a game if it is determined that the student athlete is displaying symptoms of a concussion or traumatic brain injury. The athlete may not participate again until he or she is evaluated and cleared to play by medical personnel. Coaches that refuse to remove a student athlete with a concussion from the field of play will be subject to suspension. Last, all school coaches will be required to complete a concussion management certification training course every year. Coaches will not be eligible to coach an athletic activity until they complete the course.
More and more retired athletics, specifically football players, have experienced recurring neurological problems from concussions suffered during their careers. In Pittsburgh, this has been of particular interest because Sidney Crosby of the Penguins has been dealing with the effects of a concussion he received nearly 10 months ago. Raising awareness on the dangers surrounding concussions and treating concussions properly at a younger age will help reduce the long-term health risks stemming from concussions.
Improving the LIHEAP Program
Last week, a resolution I sponsored, Senate Resolution 165 (SR 165), passed the General Assembly, directing the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to study the efficiency of the administrative functions and operations of the Low Income Home Energy Program (LIHEAP) and make recommendations on how the program can become more efficient. Greater efficiencies within the LIHEAP program can lead to more funding available to better assist low-income families in the program. The committee will report its findings and recommendations to the Senate within a year.
As I mentioned in last week’s edition, the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare began accepting applications for this season’s LIHEAP program on November 1. Last week’s News & Views contains information on the program, how and where to apply and eligibility guidelines. You can also pick up an application in one of my district offices.
Senate Offices Closed
All Senate offices will be closed this Tuesday, November 8th for Election Day and again on Friday, November 11th for Veteran’s Day.
Today is Election Day
Polls are open today from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. all across the Commonwealth. Locally, voters will have the chance to weigh in on county and city-wide races and the election of judges. There is also an important referendum on the ballot in the City of Pittsburgh concerning the funding of the Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh. Learn more about their effort here.
In Allegheny County, the Elections Division is available to answer any questions you may have about your polling place, provisional ballots, or where to register a complaint. That information can also be found on Allegheny County's Election Division website.
If you are not sure where to vote or if you are concerned your polling place may have changed, the County’s Election Division website has a polling place locator where you can enter your address to determine your correct polling place.
Honoring Our Veterans
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11th as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. In 1938, the 11th of November became a legal holiday known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I. In 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history and after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
While the original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m., today’s Veterans Day is dedicated to all means of honoring America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve. To name just a few of the celebrations this year:
- The Annual Veterans Day Parade in the city of Pittsburgh will take place on Friday, Veterans Day, beginning at 10:30 a.m. The parade starts at the corner of 11th Street and Liberty Avenue and proceeds down Grant Street to the Boulevard of the Allies before concluding at the former State Office Building.
- A rededication of the Veterans Memorial in the West End will take place on Friday, Veterans Day, at the Carnegie Library West End Branch at 47 Wabash Street. The ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. Volunteers, along with Pittsburgh Public Works, have worked tirelessly to clean and landscape the area surrounding the Memorial. The ceremony will include an Honor Guard, festive music, and an opportunity to thank our veterans for their service.
There are any number of vendors, locally and nationwide, who offer a “thank you” to those who served. Visit the County’s Veterans website for a complete list which includes free meals, appetizers, drinks and more!
Thank you to all of our veterans, including the nearly 1 million veterans throughout Pennsylvania, for your service to our great country!
Allegheny County Collecting Blankets & Winter Clothes for Jubilee Association
Allegheny County is encouraging residents to participate in the County's 10th Annual Blanket & Winter Clothing drive to benefit the Jubilee Association. Allegheny County will be collecting blankets and warm clothing in the lobby of the Allegheny County Office Building at 542 Forbes Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh Wednesday, November 16 thru Friday, November 18. Residents can drop off blankets and warm clothing on those three days from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
The Jubilee Association began as a soup kitchen in Downtown Pittsburgh more than 25 years ago. Today, the Jubilee Association provides a health clinic, job center, adult education programs, child care center, food bank, while continuing to serve hot meals year-round.
Robinson Township Native Honored
Pennsylvania State Police Corporal David Andrascik was recently awarded the first Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Hero Award for Drugged Driving Enforcement.
Corporal Andrascik, a 1988 graduate of Montour High School, works as the Coordinator of the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program, training officers to become Drug Recognition Experts. This program trains state troopers and police officers to recognize when an individual has been driving under the influence of drugs and to identify the type of drug causing an individual’s impairment.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2009, of the drivers killed in motor vehicle accidents (and were subsequently tested and had results reported), one in three tested positive for drugs. As a result of an increase in drugged drivers MADD, in partnership with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, has launched a national coordinated effort to reach out to the underserved and growing number of drugged driving victims.
Beginning in 2011, MADD is honoring those law enforcement officers from around the nation that are putting forth effective strategies to combat the growing problem of drugged driving. For his work with the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program, Corporal Andrascik had the distinction of being the first officer in the nation to be honored with this award at a reception at the National Press Club in Washington D.C.
Congratulations to Corporal David Andrascik and thank you for your service and your continued efforts to reduce the number of drugged drivers on the road!
Fall Home Maintenance Tips
As the weather turns colder, it is important to make sure your home is prepared to endure another winter season. Just taking a few simple steps now to maintain your home, both inside and outside, can save time, energy, and money as the winter months approach. Here are 10 steps you can take to ensure your home is ready for another winter.
High School Sports Rundown
Football Playoff Highlights
- Montour defeated Chartiers Valley 55-20 in a WPIAL Class AAA First Round game. Dillon Buechel threw for 183 yards and six touchdown passes leading the Spartans into the Quarterfinals. Darren Massey and Devin Wilson each caught two touchdown passes and Julian Durden and Anthony Rippole each caught one. Chartiers Valley’s Wayne Capers threw for 281 yards and three touchdowns. Chartiers Valley finishes the season with a mark of 5-5.
- Kevin Hart’s 224 rushing yards and three touchdowns paced Seton La-Salle to a 48-12 win over East Allegheny in a WPIAL Class AA First Round game. Nick Sywyj also rushed for two touchdowns in the win.
- Sto-Rox defeated Frazier 69-25 in a WPIAL Class A First Round game. Marzett Geter ran for a score, caught a touchdown pass and returned a kickoff for another touchdown in the win. Lenny Williams threw three touchdown passes and the Sto-Rox defense returned three interceptions for touchdowns.
- Bishop Canevin rallied to defeat Chartiers-Houston 27-23 in a WPIAL Class A First Round game behind Casey McCaffrey’s three rushing touchdowns. Bishop Canevin trailed 12-0 before Kevin Mechas hooked up with Colin Jones on a 34-yard touchdown pass. Bishop Canevin overcame a 23-13 halftime deficit.
- Brentwood defeated Western Beaver 20-12 in a WPIAL Class A First Round game. Justin Vickless rushed for 179 yards and two touchdowns. Trailing 12-7 in the fourth quarter, Chris Shortley hooked up with Sean O’Brien on a 26-yard touchdown pass to put Brentwood ahead for good.
- Northgate fell to Rochester 48-22 in a WPIAL Class A First Round game and finished the season with a record of 5-5. Jon Girvin rushed for a touchdown for Northgate and connected with Jake Abernethy on a 26-yard touchdown pass. Cody Walter returned a fumble for a touchdown.
(From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Sites and times will be announced later this week for the WPIAL Quarterfinals:
Friday, November 11th
Montour vs. West Mifflin, WPIAL Class AAA Quarterfinal – 7:30 p.m. @ Baldwin
Seton La-Salle vs. South Fayette, WPIAL Class AA Quarterfinal – 7:30 p.m. @ Peters Twp.
Sto-Rox vs. Brentwood, WPIAL Class A Quarterfinal – 7:30 p.m. @ Keystone Oaks
Bishop Canevin vs. Fort Cherry, WPIAL Class A Quarterfinal – 7:30 p.m. @ Chartiers-Houston
Seton La-Salle Boys Soccer Wins Championship
Congratulations to the Seton La-Salle boys’ soccer team on winning the WPIAL Class A Championship! The Rebels defeated Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in the Championship game, 1-0. Senior forward Ty Balzer scored the winning goal with just under two minutes remaining on a penalty kick.
Best of luck in the state playoffs!
Dormont Borough became the first independent municipality in the South Hills of Allegheny County on March 31, 1909. The first election of Dormont Borough officials was held on April 27, 1909.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana