Senator Fontana visited with the Girls of Steel Robotics Team at Bishop Canevin High School on May 5th at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. The team was chosen to present their Robot at the PAECT Student Technology Showcase in the East Wing Rotunda at the Capitol. The Girls of Steel Robotics Team is striving to close the gender gap that currently exists in STEM fields and presented their project in Harrisburg, in part to raise awareness of the issue and to encourage others to incorporate STEM in more classrooms across the Commonwealth.
Time to End Insurance Contract Disputes
Recently, Representative Tony DeLuca held a press conference to introduce his House Bill 1964 (HB 1964) which would grant the Pennsylvania Insurance Department the ability to step into a contract termination and expiration dispute if the dispute involves a health system and any health insurer. Furthermore, if there is failure to reach an agreement and this failure would disrupt access to medical care in a region, the Insurance Commissioner would have the power to force the parties into mediation and possible binding arbitration.
I support Representative DeLuca’s efforts to bring both UPMC and Highmark to the bargaining table. I have also been working with Senators Vulakovich and Costa as a co-sponsor to Senate Bill 1247 (SB 1247) and Senate Bill 1248 (SB 1248) that would create a possible resolution to this major issue. To learn more about Representative DeLuca’s bill, please click here.
Senate Bill 76 Update
The Senate Finance Committee held an informational hearing last week on Senate Bill 76 (SB 76), known as The Property Tax Independence Act.
The proposal seeks to eliminate school property taxes across the Commonwealth and replace the tax with a combination of funding from the Personal Income Tax and the Sales and Use Tax. The revenue replacement mechanism in this act would expand the base of the state sales tax to include more services and products as well as increase the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent. The personal income tax (PIT) would increase from 3.07 percent to 4.34 percent.
The centerpiece of the discussion at last week’s hearing was a proposed amendment to the bill. For a list of items that would become subject to the sales tax for the first time under the amendment, click here.
Travel & Tourism Week
Along with Senator Kim Ward, I sponsored a Senate Resolution recognizing May 3 – 11 as National Travel and Tourism Week in Pennsylvania with May 5th being recognized as National Travel and Tourism Day in Pennsylvania. The Resolution is designed to promote and recognize the economic, social and cultural impacts of travel and tourism throughout the Commonwealth.
Travel and tourism consistently rank as one of the greatest generators of economic activity and jobs for our Commonwealth. In fact, tourism is the second largest industry in Pennsylvania, contributing roughly $38.4 billion in visitor spending and generated more than $4 billion in state and local taxes in 2012.
Our Commonwealth and our region, both have a lot to offer for visitors. In my role as Democratic Chair of the Senate’s Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee, I will continue to pursue and advocate for policies and projects that enhance our ability to create development that can serve as destination locations, increasing the opportunities to continue benefitting from the travel and tourism industry. For more information on travel and tourism in Pennsylvania, please visit www.visitpa.com.
Did You Know…
Did you know that Pennsylvania hosted over 192 million domestic and international travelers for business and leisure during 2012?
PA State Clean Diesel Grant Program
Applications are now being accepted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for the Pennsylvania State Clean Diesel Grant Program. School districts, municipal authorities, political subdivisions, state agencies, non-profits, corporations, and limited liability companies or partnerships incorporated or registered in Pennsylvania that operate diesel fleets are all eligible to apply.
The Program’s goal is to improve air quality by decreasing emissions from diesel-powered motor vehicles. It supports projects that re-power or retrofit fleet vehicles to curb emissions; purchase and install idle-reduction technology; or purchase clean alternative fuel fleet vehicles.
The State Clean Diesel Grant Program is funded through an annual allocation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s State Clean Diesel Program. Applications will be accepted through June 10th. To review the guidelines and submit an application, please click here. For more information please call the DEP Bureau of Air Quality at 717-787-9495.
PA Small Water and Sewer Grant Program
The Commonwealth Financing Agency is accepting applications through May 16th for the PA Small Water and Sewer Program, to support smaller projects that improve public water supply and sanitary water systems.
Eligible projects must have a total project cost between $50,000 and $150,000 and involve the construction, improvement, expansion, repair, or rehabilitation of a water supply or sanitary sewer system which is owned by the eligible applicant. Municipalities and municipal authorities are eligible to apply. Eligible projects may
also include consolidation or regionalization of two or more water supply systems or sanitary sewer systems which are managed or operated as an integrated system regardless of whether the system is physically connected.
These programs are administered jointly by the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). For more information about the PA Small Water and Sewer Program, and to apply and view guidelines, click here.
Absentee Ballot Reminder
I want to remind everyone that the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot for the May 20th Primary Election is next Tuesday, May 13th. All completed absentee ballot applications must be received by the Allegheny County Division of Elections Office no later than 5 p.m. The Elections Office is located in the County Office Building at the corner of Forbes Avenue and Ross Street in downtown Pittsburgh:
542 Forbes Avenue, Room 601
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
You may apply for an absentee ballot in person at the above address. When applying in person, once the ballots are printed and as long as you are properly registered, you will be given an absentee ballot on the spot and will be able to cast your vote right there. You may also visit any of my district offices to receive an absentee ballot application or go to the Resource Center page at www.votespa.com to download one.
If you have already applied for and received your absentee ballot, please know all voted absentee ballots must be received in the Elections office no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, May 16th in order to be counted. If you have any questions or need any additional information, please visit the Absentee Ballot page on the Allegheny County website or call 412-350-4520.
PA CareerLink Pittsburgh New Location
PA CareerLink has moved its Pittsburgh office from 425 Sixth Avenue to Wood Street Commons, located at 304 Wood Street in downtown Pittsburgh. Yesterday was the first day CareerLink was in their new space. PA CareerLink Pittsburgh helps connect job seekers with employers and offers a variety of materials,
workshops, consultation services, and on-line access to a comprehensive database of job opportunities and employment information. For more information on CareerLink services, please contact them at 1-866-317-JOBS or visit them at their new location.
Senator Fontana marched with over 400 little leaguers and their parents on May 3rd at the Brookline Little League Opening Day Parade.
Sioehn Moffatt joins City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, City of Pittsburgh Police Zone 6 Commander Scott Schubert, City of Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Senator Fontana at the Brookline Little League Opening Day Parade on May 3rd. Sieohn is actively involved with the Special Olympics and the Law Enforcement Torch Run.
Pittsburgh Day of Giving
The Pittsburgh Foundation is once again organizing today’s Day of Giving, PittsburghGives. The aim of this initiative is to increase the level of knowledge about non-profits in our region and to leverage or increase individual funding. This event is part of Give Local America, the national day for community foundations across the country.
Public 501c3 non-profit organizations that primarily serve Allegheny, Butler or Westmoreland Counties and that have a current profile at www.pittsburghgives.org are eligible to participate. Individuals wishing to donate to one of these organizations can visit www.pittsburghgives.org to make a donation online. Participating organizations will receive a pro-rated portion of the match pool and the match will be capped at $1,000 per donor transaction, per organization. Any gift of $25 to $1,000 per donor, per organization will count towards the match pool. If a donor gives a gift in excess of $1,000 to an organization, only the first $1,000 will count towards the match. All gifts are designated for operating support only and donations may not be used by the receiving organization to fulfill dues, pledges, or for named or capital projects.
The Day of Giving 2014 will run until midnight tonight.
Walk for a Healthy Community
The 2014 Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community is scheduled for May 17th beginning at Stage AE on the North Shore. Registration begins at 7:45 a.m. while the 5K walk begins at 9 a.m. with the one-mile fun walk starting at 9:15 a.m.
This annual event brings together 69 local non-profit organizations, including Focus on Renewal and many other terrific organizations that deliver vital health and human service programs in our community. There is no registration fee to participate in the walk but all walkers are encouraged to raise funds for the organization of their choice. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield underwrites the cost of the walk, so all money
raised is donated to directly benefit the organization of your choice.
If you are interested in participating, please visit www.walkforahealthycommunity.org to get started. On the home page, click on the link to “Pittsburgh” and then the “Register Now” tab which will allow you to select the organization you wish to support.
The second Sunday in May is designated as Mother’s Day. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the official observance of Mother’s Day as it became a national holiday in 1914. Although some states celebrated Mother’s Day as early as 1911, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation on May 9, 2014 that made Mother’s Day a national holiday.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana
|| Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
543 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120
524 Pine Hollow Rd
| Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15216