On Friday, June 27th, the Senate Law and Justice committee unanimously passed Senate Bill 1182 (SB 1182), also known as the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act. I am happy to have signed on early to co-sponsor this legislation and that it has such broad, bipartisan support in the Senate. Much more important though, is that this is a good sign that proven treatment may soon be available for ailing children and adults in Pennsylvania.
According to the bill, the growth, processing, and dispensing of marijuana would be overseen by a state Board of Medical Cannabis Licensing. Pennsylvania residents would be able to obtain medicinal products once they prove a practitioner-patient relationship, have written confirmation of a qualifying medical condition, and obtain a $100 card from the State Health Department. Once a recent law signed in New York takes effect, 21 states across the nation will have legalized medical cannabis.
While I would like to remain hopeful that SB 1182 will come up for a vote before the full Senate, there is still much work to do. The Majority Party in the House of Representatives has indicated that they will not consider the legislation and the Governor has stated that he would likely veto SB 1182. No matter what happens, though, I believe that legalizing medical cannabis for Pennsylvanians who need it is without a doubt the right thing to do and we need to remain vigilant in educating our colleagues in the House and the Administration.
Large Non-Profits Paying Fair Share
Over the past few weeks, I have been highlighting Senate Bill 143 (SB 143), my proposal which would require wealthy non-profits to pay their fair share on the value of their land. I have shown that this plan has the potential to garner over $165 million in total revenue for the City of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Public School District and Allegheny County and allow non-profits large and small to continue their missions.
On the heels of the approval of the Act 47 plan last week, and as I continue to advocate for SB 143 in Harrisburg, I am calling on the City of Pittsburgh’s Administration and Council to consider an option relative to my proposal that would create a consistent, sustainable funding formula. Come to me with questions, comments, or concerns. Hold public hearings on what the people of the city feel should be done on the matter of wealthy non-profits. Let’s all come together to improve upon the ideas provided for in SB 143 in an effort to help our city.
Until all other options on the table have been exhausted, we must hold the line on property taxes. With some struggling to stay in their homes as it is, it is not fair to pass up a plan like SB 143, which is to the advantage of even those non-profits which would be taxed. However, even if it is the opinion of the city that my plan is not the way to move forward, it is still clear that something more must be done to guarantee that wealthy non-profits pay their fair share, and I am hopeful the Mayor and Council can stand together with me on this issue.
Did You Know…
Did you know that the non-profit, UPMC, claimed $10 billion in total operating revenue in fiscal year 2013 with $9.9 billion in total assets?
Last week, both UPMC and Highmark signed separate consent decrees with the Commonwealth, transition agreements that will provide Highmark customers in network access during an extended transition period that will continue after the current arrangement expires at the end of 2014.
While I am pleased to see that specialty hospitals within the UPMC system, such as Children’s Hospital, Hillman Cancer Center and Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic will continue to be considered in-network for all patients, I was disappointed to learn that Magee Women’s Hospital was not included. I am hopeful the two sides can find a way to remedy that and include Magee.
Both UPMC and Highmark have agreed to cover emergency room visits at each other’s facilities and there is an agreement to cap out-of-network coverage. Also, Highmark customers in a continuing course of treatment with a UPMC provider can continue to receive care on an in-network basis with in-network rates.
While this recent development is positive, I hope these two health organizations continue to work toward broadening the range of services and coverage available to all families in our area. As soon as more specific details on the two consent decrees are available, I will provide further information to all constituents.
All Senate offices will be closed on Friday, July 4th in observance of Independence Day. My offices will re-open as scheduled on Monday, July 7th.
On July 4, 1776, the thirteen colonies claimed their independence from England, an event which eventually led to the formation of the United States of America, and Independence Day marks the federal holiday that celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. As Americans everywhere celebrate this year, please take time to remember the sacrifices our brave men and women of our armed services have made, and continue to make today, to protect the freedoms we enjoy. Happy Birthday America!
As Pennsylvanians celebrate Independence Day this weekend, the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) wants to remind everyone that residents and non-residents can legally fish on July 4th without a fishing license. All other fishing regulations will still apply. Fish-for-Free Days are used as a way to introduce people to the sport of fishing. Additionally, newcomers to the sport can borrow equipment from dozens of fishing tackle loaner sites across Pennsylvania. To view a complete list of loaner sites, please click here. More information on the upcoming Fish-for-Free Day is available on the PFBC website.
10th Annual FontanaFest – Save The Date
The 10th Annual FontanaFest is changing venues this year. This year’s annual community event is being held at Highmark Stadium at Station Square, home of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Saturday, August 9th from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Children in attendance will have the opportunity to participate in soccer activities with members of the Riverhounds on the field at Highmark Stadium. Other activities include inflatables, balloon making and crafts, along with the chance for children and families to receive important information on exercise, nutrition, healthy lifestyles, health care, education and jobs and jobs training. Lunch and beverages will be provided, and once again, IT’S ALL FREE! Station Square will be providing free parking in the Stadium’s West Lot for attendees from 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Make sure you save the date, Saturday, August 9th and note the change in venues this year. I will make sure to update you with more information on the 10th Annual FontanaFest as the summer moves along.
PTSD Family Seminar
It's About The Warrior Foundation is hosting a family seminar on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on July 19th from noon – 3 p.m. at Latitude 360 in Robinson Township. All veterans and their family members are welcome to attend this free seminar and lunch buffet. The three-hour seminar will offer insight into living with post-traumatic stress disorder, offering perspectives from both the point of view of veterans and their families. The presentation will serve as an open forum for two-way conversation about PTSD and will include guest speaker, retired wounded U.S. Marine Gary Myers, who will speak about his fight and success with PTSD.
If interested in attending this free seminar, please call 724-712-1355 or email email@example.com your R.S.V.P. by July 11th. To learn more about the It’s About The Warrior Foundation, please visit them online at www.iatw.us.
OASIS Pittsburgh will be hosting free training sessions for adults aged 50 and over who are interested in serving as tutors for students enrolled in Pittsburgh Public Schools. These training sessions will be held on August 20th and August 27th from 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at Macy’s Department Store in downtown
Pittsburgh. All materials, books, and supplies will be provided by OASIS.
OASIS is a non-profit organization, founded in 1982, that is active in 40 cities across the country in promoting successful aging by providing opportunities for adults aged 50 and over to pursue vibrant, healthy, productive and meaningful lives. Their Intergenerational Tutoring Program trains older adults on tutoring children and provides older adults the chance to help students learn. The program is operated in partnership with the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council.
For more information on how to become an OASIS tutor, please call John D. Spehar, Pittsburgh OASIS Tutoring Coordinator at 412-232-2021 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
City of Pittsburgh Civic Leadership Academy
I want to remind everyone the City of Pittsburgh is accepting applications for Mayor Peduto’s 2014 Civic Leadership Academy (CLA). This free 10-week program gives residents the opportunity to educate themselves about city government to help them improve their communities. CLA was created to help make city government functions more transparent and accessible to all city residents and to provide information and insight about the city so that residents can become more informed, effective and inspired community leaders.
The program is open to residents living in the City of Pittsburgh and business owners who operate a business within the city, and participants must be 18 years of age or older. Up to 30 applicants will be selected in a competitive application process with half of those selected being foreign-born residents who are naturalized and have lived in Pittsburgh for less than 10 years. The program consists of 10 consecutive sessions on Wednesday evenings beginning September 10th and running through November 12th.
For more information on the CLA program and to apply online, please click here. Anyone with additional questions can contact Sally Stadelman at 412-255-2280 or email@example.com. All applications must be received by July 11th.
As part of its role in preventing youth initiation into tobacco, Tobacco Free Allegheny performs compliance checks on retailers that sell tobacco products to ensure they are not violating the law and selling tobacco to minors. In 2001, 71 percent of retailers were found to be selling tobacco to minors in violation of the law. Today, that rate is less than two percent.
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