|Senator Fontana visited The Neighborhood Academy on June 12th and spoke at a check presentation ceremony. Highmark announced a contribution of $50,000 through the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program to The Neighborhood Academy.
Medical Marijuana – Victim of a Flawed Process
Because the legislative committee process is often times a flawed means for certain lawmakers to stall out important or controversial proposals, I have introduced legislation that would empower lawmakers to force committee action on bills.
Legislative committees are routinely the place where good bills go to die. The committee process too often creates political fiefdoms and empowers chairs to act as judge, jury and executioner on every bill referred to them. Whether its politics, marching orders from political party leaders or simple personal prejudice, these chairs have the power to stall and bury any bill that comes their way.
The ongoing medical marijuana issue is a good example of how committee chairs act more like dictators than impartial administrators who provide a group-focused study and debate on bills before they are reported to the Senate floor for a final vote.
The medical marijuana bill (Senate Bill 3 (SB 3))would make additional medications available for sick children, veterans and others who are suffering and sometimes dying of awful diseases. Despite nearly 90 percent public support and an overwhelming bipartisan 40 to 7 vote in the Senate, we are now hearing through media reports that the majority chair of the House Health Committee plans on indefinitely holding the bill up because he is personally opposed to legalizing marijuana in any form.
A lone lawmaker with a personal agenda shouldn’t have the power to simply ignore legislation because he feels like it. In my view, this inaction is a misuse of the legislative process. The medical marijuana issue is not a political issue or a Republican versus Democratic issue; it's a health issue that can affect anyone.
Under my legislation (Senate Resolution 23 (SR 23)), any lawmaker could compel a committee chairman to take action on a bill. Following a simple request, the committee chair would have 10 legislative days to hold a public meeting or hearing on the legislation; and then another 10 legislative days to schedule a final committee vote on the bill. I believe that leaves an appropriate amount of time to properly vet and debate legislation before reporting a bill out.
My bill prevents committee chairs from playing politics with legislation, and would also help discourage and weed out frivolous proposals that were never truly aimed at going anywhere in the first place. Our process should be about a legislative body discussing and debating serious issues, not about individuals putting strangleholds on bills they personally oppose.
Fees Waived for Volunteers
Last week, Governor Wolf announced the fees for child abuse clearances and criminal background checks required by the new Child Protective Services Law will be waived for volunteers working with children. Child abuse and criminal history record checks submitted to the Department of Human Services (DHS) and Pennsylvania State Police are also being reduced for all other applicants from $10 to $8. These changes take effect on July 25th.
Last year, the General Assembly passed legislation that enhances protections on children from abuse. However, the costs associated with some of these new requirements posed challenges, especially for smaller non-profit organizations that survive with the help of volunteers. After hearing from several organizations and potential volunteers, I am pleased that the governor has acted on this matter.
Starting July 1st, volunteers are required to obtain background checks, including the Child Abuse History Clearance, issued by DHS and the Criminal History Record Check, issued by the State Police. Anyone seeking employment for work with children and others required under the law will still be assessed fees for the clearances, but at the reduced cost of $8. FBI clearances are also required for all employees and for volunteers who have not been a continuous resident of Pennsylvania for the last 10 years. Since the FBI clearances are administered by the federal government, the current costs will continue to apply.
For more information about clearances required under the Child Protective Services Law, please visit www.keepkidssafe.pa.gov.
11th Annual FontanaFest – Save the Date
I’m excited to announce that the 11th annual FontanaFest has been scheduled for Saturday, August 22nd from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. and will once again be held at Highmark Stadium, home of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds!
The annual community event is perfect for families and children, promoting healthy and active lifestyles by providing many fun activities and crafts. Attendees also are provided with the opportunity to engage with several organizations from around the region and receive important information on available services and programs, nutrition, health care, jobs and jobs training. Lunch and beverages will be provided, and once again, IT’S ALL FREE!
Make sure you save the date, Saturday, August 22nd, and stay tuned throughout the summer for updated information on the 11th annual FontanaFest!
|Senator Fontana visited with residents at Marian Manor on June 13th for the 4th annual Rocking for Residents event, a fundraiser for the Vincentian Collaborative System. Senator Fontana was proud to present a condolence resolution he authored in April for Sr. Eileen Chebowski who passed away earlier this year. Pictured with Senator Fontana are (from L to R): Ray Washburn, Vincentian Collaborative System President & CEO; Sr. Christina Marie Janusek, Marian Manor Pastoral Care Director; and Karen Kutzer, President of Advancement for Vincentian Collaborative System.
Fresh Paint Days in Pennsylvania
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, the state affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, Inc., the nation’s largest volunteer-based community action and education organization, is accepting applications for their Fresh Paint Days Pennsylvania program. This annual program is held in partnership with Glidden Professional and The Home Depot. It is designed for any tax-exempt group in Pennsylvania to apply for paint and painting supplies that enable them to renew a community structure in need of some attention. Below are a list of grant criteria and more information about the program:
Available to any tax-exempt group in Pennsylvania. Private property owners or individual applications cannot apply.
- Each application is eligible for up to 20 gallons of exterior paint provided by Glidden Professional and $50.00 for painting supplies.
- Only one building per application is allowed. Applicants can submit multiple applications.
- Applicants must provide proof of liability insurance.
- Applicants must submit a signed permission form to paint from the property owner prior to the distribution of any grant funds.
- Required to submit at least two “before” photos of the intended project.
- Applicants must adhere to a 20 gallon limit of exterior paint.
- Must complete project during Fresh Paint Days Pennsylvania, which runs during the month of September.
- Must submit a completed final report with photos and supply receipts at the conclusion of the project.
All applications must be received by July 31st. For additional information about the grant program, please contact Michelle Dunn at 1-877-772-3673, ext. 113 or email@example.com.
Summer Food Program
Through August 21st, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services is operating the SummerFood Service Program. This program serves nutritious meals to children, 18 years of age and younger, as well as young adults up to age 21 with special needs who visit one of the sites throughout Allegheny County on weekdays during the summer. There are more than 75 sites in Allegheny County participating. For more information on the SummerFood Service Program, including site locations and meal times please call 1-800-851-3838 or visit the Food Assistance page at www.alleghenycounty.us.
Did You Know…
Did you know the SummerFood Service Program served meals to approximately 3,200 children in Allegheny County last summer including over 55,000 breakfasts and over 106,000 lunches?
Stroll the Strip!
Neighbors in the Strip is hosting their 4th annual Stroll the Strip this Thursday, June 18th. The annual event provides residents and visitors the opportunity to “Savor the Neighborhood” by visiting over a dozen host locations to see what exciting venues have to offer in the Strip. The event, which is an annual fundraiser for Neighbors in the Strip, is scheduled from 5 – 8 p.m. More information on the event, host locations, after party, and ticket information can be found at www.strollthestrip.com.
Taste of Beechview
The 3rd annual Taste of Beechview is scheduled for this Saturday from 2 – 5 p.m. at Broadway and Hampshire. A local happy hour will follow the event from 5 – 7 p.m. Taste of Beechview is free to attend with food and beverages available for purchase from the following establishments: Brew on Broadway; Crested Duck Charcuterie; Slice on Broadway; Casa Rasta; Fry Dawgz; Hey Tabouli; Las Palmas; BACC Cheescakes; Berlin Street Foods; Le Cupcake Shoppe; Quality Cuts; Chip+Kale; and more. For more information please visit the Taste of Beechview Food Festival on Facebook.
A recent Washington Post story cited Pennsylvania as the best state in the country for turning old rails into trails as part of a larger effort to convert abandoned rail tracks into walkable green spaces. According to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Pennsylvania has completed 170 rails-to-trails projects, which is more than any other state and also has more projects underway than any other state. Pennsylvania has turned 1,740 miles of track into trails which ranks third nationally.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana
|| Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Weekdays – 9 am – 5 pm
543 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Weekdays – 8:30 am – 5 pm
524 Pine Hollow Road
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
|| Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
Tuesdays – 10 am – 4 pm
|Strip District (Mobile Office)
Pittsburgh Public Market
2401 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Thursdays – 10 am – 4 pm
|Northside (Mobile Office)
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Wednesdays – 10 am – 4 pm