Subscribe to this e-update.
Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Minimum Wage

Yesterday Governor Wolf signed an Executive Order that will raise the minimum wage for state government employees under his jurisdiction and employees of organizations that receive state contracts to $10.15 an hour. The state’s minimum wage, which mirrors the federal minimum wage, has been $7.25 an hour since 2009. Click here to read the governor’s Executive Order.

Time to End the Statute of Limitations for Child Sexual Abuse

When I ran for office in 2005, I had high hopes of changing the laws of the commonwealth to better protect the innocent.  This is especially true when it comes to laws that will impact our future generation - children.  One of the most difficult aspects of my job has been the frustration surrounding the status quo and not passing good and meaningful legislation just because of what political party you are associated with.  The greatest example of this is my Senate Bill 31 of 2013 that toughens child abuse reporting requirements in schools.  I had introduced a form of this legislation every session since 2006. Ironically enough, if my bill was passed seven years earlier, it may have had implications to discover those heinous crimes sooner. 

chamberFast forward to present day.  Once again the headlines read about sexual abuse in Pennsylvania with the Attorney General’s Office making public a 147-page grand jury report. This time the abuse takes place in the Altoona area and dates back as far as the 1970’s. The report details how hundreds of children were sexually abused and assaulted over a period of more than 40 years by dozen of priests and religious leaders.  If the story was not tragic enough already, the realization that none of the criminal acts detailed in the report can be prosecuted should be the real wake up call.  This is due to the fact that some of the perpetrators are deceased, deeply traumatized victims being unable to testify in court and the statute of limitations being exhausted. 

Statutes of limitations are laws that set a time limit on how long charges can be filed for certain crimes.  Previous lawmakers have created these time frames with the rationale that it becomes harder to prosecute for alleged wrongdoing as a case gets older since it is more difficult to collect reliable evidence.  The same can be said of witnesses.  They may have forgotten the details of the events, incurred sickness or disease that alters their memory or have even passed away.  Many also argue in favor of the time limits with the mindset that it is unfair to hold out the possibility of prosecution for a plaintiff for an extended period.  

Research shows that it often takes years if not decades for sexual abuse victims to come forward according to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.  Survivors often take time to come to grips with the assault due to lingering problems like post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and addiction.  Furthermore, children often don’t have the emotional stability or maturity to understand what happened or the ability to report the crime at a young age. 

However, doing away with the statute of limitations for sexual abuse is not a new idea.  State lawmakers have made changes to these laws in the past, both in 2002 and 2006, following major abuse scandals.  In criminal cases, the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania now extends until the child victim’s 50th birthday.  For civil cases, the law extends until a child victim’s 30th birthday. 

I would also like to point out that the grand jury recommended that the commonwealth abolish the criminal statute of limitations for sexual offenses against minors, and opening a window to allow child sexual abuse victims the ability to have their civil actions heard.  There are several pieces of legislation that have been introduced for a number of years now that would achieve exactly what the grand jury recommended:

  • Senate Bill 172 (SB 172) would eliminate the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of a minor for criminal prosecution. 
  • Senate Bill 173 (SB 173) would eliminate the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of a minor for civil action. 
  • Senate Bill 582 (SB 582)/ House Bill 661 (HB 661) would raise the age from 30 to 50 years for an adult victim of child sex abuse to file a civil claim, consistent with criminal statute.  It would also allow previously time-barred victims up to age 50 to bring suit for several years. 
  • House Bill 655 (HB 655) would entirely remove the statute of limitations to allow for victims of child sexual abuse to file civil suit or criminal charges regardless of the amount of time that’s passed since the alleged abuse occurred. 

Now is the time to reexamine Pennsylvania’s child sex abuse statute of limitations and that is why I am a co sponsor to these bills.  Lawmakers need to do away with these outdated and ineffective laws.  Child sexual abuse predators should not be allowed to get away with these heinous crimes no matter how long ago they occurred.  Victims deserve justice and should have every opportunity to be heard in court.  And these bills could help take down one more barrier that stands in their way. 

Lawrenceville Mobile Office

Beginning on March 31, I will be opening a mobile office in Lawrenceville.  The mobile office will be open each Thursday at the Carnegie Library - Lawrenceville, located at 279 Fisk Street, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.  This office will replace the Strip District mobile office at the Pittsburgh Public Market.

Below is an updated schedule for all of my district offices including satellite and mobile offices.


932 Brookline Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA  15226
Phone – 412-344-2551
Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Beechview (satellite office)
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA  15216
Phone – 412-343-2080
Tuesdays, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Kennedy Township
Kenmawr Plaza, 500 Pine Hollow Road
Kennedy Twp., PA  15136
Phone – 412-331-1208
Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Northside Mobile Office
Carnegie Library
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA  15212
Wednesdays, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Lawrenceville Mobile Office (BEGINNING MARCH 31)
Carnegie Library
279 Fisk Street
Pittsburgh, PA  15201
Thursdays, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Summer Environmental Camp for Students

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) is accepting applications from students interested in attending the Exploring Careers Outdoors (ECO) Camp.  The six-day camp begins July 10 at Kirby Episcopal House and Chapel, Mountain Top, in Luzerne County.  The camp is located near Nescopeck State Park and about 10 miles south of Wilkes-Barre.

Eco CampThis free camp will introduce 20 students in grades 10-12 to conservation and environmental careers.  From wildlife conservation projects and stream sampling of aquatic life, to forestry skills, daily activities will offer students a hands-on, team-building learning experience in an outdoor setting.  Participants explore a wide range of career experiences, including water quality assessments, geology field studies, and overnight camping experiences.  Students will also meet conservation professionals to learn about potential career opportunities.  After the camp, attendees will have a chance to seek internships, job-shadowing and other career-related opportunities through the camp’s mentor program.

The application deadline is April 15.  For more information about the ECO Camp and to download a brochure and application, please click here or visit  You may call 717-425-5330 for more information.

Large Increase in Slot Machine Revenue

slotsThe Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board recently announced that revenue from the play of slot machines at the state’s 12 casinos increased by over nine percent during February, compared to February 2015.  Gross revenue from slot machines was over $200 million in February, compared to roughly $183 million in February 2015.  Even without the extra day in February due to leap year, slot revenue would have increased over six percent from last February.  Tax revenue generated from slot machines during February 2016 was nearly $107 million.

Slot machines are taxed at 55 percent in Pennsylvania and directed as follows:  34 percent for property tax reduction; 12 percent supporting the horse racing industry; five percent is placed in a state economic development fund; and two percent goes to local governments that host casinos.

The state’s gaming industry employs over 17,700 people and generates an average of $3.7 million per day 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

Free Tax Preparation Assistance

taxesThe United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania and the Money in Your Pocket Coalition are taking appointments from low- and moderate-income workers in need of assistance with preparing their tax returns.  In mid-January, 16 free tax preparation sites opened around Allegheny County where trained, IRS-certified volunteers are available to prepare tax returns for qualifying individuals.  Households with a total income of $52,000 or less in 2015 may qualify for free tax preparation assistance.

All 16 locations throughout the County are by appointment only.  For more information on the program, what you need to bring to an appointment, and to view all 16 locations, please visit  To schedule an appointment you may dial 2-1-1 to contact the United Way’s free 24-hour health and human services hotline.  The Free Tax Preparation Program runs through April 15.

March For Meals

March for MealsWest Hills Meals On Wheels, located at the Coraopolis United Methodist Church is once again participating in March For Meals, a Meals On Wheels America national campaign to increase awareness and build support in the community.  The campaign enables the kitchen locally and kitchens across the country, to deliver nutritious meals, friendly visits, and safety checks to clients all year long.

The West Hills Meals On Wheels services clients in Coraopolis and Neville Island, along with nearby Crescent and Moon Townships.  If you’re interested in volunteering as a kitchen helper or meal deliverer or wish to refer a neighbor or family member, please contact Meals on Wheels at 412-264-5973 or

Did You Know…

Did you know over 2.4 million seniors have been served by Meals On Wheels programs
across the country?

Scholarships for Northside Students

I want to make all high school seniors living on the Northside aware of a scholarship opportunity provided by the Northside Leadership Conference Scholarship Program.  The program is available to any Northside resident in the 12th grade, who performs volunteer service in their community and who plans to attend a college or training program after high school.

The scholarship awards are for $1,000 and the deadline to apply is Friday, March 18.  For more information on the scholarship program and how to apply please contact Kelly MacKay at 412-231-4714, ext. 201 or

Read Across AmericaFontana Fact

Last Wednesday was Read Across America Day in the United States, a project of the National Education Association that focuses on motivating children and teens to read through events, partnerships and reading resources.  Reports from the National Center for Education Statistics show that children who were read to frequently are more likely to read or pretend to read, write their own names, or count to 20 or higher, than children who are read to less frequently.

Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Phone: 412-344-2551
Fax: 412-344-3400
Weekdays – 9 am – 5 pm
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
Fax: 412-331-2079
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
Phone: 412-343-2080
Fax: 412-343-2418
Tuesdays – 10 am – 4 pm
Northside (Mobile Office)
Carnegie Library
Allegheny Branch
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Wednesdays – 10 am – 4 pm