A Notice to Voters
Last week, a Pennsylvania judge ruled that votes cast today on a constitutional amendment ballot question that would increase the retirement age for judges in Pennsylvania from age 70 to 75 will not count.
A nonbinding resolution was passed earlier this month by the Pennsylvania General Assembly delaying the vote until November citing more time was needed to change the question’s language.
Election Day Information
Today is Election Day throughout Pennsylvania! Polls are open across the state from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. today. If you need any information on Election Day such as where to vote, whether or not you are registered, or to file Election Day complaints, please visit www.votespa.com or view last week's edition of my News & Views. Don’t forget to vote!
All Senate offices will be closed today for the Primary Election. My offices will re-open tomorrow, Wednesday, April 27 as scheduled.
CARE Act Signed into Law
More older Pennsylvanians will receive necessary assistance at home with the passage of the Caregiver, Advice, Record, Enable (CARE) Act, also known as Act 20. Under the new law, family caregivers currently assisting older adults at home will be provided with essential support on the individual’s recovery plan once released from the hospital, reducing the likelihood of costly hospital readmission. It has been estimated that more than 1.6 million family caregivers will be positively affected by this new common sense law.
Before passage of Act 20, hospitals were permitted to coordinate a patient’s aftercare plans with a designated caregiver but not required. Thanks to the CARE Act, health care facilities will be required to record the name of the family caregiver when someone is admitted to a hospital and notify the caregiver when the patient is to be discharged to another facility, such as a rehab center, or even home. Furthermore, a live explanation or video instruction on the medical tasks necessary to care for the patient will be given by the facility and the ability for the caregiver to ask questions in order to ensure a smoother transition back home which will maximize a quick recovery.
The legislation was needed since research shows that about 69 percent of care recipients do not receive a home visit by a health care professional after discharge from the hospital. For that reason, family caregivers are increasingly charged with performing complex medical or nursing tasks for their loved ones who frequently have multiple chronic physical and cognitive conditions, often with little or no training. With the vast majority of older Pennsylvanians wanting to remain in their homes as they age, the contributions of family caregivers cannot be overlooked.
Approval of the CARE Act makes Pennsylvania the 23rd state to pass legislation designed to help family caregivers. The new law will take effect in April 2017.
Senator Fontana with Representative Dan Deasy and Crafton Borough hosted a shred event on Saturday in the parking lot at Crafton Park. Senator Fontana is pictured here with Rep. Deasy and Joe Pittinaro from Crafton Public Works. Special thanks to Rep. Deasy and staff and Ann Scott and Joe Pittinaro with Crafton Borough on helping make a great event!
Upcoming Shredding Event
I want to alert everyone about an upcoming shredding event.
On Saturday, May 14, together with Representative Dan Deasy and Green Tree Borough, we are hosting a shredding event in the parking lot at Green Tree Park from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
With consumer fraud and identity theft continuing to be an issue, we want to not only raise awareness and promote prevention, but also to provide individuals with the opportunity to have unneeded, confidential documents destroyed free of charge. You may bring documents that contain personal information such as social security numbers, credit card numbers and bank account numbers.
Table Games Revenue Hits All-Time High
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced last week that gross revenue from table games play at Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos during March eclipsed the previous high revenue month and was 11.7 percent higher than March 2015. Revenue generated from table games in March was nearly $78 million compared to $69.7 million generated in March 2015. The previous high occurred in December 2015 when just over $72 million was generated. Total tax revenue from table games in March was just over $11 million.
The increase in table games revenue during March combined with the earlier reported 1.7 percent increase in slots revenue during the month resulted in an overall gaming revenue increase for the month of 4.2 percent over March 2015.
Table games in Pennsylvania are taxed at 14 percent with the majority of that revenue directed into the state’s General Fund and the remaining funds directed to local governments. 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 table games and slot machines. For more information on gaming in Pennsylvania and to read reports from the Gaming Control Board, please visit www.gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov.
April is National Donate Life Month and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is inviting driver’s license and identification card holders to learn more about becoming an organ donor. Customers can easily add the organ donor designation to an existing driver’s license or identification card by visiting www.dmv.pa.gov and selecting the “Donate Life Pennsylvania” icon in the middle of the home page. Once the designation is added, individuals will receive a designation card that they will have to carry with them to affirm organ donor status until they renew or replace their driver’s license or identification card. There is no charge for adding the designation.
Driver’s license and identification card holders, as well as registered vehicle owners, can also support organ donation programs by donating $1 to the Robert P. Casey Memorial Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Trust Fund at the time of application and/or renewal. Proceeds from the fund are used to educate and promote awareness of the organ donor program through non-profit organizations like the Center for Organ Recovery and Education and the Gift of Life Donor Program. Over the past 20 years, Pennsylvanians have donated nearly $13 million.
As part of ongoing efforts to raise awareness of organ and tissue donation, video monitors featuring educational content are installed at 20 PennDOT photo license centers. More information on organ and tissue donation in Pennsylvania can be found at www.donatelife-pa.org. Currently, more than 8,000 Pennsylvanians are awaiting organ transplants. Nearly 4.6 million Pennsylvanians are registered organ donors.
Great American Cleanup
This year’s Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania began March 1 and runs through May 31. This project is an annual effort organized by Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful with the goal of keeping our communities clean and green, and improving the overall quality of life for everyone.
If you are interested in volunteering, please visit www.gacofpa.org where you can find a listing of cleanup events, resources for organizing a cleanup, and other information. These events can include cleaning up litter and trash along roadsides, streams, parks, forests and in neighborhoods, the planting of bulbs and trees and removing graffiti. Anyone interested in registering a cleanup event can do so at www.gacofpa.org. All registered events being held through May 31 are eligible for free work gloves, safety vests, and trash bags while supplies last, courtesy of PennDOT and Keep America Beautiful.
Once again this year, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful is also offering the Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania Video Contest, where event organizers can submit a video of their cleanup event and win a cash prize as well as having their video posted online. More information on the Video Contest can also be found at www.gacofpa.org. The deadline to submit a video is June 3.
Did You Know…
Did you know that since the inception of the Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania in 2004 over 1.8 million volunteers have picked up more than 86 million pounds of litter and waste and planted more than 149,000 trees, bulbs and flowers?
Unused and Expired Medications
Police departments throughout Allegheny County will be collecting unwanted, unused and expired prescription drugs and other medications this Saturday as part of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.
This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the United States are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses from these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. Additionally, everyone is advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines like flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash both pose potential safety and health hazards.
State Police, Allegheny County Police and City of Pittsburgh Police are all participating in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on April 30. Also, local police departments in Bellevue, Dormont, Green Tree, Ingram, and Sharpsburg will be participating. To view a listing of the sites closest to you, please click here. This list will be updated as more sites are added. For more information on how to properly dispose of prescription drugs, please visit the federal Drug Enforcement Administration's website.
Liberty Bridge Repairs
Rehabilitation of the Liberty Bridge has begun. This much-needed project includes bridge deck replacement, ramp reconstruction, structural steel repairs, painting, concrete repairs, signage improvements and the installation of a new alternating overhead lane control system.
To help keep everyone informed, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has created an email distribution list for Liberty Bridge traffic advisories and construction updates. You can enroll by sending your email address to Steve Cowan at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Subscribe – Liberty Bridge” in the email’s subject line.
PennDOT has also created a website dedicated to the project, www.penndot.gov/libertybridge. The site contains updates on the project, detour and other traffic information. You may also call 412-344-5436, a hotline number that will provide updates and information on the project.
South Hills Renovation Fair
City of Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak are hosting a South Hills Renovation Fair this Saturday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Brashear High School. The Fair will feature neighborhood banks discussing financing options and local regulatory agencies discussing permitting. There will also be information on landscaping and historical preservation, government programs that can help with energy efficient renovations, and non-profits and other neighborhood partners will be present to discuss community involvement. Admission and parking are free. For more information please call 412-255-2131.
Last Friday was the 46th annual Earth Day, an event that began in 1970 as a day of education about environmental issues. Today, more than 1 billion people participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.
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
|Northside (Mobile Office)
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Wednesdays – 10 am – 4 pm
|Lawrenceville (Mobile Office)
279 Fisk Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Thursdays - 11 am - 4 pm