REAL ID Update
On March 28 the Senate passed Senate Bill 133 (SB 133) to repeal the 2012 REAL ID Nonparticipation Act, which prohibits Pennsylvania from complying with the federal REAL ID Act. I was a co-sponsor of SB 133 and voted for the bill.
In 2005, the United States Congress passed the REAL ID Act, acting upon recommendations from the 9/11 Commission which was formed after the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. This Act “established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards.”
Due to the 2012 REAL ID Nonparticipation Act, Pennsylvania is one of six states currently that are not compliant with REAL ID or that have been granted an extension by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. As such, Pennsylvanians are facing two deadlines that will cause issues for those who do not have a United States passport. As of Jan. 30, 2017, federal agencies will be prohibited from accepting Pennsylvania driver’s licenses and identification cards. In a little under a year, Jan. 22, 2018, Pennsylvanians over the age of 18 will need a passport to travel on any commercial airplane as the federal Transportation Security Administration will no longer accept Pennsylvania driver’s licenses or identification cards.
SB 133 now moves before the House of Representatives.
PA ABLE Savings Account Program
Last week the Pennsylvania Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) Savings Program opened. This program provides tax-exempt accounts for individuals with qualified disabilities and their families.
PA ABLE was created through Act 17 of 2016, legislation I was proud to co-sponsor and support. It was modeled after the college 529 savings account programs. PA ABLE accounts allow eligible individuals with qualifying disabilities and their families to save for housing, education, transportation, medical, and other expenses without jeopardizing government benefits. The federal tax-free savings and investment options are offered to encourage individuals with a disability and their families to save private funds to support health, independence, and quality of life.
Under the PA ABLE Savings program, eligible individuals can:
- Save up to $14,000 each year.
- Grow accounts tax-free.
- Use account to pay for a wide range of disability-related expenses.
- Make federal and state income tax-free withdrawals when used for qualified disability expenses.
- Open accounts that are exempt from Pennsylvania inheritance tax.
For more information on PA ABLE, please visit www.paable.gov.
Upcoming Shredding Events
I want to alert everyone about two upcoming shredding events. On Saturday, April 22, together with Representative Dan Deasy and Crafton and Ingram Boroughs, we are hosting a shredding event at Crafton Park from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Then on Saturday, May 13, along with Rep. Deasy and Green Tree Borough, we are hosting a shredding event in Green Tree Park from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Documents at both events will be shredded on-site by a reputable and bonded company. Also, all papers must be loose, no binder clips or paper clips, and documents cannot be in binders.
With consumer fraud and identity theft continuing to be an issue, we are hosting these events to not only to 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.
Did You Know…
Did you know a 2017 Identity Fraud Study, released by Javelin Strategy & Research, found that $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 million U.S. consumers in 2016, compared with $15.3 billion and 13.1 million victims a year earlier? In the past six years identity thieves have stolen over $107 billion.
Heroin & Opiate Awareness Event
Heroin and opioid-related overdoses are the leading causes of accidental deaths, killing more Pennsylvanians than traffic accidents and continue to plague our communities. In Allegheny County in 2016, 613 people died due to drug overdose, marking a 44 percent increase from the previous year.
Yesterday, together with Representatives Dan Deasy and Harry Readshaw, we hosted a
Community Awareness Town Hall meeting on Mt. Washington to discuss ways to combat this epidemic.
On Thursday, April 20, along with Representative Deasy and Representative Anita Kulik, we will host a second Community Awareness Town Hall meeting. The meeting will start at 6 p.m. at the McKees Rocks VFW, located at 1242 Chartiers Avenue.
A panel of experts on the topic will be present and available to answer questions. Participants include the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office, Allegheny County District Attorney’s office and Gateway Rehabilitation. Attendees can also bring unwanted or unused prescription medication to this event and the medication will be collected and safely disposed of by the Allegheny County Sheriff’s office as part of their Project D.U.M.P. initiative.
Information on Next Steps of Financial Aid Application Process for Students
As the Vice Chair of Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) I want to inform students and their families that PHEAA is encouraging anyone who has submitted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to carefully review their federal Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR provides schools with the information used to determine federal student aid eligibility for the 2017-18 academic year.
Whether applicants receive their SAR online or on paper depends on whether a valid email address was provided when completing the FAFSA. If a valid email address was provided, applicants will receive an email with instructions on how to access their SAR online. Otherwise, the SAR will be delivered by mail. If you have an FSA ID and your FAFSA has been processed, you can log in at the FAFSA site to view SAR information regardless of whether you filed online or provided an email address.
Included in the SAR is the family’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is the amount that the federal government determines a family can be expected to contribute toward their total cost of attendance. Families should immediately review the information on the SAR for accuracy and submit any corrections promptly. The information from the SAR is shared with the schools that the student listed on the FAFSA. If a student is accepted at more than one school, each school’s financial aid office will use the information from the student’s SAR to determine the student’s eligibility for financial aid, including federal and state grants, campus-based aid, work-study funds, and federal student loans.
To help students make informed decisions about their higher education success plan, including how to compare college acceptance letters, PHEAA has developed many easy-to-use resources including an array of online resources like www.EducationPlanner.org and www.MySmartBorrowing.org as well as 14 Access Partners who provide hands-on assistance in communities throughout the Commonwealth.
Students and families should carefully compare each school’s financial aid package to determine which offer best meets their individual needs. Typically, aid packages that include more gift aid, such as grants and scholarships, are preferable to packages that include more loans, which must be repaid. However, this may depend on the student’s total cost of attendance at each school being considered. As soon as applicants decide which school they will be attending, each school that has offered acceptance should be notified promptly about the student’s decision.
For more information on finding financial aid to fund postsecondary education, including tips and deadlines, and free financial aid workshops, visit www.pheaa.org or join PHEAA on Facebook.
Voter Registration Deadline
The deadline to register to vote in the May 16 Primary Election is quickly approaching. Anyone not registered to vote who wishes to vote in the May 16 Primary Election must register by next Monday, April 17. Remember, voter registration can now be done online. Simply visit www.votespa.com to get started. In addition to registering to vote, current registered voters can also use the online system to make updates to their voter record, such as a change of name, address, or party affiliation.
Anyone wishing to register with a paper application can obtain an application from any of my district offices, or by downloading one at www.votespa.com. Completed applications can be returned by mail to the Allegheny County Division of Elections and must be postmarked by April 17 in order to be processed prior to the May 16 Primary Election. You can also register by completing an application in person at the Division of Elections office. The location of the Allegheny County Division of Elections office is listed below. For any questions related to registering to vote, please contact 412-350-4510.
Attn: Voter Registration Services
Allegheny County Division of Elections
542 Forbes Avenue, Room 609
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Please visit www.votespa.com for additional information about voting in Pennsylvania.
The Omni William Penn Hotel, located at 530 William Penn Place in downtown Pittsburgh, is hosting a Job Fair this Thursday from noon – 3 p.m. Interviews will be conducted for various openings including cooks, bus persons, housekeeping, an assistant room service position, and more. Attendees are asked to bring a resume with them to the Job Fair. The Job Fair is being held in the hotel’s William Penn Ballroom.
International Covered Dish Dinner
The Dormont Public Library is hosting an International Covered Dish Dinner on Wednesday, April 19, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the library. The library is located at 2950 West Liberty Avenue. Anyone interested in sharing part of their culture or heritage is asked to bring a dish or dessert. The library will provide plates, plastic ware and drinks.
To register for this event, please contact the library at 412-531-8754 or firstname.lastname@example.org. When registering please let the library know how many people will be attending and what type of food you are planning to bring.
It was on this date in 1921 that Pittsburgh’s KDKA Radio broadcasted a live sporting event for the first time. The event was a boxing match, a 10-round no decision between Johnny Ray and Johnny Dundee that took place at Pittsburgh’s Motor Square Garden.
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
|Northside (Mobile Office)
Carnegie Library |
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212