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Senator Wayne D. Fontana
Brookline Cleanup

Senator Fontana visited with and provided lunch to students from the University of Pittsburgh who worked with South Pittsburgh Development Corporation for Brookline Community Cleanup Day.  Students and volunteers spent the morning mulching, weeding and picking up litter along Brookline Boulevard on Saturday.

Action for Child Sex Abuse Victims Blocked by Senate Majority

Senator FontanaAs a follow up to the piece I wrote last week, it is with profound disappointment and frustration that I inform you that the majority party in the Senate did not allow a vote on Senate Bill 261 (SB 261), the legislation offering a change to the statute of limitations in child abuse cases in our final week of scheduled voting day for the current legislative session.

Since the release of the harrowing statewide grand jury report in August, I have been haunted by the stories of abuse and systemic coverup. In testimony after testimony, survivors of these atrocities heroically shared their deeply personal stories of victimization. I know that anyone who has read the report agrees.

Doing the right thing is not an act of courage. So why are there some in the Senate acting as though this is a difficult decision? I will tell you that the reason is the influence of powerful lobbyists, including the insurance industry and the Catholic Conference. This is the sad truth. These lobbyists and special interests are being given more consideration by majority leaders in the Senate than victims of child sex abuse. This has been the saddest and worst example of legislators beholden to special interests that I have experienced during my entire tenure in the Senate.

The version of the legislation that overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives on a bipartisan basis includes a two-year civil window for victims to sue for damages. This week, the Republican so-called “compromise” proposal was one that stripped away a victim’s right to bring suit against the institution that coordinated the massive coverup and practice of moving priests from parish to parish and diocese to diocese rather than report the crime. This proposal was not fair or just. It is what the perpetrators and their accomplices in the dioceses wanted. Sexual abuse is a serious crime that sadly affects many institutions and communities, public and private. Because of its gravity, it needs to be dealt with comprehensively so that all children are safe from harm and that all predators and their conspirators are held accountable. And supporters of this in the Senate knew that this proposal would be a poison pill and run out the clock before the end of this legislative session so that real reforms would not be enacated. For the entire week, they were all talk and no action.

The Catholic Church, its insurance carriers and their advocates in the state Senate have proved that they do not support real justice for these victims. Now that the church hierarchy has finally admitted that hundreds of priests sexually abused so many children for so many years and that church leaders took part in an elaborate coverup scheme, the church’s continued resistance to changing the law to protect victims is clearly all about the money, when it should be about providing justice for victims.

During my tenure in the Senate, I have never felt so unconflicted and sure of what needs to be done than with this situation and the time within the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky tragedy. Once again, we have substantiated proof beyond a reasonable doubt that children have been harmed, abused, silenced and had adults turn their backs on them at a time when the most traumatic of all crimes has been committed upon them.

The only changes I could support to the current version of the House-passed legislation is to make sure that all four of the grand jury recommendations are enacted. Below is a list of those recommendations for change to Pennsylvania law:

  1. Eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for sexually abusing children. Current law permits victims to come forward until age 50. The grand jury recommends eliminating the criminal statute of limitation entirely for such crimes.
  2. Create a “civil window” so older victims may now sue for damages.  Current law gives child sex abuse victims 12 years to sue, once they turn 18. But victims in their 30s and older fall under a different law; they only get two years. The grand jury called that “unacceptable” and recommends a limited “window” offering victims a chance to be heard in court for an additional two years.
  3. Clarify penalties for a continuing failure to report child abuse. The grand jury recommends changing the abuse reporting law to clarify the duty to report abuse. The new language imposes a continuing obligation to report “while the person knows or has reasonable cause to believe the abuser is likely to commit additional acts of child abuse.”
  4. Specify that Civil Confidentiality Agreements do not cover communications with law enforcement. The grand jury wrote that the Church has used confidentiality agreements as a way to silence abuse victims from speaking publicly or cooperating with law enforcement. The grand jury proposes a new statute which clearly states that no past or present non-disclosure agreement prevents a victim from talking to police. Additionally, future agreements should state contact with police about criminal activity is permitted.

I stand with the victims – today, tomorrow and forever. Opponents of this measure are impeding justice. The fundamental duty of elected officials is to protect the health, safety and welfare of our citizens. If ever there were a time for us to uphold that obligation, it is now.

The state constitution does not say that voting in a legislative session must end in mid-October. The current legislative session does not officially end until November 30th. That gives us six weeks to get this matter settled. I call on our majority party to reconvene the Senate and finish the business of the people.

Funding to Repair Lead Lateral Lines

FaucetI am pleased to announce $49 million in state funding to replace residential lead lateral connections in Pittsburgh. The Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PennVest) approved the funding for Pennsylvania Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) on October 17, which will expediate the replacement of about 2,800 residential lead services lines next year.  PennVest is a state program that provides funding to municipalities for water and sewer infrastructure.

As you may recall, PWSA is under a state order to replace at least 7 percent of its lead services lines each year after high lead readings in some homes triggered an intervention in 2016.  Since that time, about 2,200 lines have been replaced.  However, it has been estimated that around 12,500 out of 71,000 residential connections still contain lead. 

The Pennsylvania Water and Sewer Authority will be receiving $13.6 million in grant dollars and the other $35.4 million through a 1 percent 30-year low-interest loan. PWSA will send letters in November to customers whose connections may be eligible for replacement in 2019.  The work will take place in various parts of Pittsburgh based on density of young children, documented higher blood-lead levels and concentration of antiquated lead water lines. Anticipated replacements are slated for Morningside, Homewood, Perry, Mt. Washington, Southside and Greenfield neighborhoods. The project is expected to impact 7,000 people.

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) I am proud that proposals I have initiated were a catalyst for the state to assist in this process. Last year, the Pennsylvania Senate unanimously passed my Senate Bill 639 (SB 639) which would amend the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority Act to allow municipalities to include private lateral rehabilitation or replacement in PennVEST funding applications when determined by the municipality that it is the most cost effective approach to reduce wet weather sewer overflows. The other portion of my initiatives on this issue was adopted as part of the budget agreement in 2017 that allowed for public authorities like PWSA to be able to conduct rehabilitation and replacement work on private lateral lines as part of the process. 

Lead pipes are a public health issue and need attended to as quickly as possible. I am pleased that the grant and loan will be used to accelerate this important work for our area’s lateral service lines.  After all, the residents of Pittsburgh deserve safe drinking water. 

$1 Million Available to Combat Campus Sexual Assault

“It’s On Us PA” “It’s On Us PA” Last week, Governor Wolf announced that $1 million in “It’s On Us PA” grants are available to combat sexual violence at colleges and universities. The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) will accept applications for grants of up to $30,000 through Nov. 21.

Colleges and universities use grant funds to implement strategies on their campuses to address goals of the Governor’s It’s On Us PA campaign, which include:

  1. Improve awareness, prevention, reporting, and response systems regarding sexual violence in schools, colleges and universities to better serve all students.

  2. Remove/reduce barriers that prevent survivors of sexual violence from reporting and/or accessing vital resources by creating a more consistent, empowering reporting process for student survivors of gender-based violence.

  3. Demonstrate significant, proactive, and sustainable leadership to change campus culture by challenging Pennsylvania’s education leaders – including college and university presidents, superintendents – as well as students, teachers, faculty, staff, families, and communities to pledge to improve their institutions’ climate.

Programs or activities considered for funding include campus-wide training for students, faculty and staff; institutional campaigns to raise awareness and understanding of the reporting process and resources available to and rights of survivors of sexual violence; programs that enhance awareness of available resources and students’ rights or seek to increase mechanisms for anonymous reporting; and efforts to improve capacity to collect federal- or state-required data.

Grant applications are available on the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s website,

The It’s On Us campaign is a national initiative started by the Obama Administration to raise awareness about sexual assault; teaching participants that assault includes non-consensual sex, advising them on how to identify dangerous situations, empowering them to intervene, and urging them to create an environment of support for victims and survivors.

Governor Wolf launched It’s On Us PA in 2016, the nation’s first statewide campaign. Pennsylvanians are invited to visit the It’s On Us page on the governor’s website and take the pledge to “recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault, identify situations in which sexual assault may occur, intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given, and create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.” Users may also quickly and easily tweet pre-written messages of support to spread the word to their social networks about the pledge.

Did You Know…

Did you know that since 2016, PDE has awarded 75 It’s On Us PA Grants totaling nearly $2 million to more than 60 postsecondary institutions across the state, including public and private two-year and four-year colleges and universities?

Absentee Ballot Deadline

Vote PA Voter Registration Any voter who needs an absentee ballot for the Nov. 6 General Election must complete and return an absentee ballot application to the Allegheny County Division of Elections no later than 5 p.m. next Tuesday, October 30.  The Division of Elections is located in the County Office Building, 542 Forbes Avenue, Room 601 in downtown Pittsburgh.  You can download and print an application by clicking here or you can pick one up at any of my district offices.  Completed absentee ballots must be then received by the Division of Elections no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2.

Anyone voting by absentee ballot will be required to provide a PA Driver’s License number, PennDOT ID number, or last four digits of your Social Security number.  If you do not possess any of the aforementioned items, a copy of an acceptable ID must be provided with the application.  For any questions please contact 412-350-4510 or visit

Green Light Go

Green Light GoI want to inform municipalities, counties and planning organizations that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is accepting applications for the Green Light Go grant program through January 11, 2019.  This program provides state funding for the operation and maintenance of traffic signals along critical and designated corridors on state highways. The Green Light-Go Program is a reimbursement grant program and applicants are required to provide a minimum 20 percent match. The total amount of grant funding available in FY 2018-2019 is up to $40 million.

Eligible projects for the Green Light Go program include:

  • LED Replacement
  • Traffic Signal Retiming
  • Study and Removal of Unwarranted Traffic-Control Signals
  • Monitoring
  • Innovative Technologies
  • Communications/Connections Back to Traffic Management Center
  • Detection and/or Controller Upgrades
  • Modernization Upgrades
  • Intelligent Transportation System Applications

For more information on the program, please click here or visit

Statewide Video Competition Highlights School Safety

Every Pennsylvanian shares an interest in protecting our schools – especially the young people who attend classes and participate in activities there on a daily basis. A new statewide video competition encourages middle and high school students to share their perspectives on school safety and identify ways to protect against potential threats to their well-being.

The second annual “Talk To Your State Senator” statewide video competition invites students to submit a video entry of no longer than three minutes to highlight ways to improve school safety. I encourage local students to participate in the discussion and speak out for safe schools.

Speak Out for Safe Schools second annual “Talk To Your State Senator” The contest, which is sponsored by the Senate of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, is open to Pennsylvania students in grades 6 through 12. This includes students who attend public or private schools, as well as students who participate in homeschool programs.

A total of $10,000 in prizes will be awarded through the PA 529 College Savings Program administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Treasury. Entries will be accepted through December 7, and winners will be announced in the spring of 2019.

Contest details are available online at

Halloween Schedules

treak or treatWhile the official date of Halloween is October 31, some communities celebrate the holiday at different times with trick-or-treat schedules varying by neighborhoods and various parades and other celebrations taking place in the days leading up to the official holiday.  Please be mindful of this if you are driving through neighborhoods where children are out trick-or-treating and watch your speed.

The following is a listing of trick-or-treating schedules and other Halloween events taking place throughout the 42nd Senatorial District.  The City of Pittsburgh will be holding official trick-or-treat hours on October 31 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.  Various neighborhoods throughout the city will be holding parades and other events.  For more information about city neighborhood events please call 412-255-8977 or visit

Avalon Borough
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.
Parade – Oct. 27, 11 a.m.

Bellevue Borough
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.    
Parade – Oct. 27, 11 a.m. 

Carnegie Borough
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.
Promenade – Oct. 27, noon

Coraopolis Borough   
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 25, 6 – 8 p.m. 

Dormont Borough      
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.    

Heidelberg Borough              
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.
Parade – Oct. 28, 11 a.m.

Kennedy Township                
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.

Neville Township
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 25, 6 – 8 p.m.

Reserve Township  
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. 
Parade – Oct. 28, 1 p.m.

Sharpsburg Borough
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.

Baldwin Township
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.

Ben Avon Borough
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.
Parade – Oct. 27, noon

Castle Shannon Borough
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.
Parade – Oct. 28, 2 p.m.

Crafton Borough
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.

Green Tree Borough
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.
Parade – Oct. 28, 1 p.m.

Ingram Borough
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 27, 2 – 4 p.m.
Parade – Oct. 27, 1 – 4 p.m. 

McKees Rocks Borough 
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 5 – 7 p.m.  

Scott Township
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 6 – 8 p.m.

Stowe Township                    
Trick-or-treat – Oct. 31, 5 – 7 p.m.

Operation Warm

The Pittsburgh Firefighters Local 1 are hosting their 7th annual coat giving event this Saturday.  The event is scheduled from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Firefighters Union Hall, located at 120 Flowers Avenue in Hazelwood. Any children in need of a new winter coat are welcome to attend. Anyone wishing to donate to the program can do so at

For more information please contact John Gardell at

Fontana Factpumpkin

Over 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkin are produced each year in the United States with Pennsylvania ranking among the top-5 pumpkin producing states. Eighty percent of the pumpkin supply in the United States is available in October.

Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Phone: 412-344-2551
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
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
By Appointment