Protection for Pennsylvanians Legislation
As I wrote about in last week's edition of my News & Views, last week I announced my intention to introduce legislation aimed at preventing gun violence and mass shootings.
My “Protection for Pennsylvanians” legislation is a commonsense proposal that would help prevent the kind of indiscriminate mass murder that occurred in the most recent school shooting that took place in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14.
The first piece of legislation would ban the sale and use of 150 different models of military grade semi-automatic assault weapons -- as well as gun magazines that have a capacity of more than 10 rounds. This bill would mirror a law enacted in Connecticut after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. In the case of the Feb. 14 Parkland, Florida tragedy, the teen suspect used an AR-15 semi-automatic style weapon during the massacre. This military-inspired rifle has been the weapon of choice by several mass shooters including at Newtown, Connecticut; Aurora, Colorado; and Santa Monica and San Bernardino, California.
These military-grade weapons have no legitimate place in civilian life. With poor accuracy, they have no useful purpose for hunting or self-defense. These rapid-fire weapons are specifically designed to spray bullets and kill many people quickly. As former co-chair of the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee, I often spoke with hunters, sportsmen and gun enthusiasts. Very few believed that assault weapons had any practical or rational use.
The second piece of legislation would empower family members to petition a court to implement an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) in cases where an individual has threatened harm to themselves or others. If granted, an ERPO would temporarily suspend an individual’s access to firearms if they can prove that the person is threatening harm to themselves or others. Modeled after domestic and sexual assault protection orders, a court could require an individual to surrender their firearms to the police during the suspension period -- which could last for up to one year. The individual would have the right to request a hearing to have the ERPO order rescinded.
Family members and police officers are often frustrated by how difficult it is to get firearms away from individuals in crisis. By enacting this ERPO process, our state would empower loved ones, who are closest to someone who is exhibiting dangerous behaviors, to temporarily take away their access to a gun. This would help families and police officers prevent a possible tragedy before it happens.
It’s time for people on both sides of the gun issue to seek common ground and workable solutions that protect second amendment rights while preventing the epidemic of mass shootings that have become endemic to America. It would be best if these issues were addressed by the U.S. Congress so that uniform measures could be implemented nationwide. However, until that happens, it’s on us in Pennsylvania to work to ensure the safety of those in our state.
Did You Know…
Did you know that 42 percent of mass shooters exhibit warning signs or concerning behaviors before they commit a crime?
Upcoming Job Fair
On Thursday, March 15, with Rep. Dan Deasy and in partnership with Building Bridges for Business and U.S. Probation & Pre Trial Services, we will be hosting a Job Fair for any interested job seekers. The Job Fair is being held in the Social Hall at St. Catherine of Siena Parish, located at 1810 Belasco Avenue in Beechview from 4 – 7 p.m.
The Job Fair will feature local companies looking to fill positions now. There will also be representatives in attendance to talk about apprenticeships and other technical training programs to help individuals gain information on acquiring new skills to become gainfully employed.
Many job seekers face barriers to employment like issues related to a past criminal record, a suspended driver’s license, lack of high school diploma or necessary job skills. Therefore, the Job Fair will include three breakout sessions that address these barriers. From 4:30-5 p.m., attendees can join a breakout session to learn more about the driver’s license restoration process. From 5:30-6 p.m., a session on pardons and record expungement will take place. Anyone wishing to learn more about improving job skills and short-term training programs can attend the session from 6:30-7 p.m.
If you are looking for work or have difficulty because of any of the barriers listed above please consider attending this Job Fair. If you have family or friends who may be interested, please share this information with them.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program
The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is now accepting applications for the 2017 Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. If you filed a paper rebate last year, you should receive an application in the mail. Applications are also available at my district offices, online at www.revenue.pa.gov or by calling 1-888-222-9190. As always, my staff would be happy to assist you in preparing your application.
The Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters. Please keep in mind, half of Social Security income is excluded.
Applications are due to the Department of Revenue by June 30 and rebates will be distributed beginning July 1. The program is funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery and revenue from slots gaming.
Keystone Historic Preservation Grants
I want to remind non-profit organizations and local governments that the PA Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC) is accepting applications for the Keystone Historic Preservation Grant Program. A total of $1.25 million has been set aside for this program. Grants support projects that identify, preserve, promote and protect historic and archaeological resources in Pennsylvania for both the benefit of the public and community revitalization.
Two categories of grants, project and construction, are available for historic resources in Pennsylvania listed, or eligible for listing, in the National Register of Historic Places. Applicants may apply for only one type of grant.
Project grants are available for planning and development initiatives that enhance historic preservation in communities. Project grant applications may include municipal planning initiatives focusing on historic resources or may be used to meet building or project specific planning goals. Keystone Historic Preservation Project Grants are available between $5,000 and $25,000 and require a 50/50 cash match.
Construction grants are available for rehabilitation, preservation and restoration activities for historic resources that are publicly accessible and under non-profit or local government ownership. Keystone Historic Preservation Construction Grants are available between $5,000 and $100,000 and require a 50/50 match.
Grants will be awarded through a competitive selection process and are contingent on the availability of funds. All PHMC grant applications are now submitted on the Commonwealth’s Single Application for Assistance system at www.esa.dced.state.pa.us. Grant program guidelines and a program fact sheet are available at www.phmc.pa.gov. Applications are due no later than this Thursday, March 1.
Allegheny Lead Safe Home Program
Preventing children from coming into contact with lead is of the utmost importance. Those younger than age 6 exposed to lead by ingesting paint, soil, food, or water containing it are in danger of damaging their developing brains and nervous systems. Making matters worse, lead dust often is invisible to the naked eye.
The Allegheny Lead Safe Home Program was created to prevent that potential exposure. It provides one-on-one education, lead-paint testing, and home repairs for free. Certified Lead Abatement Contractors are hired for repair and/or replacement of paint, flooring, windows, doors and trim. They also provide a visual inspection and further lead testing after their work is done.
For more information about the program, call 412-227-5700, email email@example.com or visit www.alleghenycounty.us/leadsafeprogram.
Charles "Teenie" Harris, who passed away in 1998, was a lifelong resident of the Hill District, who chronicled life in the black neighborhoods of the city for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of America's oldest black newspapers, from the 1936 to 1975. During his 40-year career, Mr. Harris captured visual images of the 20th-century urban African American experience from the depression era through the civil rights movement. Mr. Harris also spent much of his time documenting the dignified lives of the city’s working class, taking more than 80,000 images during his career. Today his images can be viewed at the Carnegie Museum of Art.
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