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Proposal to Eliminate Property Taxes Almost Clears the Senate
The Senate considered and voted on a measure on November 23 that would have permanently eliminated school property taxes in Pennsylvania and established a fairer way to fund public schools.
Unfortunately, the proposed amendment to House Bill 683 failed to receive support from a majority of the Senate and was defeated 25-24, with Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack casting the deciding vote to break a tie.
I have supported a number of proposed property tax reform or elimination proposals over the past few years. This is the closest we have come to actually ending the long statewide nightmare of school property taxes in Pennsylvania.
Helping Students Honor Veterans on Veterans Day
Congratulations to the students at Blairsville Elementary for conducting such a great tribute to our veterans. I was proud to attend and help honor my fellow veterans.
Senate Recognizes “Drugs Kill Dreams Day in Pennsylvania”
The Senate adopted my Resolution on November 17 designating January 24, 2016 as “Drugs Kill Dreams Day” in Pennsylvania, according to Senator Don White, prime sponsor of the measure.
Drugs Kill Dreams is one of a number of programs throughout the state that partners with schools, churches and other community organizations to share education materials and prevention messages with young people. It effectively and successfully promotes drug and alcohol prevention awareness in schools and communities throughout Western Pennsylvania with the strong belief that if we increase prevention we will decrease addiction and crime.
The organization -- which serves as a model for many similar community-based drug prevention programs across the Commonwealth -- was established in 1994 by Armstrong County District Judge, J. Gary DeComo. In 2000, it was renamed “Drugs Kill Dreams” following a fourth grade poster contest.
New Websites for DMVA, National Guard
The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) recently unveiled newly redesigned websites at new addresses for the department at www.dmva.pa.gov, the Pennsylvania National Guard at www.png.pa.gov and Fort Indiantown Gap National Guard Training Center at www.ftig.pa.gov . The websites are accessible on mobile devices and feature links for highlighted topics, press releases, social media feeds, videos and more.
Updating Local Leaders on State Affairs
A special thanks to the Alle-Kiski Strong Chamber of Commerce for allowing me to provide an update on the happenings in Harrisburg and the 41st District. It’s always a pleasure to visit the Belmont Complex in West Kittanning, where the luncheon was held.
Senate Passes Bills Designating Indiana County Bridges for War Heroes
The Senate recently approved bills I introduced designating two Indiana County bridges as memorials to service members who lost their lives through combat service.
Senate Bill 988 designates a bridge on State Route 403 over Two Lick Creek in the Borough of Clymer as the “Sergeant James Robert Pantall Memorial Bridge.” Senator White introduced the measure at the request of the Clymer American Legion.
Senate Bill 989 designates a bridge on State Route 580 over the Susquehanna River in Cherry Tree Borough as the “Airman Second Class Gerald Emmett Johnson Memorial Bridge. ” Senator White introduced this bill at the request of Johnson’s family members.
I am pleased that my colleagues approved these bills to designate these bridges as memorials to two men who served our nation and gave their lives in the call of duty. These bridges will serve as lasting reminders of their service and sacrifice.
Sergeant James Robert Pantall grew up in the Borough of Clymer and attended Penns Manor High School. He served in Vietnam as a member of the 329th Transportation Company, 5th Transportation Command. On Nov. 3, 1970, Sergeant Pantall was a passenger on Landing Craft Utility #63 when it capsized five nautical miles south of the port at Tan My, Vietnam. His remains were not recovered.
Airman Second Class Gerald Emmett Johnson of Arcadia was a crew member of a B-29A Superfortress Bomber with the 371st Bomber Squadron, 307th Bomber Wing during the Korean War. On Oct. 23, 1951, the aircraft was shot down by enemy MIGs over Namsi Airfield and Airman Second Class Johnson was taken as a prisoner of war. He was declared dead on Jan. 28, 1954.
Senate Bills 988 and 989 are now before the House of Representatives for consideration.
Talking PoliSci with Pitt Students
Recently University of Pittsburgh professor Dr. Jerry Shuster invited me to speak to his political science class. I enjoyed interacting with the students and am proud to have Dr. Shuster as a constituent and friend.
Program Encourages Hunters to Help Families in Need
Deer hunting is a rich tradition for thousands of families across the Commonwealth. Pennsylvania’s Hunters Sharing the Harvest program offers hunters a way to donate a portion of their venison to help local families in need.
Hunters Sharing the Harvest, now in its 23rd year, annually supplies approximately 100,000 pounds of processed venison through a network of 20 regional food banks and between 4,000 to 5,000 local provider charities, including missions, homeless shelters and churches.
Hunters can take their deer to any participating deer processor and choose the amount of venison they would like to donate to local charities to help families who are less fortunate. Sportsmen can donate as little or as much venison as they would like.
Donations to Program Benefitting Veterans Now Accepted Online
Donations to the Veterans’ Trust Fund (VTF) and the Military Family Relief Assistance Program (MFRAP) can now be made online at www.donate.dmva.pa.gov.
The online application, which features responsive design technology to make it accessible on mobile devices and computers, accepts MasterCard, Visa, Discover or American Express. Contributions help the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs provide current service members, veterans and their families with essential services and programs that otherwise would not be available.
The Veterans’ Trust Fund issues grants to statewide charitable organizations that assist veterans, veterans’ service organizations and county directors of veterans’ affairs to assist veterans in need of shelter and necessities of living. More information can be found at www.vtf.pa.gov.
The Military Family Relief Assistance Program provides financial assistance, in the form of grants, to eligible Pennsylvania service members and their eligible family members. Eligible members must have a direct and immediate financial need as a result of circumstances beyond their control. The amount of a grant is based on documented financial need up to a maximum of $3,500. More information can be found at www.mfrap.pa.gov.
Donations of checks or money orders to the Veterans’ Trust Fund or the Military Family Relief Assistance Program may also be sent to: DMVA Office of Veterans Affairs, Bldg. 0-47, Fort Indiantown Gap, Annville, PA 17003-5002.
Thanksgiving Holiday Crashes Investigated by State Police
Fifteen people were killed and 272 others were injured in the 1,013 crashes investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police during the five-day Thanksgiving holiday driving period. The statistics cover only crashes investigated by state police and do not include statistics on incidents to which other law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania responded.
The official holiday driving period was Nov. 25 through Nov. 29. During that time, troopers cited 1,296 individuals for not wearing seat belts and issued citations to 318 motorists for not securing children in safety seats.
Troopers also issued 14,985 speeding citations and arrested 558 operators for driving under the influence. Of the 1,013 crashes investigated by State Police, 91 were alcohol related, seven of which were fatal.
During last year’s holiday driving period, seven people died and 273 others were injured in 1,457 crashes to which state troopers responded.
Mark Your Calendar
The annual Trees for Troops event at Fleming’s Christmas Tree Farm, 1803 Fleming Road, Indiana, will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, December 5.
This is one of my favorite events to sponsor. Trees for service men and women are available at a special price of $25. Last year close to 240 trees were purchased at Flemings and sent to servicemen and their families throughout the world with the help of FedEx.
Come on out and make a family filled fun day of selecting your own tree as well as a soldier’s. Horse drawn wagon rides, photo props, activity tables and a concession stand make it complete along with National Guardsmen who help load the trees.
I’d like to invite the local community to visit my Armstrong County
District Office at 109 South Jefferson Street in Kittanning for my
annual holiday open house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
on Tuesday, December 15. For more information, call my office
at (724) 543-3026 or toll-free at (866) 366-9448.
286 Main Capitol