Jan. 20, 2017

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Harrisburg Update

A quick look at what’s happening in Harrisburg
and the 125th Legislative District...


Pennsylvania Granted Extension for REAL ID

Pennsylvania has been granted an extension by the federal government to comply with the requirements of the REAL ID Act until June 5, 2017. This will allow Pennsylvania residents to continue using their driver’s licenses as identification to enter federal buildings through June.

The extension gives state leaders more time to work cooperatively to fix state law to allow for federal REAL ID compliance and to ensure that it’s done in a reasonable and cost-effective manner. Without the extension, residents would have needed additional photo ID, such as a passport, to gain access to federal buildings starting on Jan. 30. The air travel restriction is still in place for 2018, unless additional extensions are granted or the issue is addressed legislatively.

Over the years, the General Assembly and PennDOT have worked to enhance the security of Pennsylvania driver’s licenses, but federal law requires additional improvements. For more information on the extension, click here. 
 
 
Deputy Chair of the House Majority Policy Committee

I was recently selected to serve as a deputy chair for House Majority Policy Committee for the 2017-18 legislative session. As a deputy chair, I am looking forward to working on important statewide legislative issues.

Members of this committee travel across the state, conducting hearings and roundtable discussions about important issues to gather testimony and information from key stakeholders. After such meetings, I will work with my colleagues to develop policies to address the issues that matter most to Pennsylvania citizens. This is a great table at which to have a seat when it comes to making a real difference with statewide policy issues that affect millions of Pennsylvanians, and I am proud to be a voice in those discussions.
 
 
Applications Available for Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program on Friday

Forms for the state’s 2016 Property Tax/Rent Rebate program are available for download from the Department of Revenue’s website starting Friday, Jan. 20. Paper forms will be available in the coming weeks.

Eligible participants can receive a rebate of up to $650 based on their rent or property taxes paid in 2016. The program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians who are 65 years or older, widows and widowers 50 years or older, and those 18 years or older with disabilities. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded. Under a new law enacted in 2016, 100 percent of veterans disability payments are also excluded from income eligibility.

Residents do not need to pay a private entity for assistance in filing the forms. Copies of the forms, as well as assistance with filing them, are available at no cost at my district office(s); however, applicants should be prepared to provide all the necessary income, property tax or rental information required to process claims quickly and accurately. Applications are due by June 30.

The Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is one of many initiatives supported by the Pennsylvania Lottery, which dedicates its proceeds to support programs for older Pennsylvanians. Click here for more information
 
 
Website Offers Families Help to Save for Disability Expenses

A new website about the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Savings Program website is now available at paable.gov to offer essential information on the upcoming program.

The ABLE Savings Program gives individuals with qualified disabilities a tax-free way to save for future disability-related expenses, while maintaining government benefits. The site also has a short quiz to help determine eligibility, a comprehensive Frequently Asked Question section and allows users to sign up to receive updates on the program, including when accounts open for enrollment.

Modeled after college 529 savings accounts, 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. The Pennsylvania Treasury, which operates the site, has also opened an ABLE Call Center at (855) 529-2253 which operates Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
 
 
January is Cervical Health Awareness Month

 
As a way to promote good cervical health, Pennsylvania operates the HealthyWoman Program, which is a free breast and cervical cancer early detection program for those who are not insured or whose insurance doesn’t cover the screenings.

Nearly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, but the disease is virtually always preventable with vaccination and appropriate screening.

Among the services offered are pelvic exams, Pap smears and follow-up diagnostic tests for an abnormal screening result. Cervical cancer screenings are recommended for women beginning at age 21. For more information, call the HealthyWoman hotline at 1-800-215-7494 or click here
 
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Office Locations
988 Route 61 South, East Main Street, Schuylkill Haven, PA 17972 | Phone (toll free) (855) 271-9384
Borough Building, 200 S. West St., Williamstown, PA  Phone (717) 647-7208
4B East Wing, Harrisburg, PA 17120-2147 
Email: mtobash@pahousegop.com
TTY: 855-282-0614 
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