Jun. 14, 2019

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Harrisburg Update

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

Bridge Dedicated to a Local Veteran

I was honored to be a guest speaker at a ceremony dedicating a section of state highway in Schuylkill County in memory of a late resident who gave his life while serving in Afghanistan.

Captain David A. Boris, a Pottsville native, was killed in action on Nov. 12, 2007, after his vehicle was destroyed by an improvised explosive device during Operation Enduring Freedom.

In his memory, a bridge located in Branch Township near the Yorkville section of Pottsville over the West Branch of the Schuylkill River, is now the Captain David A. Boris Memorial Bridge.

I noted in my remarks that for many people, Nov. 12 is just another day, but for a family – parents, sister, friend – the commitment of Captain Boris was no less important, the loss was not less severe, and the suffering and longing of trying to understand is not less felt. This small gesture that we’re offering from the Commonwealth is important.

I was also proud to present the Boris family with a House citation. Captain Boris was a 1995 graduate of Pottsville Area High School, and a 1999 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering.

Lowering Health Insurance Costs

Pennsylvanians who buy their health insurance on the federal exchange could see lower prices under legislation adopted by the House this week.

House Bill 3 would establish a state-based health insurance exchange and reinsurance program, an option offered by the Trump administration and supported by the Wolf administration as a means for helping make health care more affordable for Commonwealth Citizens.

The proposal is also expected to save taxpayer money, as the cost of the state running its own exchange is expected to be about half the cost of fees currently being paid to the federal government to run it for us.

The bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

Helping Our Farmers
Agriculture and conservation issues at the federal level, along with services offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help producers, were the focus of a roundtable discussion held by the House Majority Policy Committee on Wednesday morning. During the hour-long discussion, USDA officials highlighted many of their programs.

Of particular note were two programs, including the Dairy Margin Coverage Program, which opens Monday and offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all milk price and the average feed price (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.

The second is the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program, which helps units of federal, state and local governments protect and restore watersheds up to 250,000 acres. Specifically, it partners with government entities to prevent erosion, floodwater and sediment damage; further the conservation development, use and disposal of water; and to further the conservation and proper use of land in authorized watersheds.

The agency’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducts hundreds of surveys every year and prepares reports covering virtually every aspect of U.S. agriculture. Production and supplies of food and fiber, prices paid and received by farmers, farm labor and wages, farm finances, chemical use, and changes in the demographics of U.S. producers are only a few examples. The agency emphasized that one of its greatest challenges is ensuring that farmers, agriculture producers and governments know about the vast variety of programs to help rural areas.

Area Scouts Visit the Capitol

I had a great day at the Capitol on Thursday visiting with Cub and Boy Scouts from Pack 777 in Tamaqua and Cub and Boys Scouts from Pack 615 in Pottsville. Thanks for traveling to Harrisburg to talk to me and tour our beautiful Capitol Complex.

Ensuring Sexual Harassment is not Hidden

Recognizing the rampant problem of sexual harassment in the workplace, the House approved legislation this week to help prevent these offense – and the offenders – from being hidden and dealt with.

House Bill 849 would prohibit employers from requiring employees and prospective employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement related to sexual harassment as a condition of employment.

This would ensure workers who face sexual harassment in the workplace can exercise their voice to report such egregious offenses they may suffer at the hands of a co-worker of superior.

Employees and employers would still be able to voluntarily enter into such agreements. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Property Tax/Rent Rebate Deadline Extended Until Dec. 31

Older adults and Pennsylvanians with disabilities now have until Dec. 31 to apply for the state’s 2018 Property Tax/Rent Rebate program. The original deadline was June 30.

The 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, and half of Social Security income is excluded. The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for certain qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975.

As of June 1, the department had received 432,411 rebate applications. As specified by law, rebate distributions cannot begin until July 1. After June 30, rebates will be distributed as claims are received and processed. Applications typically take six to eight weeks to process.

Residents are reminded that they need not pay a private entity for assistance in filing the forms. Copies of the forms, as well as assistance with filing them, are available at my district office at no cost. Applicants should be prepared to provide all the necessary income, property tax or rental information required to process claims quickly and accurately.

For additional information, contact my office located at 988 East Main St., in Schuylkill Haven, or by calling 570-385-8238. Also, residents can visit my website at  RepTobash.com.

Claimants who already applied for their rebates may check the status of claims online at revenue.pa.gov or by calling, toll-free, 1-888-PATAXES.

Beware of Scams Targeting Students and Borrowers

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is warning students and borrowers to be wary of financial aid scams that could expose them to identity theft and significant financial loss.

In one recent example, scammers are fraudulently representing themselves as known student loan servicers through social media in order to obtain personal information by claiming that a student is “eligible” for total student loan forgiveness.

The most effective way to avoid becoming the victim of a scam is to be alert and vigilant when asked to provide any form of personal information or when engaging in financial transactions.

There are several steps you can take to protect yourself from fraud and scams.
• Don’t share your Social Security number, credit card information, or account passwords.
• Never pay up front for a promised prize.
• After hearing a sales pitch, take the time to compare prices.
• Too good to be true?
• Watch out for deals that are only “good today” and pressure you to act quickly.
• Put your number on the National Do Not Call Registry.

If you believe that you have been targeted or victimized by a scam, contact the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities, the CFPB, or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Attention Hunters! Licenses Go on Sale Monday, June 17

Hunting licenses for the 2019-20 hunting season go on sale this Monday, June 17, across the state. All license buyers will receive a complimentary copy of the 2019-20 Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest. A pocket guide for the upcoming season, including key details about general hunting regulations, hunting hours, fluorescent orange requirements, a map of the Wildlife Management Units and season dates and bag limits, is also available to be printed.

Click here to find a licensing agent near you. Click here to purchase your new license online (on or after June 17).

For more information about hunting seasons, safety and more, visit pgc.pa.gov.
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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