Feb. 01, 2019

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Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol

Supporting Early Childhood Education

While in Harrisburg this week, I met with early childhood education advocates at the Capitol as they kicked off their Start Strong PA campaign. Through a statewide collaboration of partners, Start Strong PA aims to support healthy child development, working families and the economy by increasing access to affordable, high-quality child care programs for young children. I am pictured with Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver (R-Northumberland/Snyder).

Policy Forum Focuses on Saving Our Health Care
Pennsylvania residents may soon face a crisis in health care, if the state courts repeal a rule that helped stave off a similar situation more than a decade ago, when physicians left their practices, moved to other states or retired early due to skyrocketing insurance premiums.

The rule currently requires medical malpractice cases to be brought in the county where the alleged malpractice occurred.

Repealing that rule could lead to patients having to say goodbye to their physicians or patients having to drive farther for care. Additionally, recruiting physicians and specialists would be difficult, and medical innovations may be halted. Overall, patient care would suffer and everyone would face higher health care costs.

This week, the House Majority Policy Committee, of which I am a deputy chairman, hosted a forum to examine the issue and hear from numerous stakeholders about the negative impact this rule repeal could cause. To learn more about the issue, click here.

The General Assembly is expected to submit its comments to the courts, but you can also let the courts know how this would impact you. Click here to submit your comments by Feb. 22.

Governor’s Budget Address Set for Tuesday
On Tuesday Feb. 5, Gov. Tom Wolf will unveil his budget proposal for fiscal year 2019-20.

We are looking forward to hearing the governor’s proposal and reviewing the details in the coming weeks as the Appropriations Committee will begin its series of hearings on the proposal on Feb. 11.

You can watch the address on my website at 11:30 a.m.

Free Tax Assistance Available

Certified AARP TaxAide volunteers are available again this year to provide free tax form assistance to middle- and low-income taxpayers, with special attention to those ages 60 and older.

To receive help filing your 2018 federal, state and local tax returns or your Pennsylvania Property Tax and Rent Rebate applications, taxpayers must bring copies of their 2017 tax returns plus all income information, real estate tax receipts, any deduction information and health care enrollment information pertaining to 2018. Taxpayers must also bring photo identification, Social Security cards, and if a direct deposit of refund is desired, a bank check to ensure correct account numbers.

Tax help will be available in the 183rd Legislative District during the times and days listed below. For other TaxAide sites, please call 1-888-AARPNOW (1-888-227-7669).

• Faith Lutheran Church, 3355 MacArthur Road, Whitehall, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays starting Feb 4. Walk-in appointments only.
• Slatington Vigilant Fire Co. Hall, East Church St and South Walnut St, Slatington, 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesdays starting Feb 6. On site appointments can be made during operations.
• Northampton Recreation Center, 1 Lerchenmiller Drive, Northampton, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. by appointment on Mondays starting Feb 4. Appointments can be made at the Rec Center.

Ensuring Victims’ Rights
Legislation to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to add a victims bill of rights was reintroduced this week in a step toward putting the question before voters.

Last session, Marsy’s Law passed in the House and Senate unanimously. An identical bill must be passed this session before the question is placed on the ballot.

While Pennsylvania has protection for victims written into its laws, a constitutional amendment is the only way to ensure that victims have equal footing with offenders and the only way to ensure that victims have some kind of redress when their rights are violated.

The amendment would require notice of hearings and other proceedings, physical and emotional protection from the accused, notice in cases of release or escape, proceedings free from unnecessary delay, the ability to confer with the prosecutor in the case, full and timely restitution from the offender, and notification of all of these rights.

Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program Applications Available
Applications for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program are now available on my website, and at my district offices.

The program is designed to help eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older to receive up to a $650 rebate from the property taxes or rent they paid last year.

To be eligible, homeowners must earn less than $35,000 a year and renters less than $15,000 with half of Social Security income excluded.

Certain supplemental rebates can boost homeowner rebates up to $975. The supplemental rebates are automatically calculated by the Department of Revenue for qualifying homeowners.

Residents should 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 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. Applications are due by June 30.
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Office Locations
2030 Center Street, Northampton, PA 18067 | Phone: 610-502-2701
Slatington Borough Hall, 125 S. Walnut Street, First Floor, Slatington, PA 18080 | Phone: 610-760-9805
402A Irvis Office, PO Box 202183. Harrisburg, PA 17120-2183 | (717) 772-5398
Email Address: ZMako@pahousegop.com