In an effort to keep you informed about state and local issues, I have developed this e-newsletter which I will be sending out to residents of the 34th District. I think it is a fast, convenient and affordable way to get news out to area residents. I hope you find this e-newsletter useful and informative – and if you know of someone who would like to receive it, please feel free to forward this email.
Governor-Elect Corbett Names Budget Transition Team
I was recently appointed by Governor-Elect Tom Corbett to serve on his transition team. The transition team is made up of 17 different committees, each examining a specific area of state government.
I will be a volunteer member of the Budget, Pension and Revenues Committee and work with other members and committees to review the operations of the state government departments and agencies. We will also prepare a transition report, outlining our recommendations for changes and improvements.
As Governor-Elect Corbett prepares to take office, budget concerns and the need for fiscal responsibility remain a top priority. We need to find ways to save money, improve efficiency and make government work harder and smarter for taxpayers.
It is an honor to have been selected and look forward to working with the incoming transition team to get the new Administration off and running in meeting the challenges ahead.
Heating Assistance Program Now Open
Pennsylvania's Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) grant program is now open for the 2010-11 heating season. Grants are based on income, family size, type of heating fuel and region.
Rising fuel costs have taken a toll on all of us, especially those who rely on oil to heat their homes. This burden has been especially heavy on low-income families and those people on fixed incomes. I urge everyone who may be eligible for LIHEAP to apply.
Additional information, such as specific income limits, and applications for LIHEAP grants are available online via the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Access to Social Services (COMPASS) Web site at www.compass.state.pa.us. Applications are also available at county assistance offices, local utility companies and community service agencies, such as Area Agencies on Aging or community action agencies. Applicants may also call 1-866-857-7095.
PENNDOT Offers Safe Winter Driving Tips
As winter weather rapidly approaches, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is providing advice and information on safe winter driving and travel advisories.
"The Ice & Snow Take It Slow Winter Driving Guide" provides a checklist to help with vehicle preparations, information on compiling an emergency travel kit, and details winter driving tips designed to keep motorists on the road and carry them safely to their destinations.
Pennsylvania's official travel information service, 511PA, provides real-time traffic information, weather conditions and transportation alternatives. Motorists can also sign up for free 511 PA Personalized Traveler Alerts to receive notifications by a cell phone, PDA, or email account regarding accidents, incidents, and construction on specific state highways and toll roads.
PENNDOT's $216 million winter operations budget and fleet of more than 2,100 trucks are being readied, with 641,000 tons of salt available and additional deliveries scheduled to continue throughout the season as necessary.
Procedure to Obtain a Passport or Birth Certificate
The holiday season often leads people to schedule vacation time to visit family, escape the cold weather or just have a change of pace. Regardless of the reason, individuals planning to travel outside the country need a valid passport for re-entry into the United States. Click here for more information about U.S. passports, application requirements or online ordering.
To obtain a passport, applicants must provide proper documentation of citizenship, most often in the form of a state-issued birth certificate. Constituents born in Pennsylvania are encouraged to stop by any of my district offices should they require a birth certificate for travel or simply need to replace a lost copy.
Applicants need to bring a valid form of identification (photo ID) along with a check or money order. Pennsylvania birth certificates cost $10 per copy and application forms are available at all district offices. Constituents can also obtain birth certificates online through the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Vital Records website.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Applications Available Now
The state's Property Tax/Rent Rebate program provides rebates on property taxes or rent paid in the previous year for seniors and disabled Pennsylvanians who are living on a fixed income. To be eligible for a rebate, applicants must be Pennsylvania residents age 65 or older, widows and widowers age 50 or older, or individuals with disabilities 18 years or older and meet income eligibility guidelines.
Seniors can receive a rebate of up to $650 on property taxes paid in 2009 if household income does not exceed $35,000, not including 50 percent of Social Security payments, Supplemental Security income and Railroad Retirement benefits. Renters can earn up to $15,000 and still be eligible for the program. The amount of the rebate is determined by household income, with lower-income households receiving larger rebates.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate applications are available at my district offices. District residents can also apply by calling toll-free 1-888-222-9190 weekdays between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. or by visiting www.revenue.state.pa.us. Applicants who have already signed up for the program and would like to check on the receipt and status of their claim can call toll-free 1-888-PATAXES.
PA's Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act
The Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act, which went into effect in July 2009, is having a positive effect on homeowners evidenced by the more than 50 percent reduction in the number of complaints against unscrupulous contractors. The number of complaints fell from 3,057 to 1,402 after approximately one year, according to the PA Office of Attorney General (PA OAG).
Contractors who perform at least $5,000 worth of home improvements per year must register with the Attorney General's Office and be issued a unique registration number. Registered contractors must include the number in advertisements, contracts, estimates, and proposals.
The act also requires all contracts for home improvements of more than $500 to be in writing and signed by the consumer and the contractor. These contracts must also include important provisions like a description of the work; an approximate start date and completion date; the total price of the contract; and notice of the consumer's right to cancel the contract. The law also limits down payments or deposits for any home improvement project for which the total price is more than $1,000.
Consumers may call PA's OAG Bureau of Consumer Protection at 1-888-520-6680
or consult the online
List of Registered Contractors to locate registered contractors.
Mifflin County District Office
Perry County District Office
Senator Corman talks with area residents who recently attended his Senior Expo.