In this Update:
Tour of Forcey Lumber & Veneer Co.
I had the opportunity to tour Forcey Lumber & Veneer Co. in Clearfield County. Thank you, Brant & Ross Forcey for explaining the importance of veneer production and the lumber industry.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program
Members of my staff will be at the Ebensburg Senior Center at 209 N. Julian St, Ebensburg on February 23rd from 10am – 12pm to assist with the applications for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. Please call the Senior Center at 814-472-5226 to schedule an appointment, space is limited. Make sure you bring your income (W2, 1099) as well as either your paid property tax receipts, if you own a home, or a completed rent certificate if you rent. If you have any questions about what you need to bring, or if you need assistance with your rebate applications but can’t make it on February 23rd, please call my office 814-266-2277.
PA Senators Honor Penn State’s THON Fundraiser
Three state Senators are working to honor the annual THON fundraiser led by Penn State students to support families affected by childhood cancer.
Alongside Senators Cris Dush (R-25) and Scott Martin (R-13), I introduced a resolution this week designating the week of February 13-19 as “THON Week” in Pennsylvania and honoring the work of the 16,500 Penn State student volunteers who make the fundraiser possible.
THON provides both emotional and financial support for families who benefit from the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital. As the largest student-run philanthropy effort in the world, THON has raised $240 million to help 4,800 families since its creation in 1973.
The year-long fundraiser culminates in a 46-hour dance marathon that will take place February 17-19 at the Bryce Jordan Center. A livestream of the event is available here.
THON raised more than $13 million in 2022 alone.
This resolution serves as a token of appreciation to the students who have dedicated countless hours to raise funds for families affected by childhood cancer.
Resources Available to Help Pennsylvanians with Rising Energy Costs
As energy costs continue to rise, please be aware that resources are available to minimize the financial burden and to assist with payments already owed.
Ratepayers can immediately lower their energy bills by switching to a competing electric and natural gas supplier using PAPowerSwitch.com and PAGasSwitch.com. Read all terms thoroughly to understand if the contract includes a fixed or variable rate before making a decision.
Those who are having difficulty paying bills currently should call the utility company to work out a payment plan to avoid additional fees associated with the reconnection of service. Financial assistance is also available for many ratepayers through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). New applicants can apply for the program at www.compass.state.pa.us.
Of course, the most effective way for Pennsylvania to combat rising energy costs is for lawmakers to unleash our state’s energy potential, which is why Senate Republicans are prioritizing the advancement of policies that create greater energy independence.
In addition, the Senate advanced Senate Bill 1, which included a proposed constitutional amendment to prevent the executive branch from imposing onerous regulations like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – a regulation that will not only cost 22,000 jobs, but also could nearly quadruple new electricity costs for consumers. While the General Assembly can’t undo this already imposed, costly executive action, it can prevent Pennsylvania from being saddled with similar regulations in the future.
Important Message for Unemployment Compensation Recipients
Several important changes are being made to the way Unemployment Compensation benefits are paid onto prepaid debit cards.
Beginning on or about March 6, Money Network prepaid debit cards will be mailed to UC recipients who receive benefit payments via prepaid debit card. The Money Network prepaid debit card will replace the U.S. Bank card currently in use.
Recipients will need to learn how to activate the new money network prepaid debit card and ensure their address is correct, among other steps. PA Treasury explains the process here and provides an extensive Frequently Asked Questions page here.
Medical Assistance and CHIP Recipients Must Submit for Renewal
Starting April 1, Pennsylvania is required by federal law to review the eligibility of Medical Assistance (Medicaid) and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) recipients every year, which means recipients must submit a renewal. Important information is posted here.
While the Department of Human Services (DHS) still sent renewal notices during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, most people were not disenrolled from Medicaid or CHIP because of a change in eligibility. DHS is returning to the normal eligibility processes.
No one will lose their health coverage without having an opportunity to complete a renewal, and renewals will be completed over 12 months. Renewals due in March 2023 will be the first affected by the end of continuous coverage. If a person is found ineligible for their current coverage or does not complete their renewal on time, their coverage will end.
Information about when a person’s annual renewal is scheduled can be found on COMPASS or on the myCOMPASS PA mobile app. Anyone can set up a COMPASS account at www.dhs.pa.gov/compass and, if they have a mobile device, can download the myCOMPASS PA mobile app for free.
Scam Warning: “Final Demand for Payment” Letters
The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue has issued a warning about scams designed to trick people into turning over sensitive data and personal information.
One recurring scam involves phony letters sent to taxpayers through the mail. The “Final Demand for Payment” letters threaten wage garnishment and the seizure of property or assets unless the recipient calls a phone number to satisfy a lien.
If you are concerned about a potentially fraudulent notice, visit the department’s webpage for verified contact information. This will help you ensure that you are speaking with a legitimate representative of the department.
And if you believe you are a victim of tax fraud or tax-related identity theft, contact the department’s Bureau of Fraud Detection and Analysis by emailing Rafirstname.lastname@example.org or calling 717-772-9297.
National Cancer Prevention Month: Information on Risk and Research
Every family will be touched by cancer at some point. National Cancer Prevention Month is a good time to consider information that could help prevent heartache.
The National Cancer Institute has comprehensive information on cancer prevention, risk factors, the role of genetics, and the latest research into causes and prevention.
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