In this Update:
Adaptive Equipment for Children with Disabilities
Variety – The Children Charity’s empowers children with disabilities by providing them with adaptive equipment to live life to the fullest. Variety serves children and families in 59 counties in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. In partnership with Covestro and Blackburn’s, Variety presented 6 adaptive bikes and 24 adaptive strollers to local kids with disabilities and their families. It was very moving to hear how this mobility equipment will change their lives.
Restore 22 – Helping Veterans in Our Community
I had a great meeting with Christine from Restore 22, a nonprofit organization that provides veterans with a space to connect with each other and the resources available to them. She and her husband, who also served in our military, dedicate their time to helping local veterans in the Coraopolis area and throughout the community. Thank you both for the important work you do!
Edgeworth Bridge Club Celebrates 90th Anniversary
Congratulations to the Edgeworth Bridge Club on recently celebrating its 90th anniversary! The club is part of the largest bridge league in North America and offers lessons for beginner players, too. Cheers to the next 90 years!
Clearview Opens Pleasant Hills Financial Center
Congratulations to Clearview Federal Credit Union on opening their Pleasant Hills Financial Center today! Not only did they open a new location, they also invested in our community by donating to the AHN Chill Project, a mindfulness program that helps students, teachers, and parents in several local school districts react positively to stress.
It was great to hear from West Jefferson Hills School District about how this program benefits them and to meet Louise, a Clearview board member who will be 100 years young in April! Congratulations to all and thank you for your community support!
Citizen Science Lab Receives Grant Funding
I made a new friend this week: Mercedes, a red-knee tarantula who lives at The Citizens Science Lab in Bethel Park! I’m so glad to see the lab receive a Champion in Action Grant from Citizens Bank, and I enjoyed a great tour of their facility. Dr. Andre Samuel and his team provide a unique educational experience to thousands of students across the Pittsburgh region through hands-on STEM programming.
Congratulations to the entire staff at CSL and keep up the amazing work! Be sure to check out everything this organization has to offer, and don’t forget to visit Mercedes, too!
Robinson Bill to Help Local Non-Profits Highlighted
Thank you to Marley Parish of Spotlight PA for highlighting my bill to allow electronic payment for small non-profit fundraisers. This is a simple bill to update the antiquated law which currently only allows cash or check. I’m glad to see this moving through the legislative process! Read the full article here.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Clinic
Financial relief is available to more people than ever through the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate (PTRR) Program, which supports homeowners and renters across the commonwealth using gaming and Pennsylvania Lottery proceeds.
This year, the income cap increased to $45,000 for both homeowners and renters. Only half of an applicant’s Social Security income is included in the calculations for eligibility. Starting this year, income caps are tied to annual cost-of-living increases. Additionally, the maximum standard rebate on property taxes or rent paid increased to $1,000. The program is open to state residents 65 and older, widows and widowers 50 or older, or anyone age 18 and over who is 100% disabled.
My office will be hosting a rebate clinic at the Bethel Park Community Center with Representative Natalie Mihalek on Monday, February 12. Proof of income and identification are required to complete the application. In addition, property owners must have paid property taxes stamped or signed by the tax collector. Renters must have a rent certificate filled out and signed by their landlord.
Please call my office to register. Don’t worry if you can’t make it; we will be hosting several other clinics in the following weeks.
2023 Accomplishments: Public Safety
The men and women of law enforcement and emergency response work hard to keep us safe. As their jobs become even more difficult, they need our support.
Last year, we passed legislation to combat different forms of theft. We have new laws that target looting and organized retail theft by increasing penalties and crack down on “porch pirating” by setting penalties for theft of mail, which includes a package, bag or letter.
We also passed measures to prevent the exploitation of older Pennsylvanians and update 911 funding to meet the expanding cost of services so help is available when Pennsylvanians face emergencies. We also provided an additional $20 million for county mental health programs. Ensuring safe communities is among the Senate Republican priorities to protect jobs, empower families and defend freedoms.
Healthy Rainy Day Fund Cushions Against Hard Times
As of the beginning of January, the state’s Rainy Day Fund sits at a record high of $6.1 billion thanks to prudent decisions the Senate made in the past three years. Most recently, we deposited $900 million as part of the current state budget. While others wanted to spend the money on all sorts of things, we prioritized smart saving so we would have a cushion in the event of hard times.
To build on the benefits of smart budgeting, Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity announced a new investment pool specifically for the Rainy Day Fund. It’s designed to earn even better returns while continuing to ensure that money will be available when needed.
A strong Rainy Day Fund offers more than just a financial buffer. Because of the state’s healthy nest egg, Pennsylvania received rating improvements from three rating agencies: Moody’s, S&P and Fitch. The better ratings help Pennsylvania taxpayers by reducing the cost of borrowing for the state.
Free FAFSA Workshops Across PA
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) underwent changes resulting from the FAFSA Simplification Act, a federal law intended to streamline the financial aid application process.
Filing the FAFSA online is the first step for students and families to determine if they qualify for a Federal Pell Grant, Pennsylvania State Grant, scholarships, institutional awards and federal student loans.
Because of the changes, free FAFSA workshops are being held across the state. Find one near you.
Prioritizing Mental Health at All Ages
January is Mental Wellness Awareness Month, which is a great reminder of how important it is to focus on our mental health, particularly as mental health challenges increased for so many people in the past few years because of the pandemic and the many impacts it had on all of us.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in 20 adults in the United States experience serious mental illness each year. With 50% of all lifetime mental illness beginning by age 14, it’s important to support young people.
As part of this fiscal year’s budget, Senate Republicans dedicated $100 million for school mental health, helping to address a major need as mental health needs for young people continue to rise.
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