Aug. 23, 2019


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News You Can Use

 The latest news from the State Capitol

Save for Higher Education with State 529 Plan

For families looking to plan for higher education, the Pennsylvania Treasury offers two savings programs: the PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP), in which growth is tied to the rate of tuition inflation, and the PA 529 Investment Plan (IP), in which investment returns are determined by financial markets. Contributions to PA 529 plans are deductible from Pennsylvania income taxes, grow tax free, and, when used for qualified educational expenses, are federal and state tax exempt. Both plans provide flexibility to pay for higher education expenses at most higher education institutions across the country, including colleges and universities, as well as many technical and career schools. The money may also be used to pay for tuition expenses up to $10,000 at elementary or secondary public, private or religious schools. The PA 529 GSP is offering free enrollment – a $50 savings – for all new accounts opened before Aug. 31. Sign up at and use code “SUMMERGSP” when prompted. The PA 529 IP features low fees and more than a dozen conservative and aggressive investment options. No enrollment fee is charged for the PA 529 IP. Information about both programs is available here.
New Ag Grant Programs Accepting Applications

Two new grant programs established as part of the 2019-20 state budget to help grow our Commonwealth’s agriculture industry are now accepting applications. The Very Small Meat Processor Grant Program will provide funding up to $50,000 to meat processing businesses with annual sales of less than $2.5 million and fewer than 10 employees. The goal of the program is to increase the supply of locally produced meat products for local consumption. The funding is to be used to help small processors meet federal inspection and certification requirements. The Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grant Program will provide microgrants of up to $2,500 or collaboration grants of up to $50,000 for projects to improve agriculture infrastructure in urban areas, the aggregation of product, sharing of resources and support for community development efforts. Both programs are now accepting online applications here. The deadline to apply for the Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grant Program is Friday, Sept. 6. The deadline to apply for the Very Small Meat Processor Grant Program is Monday, Sept. 30. More information is available at
In the District

The Falls Senior Center and my office worked together to bring Michelle Nutter from the Attorney General’s office to the center to present a seminar on preventing identity theft to members. For tips on preventing identity theft, click here.

I was thrilled to present a House Citation to Arlene Traver of Monroe Township on her retirement following 50 years of service as Secretary/Treasurer. Present were Monroe Township Supervisors Bill Patton, Dale Wright and Russ Wall, as well as Monroe Township Solicitor Paul Litwin and Arlene’s family members. Thank you for your service, Arlene!

I was honored to present a House Citation to Norman Ball on behalf of his recent retirement as Tunkhannock Borough Mayor. Norman served the borough for 44 years in a number of positions, the last of which was Mayor for 21 years. We are grateful for your service to Tunkhannock, Norm! Best wishes in retirement.

The Wyoming County Courthouse celebrated its 175th anniversary, and I presented Commissioner Mike Stabinsky with a House Citation recognizing this milestone.
Bringing State Government to You

On Tuesday, Aug. 27, a member of my staff will hold satellite office hours from 10 a.m. to noon at the Meshoppen Borough Building, located at the intersection of Canal Street and Route 267 in Meshoppen.

Also, on Tuesday, Aug. 27, my staff will be available from 1-3 p.m. at the Laceyville Borough Building, 324 Church St., Laceyville.

A representative from the University of Scranton Small Business Development Center will be at my Tunkhannock district office on Wednesday, Aug. 28, from 10 a.m. to noon. The University of Scranton Small Business Development Center provides educational programs and no-cost, confidential consulting services to entrepreneurs looking to start or grow a small business.

A representative from Wilkes University Small Business Development Center will be at my Dallas district office on Wednesday, Aug. 28, from 9-11 a.m. Constituents interested in starting a small business or who need assistance with their business can receive free counseling and advice.
Keep PA Beautiful Invites Schools to Participate In Litter Free School Zone Program

Litter reduces property values, is costly to the economy and leads to contamination of our land and water. Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful provides the Litter Free School Zone program to public and private schools in Pennsylvania as a way to encourage students and staff to stop litter in its tracks, ensuring that it does not find its way to the neighboring streets, parks and storm drains where it would become even more harmful to the environment and community.

The Litter Free School Zone program is a comprehensive program that encourages young people to play an active role in protecting and improving our environment through recycling, litter awareness and community stewardship. Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful provides a sign recognizing the participating school as a Litter Free School Zone. The school, in turn, organizes two cleanups or beautification events per year. There are currently over eighty schools participating in the program. All schools are welcome – elementary through high school, public or private. Teachers interested in participating should visit the Keep It section of the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful website, or contact Stephanie Larson at or 877-772-3673.
Seeking Investigation of PA’s Parole Processes

Responding to a series of murders committed by people recently paroled from the state prison system, the House Judiciary Committee is calling for an investigation of the state’s parole procedures by Inspector General Bruce Beemer. While the Department of Corrections is rightfully conducting an internal review of these cases to determine if improvements can be made to prevent such tragedies, it is also vital to conduct an independent investigation to ensure every effort is being made to protect public safety. In a letter to the inspector general, Judiciary Committee Chairman Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin) pointed to the stabbing deaths of three children and a woman, the strangulation of a domestic partner, and the shooting death of a police officer committed by state parolees as evidence of the need for an investigation.
Be Safe at Fairs, Festivals

The Wyoming County Fair and Luzerne County Fair are right around the corner and fall festivals throughout the region will be kicking off in coming weeks. These family fun events are informative and exciting experiences and offer unique entertainment for people of all ages. However, sometimes these exciting activities can lead into danger if simple safety measures are not taken. If you and your family are planning to attend an upcoming fair or fall festival, please take precautions and follow the safety steps below to prevent any accidents from happening. Enjoy your time at the fair!
  • Keep an eye on your children. The fair is filled with many people, and children tend to get excited and run around. Due to the vast crowd, there are possibilities that your children may get lost. Make sure that you take a picture of your child before the fair so that you can show it to the police if your child gets lost. Also write your name and phone number in a small piece of paper and keep it in their pocket so that the one who finds your child can call you.
  • Stay hydrated. Temperatures can get hot during fairs. You also may walk a greater distance than your normal day. Soft drinks don’t replenish fluids lost while touring the grounds or sitting in a hot area. You should drink plenty of water.
  • Wear closed-toe shoes. You will be walking in areas where animals also roam. You also will be stepping onto apparatus for rides or stepping along stoned pathways. You should avoid wearing flip-flops or sandals to protect your feet.
  • Wash your hands after petting animals. Fairs often feature farm animals being shown for competition or petting zoos for children to visit. While fair participants keep these animals well-groomed, they could still have germs that are harmful if ingested. Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water and use hand sanitizers after petting them – especially before eating.
  • Report anything that doesn’t look right. If you notice a maintenance issue or an operator not following procedures, report it to a fair official or police officer. Also, if you notice people causing problems, report them instead of trying to handle the situation yourself.
  • Know where to find help. Fair organizers provide maps of their grounds and have signage throughout the area. Before you go or when you first get there, know where to get help in case of an emergency (first aid station, fair office or police stand).
  • Follow proper instructions when you go for a ride. By law, ride operators are supposed to post rules and instructions for rides. You should read them and review with your children. If they provide safety equipment, use it. If a ride temporarily stops because of a mechanical issue, stay seated and wait for instructions.
Wyoming County Fair: Wednesday, Aug. 28 through Monday, Sept. 2
Luzerne County Fair: Wednesday, Sept. 4 through Sunday, Sept. 8

For a full list of upcoming fairs and festivals, click here.
Savings Program to Support People with Disabilities Experiences Rapid Growth

A state program designed to help people with qualified disabilities save for future disability-related expenses has more than doubled its assets in just one year, reflecting the high level of popularity and need for this savings option. PA ABLE provides a tax-advantaged way for Pennsylvanians with disabilities and their families to save. Participation does not jeopardize access to state and federal programs, such as Supplemental Security Income (savings up to $100,000) and Medical Assistance. But it does allow for savings to be used to pay for any qualified disability-related expense including housing, education, health care and assistive technology to improve quality of life. Administered by the State Treasury, the program has more than $18.4 million in assets, up from $8.6 million in July 2018. More than 2,500 PA ABLE accounts have been opened since the program launched in 2017. For more information, visit or call 1-855-529-ABLE (2253).
Blue Star Museums Offer Free Admission to Active-Duty Military

Active-duty military personnel and their families have free access to dozens of museums in Pennsylvania – and thousands nationwide – through the Blue Star Museums initiative. The initiative is a joint effort of the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and more than 2,000 museums nationwide. The program concludes on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 2. To find participating museums, click here.

Our District

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Office Locations
105 Lieutenant Michael Cleary Drive, Dallas, PA 18612 | (570) 675-6000, (800) 278-3930
133 West Tioga Street, Suite 4, Tunkhannock, PA 18657| Phone: (570) 836-4777
41-B East Wing, Main Capitol, PO Box 202117, Harrisburg PA 17120-2117 | Phone: (717) 787-1117