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Bill Would Ensure Disabled Veterans Receive Property Tax Exemptions
We owe a deep debt of gratitude to our disabled veterans for the sacrifices they have made. That’s why I am prepared to introduce legislation to ensure they receive the state property tax exemption they deserve.
My bill amends an existing state program that provides real estate tax exemptions to honorably discharged veterans who are 100-percent disabled, served during war service dates set by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and have a financial need.
The measure would exempt some federal funds provided to veterans from being considered as “income” for eligibility purposes. This would include funds for everyday functioning, caregiving, medication management and renovations to their residence to accommodate their disability.
This is an issue that an Indiana County resident brought to my attention. He and other disabled veterans were barred from receiving property tax exemptions solely because the federal money that helped them meet basic needs pushed them over the state’s income limit. That’s not right and that’s why I am drafting this legislation to exclude federal veteran’s disability benefits from the calculation of income.”
My bill will also eliminate the wartime service requirement for the property tax exemption.
“Regardless of when they served, the men and women who have become 100-percent disabled due to their military service have made a great sacrifice and they deserve this benefit. It is only appropriate that we honor those who have sacrificed so much through their service to this great nation and our Commonwealth.
Audio of my comments on the bill.
Local Resident Receives Farm Show Scholarship
CFA Awards $100,000 in Grants to Help Local Dairy Farms
I am pleased to report that the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) awarded $100,000 in Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program grants to help two local dairy farms.
AbbyK’s LLC was awarded a $50,000 grant to assist with the purchase and installation of milk processing equipment at the Bowser Dairy Farm in Mahoning Township, Armstrong County. The new equipment will allow the farm to bottle its milk and to process milk into various products including soaps, yogurt, ice cream, milks, and cheeses to be sold at a retail farm store and online.
Lone Oak Dairy LLC of Marion Center, Indiana County, was awarded a $50,000 grant to assist with the purchase and installation of equipment that will allow the farm to meet the demand for high-quality locally and ethically produced dairy products including heavy cream, butter, buttermilk, sour cream, coffee creamers and more ice cream. The project will require an immediate expansion of the farm’s workforce and the creation of two jobs for the local economy.
With these grants, the CFA is taking a step to help our local dairy farmers expand the variety of fine products they produce. This expansion can truly make a difference for the Bowser and Lone Oak farms. We recognize that many Pennsylvania dairy farmers are struggling and it is essential for the state to step up to help protect this vital part of our economy. The Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program directs money toward efforts that will truly benefit farmers and help promote their products.
Grant Awarded to IUP to Boost Campus Security, Reduce Sexual Assault
Indiana University of Pennsylvania will receive a $30,000 grant to help improve campus security and provide resources to reduce the risk of sexual assault.
The grant was awarded through the Pennsylvania Department of Education as part of a national initiative to raise awareness of campus security risks and improve reporting of sexual assault on college campuses.
Grants can be used to create programs including training for students, faculty and staff; institutional campaigns to raise awareness of the reporting process; and resources for survivors.
A total of $1 million was awarded statewide to 36 public and private colleges and universities serving nearly 250,000 students.
Applications Now Accepted for State Recreation, Conservation Grants
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) is now accepting applications from counties, municipalities and municipal agencies, pre-qualified land trusts, non-profits and other eligible organizations for conservation, recreation, trail, and riparian buffer grants.
An application webinar will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, January 29. Participants will learn about eligible project activities, funding sources, matching requirements and strategies on how to create a competitive grant application. To sign up, applicants may visit DCNR’s ‘Calendar of Events’ page on its website: https://events.dcnr.pa.gov/.
The grant program is funded with a variety of state and federal funding sources. Applications will be accepted through April 22. For additional information on the grant program, visit https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/Communities/Grants/Pages/default.aspx.
State Police Report Holiday Statistics
The Pennsylvania State Police responded to 376 crashes and made 179 arrests for driving under the influence during the three-day Christmas holiday from Dec. 24 through Dec. 26, 2019. Troopers did not investigate a single fatal collision over the midweek holiday – a welcome change from last year’s four-day Christmas enforcement period, which saw six people killed in five separate crashes investigated by state police.
In addition to DUI enforcement, troopers issued 1,885 speeding citations, 181 seatbelt citations, and 17 child safety seat citations.
The State Police investigated 460 crashes over the New Year’s holiday enforcement period from Dec. 31, 2019 through Jan. 2, 2020. Of the collisions investigated, 30 involved alcohol, 87 people were injured, and one person was killed.
Troopers also arrested 279 people for driving under the influence during the three-day holiday enforcement campaign. The total is a decrease from the 406 DUI arrests made over the holiday period last year, which spanned four days. In addition to DUI enforcement, troopers issued 6,410 speeding citations, 476 seat belt citations, and 66 child safety seat citations.
Crash and enforcement data by troop is available here. These statistics cover only incidents investigated by State Police and do not include statistics on incidents to which other law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania responded.
Dog Licenses Now Available at County Treasurers’ Offices
Pennsylvanians can now purchase 2020 dog licenses from their county treasurers. State law requires all dogs three months and older to be licensed by January 1 of each year.
An annual dog license is $8.50, or $6.50 if the animal is spayed or neutered. Lifetime licenses are available for dogs that have permanent identification like a microchip or tattoo. Older adults and people with disabilities may be eligible for discounts.
The dog license application is simple and only requests owner contact information and details about the dog being licensed, like name, age, breed and color. For more information, including a list of county treasurers, visit www.licenseyourdogPA.com.
LIHEAP Heating Assistance Program Now Open
Pennsylvania’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) grant program is now open for the 2019-20 heating season.
LIHEAP helps families living on low incomes pay their heating bills in the form of a cash grant ranging from $200 to $1,000 based on household size, income, and fuel type. The grant is sent directly to the utility company/fuel provider to be credited on the family’s bill.
Under the income guidelines for the 2019-20 season, a family of four qualifies for LIHEAP assistance if they earn $38,625 or under, a family of two $25,365, and a single person $18,735.
Households experiencing a heating crisis may be eligible for additional benefits through the LIHEAP crisis program. Emergency situations include:
Anyone interested in applying for the LIHEAP program can apply online at https://www.dhs.pa.gov/Services/Assistance/Pages/LIHEAP.aspx.