Senator Elder Vogel, Jr. E-Newsletter

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Dear Friend,

I am pleased to present my electronic newsletter. These e-newsletters enable me to provide information about issues, events and activities in Harrisburg and around the 47th Senatorial District to you in a timely manner while saving postage costs.

If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website www.senatoreldervogel.com for more information about your state government. If you do not wish to receive these e-newsletters, please click the “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of the page.

Sincerely,

Elder Vogel Jr.

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February 26, 2019

It is always an honor to serve on the Senate Appropriations Committee and this year is no different. My Colleagues and I have the duty to discuss the Governors proposed budget and issues our constituents are facing with each state department. To watch my questions for these departments, please visit my website by clicking here and watch any of my Budget Hearing Q&A videos.

2019-2020 Senate Appropriation Committee Hearings

The 2019-20 state budget process got underway with the governor’s February 5 budget address. Senate hearings on the proposed $34.1 billion spending plan are underway and run through March 7.

You can find video of every hearing, along with a summary of topics discussed, by clicking here.

Upcoming appropriations hearings are as follows:

March 4th

  • Department of Drug and Alcohol from 10am-12pm
  • Tobacco Supported Programs from 1pm-3pm
  • Department of Conservation and Natural Resources from 3pm-5pm

March 5th

  • Department of Education from 10am-12pm
  • Department of Education Continued from 1pm-3pm
  • Department of Aging from 3pm-5pm

March 6th

  • Department of Military and Veterans Affairs from 10am-12pm
  • Department of Agriculture from 1pm-3pm
  • Ben Franklin Technology Partners from 3pm-5pm

March 7th

  • Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board from 10am-12pm
  • Department of Community and Economic Development from 1pm-3pm
  • Budget Secretary/Governors Executive Office from 3pm-5pm

Save the Date: 10th Annual Kids Extravaganza

I am pleased to announce that I will be hosting my 10th Annual Kids Extravaganza on Saturday, May 18th, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Community College of Beaver County. Each year, over 1,200 residents attend the Expo, which features numerous exhibitors who provide the community with valuable information from state and county programs as well as non-profit organizations who offer no-cost services.

This event also offers a day of activities, various performances, and refreshments for all who attend. The event is free and open to all residents of the 47th Senatorial District. If you are interested in being a vendor, please contact Jen Nolfi in my Rochester office at 724-774-0444 or jnolfi@pasen.gov

Response to Governor’s PA Farm Bill

I had the opportunity to make a statement on the governors proposed PA Farm Bill alongside Senate Majority Leader Corman and Senate President Pro Tempore Scarnati. We are encouraged by Governor Wolf’s willingness to have a discussion about the best ways to support Pennsylvania’s agriculture community, and we thank the governor for his efforts on this front. Many of these proposals could potentially build on the progress we have already made through the creation of a new grant program to support dairy farmers – an initiative led by Senate Republicans during last year’s budget negotiations.

In addition to the plans the governor is proposing, we continue to be supportive of the idea of hosting a dairy summit. The summit would bring together all agencies and stakeholders for a discussion on the future of agriculture. A similar approach in New York has yielded positive reviews, and we believe this summit could serve as a valuable outlet for the entire industry at a minimal cost to taxpayers.

After the governor proposed to cut nearly $4 million in agriculture funding from the state budget last week, the biggest question that remains is how the approximately $24 million in new spending would be funded. As we take a closer look at the governor’s budget and his new plans for supporting farmers, our priority will be working with all parties to determine how we can incorporate some or all of these ideas in a fiscally responsible way. We look forward to a careful review of all of these ideas leading up to our budget hearing with the Department of Agriculture on March 6 and a joint hearing with the Senate and House Agriculture committees on March 20.

School Safety Tools Available to School Districts

As your State Senator I am proud to show the array of new tools that have been made available to identify threats and improve school security.

School safety resources available to school districts include:

  • $60 Million in grants for security upgrades for personnel and equipment, or for school counselors
  • $10 million for State Police security and risk assessments to help schools identify security gaps and fix them
  • Safe2SayPA hotline to confidentially report safety threats
  • School Safety & Security Committee to compile “best practices” for school safety, and establish standards to help evaluate whether school districts have made themselves safe

Act 44 of 2018 relies on local initiative, provides each school district with the opportunity to assess their unique needs and circumstances, and allows them to pursue safety options that are in the best interests of students.

To ensure that security is a priority in every school district, the state now requires each district to appoint a safety and security coordinator. Schools must also conduct drills of their response to a school shooter and to involve local police in the response plan.


­­­­­­2/25/19 – Budget Hearing Q&A: Transportation

During the Senate Appropriations Committee hearings I was able to discuss the new Farm Bill regarding the width of Agriculture and Farm Equipment on public roads, and the ongoing success of Act 89 with the Secretary of the Department of Transportation Leslie Richards.


Income Tax Refund Military Donation

Pennsylvanians filing their personal income taxes can help military personnel and their families by donating part or all of their refund to a state program that provides grants of up to $3,500 to Pennsylvania members of the armed forces and their families who have a direct and immediate financial need as a result of circumstances beyond their control. The tax form includes instructions on how to donate.

That money will be donated to the Pennsylvania Military Family Relief Assistance Program (MFRAP) provides financial assistance, in the form of grants, to eligible Pennsylvania service members and their eligible family members.

Tax Filing Questions

Answers to tax-filing questions and other Revenue Department questions can be found at the department’s Customer Support page. You can submit questions or search topics by category. The page also includes online forms.

Questions such as:

  • How do I know if I qualify for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate?
  • When can I expect my refund?
  • What is the difference between the Property Tax and Rent Rebate Program/Property taxes paid by an owner on their home?
  • How do I check the status of my Property Tax/Rent Rebate Claim to find out when I can expect my rebate check?
  • Can more than one person in a household apply for a rebate?
  • Does the department charge $41 or any other fee for Property Tax/Rent Rebate filing assistance?
  • How can I contact the department by telephone?

To ask a new question or view previously asked questions such as the ones above, please click here to go to Department of Revenue’s webpage.

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Please contact me to provide input on any state-related matter, or to receive help in dealing with a state agency.

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