In this Update:
Honoring the Sacrifices of Our Veterans
Saturday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day, when we take time to reflect on the bravery of the men and women who served our country. Because they were willing to put their lives on hold to defend our great country, we enjoy freedoms many other people can only imagine.
To support our veterans, just this year alone Senate Republicans passed bills to create a logo promoting veteran-owned businesses, establish the Veteran-Owned Business Loan Guarantee Program, provide educational support for children of National Guard and Reserve members, exempt disabled veterans’ benefit payments from income calculations for any commonwealth program or benefit and modernizes the way fishing licenses are issued for disabled veterans and military personnel.
In honor of the holiday, my offices will be closed on Friday, Nov. 10, and reopening to serve constituents on Monday, Nov. 13.
Recognizing the Service of Our Local Veterans
It was an honor to host local veterans this morning at our annual Veterans Breakfast at the Community College of Beaver County! We are indebted to these men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our nation! Thank you today, and everyday, for your service!
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Slow Down, Stay Alert for Deer
As the fall breeding season for deer is in full swing, it is more important than ever to slow down and remain alert for activity. This is particularly important in the commonwealth as Pennsylvania drivers unfortunately face one of the highest rates nationwide of a vehicular accident involving a big game animal, like deer: a 1-in-59 chance.
Drivers can reduce their chance of collisions with deer – and the associated injuries and property damage – by staying alert and better understanding deer behavior. Deer often travel in groups and walk in single file. If one deer crossed the road in front of a driver, another could be right behind it.
A driver who hits a deer with a vehicle is only required to report the accident to the Game Commission within 24 hours if the deer dies and the Pennsylvania resident wishes to keep the carcass. To do so, they can call 1-833-742-4868 or 1-833-742-9453. An agency dispatcher will collect the information needed to provide a free permit number. To report a dead deer for removal from state roads, motorists can call the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation at 1-800-349-7623.
Heating Assistance Program Open Now
Residents struggling with their home heating bills may apply for assistance from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
LIHEAP is a federally funded program that helps individuals and families pay their heating bills through home heating energy assistance grants. It also provides crisis grants to help in the event of an emergency or if a resident is in danger of losing his or her heat due to broken equipment, lack of fuel or termination of utility service.
The income eligibility guidelines for LIHEAP are $21,870 for an individual, $29,580 for a couple and $45,000 for a family of four. Find limits for other family sizes here. Residents may apply for LIHEAP online or by contacting their local county assistance office.
Medicare Beneficiaries: Get Free Health Benefits Counseling
The open enrollment period for Medicare beneficiaries is active now until Dec. 7. Any new coverage selected or changes to existing benefits will take effect Jan. 1, 2024.
During open enrollment, new Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage and health plans to complement Medicare, and current Medicare beneficiaries can review and join, switch or drop Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug Coverage so that it better meets their needs.
To help Medicare beneficiaries understand their options, the Pennsylvania Department of Aging offers free, objective health benefits counseling through Pennsylvania Medicare Education and Decision Insight (PA MEDI). Available at Pennsylvania’s 52 Area Agencies on Aging, PA MEDI counselors can assist Medicare beneficiaries with plan comparisons, help with enrollment in a new plan and evaluate eligibility for any of Pennsylvania’s Medicare cost-savings programs. Learn more here.
Are You Owed Unclaimed Property?
The Pennsylvania Treasury Department is currently holding more than $4.5 billion in unclaimed property, with about one in 10 residents eligible to recoup that property.
Unclaimed property includes dormant bank accounts, uncashed checks, insurance policies and contents of forgotten safe deposit boxes. The amounts can range from a few dollars to a few thousand dollars, with the average value of a claim being about $1,600.
To find out if you or a member of your family is entitled to unclaimed property, please visit www.patreasury.com. Unclaimed property can now be returned via direct deposit, and the process can be further expedited if the claimant provides their Social Security number when filing a claim. Because all property will be returned free of charge, there is no need to pay a private service to submit a claim.
$900 Million Moved to PA’s Rainy Day Fund
Thanks to the disciplined spending of Senate and House Republicans, nearly $900 million was transferred to Pennsylvania’s Rainy Day Fund. The transfer was the third-largest in the state’s history.
The fund, which exceeds $6.1 billion, provides protection from economic downturns and other unforeseen circumstances. It shields Pennsylvanians from being subjected to a tax increase at a time they would already be struggling financially.
Having a healthy Rainy Day Fund has also improved the state’s rating with the nation’s major credit rating bureaus. Moody’s Financial Services and S&P Global Ratings both affirmed the commonwealth’s bond rating and revised the state’s long-term outlook from stable to positive in September.
Recognizing Outstanding Pennsylvania Educators
Pennsylvanians are encouraged to nominate their favorite teacher to be the commonwealth’s 2025 Teacher of the Year by Friday, Dec. 15. The Teacher of the Year Program celebrates excellence in teaching and honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the young people of Pennsylvania.
The state’s 2025 Teacher of the Year will be announced at an awards ceremony in early December 2024 and will represent the commonwealth at various local, regional and national functions culminating in the National Teacher of the Year ceremony at the White House.
Nominate your favorite teacher here.
Please contact me to provide input on any state-related matter, or to receive help in dealing with a state agency.