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Robert Tommy Tomlinson
I was honored to host the World Championship Semi-finalist Bensalem High School Fighting Owls Robotics Team during their recent visit to the State Capitol. Congratulations on their accomplishments.
Keeping Track of Dangerous Weather Conditions
Pennsylvania has suffered through a large number of severe weather events over the past several weeks, including 13 tornadoes in May and 29 tornadoes overall in 2019 – well above the annual average of 17.
Updates on severe weather and other emergency situations is available through Pennsylvania’s AlertPA system. Community residents can sign up to receive updates here.
Senate Passes “Pennsylvania GI Bill for Families”
The Senate unanimously passed legislation that would create the Military Family Educational Program, or “Pennsylvania GI Bill for Families.”
Senate Bill 589 would amend the State’s Military Code by establishing a new program providing five years’ worth of higher education benefits to the spouse and/or children of a Pennsylvania National Guard member who commits to serve another six years.
In 1996, Pennsylvania established the National Guard Educational Assistance Program. This Program provides men and women a free college education — based on the tuition rate at the State System of Higher Education — in exchange for a six-year commitment in the National Guard. Since then, over 50,000 Army and Air Guard members have taken advantage of this program. In return, our Pennsylvania National Guard — the second largest in the nation — has remained strong, both at home and abroad. Pennsylvania’s program was the first in the nation and has been replicated across the states.
The GI Bill for Families will enable men and women in the Guard to earn educational benefits for their spouse and/or children after completing their first service obligation and committing to serve an additional six years. This legislation will be administered by PHEAA in conjunction with the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and is aimed at increasing the retention rates in the National Guard and attract transitioning military service members to Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 589 now heads to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
Honoring Our Veterans with Special License Plates
With the warmer weather and longer summer days bringing increased travel, the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) suggests an Honoring Our Veterans or the new Honoring our Women Veterans license plates for your vehicles as a great way to show patriotism and to support veterans in need.
Available for passenger cars and light duty trucks up to 14,000 pounds, and motorcycles, an Honoring Our Veterans license plate costs $36, with $15 dollars benefitting Pennsylvania’s Veterans’ Trust Fund (VTF). The VTF issues grants to statewide charitable organizations that aid veterans service organizations and county directors of veterans affairs. These valuable advocates use available grants to assist veterans in need of shelter and necessities of living, among other services.
To learn more about other VTF programs or to purchase an Honoring Our Veterans or Honoring Our Women Veterans license plate, visit www.vtf.pa.gov or follow DMVA on Facebook at www.facebook.com/padmva.
Unclaimed Property at the Department of Treasury
The Pennsylvania Treasury is currently seeking the owners of more than $3.4 billion in unclaimed property.
Treasury receives hundreds of millions of dollars in unclaimed property every year. These items and funds go missing, often for things as simple as a misspelled name or an out-of-date address.
Treasury has advertised names and addresses of unclaimed property owners in the Bucks County Courier Times and Doylestown Intelligencer for Bucks County, and the Lansdale Reporter, Pottstown Mercury, and Norristown Times Herald for Montgomery County.
You can also search Treasury’s Unclaimed Property database at www.patreasury.gov or call the Unclaimed Property call center at 1-800-222-2046.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program Application Deadline Extended to End of Year
The deadline for older adults and Pennsylvania residents with disabilities to apply for rebates on rent and property taxes paid in 2018 has been extended from June 30 to Dec. 31, 2019.
Each year the Department of Revenue evaluates the program as the statutory June 30 application deadline approaches to determine if funds are available to extend the deadline. To date, funding has been available to allow all who qualify to benefit from the program.
Applicants may obtain Property Tax/Rent Rebate claim forms (PA-1000) and related information on the Department of Revenue’s website or by calling, toll-free, 1-888-222-9190.
It’s free to apply for a rebate, and free assistance is available at hundreds of locations across the state, including Department of Revenue district offices, local Area Agencies on Aging, and senior centers.
Claimants who already applied for rebates may check Property Tax/Rent Rebate Status online or call, toll-free, 1-888-PATAXES.
The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded.
The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for certain qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975. The Department of Revenue automatically calculates supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners.
Since the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program’s 1971 inception, older and disabled adults have received more than $6.9 billion in property tax and rent relief. The program is funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery and revenue from slots gaming.
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