Senator Mastriano E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Ceremony will Honor Flight 93 Passengers and Crew Killed September 11, 2001
  • Outdated Township Construction Law Costs Taxpayers Money
  • State Budget Implementation Requires Action by the House of Representatives
  • State Grants Available for Children’s Advocacy Centers
  • Scam Threatens Suspension of Health License
  • Shared Ride Services Available to the Public
  • Tax-Free Savings Accounts for People with Disabilities
  • Remembering the September 11, 2001 Attacks

Ceremony will Honor Flight 93 Passengers and Crew Killed September 11, 2001

I have scheduled a ceremony at noon on Sept. 18 at Soldier’s Grove behind the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg to remember the passengers and crew members of Flight 93 who lost their lives in the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.

The ceremony will honor and remember those who perished when Flight 93 crashed in Somerset County after passengers fought back against the terrorists who hijacked the plane.

The event will include a patriotic display, several guest speakers and the recognition of all of the victims on Flight 93.

In addition to the ceremony, there also will be a display of Flight 93 and the passengers on board that will be in the Harrisburg Capitol East Wing Rotunda from Monday, September 11, through Friday, September 15.

We continue to honor the heroes of September 11 so a new generation of Americans will learn about the importance and historic significance of the events that took place that day.

Outdated Township Construction Law Costs Taxpayers Money

The Pennsylvania law governing township construction projects is as old as Henry Ford’s Model T, operates as ineffectively as an orchestra without a conductor and equates to a 10% tax on commonwealth residents.

When township governments in Pennsylvania engage in a construction project, they must do so in compliance with a law that was put on the books in 1913. That’s the same year Henry Ford began production of the Model T on an assembly line in Detroit.

Ford thankfully has drastically updated the vehicles it sells. Pennsylvania’s law governing township construction projects meanwhile remains stuck in antiquity.

The law is known as the Separations Act, because it requires separate contractors for general construction, electrical, plumbing, and heating and air conditioning. That is four different contractors with four different areas of expertise, timelines and goals.

Imagine if the four main sections of an orchestra – the strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion – all operated independently based on their own agendas. Rather than music, you would hear noise.

Learn more about this outdated law and my proposal to fix it by reading the rest of this column I had published in the Indiana Gazette.

State Budget Implementation Requires Action by the House of Representatives

A week after the Senate convened for session and passed legislation to take additional steps toward finalizing the new state budget, the House of Representatives has yet to come back to session and vote on budget implementation legislation which can help all communities throughout our commonwealth. Right now the House is not scheduled to come back to Harrisburg for session until Sept. 26.

The general appropriations bill was signed into law last month. However, code language passed by the Senate still needs to be advanced by the House in order to drive out critical funding. While the House is currently split at 101 to 101 with an even number of Republicans and Democrats, we cannot let politics stand in the way of doing the right thing for Pennsylvanians. We welcome our colleagues in the House of Representatives to join us in coming back to session immediately to complete the 2023-24 budget.

State Grants Available for Children’s Advocacy Centers

Help is available to children’s advocacy centers (CACs) for their crucial mission coordinating the investigation, treatment and prosecution of child abuse cases.

The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency says the funds can be used to help CACs expand, improve or continue the services provided to victims of child sexual abuse and child abuse. Applications and information are listed here under “2023 NCA Member Child Advocacy Centers.”

The Senate Aging and Youth Committee held a hearing last month to gather information about the needs of CACs and the critical roles they play across Pennsylvania.

Scam Threatens Suspension of Health License

Scammers pretending to be from the Pennsylvania Department of State’s health-related licensing boards are calling active and inactive licensees, claiming their licenses are suspended due to allegations of criminal activity. To trick people, the scammers spoof the state board’s phone number and name on caller ID.

Someone who actually represents the state board will not contact you by phone to request a credit card payment, wire transfer or money order. They will never request any payment be made using gift card or that it be wired to a foreign country.

If you receive one of these calls, please hang up and report it to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Shared Ride Services Available to the Public

People who do not drive can get where they need to go using shared ride services. Riders can travel to work, medical providers, grocery stores, shopping centers and more when fixed route services cannot meet their needs.

While shared ride services are open to the public, riders must register in advance to use them. Each shared ride provider has its own fare structure. Various programs allow seniors, persons with disabilities and low-income individuals to access shared ride service at a reduced out-of-pocket cost or even for free.

Find more information and the shared ride service provider near you here.

Tax-Free Savings Accounts for People with Disabilities

Tax-free savings accounts to help people with disabilities save money for disability-related expenses are available through the Pennsylvania Treasury. PA ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) accounts are structured similar to tuition savings accounts.

Family members and friends can contribute up to $17,000 per year; PA ABLE account owners who earn income may contribute additional funds beyond the annual contribution limit. Once the maximum account limit of $511,758 is reached, accounts continue to earn interest.

Withdrawals from the account will be exempt from both state and federal income taxes as long as the funds are used for qualified disability expenses. These include education, housing, transportation, employment support, health prevention and assistive technology. Learn more here.

Remembering the September 11, 2001 Attacks

Monday marks the 22nd anniversary of the September 11 attacks on our country, including one that resulted in a plane crash in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. It is with a heavy heart that we remember the devastating attacks and wish peace for the families who lost a loved one.

We also recognize the incredible heroes, including those who made the ultimate sacrifice, as they cared for the innocent victims. Emergency responders and military personnel deserve our deep gratitude.


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