Jun. 16, 2019

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The latest news from PA State Representative Rosemary Brown

District of Character

The “District of Character” is an initiative I created to enhance character development and promote daily reminders for residents of the 189th District about how we can create a stronger community without policy changes. No one is perfect, but we can always work to improve our character daily.
June word of the month is “Ethics.”

“The discipline dealing with what is good, bad and with moral duty and obligation; a set of moral principles; a theory or system of moral values.”

Hands-Free Cellphone Bill Passes House Transportation Committee Unanimously

I am so happy to report the House Transportation Committee has unanimously passed my hands-free cellphone bill and it is now being considered by the full House.

This legislation allows a driver to speak on the phone using a hands-free device and utilize GPS as long as the device is in a docking station. The goal is to get the phone out of the driver’s hand, reduce overall cell phone use and texting and change driver behavior for overall improved road safety and reduce unnecessary crashes.

We have a significant safety problem here in the Commonwealth. My bill is a reasonable and realistic measure that can be enforced to help change behaviors and save innocent lives. We are not going to stop all accidents, but it is time to do something to show how serious it is to drive distracted, especially with a cellphone which seems to be taking priority over the responsibility to drive.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Deadline Extended Until Dec. 31

Older adults and Pennsylvanians with disabilities now have until Dec. 31 to apply for the state’s 2018 Property Tax/Rent Rebate program. The original deadline was June 30.

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.

As of June 1, the department had received 432,411 rebate applications. As specified by law, rebate distributions cannot begin until July 1. After June 30, rebates will be distributed as claims are received and processed. Applications typically take six to eight weeks to process.

For the 2017 program year, more than $253 million was paid to income-eligible seniors and people with disabilities who applied for rebates on rent and property taxes.

Eligibility information and forms are available by contacting my office at 570-420-18301. Residents are reminded that assistance in filling out the applications is available free of charge at my district office. There is no need to pay a private firm for help.
Claimants who already applied for rebates may check the status of claims online at  revenue.pa.gov by clicking on the “Where’s My Property Tax/Rent Rebate?” link. Claimants may also call, toll-free, 1-888-PATAXES to check the status of their rebates.

Ensuring Sexual Harassment is not Hidden

Recognizing the rampant problem of sexual harassment in the workplace, the House approved legislation this week to help prevent these offenses – and the offenders – from being hidden and dealt with.

House Bill 849 would prohibit employers from requiring employees and prospective employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement related to sexual harassment as a condition of employment.

This would ensure workers who face sexual harassment in the workplace can exercise their voice to report such egregious offenses they may suffer at the hands of a co-worker or superior.

Employees and employers would still be able to voluntarily enter into such agreements.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Lowering Health Insurance Costs

Pennsylvanians who buy their health insurance on the federal exchange could see lower prices under legislation adopted by the House this week. Many constituents have communicated to me the difficulty and high cost of paying health care insurance premiums along with the frustration of extremely high deductibles. HB3 may help in this measure as Pennsylvanians who buy their health insurance on the federal exchange.

House Bill 3 would establish a state-based health insurance exchange and reinsurance program, an option offered by the Trump administration and supported by the Wolf administration as a means for helping make health care more affordable for Commonwealth citizens.

The proposal is also expected to save taxpayer money, as the cost of the state running its own exchange is expected to be about half the cost of fees currently being paid to the federal government to run it for us.

The bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration.
Attention Hunters! Licenses Go on Sale Monday, June 17

Hunting licenses for the 2019-20 hunting season go on sale this Monday, June 17, across the state.

All license buyers will receive a complimentary copy of the 2019-20 Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest. A pocket guide for the upcoming season, including key details about general hunting regulations, hunting hours, fluorescent orange requirements, a map of the Wildlife Management Units and season dates and bag limits, is also available to be printed.

Click here to find a licensing agent near you. Click here to purchase your new license online (on or after June 17).

For more information about hunting seasons, safety and more, visit pgc.pa.gov.
Grand Opening of Al’s Pocono Barbershop

This past Friday, Middle Smithfield Township welcomed Al’s Pocono Barbershop located at 5126 Milford Road, East Stroudsburg, Pa. 18302. Aleksey Gadayev (Alex), is a master barber with over 10 years of experience offering cuts from casual Caesar and fades, to straight razor shaves, with hot towel neck and back massages bringing a traditional New York barbershop experience to the Poconos. Congratulations Alex and his wife, Anastasia on your venture and wishing you years of success. Thank you for choosing Monroe County and Middle Smithfield Township for your business!

Mt. Pocono Adds Women Veterans Museum

Recently, with the lead of Claudette Williams, Mt. Pocono added a museum honoring Women Veterans. Community members gathered at their location off Fork Road to celebrate the new museum and listen to stories of female service members that paved the way for future female military leaders. Thank you to all who made this possible. This was a culmination of hard work, dedication and passion.
Just a reminder: If you are encountering an issue with state government, please feel free to contact my district office. We are here to help you with the following services:      
 - Driver’s license and vehicle registration applications and renewals. 
 - Assistance with PennDOT paperwork (lost cards, changes, corrections, special registration plates, vanity plates, and temporary placards for disabled persons).                         
 - PACE and PACENET applications for seniors.                         
 - State Motor Vehicle and Driver Licensing Work.
 - Voter registration forms and absentee ballot applications.                         
 - State tax forms.                         
 - Student aid applications.                         
 - Free state maps, state park information, and PA Vacation Guides.                         
 - Copies of legislation and tours of the State Capitol.                         
 - Referrals to agencies to resolve state-related matters. 
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Office Locations
143 Seven Bridge Road, East Stroudsburg, PA 18301 | Phone: (570) 420-8301
210 Ryan Office Building, PO Box 202189, Harrisburg, PA 17120-2189 | Phone: (717) 260-6171
Email: rbrown@pahousegop.com
TTY: 855-282-0614