Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
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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.
February word of the month is “Faithfulness.”

“Steadfast in affection or allegiance; loyal."

My Thoughts on Governor’s Recent Budget Address

There were a lot of ideas in Gov. Wolf’s budget address, including workforce development, career and technical education and quality education, which are areas of focus that our caucus agrees with and will work together with the governor to address. I believe these key ideas are important to all Pennsylvanians. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, my colleagues and I will review the details of each initiative within each agency and ensure that the taxpayers’ money is being used appropriately during hearings over the next few weeks.

To view my full remarks, click here
Honoring Our Local High School FBLA Chapters
This week, I had the pleasure of introducing some local FBLA chapter members from Pleasant Valley and Stroudsburg High Schools on the House floor in recognition of National Future Business Leaders of America – Phi Beta Lambda Week, Feb. 3 – 9.
FBLA programs are prevalent throughout many of our school districts in Pennsylvania and strive to develop students' business and leadership skills and encourage community involvement which will enhance their daily lives in the future.

I want to especially thank the advisors, Denise Hopley of Pleasant Valley, and Jodie Haggerty and Kathy Sickler (2015-16 FBLA State Advisor of the Year), both of Stroudsburg, who freely dedicate their time to these students.

I wish these students well and hope that their futures are full of success!

First-Time Home Buyer Savings Account Bill Voted out of Committee

My bill to help first-time homebuyers, that Rep. Ryan Bizzarro (D-Erie) is also co-prime sponsor of, passed unanimously through the House Urban Affairs Committee this week!

This bill would create the First-Time Home Buyer Savings Account Act to establish first-time home buyer savings accounts. The goal of the legislation is to allow Pennsylvanians to set aside savings, which may be used as a deduction on state income tax, toward the eligible costs of purchasing a first home. Passed in the House last session.

House Bill 128 now moves to be considered by all House members.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

The United Way of Monroe County recently launched a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

The program targets low to moderate income families in Monroe County. IRS-certified and trained volunteers will prepare and file eligible clients’ federal, state and local income tax returns for FREE with no hidden fees or charges.

The service is by appointment only and is available to anyone in Monroe County with a household income of $54,000 or less in 2018.

In addition, as an alternative for households with an income of $66,000 or less, United Way offers a FREE online tax preparation and submission process, powered by H&R Block, and supported through United Way. Simply visit MyFreeTaxes.com to prepare and submit your state and federal taxes.

Highway Safety Law Awareness Week 2019

As Feb. 17-23 is Highway Safety Law Awareness Week, Traffic Safety Coordinator for the Highway Safety Network, Tracy Fox (better known as “Safety Fox”), has some safety reminders and information for this initiative.

Automated Speed Enforcement in Work Zones: Driving 11 mph or more over the posted speed limit in an active work zone may result in: first time will be a warning; second time will be a $75 fine and third or more times will be a fine of $150. Also, Fines in an active work zone are doubled.

Steer Clear with “Slow Down to Get Around”: This new law requires drivers to move over or slow down when encountering emergency vehicles. This now also includes stationary trash/recycling trucks and mail delivery vehicles.

Driving Under the Influence Changes: A third DUI within 10 years, depending on your blood alcohol content, will now be a felony. A fourth DUI within 10 years is now a felony. Also penalties have increased when a homicide occurs while Driving under the influence.

Look for more tips from the Highway Safety Network next week!
Go Red for Women Campaign

My colleagues and I wore red in honor of the Go Red for Women campaign, which raises awareness about women's heart disease.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, causing one in three deaths each year, or about one per minute. According to the American Heart Association, 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.

The symptoms of heart disease can be different in women vs. men and are often misunderstood. By increasing awareness, speaking up about heart disease and empowering women to reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease, we can save thousands of lives each year.

You can learn more about the symptoms of a heart attack and what to do by clicking here.

Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program Applications Available

Applications for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program are now available on my website and at my district office.

The program is designed to help eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older to receive up to a $650 rebate from the property taxes or rent they paid last year.

To be eligible, homeowners must earn less than $35,000 a year and renters less than $15,000 with half of Social Security income excluded.

Certain supplemental rebates can boost homeowner rebates up to $975. The supplemental rebates are automatically calculated by the Department of Revenue for qualifying homeowners.

Residents should not pay a private entity for assistance in filing the forms. Copies of the forms, as well as assistance with filing them, are available at my office at no cost. Call (570) 420-8301 with any questions about the program.

Applicants should be prepared to provide all the necessary income, property tax or rental information required to process claims quickly and accurately. Applications are due by June 30.
Trout Stocking Schedule Now Available

Start planning for this year’s fishing season with the PA Fish and Boat Commission’s 2019 Trout Stocking Schedule.

More than 700 streams and 120 lakes will be stocked with nearly 3.2 million adult trout in Pennsylvania rivers and streams that are open to the public for fishing.
About 53 percent of the trout are stocked prior to opening day, 43 percent are stocked between opening day and the end of May, and the remaining 4 percent are stocked from October through February of the following year.

Opening Day of trout season will be Saturday, March 30, for Pennsylvania’s southeastern counties. The rest of the state will open on Saturday, April 13.
Copies of the trout stocking schedules, including a searchable database, can be found online at PFBC website or the PFBC’s “FishBoatPA” mobile app. A limited number of hard copies of the trout stocking schedules may also be obtained at my district office.

State Budget Address Starts the Process

Gov. Tom Wolf delivered his budget proposal for the 2019-20 fiscal year before a joint session of the General Assembly on Tuesday.

House Republicans have been, and will continue to be, leaders when it comes to education funding, having increased funding for PreK-12 education by $3.4 billion since 2011.

We will also continue our commitment to building the economy through a better tax and regulatory climate, as well as ensuring our students are trained for the jobs of today and tomorrow. We are equally committed to removing the barriers to employment and self-sufficiency.

The budget process continues next week with the first in a series of House Appropriations Committee hearings to delve into the details of the governor’s plan.
For a schedule and live streaming of the hearings, visit pahousegop.com.
Record-Setting Year for PA 529 College and Career Savings Program

As the House begins its budgeting process for next year, including higher education funding, Pennsylvania families are saving more than ever to ensure their children can afford college or other post-secondary options.

In 2018, Pennsylvania families set a record by saving over $585 million to use toward future education expenses in the PA 529 College and Career Savings Program.

Through PA 529, families can choose from two plans. The PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP) allows families to save for post-secondary education at today’s rate, and the PA 529 Investment Plan (IP) allows families to choose how their contributions are invested from a list of 16 options.

You can learn more about the 529 program at pa529.com or call 1-800-440-4000.
Streamlining Medication Process for Patients and Seniors

House Republicans are continuing their commitment to ensuring the health and welfare of seniors and patients with chronic conditions by making it easier to adhere to their medication schedules.

This week lawmakers passed House Bill 195, which ensures patients can synchronize their medications in order to receive refills on the same day each month, instead of having to make multiple visits to the pharmacy.

This commonsense legislation would put Pennsylvania in line with Medicaid Part D, the PACE Program, and 35 other states that allow medication synchronization.
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
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
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