|Enjoying PSU Alumni Weekend with a Fellow Alumni
There is nothing like the excitement of a Penn State wrestling match. PSU grapplers recently took care of business with a strong win over Michigan. I'm pictured with former Penn State wrestler, coach and coincidental name-sharer, John Fritz. His weight class, notably, was quite a bit lower than mine.
Take Steps to Avoid Scams This Tax Season
As tax season begins, it is important to protect yourself and your family from scams and phishing schemes designed to steal your money or personal financial information.
One common scam to keep an eye out for involves phony “Final Demand for Payment” notices threatening the seizure of a taxpayer’s property if the recipient of the notice fails to make immediate payment.
Pennsylvanians should also beware of phishing schemes that use fraudulent email messages, deceptive software or malicious files that are designed to steal sensitive information, such as passwords, usernames or personal financial information.
To avoid these scams, individuals should not provide any personal information until they are sure they are speaking to a legitimate representative, keep an eye out for vague communications and never click on suspicious links or attachments.
Pennsylvanians should also know that any scenario in which they are asked to pay their debt with reloadable debit cards, gift cards or money wiring services are scams. No government agencies use these methods for payment.
If you think you are a victim of identity theft or discover a fraudulent Pennsylvania personal income tax return was filed using your identity, contact the Department of Revenue’s Fraud Detection and Analysis Unit at 717-772-9297 or RA-RVPITFRAUD@pa.gov.
Budget Hearings Focus on Accountability in Tax Dollar Spending
As a member of the House of Appropriations Committee, I joined my colleagues in holding our first series of 2019-20 state budget hearings this week. The hearings are designed to give members the opportunity to question state officials about their funding requests and ensure state government is accountable for how it spends taxpayer dollars. Members will also focus on ensuring the budget supports policies that improve the state’s economic climate and support the creation of private sector jobs.
This week’s slate of hearings included appearances by the Independent Fiscal Office, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and the departments of Revenue, Aging, and Conservation and Natural Resources.
The next week of hearings, beginning Monday, Feb. 25, will feature the departments of Corrections, General Services, Health, Drug and Alcohol Programs, and Transportation, along with the Liquor Control Board and the Gaming Control Board.
The full schedule is available here. The site also includes video of the archived hearings once available.
Deadline Approaching for 2019 Pennsylvania House Scholarships
Don’t miss the March 1 deadline for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Scholarship.
Each year the program awards four-year scholarships to two high school seniors preparing for post-secondary education. The program is open to graduating high school seniors who are Pennsylvania residents with plans to attend a Pennsylvania college, university or career school as a full-time student.
Students must have attained a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average in high school in order to be eligible for a scholarship. Other factors taken into consideration for the awards are a student’s commitment to community, leadership qualities, extracurricular activities and financial need.
The application is available here.
The scholarship is privately funded by individual and corporate donors; no tax or other public funds are used. It is administered through the Foundation for Enhancing Communities.
Helping Our Veterans
Ensuring Pennsylvania’s 800,000 veterans get all of the benefits they have earned is an important mission of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) and state lawmakers.
My office hosts veterans’ outreach hours at our district office with the American Legion to assist veterans with issues they may be having accessing benefits and services from the state or U.S. Veterans Administration. Our hours take place on the fourth Friday of each month, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at my Honesdale office and the first Tuesday of each month, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at my Montrose office. The next outreach sessions will be on Friday, Feb. 22 (Honesdale) and Tuesday, March 5 (Montrose).
Veterans are also encouraged to sign up for the DMVA’s Veterans Registry at register.dmva.pa.gov to get timely information about state benefits, programs and services.
DMVA also offers two Mobile Veterans Outreach Vans that travel the Commonwealth to give veterans one-on-one assistance so they can learn about and apply for the benefits they have earned.
Each van is staffed with accredited veterans service officers and is wheelchair-accessible. Last year the vans visited 107 community events helping 1,500 veterans.
To learn more about the vans, and schedule one for a community event, click here. This page also includes a calendar of upcoming events.
PennDOT Offices Closed for Presidents Day
In observance of Presidents Day, all PennDOT driver license and photo centers, including the full-service center in Harrisburg, will be closed Saturday, Feb. 16, through Monday, Feb. 18. Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, dmv.pa.gov.