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Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Website Explaining the New Voting System

WebsiteA new website has been launched by the Pennsylvania Department of State that explains how to cast a ballot in the April 28, 2020, presidential primary.  This is necessary since the General Assembly passed Act 77 of 2019 that enacted sweeping changes to the state’s election law which included new voting machines that are designed to create a paper trail for each ballot.  This is the first time these types of machines will be used in Allegheny County as well as in 21 other counties across the state.  Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar has expressed that the department felt the website was essential to make voters feel confident and understand how to use the new voter-verifiable paper ballot voting system and the tools available to them.  

The new website, which can be viewed by clicking here or visiting https://www.votespa.com/readytovote/Pages/Allegheny-County-Voting-System.aspx, has individual pages for voters in all 67 counties that explains how to cast a ballot since voting systems vary from county to county.  Allegheny County will use paper ballots that are fed into electronic scanners. The page includes links to instructional videos that demonstrate how the voting system functions as well as information about accessibility features for voters with special needs. 

This is also a reminder that Pennsylvania voters will be able to request the new mail-in ballots, that are available to all voters, online at www.votespa.com.  Applications are also available in my district offices. Additionally, if you have not registered to vote yet, you can do that 15 days before the primary as opposed to the previous 30-day deadline.  For more information regarding these changes, visit www.votespa.com or read the Jan. 21 edition of my News & Views.

Did You Know…

Did you know the earliest elections in the United States were conducted by voice vote or with paper ballots put into ballot boxes?

Coronavirus Coronavirus Information Sheet - click to download.

Last week Pennsylvania Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, outlined the Wolf Administration’s steps to prepare for community spread of the coronavirus known as COVID-19, as well as what Pennsylvanians can do now. To date, the Wolf Administration has:

  • Activated the Department of Health’s Emergency Operations Center to allow for enhanced response coordination;
  • Maintained communication and outreach with federal, state and local partners;
  • Provided symptom monitoring for residents returning to Pennsylvania from China;
  • Provided information to health care professionals, businesses and educational settings; and
  • Reviewed and adapted current pandemic flu plans for COVID-19.

The Department of Health has put together a page on their website dedicated to the Coronavirus.  The page can be viewed by clicking here or visiting www.health.pa.gov and clicking on the “Coronavirus Information” tab. The page provides more detailed information on the virus, symptoms, how it can spread, and how you can protect yourself.

REAL ID Reminder

Real IDI want to remind anyone interested in getting a REAL ID how to go about it.  In March 2019, PennDOT began issuing REAL IDs to customers for the first time.

If you received your first Pennsylvania driver's license, learner's permit or photo ID card AFTER September 2003, PennDOT may already have your required REAL ID documentation on file.

If you fall into this category and would like PennDOT to verify that your required REAL ID documentation is on file, please click here to begin the REAL ID Online Pre-Verification application process. Once PennDOT has reviewed your record, you will receive an email stating whether your documentation is on file with the department. If you did not provide an email address, once PennDOT has reviewed your record, you will receive a postcard stating whether your documentation is on file with the department. If your documentation is on file with PennDOT, you will be able to order your REAL ID online without visiting a driver's license center at www.dmv.pa.gov and your REAL ID will be sent through the mail.

Individuals who wish to obtain a REAL ID and received their first product BEFORE September 2003 must visit a PennDOT Driver License Center with the required documentation to pre-verify in person. Required documentation includes the following:

  • Proof of Identity (original or certified copy of a birth certificate with a raised seal, issued by an authorized government agency, or a valid U.S. Passport)
  • Social Security card
  • Proof of all legal name changes (marriage certificate, court order or divorce decree)
  • Two proofs of current, physical PA address (examples include a current PA license or ID and no more than a 90-day old bank statement or utility bill with the same name and address)

For additional information about REAL ID in Pennsylvania please visit www.penndot.gov/REALID or  http://www.pasenate.com/RealID/.

Getting a REAL ID is optional for Pennsylvania residents but as a reminder, beginning October 1, 2020, Pennsylvanians will need a REAL ID-compliant driver's license, photo ID card, or another form of federally-acceptable identification (such as a valid passport or military ID) to board a domestic commercial flight or enter a federal building or military installation that requires ID.

Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program

HomeThe Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is now accepting applications for the 2019 Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program.  If you filed a paper rebate last year, you should receive an application in the mail. Applications are available at my district offices, online at www.revenue.pa.gov or by calling 1-888-222-9190. As always, my staff would be happy to assist you in preparing your application.

The Property Tax/Rent 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 for homeowners and $15,000 for renters. Please keep in mind, half of Social Security income is excluded.

Applications are due to the Department of Revenue by June 30 and rebates will be distributed beginning July 1. The program is funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery and revenue from slots gaming.

New Senior Citizen ConnectCards

Senior Citizen ConnectCardsThe Port Authority of Allegheny County continues to issue new Senior Citizen ConnectCards and my office can assist. The new cards will replace the current blue or yellow PA Senior Transit ID cards and will have a photo of the cardholder on the card. These new cards will enable the user to ride Port Authority and other public transit vehicles for free across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Please note that effective January 1, 2020, seniors are no longer be able to use a Medicare ID card to ride free on Port Authority buses, inclines or light rail vehicles.  The Port Authority will continue to accept blue or yellow PA Senior Transit ID cards indefinitely, but customers are encouraged to get the new ConnectCard.

Both my Brookline and Kennedy Township offices are equipped to help seniors get their new cards. Simply visit either office and bring with you ONE valid document that shows proof-of-age.  This includes a driver’s license or state-issued photo ID card, birth certificate, PACE ID card, or passport to name a few. My staff will enter your information into Port Authority’s system and upload your photo and a copy of your proof-of-age document. 

Upon receiving the information from my office, the Port Authority will produce a new Senior Citizen ConnectCard and then mail the card to my office where you can return to pick up the card. New cards should take a couple weeks to arrive at my office from the time Port Authority receives the information. When you return to get your new card, please bring with you your current senior bus pass so we can exchange it for your new ConnectCard.

Anyone age 65 or over is eligible to receive this new card and ride Port Authority and other public transit vehicles for free.

Toast of the Rox

Toast of the RoxThe Greater McKees Rocks Area Rotary Club is hosting their annual Toast of the Rox, Sunday, March 15 from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. The community French toast breakfast will be held at the Kennedy Township Fire Hall, located at 1769 Pine Hollow Road. A ticket includes one all-you-can-eat breakfast. 

Tickets can be purchased at Nationwide Insurance in Kenmawr Plaza in Kennedy Township.  More information is available by calling 412-771-6781.  All proceeds benefit the Greater McKees Rocks Area Rotary community charity organizations. E-Tickets are available on Eventbrite.com. In the search field, type “Toast of the Rox.”

Fontana Fact

Women suffragists marching on Pennsylvania Avenue led by Mrs. Richard Coke Burleson
(center on horseback); U.S. Capitol in background. (Library of Congress)

It was on this day in 1913 that thousands of women gathered in Washington, D.C. to call for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote. While women had been fighting hard for suffrage for over 60 years, this marked the first major national event for the movement.

A huge parade was spearheaded by Alice Paul and the National American Woman Suffrage Association just one day before the inauguration of President-elect Woodrow Wilson. While it took another seven years for the Nineteenth Amendment to be ratified on August 18, 1920, the women who marched on this day in history accomplished their goal of reinvigorating the suffrage movement.

Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana

Brookline District
1039 Brookline Boulevard
Suite 2
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Phone: 412-344-2551
Weekdays – 9 am – 5 pm
Harrisburg
543 Main Capitol | Box 203042
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Phone: 717-787-5300
Fax: 717-772-5484
Weekdays – 8:30 am – 5 pm
Kennedy Township
Kenmawr Plaza
524 Pine Hollow Road
Kennedy Twp, PA 15136
Phone: 412-331-1208
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
By appointment