|The latest news from the State Capitol
Bills to Protect Crime Victims
The House of Representatives recently passed legislation to help strengthen the protections for the most vulnerable victims of crime. Public safety is a core function of government, and the bills passed by the House take additional steps to support crime victims.
Passage of these critical pieces of legislation demonstrate that we in the House are committed to protecting those who are victims of crime. The strong vote in the House continues the House Republican focus on ensuring the safety of Pennsylvania’s residents, schools and communities.
The bills passed by the House are as follows:
- House Bill 2321: Tender Years Expansion: Expands the tender years exception – which permits a court to admit an out-of-court statement from a child victim or child witness -- to include crimes such as human trafficking, incest, endangering the welfare of a child, corruption of minors, sexual abuse of children and sexual exploitation of children.
- House Bill 2324: Rape Shield Expansion: Includes past sexual victimization and allegations of past sexual victimization as inadmissible prosecutions at trial and includes additional serious crimes (human trafficking, incest, endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors, sexual abuse of children, and sexual exploitation of children) to the protections under the Rape Shield Law.
- House Bill 2325: Intellectual Disabilities and Autism Testimony Protections: Extends the existing tender years exceptions to those with intellectual disabilities or autism.
Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program
Eligible senior citizens can now pick up vouchers to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from farmers’ markets.
This program provides eligible low-income seniors with coupons that can be exchanged for qualified foods. Recipients are given a list of participating farmers and farmers' markets when they receive their vouchers.
These vouchers are redeemed for fresh fruits and vegetables grown in Pennsylvania. Each eligible recipient receives four $5 vouchers to redeem at a qualified farmers’ markets or roadside stands. There are over 1,150 participating farmers at 828 farm stands and 202 farmers' markets in Pennsylvania.
For a list of participating locations in York County, click here.
For a list of participating location in Cumberland County, click here.
Discussing Conservation Efforts
It was great meeting with Carl Goshorn and Mike Berkheimer from the Cumberland County Conservation District at my district office recently.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Deadline Extended Until Dec. 31
Older adults and Pennsylvanians with disabilities now have until Dec. 31, 2018, to apply for the state’s 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 472,564 rebate applications. As specified by law, rebate distributions cannot begin until July 2. After June 30, rebates will be distributed as claims are received and processed. Applications typically take four to six weeks to process.
For the 2016 program year, more than $262 million was paid to nearly 600,000 income-eligible seniors and people with disabilities who applied for rebates on rent and property taxes.
Eligibility information and forms are available on my website, www.RepKeefer.com, or by contacting my office at (717) 432-0792. 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 www.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.
Be Aware of Elder Abuse
Friday was Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Pennsylvania and House Resolution 970, which passed the House, encourages the public to be more aware of the well-being of our state’s elderly population.
Approximately 28,600 reports were made to the Department of Aging in FY 2016-17. It is assumed the number is drastically underestimated, given the fact many cases of elder abuse go unreported in the Commonwealth.
Elder abuse comes in many forms including physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse, neglect of care, abandonment and financial exploitation. I have teamed up with the York County District Attorney’s Office to highlight elder abuse and to help prevent it.
If you suspect a senior citizen in your family or community is a victim, the Statewide Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-490-8505 is open 24 hours a day.
PA Bass Season is On
Warmer summer weather marks the beginning of bass season, which officially opened on Saturday, June 16, across the Commonwealth. Bass fishing is popular in Pennsylvania because we have so many great spots -- creeks and rivers to large ponds and lakes -- for anglers to catch smallmouth and largemouth bass. Pennsylvania has more than 86,000 miles of streams and rivers and more than 4,000 lakes and reservoirs to fish, with the majority of these waters containing bass. You can buy a fishing license at more than 900 different issuing agents across the state or online at www.GoneFishingPA.com.
The 2018 version of the PA Fish and Boat Commission’s Save Our Susquehanna (S.O.S.) license button is now available for $10. With the button purchase, you can help to raise funds for habitat improvement to save the Susquehanna River and its smallmouth bass fishery. This optional purchase is available to all current fishing license holders and use of the button fulfills the display requirements as long as the angler has a paper license in their possession. This can also be purchased where fishing licenses are sold, or online.