PACE, PACENET and PACE plus Medicare are Pennsylvania's prescription assistance programs for older adults, offering low-cost prescription medication to qualified residents, age 65 and older. As of this year, the legislature passed a law excluding Social Security Medicare Part B premiums from being counted towards income levels. Read more
Pennsylvania has a Children's Health Insurance Program that provides free and low-cost health insurance to children. CHIP is not welfare – it covers children of working parents whose employers don't offer coverage and who can't afford private insurance. If you can't afford health insurance for your children, chances are they are eligible for CHIP. Read more
Each year, the Pennsylvania Treasury receives millions of dollars of unclaimed property. It is estimated that roughly one in 10 Pennsylvanians has unclaimed property. Read more
In Pennsylvania, you can choose the company that generates your electricity – also known as your electric supplier. This means that you have the power to switch to a competing supplier who can offer the lowest price, or provide a specific service you want, such as “green” or renewable energy. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 12 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, said the House Finance Committee has unanimously approved his bill that would close a sales tax loophole for Pennsylvania municipalities. Specifically, H.B. 437 would exempt local municipalities from paying sales tax on certain components necessary for traffic signal installation. "A narrow interpretation of the law is causing a loophole," Caltagirone said. "It has come to my attention that the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue has been taxing the sale of poles and mast arms used in traffic signal construction, despite a tax code provision to the contrary." Caltagirone added the revenue department’s current interpretation only exempts the light assembly, which is the part that holds the red, yellow and green lights. The poles and mast arms are not exempt. "We aren't talking about a few bolts and screws, and we aren't talking about pocket change," Caltagirone said. "Traffic signal installations are big projects for local municipalities that aren't cheap – and most of them don't have deep pockets right now." Caltagirone said his legislation would clear up inconsistent and unfair interpretations of the tax code by the department. Under the tax code, when items like traffic signals are to be transferred to a government entity, they are exempt from taxation. "I want to make certain that citizens and local municipalities are Read more
HARRISBURG, May 5 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, announced that the House of Representatives adopted H.R. 221 , his resolution designating May 7, 2015 as the "National Day of Prayer" in Pennsylvania. "This is a day to set aside to pray for our state and our country," Caltagirone said. "It is a time to put politics away." The National Day of Prayer is observed annually on the first Thursday in May. The day was first established as an annual event in 1952 by a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress. "This annual event was created to encourage all citizens to pray for our leaders, communities, families and each other, and for national healing, reconciliation and unity," Caltagirone said. This is a time to uphold the rich history of prayer in our state and I'm proud to be leading the effort." Caltagirone said the resolution received unanimous support by the House. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 15 – House Urban Affairs Committee Democratic Chairman Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, said the committee unanimously approved the following measures this week, sending them to the full House of Representatives for a vote: House Bill 613 would establish the Tax Exemption and Mixed-Use Incentive Program. It is designed to provide tax exemption incentives to developers and property owners in order to encourage new construction in deteriorated areas of depressed communities and improvements to certain deteriorated commercial, commercial and industrial property. A primary focus of the legislation is to encourage mixed-use development. Such development would include projects that incorporate residential, commercial, industrial, cultural or institutional uses. However, under the bill, all development would be required to be in accordance with local zoning ordinances. "This bill would set the guidelines for a plan that stands to have a real impact on economic development," Caltagirone said. "Bringing blighted properties down and pulling the values of homes and businesses up is a direction we need to keep moving in." House Bill 792 would provide an additional source of funding for the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund. Caltagirone said the legislation would provide a dedicated funding source for the fund, utilizing any increase realized in Realty Transfer Tax revenue collected by the Read more
HARRISBURG, April 1 – House Urban Affairs Committee Democratic Chairman Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, said the committee reported out the following bills this week and sent them to the full House for consideration: House Bill 11 is designed to help improve efficiency within state government. The legislation builds on the approach of the state Office of Innovation, which reportedly saved state taxpayers more than $690 million. Gov. Wolf recently named the Office of Transformation, Innovation, Management, and Efficiency as the successor of the Office of Innovation. House Bill 11, as amended, would secure the office in law and create a steering committee that would include the secretaries of Policy and Planning, General Services and Budget, in addition to one member from the Republican and Democratic caucuses in both the House and Senate. House Bill 341 would require property disclosure statements related to residential real estate transfers to include notification of any sinkholes and storm water facilities located on the property. "This bill stresses the importance of being well-informed," Caltagirone said. "Sinkholes alone can wreak havoc on a property and financially strap a property owner. This legislation is an all-encompassing consumer protection bill." House Bill 447 would allow for early termination of a residential lease following the death of the sole tenant of an occupied unit. Under the bill, upon 14 days written notice to Read more
HARRISBURG, March 25 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, has introduced legislation to implement ethical standards and campaign contribution prohibitions for members of the state’s public pension boards and the elected officials with the authority to appoint them. "These good-government concepts are not new; similar restrictions already apply to the banking and gaming industries. It’s time that we eliminate any appearance of impropriety in the management of our public pension systems and rebuild the public’s trust in the systems," Caltagirone said. House Bill 845 would ban all gifts to individuals serving on the State and Public School employees' retirement systems and the officials with the authority to appoint them. "It would also close the revolving door between service on a public pension board and private sector firms doing business with the public pension systems. "I have struck a nerve in Harrisburg and there are efforts afoot to silence me and I’m reminded daily of the consequences of being a maverick. I understand that the powerful interests I challenge want to continue with the status quo but my responsibility is to my constituents and the taxpayers," Caltagirone said. The bill also would strictly prohibit all political contributions to board members and officials with the authority to appoint them. "I believe it is in the best interest of the Commonwealth for me to Read more
HARRISBURG, March 19 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, has introduced legislation designed to protect Pennsylvania homeowners from government seizure of their homes. Under H.B. 688 , the commonwealth or a local government entity would be prohibited from taking a primary residence from a homeowner because he or she cannot afford to pay property taxes on it. "Property taxes in this commonwealth have risen to the point where many citizens can no longer afford to stay in their homes. Many of these people have paid off 30-year mortgages but simply can’t afford the property taxes," said Caltagirone. "There are far too many homes being sold at tax sales, leaving our most vulnerable citizens literally out in the cold. The burden of these taxes fall particularly hard on poor, sick and older citizens. These people are constantly fighting to keep their homes and the American dream of homeownership is a job layoff, illness or death of a spouse away from being torn from their grasp." The bill would require passage in the state House of Representatives and state Senate in two consecutive legislative sessions. After that, it would be put before the voters of the state to decide if they want to amendment the Pennsylvania Constitution. "Until the legislature gets the courage to take on the entrenched interests fighting property tax elimination, I am proposing this solution to protect the most vulnerable citizens from an overbearing Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 24 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, said the House passed his legislation that would provide training for law enforcement training and judges related to individuals suffering from mental illness, intellectual disabilities and autism within the criminal justice system. Under Caltagirone's bill, H.B. 221 , police officers and the minor judiciary, such as magisterial district judges, would receive training on the recognition and proper de-escalation techniques to be used when interacting with individuals with mental illness, intellectual disabilities or autism. The bill also calls for instruction on diversionary options for these individuals. "Incarcerating individuals with mental illness, intellectual disabilities or autism is not always the best option," Caltagirone said. "This bill addresses the issue on the front end by providing our police and minor judiciary with more early-detection training so they can identify these individuals as quickly as possible. "Moreover, with proper training our law enforcement officers may be able to avoid dangerous situations if they can quickly identify an individual experiencing a mental breakdown and use proven crisis intervention techniques to de-escalate a situation." Caltagirone added that according to recent estimates, over 50 percent of all female inmates and more than 20 percent of all inmates in state prison receive mental health treatments. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 4 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, said the House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved his legislation calling for law enforcement training related to those suffering from mental illness and intellectual disabilities within the criminal justice system. Under Caltagirone's H.B. 221 , police officers and the minor judiciary, such as magisterial district judges, would receive training on recognition and proper de-escalation techniques to be used when interacting with individuals with mental illness or intellectual disabilities. The bill also calls for instruction on diversionary options for these individuals, such as alternative sentencing or treatment. The training for magisterial district judges would take the form of continuing education. "It is incumbent upon us as a governing body to address the significant problem of individuals with mental illness or intellectual disabilities ending up in our prisons," Caltagirone said. "As a first step, this would better equip our police and minor judiciary with the tools and training needed to identify these individuals at the earliest point in the criminal justice system and get them proper treatment." Caltagirone added that according to recent estimates, nearly 50 percent of female inmates and more than 20 percent of all inmates in state prison receive mental health treatment. "Getting the cost of corrections lowered is a must and if we continue Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 6 – State Rep. Tom Caltagirone, D-Berks, announced he has been appointed to serve as the Democratic chairman of the House Urban Affairs Committee for the 2015-16 legislative session. The House Urban Affairs Committee deals with legislation affecting first-, second- and third-class cities and counties in Pennsylvania. Housing and public safety issues also pertain to the work of the committee. The Urban Affairs Committee additionally oversees the Philadelphia Parking Authority. "I am grateful for this opportunity to narrow my focus onto the dire needs of our cities," Caltagirone said. "At a time when there is great financial and economic stress throughout many of our urban areas, I am hopeful my work will help rectify some of their largest problems. "I have no doubt this committee will be ready to hit the ground running to address the many concerns of our first-, second- and third-class cities. As a longtime member of the General Assembly, I believe my senior leadership will provide an asset to the committee as we work together to build a stronger Pennsylvania." Read more
Pennsylvania's children have a new protection thanks to Hannah's Law, named after Hannah Ginion of Bristol Township, who suffered from the rare genetic disorder called Krabbe disease. Hannah passed away on Dec. 28, 2014. Read more
Recently, my office received information about phone calls received statewide in which an individual claimed to be from the IRS and demanded payment on taxes owed.
Please be aware – this phone call is a scam, and the IRS will NOT initiate first contact with you on the phone about taxes owed.
Always be wary of unsolicited phone calls in which an individual claims to represent a business or government entity and aggressively demands payment. The IRS does not operate this way and will always send official correspondence through the mail to make its first contact with you.
Landmark legislation passed during the 2013-14 Legislative Session now allows first responders, including law enforcement, fire fighters, EMS or other organizations the ability to administer a medication known as naloxone, a life-saving opioid-overdose antidote.
The law also allows individuals such as friends or family members who might be in a position to help a person at risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose to obtain a prescription for naloxone. Additionally, Act 139 provides immunity from prosecution for those responding to and reporting overdoses.
House Bill 993, which renamed the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare as the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, was signed into law as Act 132 during the 2013-14 Legislative Session.
According to advocates for the change, renaming the department was long overdue, and as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, the name change better reflects the department’s mission. Read more
As we get into the coldest months of winter, many people are worried about affording their increasing heating costs. If you or someone you know qualifies, my office could help you take advantage of a program set up to curtail high home heating bills. Read more
The open enrollment period for health care coverage is now underway. If you or someone you know is in need of health insurance, please consider visiting the federal Marketplace at www.HealthCare.gov. Applicants have until Feb. 16, 2015 to enroll.
Everyone, no matter what age, needs health insurance. A random accident or unexpected illness could put you in danger of losing not only your good health but also your financial future. Read more
To register for the Pennsylvania and national do-not-call lists, visit http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/dnc.aspx or call 1-888-777-3406. Registration is free. There is a rolling enrollment; individuals may sign up at any time and the registration is good for five years. After that, you can re-enroll. And, signing up on Pennsylvania's list automatically adds those numbers to the national do-not-call list. Read more
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