HARRISBURG, April 19 – House Democrats today unveiled a package of eight charter school reform bills designed to treat all Pennsylvania public schools – both traditional and charter – and their students equally under law. "I am hopeful we can pull together bipartisan support for these bills that improve efficiencies and accountability, which means that there will be more money available for education. Providing high-quality education to all Pennsylvania students should be the ultimate goal of our educational system," said Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee. Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, has introduced a bill ( H.B. 1199 ) that would end conflicts of interest in tax-funded payments for charter school leases. "The auditor general's office has identified millions of dollars in questionable charter school leases. We need to prevent these conflicts of interest up front, and we need to recover taxpayers' money to benefit students when there has been an inappropriate payment for one of these leases. Every dollar that goes to an inappropriate lease is a dollar that doesn't go to educate our kids," Roebuck said. Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Luzerne, introduced a bill ( H.B. 1198 ) that would bring charter schools in line with school districts by imposing limits on the surpluses that charter schools may accumulate. "My legislation Read more
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. To be eligible for PACE and PACENET, you must be: 65 years of age or older A Pennsylvania resident for at least 90 days prior to the date of application Not enrolled in the Department of Human Services’ Medicaid prescription benefit program Social Security Medicare Part B premiums are excluded from being counted toward income levels. PACE For a single person, total income must be $14,500 or less For a married couple, combined total income must be $17,700 or less PACENET PACENET income limits are slightly higher than those for PACE For a single person, total income can be between $14,500 and $23,500 For a married couple, combined total income can be between $17,700 and $31,500 PACE Plus Medicare Under PACE Plus Medicare, PACE/PACENET coverage is supplemented by federal Medicare Part D prescription coverage and offers older Pennsylvanians the best benefits of both programs. Older adults continue to receive the same prescription benefits while, in many cases, saving more money. For more information, to download an application or to apply online, please visit the PACECares website or contact my office . Effective January 1, 2017 PACENET cardholders not enrolled in a Part D Plan will pay a $39.45 premium at the pharmacy each 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. Unclaimed property may include: Closed bank accounts; Uncashed checks, including paychecks; Lost stocks and bonds; Contents of safe deposit boxes; Proceeds from the demutualization of insurance companies; Expired gift cards/gift certificates. To find out if you have unclaimed property, search your name in the Unclaimed Property database at www.patreasury.gov/Unclaimed/Search.html , call 1-800-222-2046, or contact my office . There is NO CHARGE to claim your unclaimed property. 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. What does CHIP cover? Immunizations Routine Check-ups Diagnostic Testing Prescriptions Dental, Vision, Hearing Services Emergency Care Maternity Care Mental Health Benefits Up to 90 Days Hospitalization in any Year Durable Medical Equipment Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Partial Hospitalization for Mental Health Rehabilitation Therapy Home Health Care Does my family qualify? The following factors are considered for a child's eligibility for CHIP: Must not be eligible for Medicaid or have any other health insurance. Must be under age 19. Must be a U.S. citizen or lawful alien. Must be a Pennsylvania resident for at least 30 days, except for a newborn. The family's income is below the following levels: Income guidelines: Family Size Free CHIP Subsidized CHIP* 2 $31,020 $31,021 - $46,530 3 $39,060 $39,061 - $58,590 4 $47,100 $47,101 - $70,650 5 $55,140 $55,141 - $82,710 6 $63,180 $63,181 - $94,770 7 $71,220 $71,221 - $106,830 8 $79,260 Read more
Forms for Pennsylvania’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program for the 2016 tax year are available at my district office – and my staff is ready to help you file yours for free ! The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians 65 or older, widows and widowers 50 or older, and people with disabilities 18 or older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters. Half of Social Security income is excluded and the maximum standard rebate is $650. Claimants must reapply for rebates every year because they are based on annual income and property taxes or rent paid each year. Spouses, personal representatives or estates may file rebate claims on behalf of deceased claimants who lived at least one day in 2016 and meet all other eligibility criteria. The deadline to apply for a rebate on property taxes or rent paid in 2016 is June 30, 2017, and the rebates normally are distributed by the Deparment of Revenue beginning July 1. So, the sooner you file, the sooner you will receive your money. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 3 – State Rep. Mike Carroll plans to introduce legislation that would make fiscal accountability requirements the same for all public schools in Pennsylvania. Read more
All dogs three months or older must be licensed by Jan. 1 of each year. Violators can be cited with a maximum fine of $300 per violation plus court costs. An annual license is $8.50 and a lifetime license is $51.50. If the animal is spayed or neutered, the annual fee is $6.50 and lifetime is $31.50. Discounts are available to older adults and people with disabilities. The small license fee helps the millions of dogs in the state by funding the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. Dog licenses are available from your local county treasurer and other licensing agents. Reasons for dog licensing: It’s the law. All dogs three months or older must have a current license. If your dog gets lost, a license is the best way to get him back. A license helps animal control and shelters identify your dog and get him back home safely. The cost of a license is less than the penalty for being caught without one. Owners who fail to license their dogs could face a fine of up to $300 for each unlicensed dog. License fees support animal control. The annual fee you pay to license your dog helps keep shelters running and supports the work of the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, which is responsible for ensuring the welfare of dogs, regulating dangerous dogs and overseeing annual licensing and rabies vaccinations. Read more
State officials touted the safety and economic development benefits Wednesday of the new ... $52 million Interstate 81 interchange at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport and Avoca. Read more
Democratic Chairman of the Pa. House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, Mike Carroll, discusses the importance of funding in the state budget for agriculture programs and how it relates to basic education funding. The discussion took place during a House Appropriations Committee hearing on the 2016-17 state budget. Read more
Forms for Pennsylvania’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program for the 2015 tax year are available at my district office – and my staff is ready to help you file yours for free ! The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians 65 or older, widows and widowers 50 or older, and people with disabilities 18 or older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters. Half of Social Security income is excluded and the maximum standard rebate is $650. Claimants must reapply for rebates every year because they are based on annual income and property taxes or rent paid each year. Spouses, personal representatives or estates may file rebate claims on behalf of deceased claimants who lived at least one day in 2015 and meet all other eligibility criteria. The oft-extended deadline to apply for a rebate on property taxes or rent paid in 2015 is June 30, 2016, and the rebates normally are distributed by the Deparment of Revenue beginning July 1. So, the sooner you file, the sooner you will receive your money. 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
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, June 12 – State Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Luzerne/Lackawanna, has been named Democratic chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee by Democratic Leader Frank Dermody. Carroll said, "I have been extremely fortunate to have had a substantial role with the Appropriations, Education, Transportation and Environmental Resources and Energy committees. I fully expect to continue serving as a leading voice in these policy areas for the people of Lackawanna and Luzerne counties while fulfilling my responsibilities in my new role as chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. I look forward to serving the people of Luzerne and Lackawanna counties in this new additional role, where I will oversee legislation dealing with the important agriculture and food sector in Pennsylvania." Dermody added, "Mike has earned the chance to lead this committee. He knows the importance of farms, food and agricultural research to Pennsylvania’s economy and he understands that thousands of jobs depend on keeping agriculture strong. As a chairman of a standing committee, his responsibilities within the caucus have been raised to include oversight of the committee while continuing to advance transportation and education policies important to House Democrats." Carroll is serving his fifth term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 28 – State Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Luzerne/Lackawanna, will introduce an omnibus Public School Code bill that would establish a moratorium on Keystone Exams being used as a requirement for graduation. Carroll said this suspension would benefit students and their families, while offering much-needed relief to school districts that face significant financial and educational obstacles to fully implement the graduation requirement. "It has become ever more apparent to me that the linkage of Keystone exam passage to graduation is riddled with problems and that more thought is required to assess students with a wide range of abilities," said Carroll, a member of the House Education Committee. "A one-size-fits-all approach seldom works in the real word and the Keystone exam requirement is no exception." Carroll said this provision of his pending bill complements an effort by state Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-Chester, Democratic chairman of the Senate Education Committee. Carroll's bill also will include all of Gov. Tom Wolf's education code changes, except that his bill will go beyond Wolf's plan to ensure fairness in special education funding for both charter and cyber charter schools. It will seek to accomplish this by applying the special education formula recommended by the Special Education Funding Commission to both charter and cyber charter schools. Another key difference between the Wolf plan and 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
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