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
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
Pa. state Rep. Paul Costa says that he and his House Democratic colleagues are in the State Capitol ready to pass a budget and calls upon the House Speaker to bring the House back into session to work until the budget process is complete. Read more
HARRISBURG, Dec. 11 – State Rep. Paul Costa, D-Allegheny, today joined more than 20 House Democrats to condemn House Speaker Mike Turzai’s decision to cancel session unexpectedly in the midst of a nearly six-month budget impasse. "We need to come together and put forth a budget," Costa said. "Unfortunately, there’s a handful of House Republicans along with the House Speaker who are being obstructionists and turning Harrisburg into Washington D.C. where we can’t seem to get anything done." Senate Bill 1073, a general appropriations bill that reflects the spending framework agreed to by Gov. Tom Wolf, House Democrats, Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans, and at least initially by House Republican leaders, passed the Senate with a large bipartisan majority on Monday and was received in the House Tuesday. No action has been taken on the bill since that time. "It’s been 164 days and here we are wasting time by not working to get a budget plan in place," Costa said. "We’re hurting our schools, human service providers and the people in this commonwealth. There is no time to take a break." Read more
HARRISBURG, Oct. 20 – State Rep. Paul Costa, D-Allegheny, said he has introduced legislation that that would finally provide consumers with the added convenience they have requested when purchasing alcohol in Pennsylvania. House Bill 1654 would allow restaurants, small delis and hotels to sell wine to go and beer in additional quantities, while beer distributors would now be able to sell six-packs, mixed cases and growlers for people looking to sample different styles of beer. Licensed grocery stores also would be permitted to sell bottles of wine in addition to beer. Costa said these benefits would be in addition to expanding Sunday store hours for Fine Wine and Good Spirit Stores, creating a customer reward and discount program, and allowing for the shipment of wine directly to consumers. "House Bill 1654 would provide the convenience that Pennsylvania consumers have been asking for," Costa said. "I hope the General Assembly will move this bill quickly through so we can give the people what they requested." Costa said his legislation would create jobs while preserving family-sustaining jobs, provide additional ways for people to purchase wine and beer in areas underserved by the Liquor Control Board and keep prices down. Costa added the Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters, Giant Eagle and Wegmans have all reached out to him in support of his legislation. Wegmans said it hopes to be able to sell wines made in Pennsylvania since Read more
PITTSBURGH, May 29 – State Rep. Dom Costa, D-Allegheny, today discussed legislation that would exempt volunteer emergency responders from paying fees that total more than $47 for state and federal background clearances. Costa, who was joined by fellow lawmakers from the Allegheny Delegation, volunteer firefighters and emergency responders at Evergreen Volunteer Fire Department, said that the financial burden on volunteers was an unintended consequence of changes to the state’s child abuse laws and that at least one bill in the House of Representatives, H.B. 1081 , would begin to right that wrong. He said that the bill would spare paid and volunteer firefighters and emergency medical service responders from the $10 clearances from the state police and state Department of Human Services. “I know that many, if not all of the volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel, are prepared to do their due diligence, but let’s remember that these are the same firefighters and first responders who save the commonwealth millions of dollars, protect our communities, and most significantly, save lives – all while placing their own lives at risk,” Costa said. “We owe them a huge debt of gratitude and more, and at the very least the state should recognize their sacrifice and contributions by doing these background and clearance checks at no charge to them.” House Bill 1081 has garnered significant bipartisan support and has been sent to Read more
HARRISBURG, May 4 – State Rep. Paul Costa, D-Allegheny, today introduced two pieces of legislation to provide more options for consumers while promoting Pennsylvania’s thriving craft spirit industry. House Bill 39 would allow limited distilleries to obtain a special permit to use at farmers' markets and food expos. With the permit, these distilleries would be able to offer tastings and sell their products for consumers to purchase. Costa said these special permits would be similar to the permits currently issued to limited wineries. House Bill 38 would expand the number of satellite locations for limited distilleries from two to five off-premise sites. The increase would permit the distilleries to have the same number of locations as Pennsylvania’s limited wineries. Costa said the legislation spotlights this fast-growing business in the commonwealth. “These two bills would provide these small businesses with the additional exposure they need to market their products,” Costa said. “The distillery industry has grown at a rapid rate over the past few years and we need to keep the momentum going by promoting these businesses in the commonwealth." In 2012, there were only four limited distilleries in Pennsylvania. Today, there are 26. Read more
Representative Paul Costa interviewed on the PLCB advisory opinion. Read more
State Rep. Paul Costa, D-Wilkins and ranking minority party member of the House Liquor Control Committee, called the PLCB opinion “a step in the right direction to provide consumer convenience.” Read more
HARRISBURG, March 6 – State Rep. Paul Costa, D-Allegheny, this week said he has learned the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has issued an advisory opinion to allow distributors across the commonwealth to sell 12-packs of beer as a single container. Costa, the Democratic chairman of the House Liquor Control Committee, said under this legal opinion any brewery or manufacturer may now sell a prepackaged 12-pack to a local distributor for resale, as long as it’s either shrink-wrapped or securely held together in another container made of cardboard, plastic or paperboard, according to the state Liquor Code. “This is a step in the right direction to provide consumer convenience,” Costa said. “By allowing these 12-packs to be sold at beer distributors, customers get another choice in their beer selections. It provides family-owned distributors more options in their product line, which, in turn, provides more consumer traffic, giving opportunities to expand and sustain their businesses. It is also supporting our breweries in Pennsylvania, so it’s a win-win situation. “I believe this is just the beginning of modernizing Pennsylvania liquor sales, by providing consumers better convenience, and varied selection and prices through package reform. I look forward to continuing the fight for our consumers to get longer PLCB Fine Wine and Good Spirits Stores hours, more convenient locations and flexible pricing.” Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 26 – House Democrats today unanimously opposed a Republican plan (H.B. 466) to privatize the state’s wine and spirits stores, stating that it does not address consumers’ wants, would cost taxpayers more in the long term, do little to help Pennsylvania’s current fiscal crisis, and risk thousands of jobs. Liquor Control Committee Democratic Chairman Paul Costa rebutted backers of the bill who claim that putting all liquor sales in the private market is what Pennsylvanians want. In fact, consumer polling tells another story and the bill’s cumbersome formula for private licensing would set up a system people don’t want. A 2014 poll done by Franklin & Marshall that included an explanation of privatization and alternative plans found that more than half of respondents (57 percent) preferred to make the state wine and spirits stores more convenient or leave them the way they are. Costa said the Republican scheme would birth a complex system of private stores selling a hodgepodge of products with only a few fully stocked with liquor, wine and beer. Selection would diminish in many areas of the state, while big distributors would eventually put smaller, family-owned businesses out of business and then charge higher prices. Consumers would lose out. “Pennsylvanians want convenience, selection and good pricing,” Costa said. “The majority are not demanding privatization or Read more
Rep. Costa discusses liquor privatization on a Harrisburg TV station. Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 7– State Rep. Paul Costa, D-Allegheny, was sworn in Tuesday to represent the people of the 34th Legislative District for the 2015-16 legislative session.“I am honored and privileged to again represent the 34th District,” Costa said. “I look forward to working with Governor-elect Tom Wolf on the issues that matter most to everyone in Pennsylvania.”Costa has served as the Democratic chairman of the House Liquor Control Committee and he will continue to serve in that position this legislative session.The boundaries of the 34th Legislative District shifted in December due to the legislative redistricting process. Joining the district are Homestead, West Homestead and portions of the city of Pittsburgh. East McKeesport, North Versailles Township and Wilmerding became part of the 25th Legislative District.Costa invites residents to visit his redesigned website, www.pahouse.com/Costa for information about constituent services. Residents also can visit his district office, located at 501 Braddock Ave., Braddock. The number is 412-273-3400.The swearing-in ceremony in the House chamber marked the beginning of the 199th legislative session. The state constitution mandates that the legislature convene at noon on the first Tuesday of January. 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
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
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