State Rep. Deberah Kula


Kula: Important dates coming up


HARRISBURG, Dec. 14 – State Rep. Deberah Kula today advised her constituents of two upcoming important dates, one which affects young drivers, and the other, the approaching deadline for 2010 property tax rebates which mostly benefits seniors.


On Dec. 27, new teen driver regulations will go into effect, increasing driver training hours and limiting the number of passengers allowed in a vehicle operated by new drivers.


"These changes are long overdue,” Kula said. “Teens grow up with the attitude that they are indestructible, but, all too often, serious accidents leave them seriously injured or worse. Now, as they continue to develop their driving skills, this law will help reduce distractions, leading to safer driving. And it will be even better when the texting while driving ban goes into effect on March 8 next year.”


The major changes which will affect most teen drivers are:


·        The minimum required behind-the-wheel instruction increases from 50 to 65 hours. Ten of those hours must be night driving and five must be in bad weather conditions, such as rain or snow. Current permit holders who have not successfully passed their on-road driver test must complete the higher level of instruction.


·        For the first six months with a junior license, the driver is limited to one passenger under 18 who is not an immediate family member, unless the driver’s parent or guardian is in the vehicle. After six months with a clean driving record, they may have up to three non-family members in the vehicle. However, any traffic violation or reportable accident for which they may be held even partially responsible, will require the under-18 driver to follow the one-rider limit again.


·        The driver and ALL occupants under 18 MUST wear seatbelts at all times. This is a primary offense for young drivers, meaning they may be pulled over and cited based on lack of seatbelt usage alone. For adult drivers, lack of seat belt usage can only be cited after another violation.


On the senior side, the deadline to file for a rebate for property taxes or rent paid in 2010 under the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program is Dec. 31.


The program uses funds set aside for seniors from the Pennsylvania Lottery to provide property tax relief for seniors 65 or older, widows 50 or older and disabled adults. Rebates are based on income, with a maximum income requirement of $35,000 for homeowners and $15,000 for renters. Only one half of all Social Security earnings count toward that limit.


“Rebates for those who qualify range from $250 to $650, so I would encourage those eligible to apply,” Kula said.


More information and applications are available online at the Department of Revenue website: Kula's constituent service office, 1251 University Drive, Dunbar, is available to help with the forms or other state services.