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Boscola Bulletin

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Coronavirus Information Sheet - click to download.I would like to take this opportunity to personally update you on the Coronavirus as it stands in Pennsylvania right now.  The Commonwealth continues to address and prepare for how this current virus is (and could possibly be) impacting our communities.  I still stand behind my original email – PREPARE. DON’T PANIC.

Rest assured, the Commonwealth is taking every precaution and effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.  Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, said earlier this week that eleven (11) Pennsylvanians have become infected and have registered initial tests that are positive for coronavirus.  The important thing to take from this is – all eleven (11) had become infected while traveling outside the state or country and there is still NO EVIDENCE OF COMMUNITY SPREAD IN PENNSYLVANIA.

For those Pennsylvanians who are in need of COVID-19 testing, the Wolf Administration has secured agreement of ALL of the state’s major health insurance companies on a waiver of all cost-sharing – meaning that anyone with comprehensive coverage under these plans will not be charged any deductibles, co-pays, or any other fees that have been ordered by a patient’s treating physician. 

It cannot be stressed enough:  Anyone who shows COVID-19 symptoms, which include fever, cough and shortness of breath, is asked by the Pennsylvania Department of Health to call ahead before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room to help prevent any sort of spread. 

Starting today, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has begun holding daily press briefings at 12:00 Noon to announce the latest efforts & updates on the Commonwealth’s response to COVID-19. You can watch the press briefings daily at noon at www.pacast.com/live/doh.

Mail-In/Absentee Ballot Information

Mail-In/Absentee Ballot InformationPennsylvanians who are registered to vote now have several ways to vote if they choose not to go to the polls or are unable to get to the polls on election day: mail-in ballot or absentee ballot, both of which they can vote via the mail or in person at their county election office:

  • Mail-in ballots are for registered voters who simply wish to vote by mail instead of going to their polling place on election day. They do not have to give a reason or excuse. They can apply online for a mail-in ballot, or download and print the application and mail it to their county election office. Voters can also apply for and vote the ballot in person at their county election office during business hours.
  • Absentee ballots are for registered voters who will be away from their home municipality on election day or who have a disability or illness that prevents them from going to the polls. Absentee voters must give a reason when they apply. Examples of absentee ballot voters include college students away at school, members of the military, people absent from their home municipality because of work or a vacation and people who cannot go to the polls because they are observing a religious holiday.

Both mail-in and absentee voters will receive a ballot in the mail to complete and return to their county election office by 8 p.m. on election day. The online application allows mail-in voters to request that their county election office add them to an annual mail-in voter ballot request list. Their ballot application will then be automatically mailed to them each year. ID requirements for mail-in and absentee ballots can be found at www.votespa.com.

Counties have already began to process mail-in and absentee ballot applications.  As soon as the ballot is finalized, the counties will mail ballots to voters or provide them in-person at the county election office.

Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program

The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is now accepting applications for the 2019 Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program.  If you filed a paper rebate last year, you should receive an application in the mail. Applications are available at my district offices or online at www.revenue.pa.gov. As always, my staff would be happy to assist you in preparing your application.

Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program The Property Tax/Rent 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 for homeowners and $15,000 for renters. Please keep in mind, half of Social Security income is excluded.

Applications are due to the Department of Revenue by June 30 and rebates will be distributed beginning July 1. The program is funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery and revenue from slots gaming.

REAL ID Reminder

Real IDIf you received your first Pennsylvania driver's license, learner's permit or photo ID card AFTER September 2003, PennDOT may already have your required REAL ID documentation on file.

If you fall into this category and would like PennDOT to verify that your required REAL ID documentation is on file, please click here to begin the REAL ID Online Pre-Verification application process. Once PennDOT has reviewed your record, you will receive an email stating whether your documentation is on file with the department. If you did not provide an email address, once PennDOT has reviewed your record, you will receive a postcard stating whether your documentation is on file with the department. If your documentation is on file with PennDOT, you will be able to order your REAL ID online without visiting a driver's license center at www.dmv.pa.gov and your REAL ID will be sent through the mail.

Individuals who wish to obtain a REAL ID and received their first product BEFORE September 2003 must visit a PennDOT Driver License Center with the required documentation to pre-verify in person. Required documentation includes the following:

  • Proof of Identity (original or certified copy of a birth certificate with a raised seal, issued by an authorized government agency, or a valid U.S. Passport)
  • Social Security card
  • Proof of all legal name changes (marriage certificate, court order or divorce decree)
  • Two proofs of current, physical PA address (examples include a current PA license or ID and no more than a 90-day old bank statement or utility bill with the same name and address)

For additional information about REAL ID in Pennsylvania please visit www.penndot.gov/REALID or  http://www.pasenate.com/RealID/.

Getting a REAL ID is optional for Pennsylvania residents but as a reminder, beginning October 1, 2020, Pennsylvanians will need a REAL ID-compliant driver's license or another form of federally-acceptable identification (such as a valid passport or military ID) to board a domestic commercial flight or enter a federal building or military installation that requires ID.

LIHEAP

LIHEAPThe Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS)is still accepting applications for this season’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) through April 10, 2020 .  The program helps low income families pay their heating bills.  You can apply and check the status of your application on the state’s COMPASS website (www.compass.state.pa.us).  You can also pick up an application in my district offices or download one yourself from the DHS LIHEAP website. Completed paper applications should be returned to the appropriate County Assistance Office.

Funding for LIHEAP is provided by the federal government and eligibility is based on the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines.  The income limits for this season are as follows:

Household Size Income Limit
1 $18,735
2 $25,365
3 $31,995
4 $38,625
5 $45,255
6 $51,885
7 $58,515
8 $65,145
9 $71,775
10 $78,405

After your application is received you will receive a written notice explaining your eligibility and the amount of assistance you will receive.  Payments are generally sent directly to a utility company or fuel provider and will be credited to your heating account.  Crisis grants may also be available if you have an emergency situation and are in jeopardy of losing your heat.  For more information, please contact the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095.

Changes and Updates to LIHEAP in 2019-2020

No Supplemental Cash Grants: Turn On and Supplemental Grants for vulnerable households will not be available this year.
Preseason Applications and Compass Postcards: Preseason applications and COMPASS Postcards will be mailed out to all households who received LIHEAP last year. Mailing began on September 23, 2019. Households that receive a postcard can apply through COMPASS as soon as mailing is received and cash grants will be issued early, any time after October 1, 2019.
Cash grant formula: There was a change in the formula, which may increase grants by $15-$20.
Late Fees: DHS has clarified that LIHEAP grants can be used to pay late fees.
Earned income from temporary census employment is excluded for purposes of household eligibility and benefit calculation.

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Offices of State Senator Lisa M. Boscola

www.senatorboscola.com

BETHLEHEM OFFICE
One East Broad Street
Suite 120
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 868-8667
Fax: (610) 861-2184
Toll-free: 1-877-535-1818
EASTON OFFICE
1701 Washington Blvd.
Easton, PA 18042
(610) 250-5627
(610) 250-5629
Fax: (610) 250-1889
HARRISBURG OFFICE
458 Main Capitol Building
Senate Box 203018
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3018
(717) 787-4236
Fax: (717) 783-1257
Senate of PA:
1-800-364-158 (TTY)