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Boscola Bulletin

Business Matters – COVID-19: Biology, Buses & Back2Business

Business Matters – COVID-19: Biology, Buses & Back2BusinessLast evening, I had the extreme pleasure of being a guest on Business Matters which is hosted by the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Tony Iannelli.

Last night’s topic was COVID-19: Biology, Buses & Back2Business and I was joined by fellow guests, Dr. Brian Nestor, President and CEO, Lehigh Valley Health Network and Joe Scott, President and CEO, Easton Coach Company. 

Through our discussion, I have reiterated my concerns for our small businesses and communities here in the Lehigh Valley – common-sense has to prevail – and we, as the Lehigh Valley, should be going to yellow sooner rather than later. 

Please take a few minutes to watch the latest episode of Business Matters HERE and let me know what you think! 

Expecting a Property Tax/Rent Rebate? Might Come Sooner Than You Expected!

Property Tax/Rent RebateGovernor Tom Wolf and Treasurer Joe Torsella today announced that many older homeowners, renters and people with disabilities will receive early rebates through the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. Rebates are typically issued starting July 1, but they are issuing the rebates starting tomorrow to approved applicants.

The distribution of rebates by the Department of Revenue and Treasury is different than prior years. Rather than a large distribution of rebates on July 1, rebates will be processed and distributed on a first-in-first-out basis. This gradual process means some claimants will receive their rebates earlier than others.

Applicants who included their bank account information on their Property Tax/Rent Rebate application form (PA-1000) will receive their rebates through direct deposit. Applicants who requested a paper check to be mailed to them should expect to receive their payment in the mail.

Tips for Checking the Status of Your Rebate

The Department of Revenue is asking claimants to keep in mind that its main call centers are operating in a limited capacity due to the efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania. As a result, claimants are encouraged to use online tools and other automated resources to check the status of their rebates or ask a question.

  • Claimants who already applied for rebates may use the Where’s My PA Property Tax/Rent Rebate? tool to check the status of their rebate. You will need your Social Security number, claim year and date of birth to use this tool.
  • Call 1-888-PATAXES to check the status of your rebate. This automated toll-free service is available 24 hours a day. You will need your Social Security number, date of birth and the anticipated amount of your rebate to use this service.
  • Claimants who included their phone number on their Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program application form (PA-1000) will receive automated calls from the Department of Revenue updating them on the status of their claim. Claimants should know that these automated phone calls require no further action. They will not be asked to key in any numbers or to provide any additional information.
  • Claimants can visit the department’s Online Customer Service Center to find helpful tips and answers to commonly asked questions about the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. The Online Customer Service Center also allows you to submit a question to a Department of Revenue representative through a secure process that is similar to sending an email.

Steps to Follow if You Haven’t Submitted Your Application

For eligible applicants who have yet to file their Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program application, the Department of Revenue is offering help for those who need it. Eligible claimants are encouraged to call 1-888-222-9190 for guidance. Please keep in mind that department staff will work as quickly as possible to help claimants with their applications.

Applicants are encouraged to obtain the Property Tax/Rent Rebate claim form (PA-1000)and related information on the Department of Revenue’s website.
The deadline for older adults and Pennsylvania residents with disabilities to apply for rebates on rent and property taxes paid in 2019 was extended from June 30 to Dec. 31, 2020.

About the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program

The 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 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded. It is free to apply for a rebate.

The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for certain qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975. The Department of Revenue automatically calculates supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners.

More than $255 million in property tax and rent rebates were sent to almost 532,000 homeowners and renters across the state for property taxes and rent paid in 2017. This is the most recent data available for a full calendar year.

Since the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program’s 1971 inception, older and disabled adults have received more than $6.9 billion in property tax and rent relief. The program is funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery and revenue from slots gaming.

Polling Places Updated for June 2 Primary

Polling PlaceWhile voting by mail is an option for any voter in Pennsylvania, and is being encouraged, consolidated polling place locations for the June 2 primary election have been announced for Lehigh and Northampton counties. The Elections Division had submitted a resolution passed by the Board of Elections to the Pennsylvania Department of State with its outline of a consolidation plan on April 28.

As determined by the Board of Elections, while there is one location listed, sites may include multiple polling places within that location so that physical distancing and other mitigation measures may be followed on Election Day.

If you’re unsure where you should be casting your ballot, go to Pennsylvania’s online polling place locator at https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/Pages/PollingPlaceInfo.aspx. If you do not have access the internet, you can contact my office at 610-868-8667 or call your local county office for assistance: Lehigh County Voter Registration Office — 610-782-3194; Northampton County Election Office — 610-829-6260.

Below is a listing of CHANGED polling place locations in Lehigh and Northampton counties that will be used for the June 2 primary election (I have highlighted, in yellow, those in the 18th Senatorial District):

Northampton County

Changes have been minimal in Northampton County:

  • Voters who previously cast a vote at Gracedale in Upper Nazareth Township will instead be moving next door to a hangar behind the Northampton County 911 Center.

  • Voters who cast a ballot at the Zoellner Arts Center in Bethlehem will instead be casting a ballot at the Banana Factory.

Lehigh County

The pandemic has forced significantly more changes in Lehigh County.

The following districts have different polling places:

Allentown 4th Ward
Previous: The Salvation Army.
Now: Central Elementary School at 829 W. Turner St., Allentown

Allentown 6th Ward 2nd District
Previous: Hibernia Fire Company
Now: Sheriden Elementary School, 521 N. Second St., Allentown

Allentown 8th Ward 4th District
Previous: B’Nai B’rith House
Now: Agricultural Hall, 302 N. 17th St., Allentown

Allentown 8th Ward 5th District
Previous: St. Francis Parish Center
Now: Lehigh County Voting Machine Building, 1201 Sumner Ave., Allentown

Allentown 9th Ward
Previous: Allentown City Hall
Now: Lehigh County Government Center, 17 S. Seventh St., Allentown

Allentown 10th Ward 3rd District
Previous: Boys & Girls Club of Allentown
Now: Dubbs Memorial Community Center, 457 W. Allen St., Allentown

Allentown 11th Ward 1st District
Previous: Boys & Girls Club of Allentown
Now: Central Elementary School, 829 W. Turner St., Allentown

Allentown 11th Ward 2nd District
Previous: Boys & Girls Club of Allentown
Now: Central Elementary School, 829 W. Turner St., Allentown

Allentown 11th Ward 6th District
Previous: Calvary Moravian Church
Now: Agricultural Hall, 302 N. 17th St., Allentown

Allentown 12th Ward 1st District
Previous: Good Shepherd Home
Now: Fearless Fire Company, 1221 S. Front St., Allentown

Allentown 12th Ward 2nd District
Previous: Good Shepherd Supported Individual Living Apartments
Now: Fearless Fire Company, 1221 S. Front St., Allentown

Allentown 16th Ward 1st District
Previous: St. Paul’s School Gym
Now: Fearless Fire Company, 1221 S. Front St., Allentown

Allentown 16th Ward 2nd District
Previous: St. Paul’s School
Now: Fearless Fire Company, 1221 S. Front St., Allentown

Allentown 17th Ward 1st District
Previous: Jewish Community Center
Now: Agricultural Hall, 302 N. 17th St., Allentown

Allentown 17th Ward 2nd District
Previous: Jewish Community Center
Now: Agricultural Hall, 302 N. 17th St., Allentown

Allentown 17th Ward 3rd District
Previous: Congregation Sons of Israel
Now: Agricultural Hall, 302 N. 17th St., Allentown

Bethlehem 13th Ward 3rd District
Previous: Church of the Manger Social Hall
Now: Nitschmann Middle School, 1002 W. Union Blvd., Bethlehem

Bethlehem 13th Ward 6th District
Previous: Notre Dame of Bethlehem Church
Now: Nitschmann Middle School, 1002 W. Union Blvd., Bethlehem

Bethlehem 13th Ward 7th District
Previous: Notre Dame of Bethlehem Church
Now: Nitschmann Middle School, 1002 W. Union Blvd., Bethlehem

Bethlehem 13th Ward 8th District
Previous: Church of the Manger Social Hall
Now: Nitschmann Middle School, 1002 W. Union Blvd., Bethlehem

Catasauqua 1st District
Previous: Salem United Church of Christ
Now: American Legion Post 215, 330 Second St., Catasauqua

Fountain Hill 1st District
Previous: St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church
Now: Epic Church, 1205 Broadway St., Fountain Hill

Fountain Hill 2nd District
Previous: Fountain Hill Towers.
Now: Fountain Hill Volunteer Fire Company, 950 Cherokee St., Fountain Hill

Fountain Hill 3rd District
Previous: Fountain Hill Towers
Now: Fountain Hill Volunteer Fire Company, 950 Cherokee St., Fountain Hill

Lower Macungie 9th District
Previous: The Village at Willow Lane
Now: Penn’s West Condominiums Clubhouse, 6701 Pioneer Drive, Macungie

Lower Macungie 10th District
Previous: Lehigh Commons Assisted Living
Now: Church of the Good Shepherd, 135 Quarry Road, Alburtis

Lynn – Jacksonville District
Previous: Lynnport Fire Hall
Now: Lynn Township Office Building, 7911 Kings Highway, New Tripoli

North Whitehall 1st District
Previous: Union Evangelical Lutheran Church
Now: Schnecksville Fire Company #1, 1550 Old Packerhouse Road, Schnecksville

North Whitehall 5th District
Previous: St. John’s United Church of Christ
Now: Laurys Station Volunteer Fire Company #1, 5314 Egypt Road, Laurys Station

Salisbury 2nd Ward
Previous: East Salisbury Fire & Rescue Company
Now: Salisbury Township Administration Building, 2900 S. Pike Ave., Allentown

Slatington 1st District
Previous: George L. Dilliard Manor
Now: Assumption Catholic Church, 649 W. Washington St., Slatington

South Whitehall 4th District
Previous: Cedar Church
Now: Cedar Crest College, 2901 Hamilton Blvd., Allentown

Whitehall 9th District
Previous: St. John the Baptist Church
Now: West Catasauqua Playground Association, 2301 Pine St., Whitehall

Upcoming Policy Committee Hearings

The Senate Democratic Policy Committee will hold a two Virtual Policy Hearings next week: the first being co-chaired by Senators Judy Schwank & Lindsey Williams on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.  focusing on legislation that is being introduced by Senators Schwank and Williams to provide much needed funding to child care centers during the COVID-19 pandemic.; the second I am please to co-chair with Senator Wayne Fontana on Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 10:00a.m. which will provide an update on long-term care health care facilities across the Commonwealth.

Both hearings will be held virtually via ZOOM and will be live-streamed on my website at www.senatorboscola.com/policy.  For additional Policy Committee related questions or concerns, please email seth.rolko@pasenate.com

PennDOT Using Existing Photos for Driver License, ID Card Renewals

PennDOTThe Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced last week that they will use existing photos on file for customers who renew their driver’s license and identification card. All customers who renew their driver’s license or photo ID card online or through the mail will receive a new product using the most recent photo of that individual that exists in PennDOT’s system. No camera cards will be issued to these customers, and they will receive their new product by mail within 15 days. The renewal process is complete when the final product is received.

Non-commercial driver’s license and photo ID card holders may renew their product online, providing there are no corrections or changes other than a change of address, by visiting www.dmv.pa.gov. Both non-commercial and commercial drivers may renew their products through the mail.

Individuals who renewed their product on or before May 10, 2020 will receive a camera card in the mail and will need to visit a PennDOT Photo License Center to obtain an updated photo. Additionally, non-U.S. citizens must also visit a driver’s license center in person to complete a transaction. For a list of reopened locations, please visit www.dmv.pa.gov.

Expiration dates on driver’s licenses, photo ID cards, learner’s permits and camera cards scheduled to expire from March 16, 2020 through May 31, 2020, have been extended until June 30, 2020. A Pennsylvania driver’s license is valid for four years, expiring on the day after the driver’s birthday. PennDOT will continue to send an Invitation to Renew to each driver three months prior to license expiration. Individuals 65 or older have the option of renewing their license every two years, instead of the standard four years.
If a customer’s license is nearing expiration and they were planning to get a REAL ID at their time of renewal, they can renew their license or ID and get a standard, “NOT FOR REAL ID PURPOSES” product. The issuance of REAL ID is currently suspended as a mitigation effort in preventing the spread of COVID-19. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has extended the REAL ID enforcement deadline until Oct. 1, 2021.

Once REAL ID issuance has resumed, customers with a non-REAL ID product can upgrade to a REAL ID and their new product will include any time remaining on their current product, plus an additional four years - customers won’t “lose” time that they’ve already paid for, and after the initial REAL ID product expires, there is no additional fee (beyond regular renewal fees) to renew a REAL ID product.

Driver and vehicle online services at www.dmv.pa.gov are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and include driver’s license, photo ID and vehicle registration renewals; driver-history services; changes of address; driver license and vehicle registration restoration letters; ability to pay driver license or vehicle insurance restoration fee; and driver license and photo ID duplicates. There are no additional fees for using online services.

PennDOT will continue to evaluate these processes and will communicate any changes with the public.

PennDOT Extends Expiration Dates on Vehicle Registrations, Inspections

FAQPennDOT also announced last week that expiration dates for vehicle registrations and safety and emission inspections will be extended for Pennsylvania residents in response to statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Deadlines on the following products were extended effective May 12, 2020:

  • Vehicle registrations of all classes which includes, but not limited to, mass transit vehicle registrations, apportioned vehicle registrations, fleet vehicle registrations, dealer plate registrations, temporary registrations and farm exemption certificates scheduled for expire from March 16 through May 31, 2020, the expiration date is now extended through June 30, 2020.
  • Safety inspections and emissions inspections scheduled to expire from March 16 through May 31, 2020, the expiration date is now extended through June 30, 2020.
Persons with Disabilities parking placards scheduled to expire from March 16 through May 31, 2020, the expiration

Primary Election Day is 2 Weeks Away - Do You Have Your Mail-In Ballot Yet?

Pennsylvania is experiencing a surge in mail-in ballot applications. To date, more than 1 million mail-in ballot application have been submitted!

There is still time to apply to Vote by Mail – the deadline to apply is Tuesday, May 26, 2020 so APPLY TODAY!

To check the status of your mail-in ballot request, please use this tool provided by the Department of State. You can also call your county elections office. Please note: if you receive a mail-in ballot but are unable return the voted ballot, you may vote a provisional ballot at your polling place on election day.

Be sure your voice is heard and your vote is counted!

Deadlines

Voting by Absentee or Mail-in Ballot

Track the status of your mail-in ballot

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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)