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State Senator Lisa M. Boscola - Your Voice in Harrisburg

Supporting Victims of Crimes in Pennsylvania

Earlier this year, the Restitution in Pennsylvania Task Force issued a report regarding the level of restitution collections in the Commonwealth. In seeking to maximize court ordered restitution to crime victims, the task force made a number of recommended changes to state law.

Two bills I introduced, Senate Bills 1016 and 1017, were recommended by the task force to increase restitution collection. All too often, victims of crimes must wait long periods of time for restitution to be paid to them. The first bill would authorize restitution to be satisfied from payments to winners of Pennsylvania Lottery prizes. The second bill would authorize restitution to be satisfied from individual state income tax refunds.

Another bill, Senate Bill 1029, would mandate both county and state correctional facilities to make deductions from inmate personal accounts for the purposes of paying restitution, fines and costs. Currently, state and county correctional facilities are authorized to make these withdrawals, however they are not required to do so. My legislation would mandate all correctional facilities to deduct funds from inmate personal accounts in order to maximize the ability of victims to receive their justly deserved restitution.

Increasing Animal Cruelty Penalties

DogOver many years, my office has received calls, emails and visits from my constituents who care about the safety and well-being of animals in our local communities. Reports of horrific animal abuse in the Lehigh Valley and throughout Pennsylvania unfortunately run rampant. As an avid animal lover, I know there is more we can and should do to punish those who abuse innocent animals.

Last month, I introduced Senate Bill 965, which would increase the penalty for animal cruelty against a dog or cat from a summary offense, to a third degree misdemeanor (a fine not less than $250 and not more than $5,000, or imprisonment not exceeding 90 days, or both). Additionally, my legislation would make second or subsequent offenses a second degree misdemeanor (a fine not less than $500 and not more than $5,000, or imprisonment not exceeding two years, or both).

Willfully injuring, starving, or neglecting dogs or cats is deplorable, and I believe that it is time to raise the penalty of these actions. It is my hope that raising these penalties will discourage the ill-treatment of these loyal animals and punish those who commit these inhumane crimes.

Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program – Application Deadline Extended

PUC PUC PUC HouseThe deadline for older adults and residents with disabilities to apply for Pennsylvania's Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program has been extended from June 30 to Dec. 31.

Each year the Department of Revenue takes a look at the program as the statutory June 30 application deadline approaches, and if the funds are available, as they have been each year in recent memory, they extend the deadline to ensure everyone who is eligible for the program has time to apply for the tax relief they're owed.

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.

As of May 31, the Revenue Department had received 506,518 rebate applications. About 600,000 households are expected to benefit from the program.

Applicants may obtain Property Tax/Rent Rebate claim forms by calling my Bethlehem district office at 610-868-8667 or my Whitehall district office at 610-266-2117. Other related information can be found online at www.revenue.state.pa.us or by calling toll-free, 1-888-222-9190.

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
WHITEHALL OFFICE
West Catasauqua Prof. Office Bldg.
2123 N. 1st Avenue
Suite A-4
Whitehall, PA 18052
(610) 266-2117
Fax: (610) 266-2169
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)