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Boscola Bulletin

Governor Wolf Signs My ‘Commonsense’ Restitution Bill in to Law

Governor Wolf Signs ‘Commonsense’ Restitution Bill in to LawYesterday, I joined Governor Wolf and Senator Pat Stefano (R-Fayette) to celebrate the adoption of Senate Bill 897 at a ceremonial bill signing.  The legislation corrected a quirk in the restitution law by clarifying that government entities and non-profits are eligible to collect restitution.

The measure was spurred by a local news account concerning Robert Kerns, who was convicted of stealing $832,000 from the taxpayers of Bethlehem Township.  The state Superior Court ruled that Kearns does not have to pay the money back because a municipality cannot qualify as a “victim” for the purposes of collecting restitution.

Calling the scenario “absurd,” I introduced this legislation to fix this loophole several times on the Senate floor.  I strongly supported the mindset that those who steal from local government or non-profits should have to pay it back.  It’s just commonsense - Crime should never pay, but that’s what the decision allowed.

After similar incidents occurred in Senator Stefano’s Senate District, Senator Stefano agreed to work on a bipartisan correction (Senate Bill 897) to the legal loophole. We were able to work worked closely with the statewide District Attorneys’ Association and Office of Victim Advocate to draft legislation.

2018 State Tax Forms & Property Tax / Rent Rebate Forms NOW AVAILABLE!

State Tax Forms & Property Tax/Rent Rebate applications are in & we are ready to assist you!

From the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program, seniors and permanently disabled adults, if eligible, can get hundreds of dollars back on property taxes or rent paid last year – and we’re ready to help make it happen. Visit one of my offices FREE help applying for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate, or to pick up an application if you haven't received one in the mail.

Find out more about the program here.

Visit the PA Department of Revenue to obtain state tax forms or for assistance with tax-related questions you may have.

REAL ID Update

Do you need a real ID REAL ID FAQs Document Check PennDOT customers who received their first learner’s permit, driver’s license or photo ID after September 2003 have been able to apply online for REAL ID pre-verification on PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.penndot.gov/REALID, since March 2018. Customers who received their initial product BEFORE September 2003 may now also pre-verify by bringing their required REAL ID documents for verification to any PennDOT Driver License Center. PennDOT staff will image the documents to the customer’s record, and when REAL IDs are available in March 2019, the customer can opt into the REAL ID program online. The customer’s REAL ID product will be sent through the mail, eliminating any need for them to visit a driver license center.

Online messengers for PennDOT may continue to guide customers who received their first product after September 2003 through the online pre-verification process. Customers who wish to pre-verify for 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.

For additional information about REAL ID in Pennsylvania including what documentation is needed, please visit www.penndot.gov/REALID. As a reminder, beginning October 1, 2020, Pennsylvanians will need a REAL ID-compliant driver's license, photo ID card, 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.

Getting a REAL ID is optional for Pennsylvania residents, and they will be available in March 2019 to Pennsylvanians who want them.

LIHEAP

LIHEAPThe Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) is accepting applications for this season’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  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 Allegheny County Assistance Office, located at 5947 Penn Avenue, 4th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA, 15206.

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 $18,210
2 $24,690
3 $31,170
4 $37,650
5 $44,130
6 $50,610
7 $57,090
8 $63,570
9 $70,050
10 $76,530

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.

Three Steps to Protect Your Smartphone from Fake Banking Apps

Mobile BankingThe Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities (DOBS) wants to remind  Pennsylvanians to remain vigilant when using their new smartphones found under the tree to conduct financial transactions amid reports that thousands of consumers in other countries may have had personal and financial information stolen through fake smartphone bank apps.

Last year, the internet security firm Avast discovered malware installed in flashlight and solitaire apps that targeted banking apps already installed on people’s smartphones. The malware allowed criminals to steal username and passwords information from legitimate banking apps used by some of the world’s largest financial institutions.

The Department has issued the following recommendations that can help consumers protect their smartphones from fake apps:

  1. Shop for apps from official app stores such as Google Play and Apple. Though using these stores cannot guarantee all apps are legitimate, the official app stores have security measures in place to help reduce risk to your smartphone.

  2. Verify that the app you want to download is legitimate by contacting your bank or credit union.

  3. Keep the operating system and anti-virus software on your smartphone up-to-date.

Anyone can contact the Department of Banking and Securities at 1-800-PA-BANKS or 1-800-600-0007 to ask questions or file complaints about financial transactions, companies, or products.

New Community Outreach Offices

At the end of December, I closed the doors to my Whitehall Office location for the last time & opted for Community Outreach Offices to better serve the constituents of the 18th District.  Please feel free to stop by to say ‘Hi!’ or to receive assistance regarding any state-related issue.  For additional information on the Community Outreach Offices, please contact my Bethlehem Office at 610-868-8667.

Community Outreach Offices

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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)