Senator Bob Mensch E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • The Mensch Report: Althouse Arboretum
  • Veterans Appreciation Breakfast RSVP Oct. 25
  • Online Absentee Ballots
  • Fraud and Deceptive Marketing Brochure for PPL Customers
  • PennDOT Invites Pennsylvanians to Share Feedback on Construction, Maintenance Services
  • Low-Interest Loans for Berks and Montgomery Counties Impacted by July Storms
  • Fall and Winter Trout Stocking Gets Underway
  • October 2020 Federal Enforcement Deadline for REAL ID
  • Statewide Video Competition Challenges Students to Share Ideas on Farming
  • Senator Mensch and PA Turnpike Hosting Northeastern Extension Project Meeting
  • Stronger “Do Not Call” Law Coming
  • Preparing for Winter Energy Costs
  • Transportation Grants Available
  • Around the 24th District

 The Mensch Report: Althouse Arboretum

October 2019: Althouse Arboretum
On this edition of the Mensch Report, join me for a visit to the Althouse Arboretum in Upper Pottsgrove Township, Montgomery County.

Veterans Appreciation Breakfast RSVP Oct. 25

Veterans are invited to attend my annual Veterans Appreciation Breakfast which will be held on November 2. Please RSVP by October 25.

Online Absentee Ballots

Pennsylvania has launched a new option for voters to apply online for an absentee ballot starting with the November election. The PA Election Code allows registered voters to apply for an absentee ballot up until one week before an election, which is just three days before the deadline to submit a voted absentee ballot. This year, the deadline to apply by paper or online is 5 p.m. Tuesday, October 29.

The system is currently accessible to all domestic Pennsylvania voters, and will be available to military and overseas voters by 2020.

Absentee ballots may be cast by individuals with illnesses or disabilities, individuals who will be away from their municipality on business on Election Day, and Pennsylvania students attending out-of-state colleges or universities, among others.

For more information on voting by absentee ballots, visit votespa.com.

Fraud and Deceptive Marketing Brochure for PPL Customers

PPL Electric Utilities has recently received a considerable number of customer calls to our contact center regarding fraud and deceptive marketing practices.   In response we sent out the attached brochure to our customers.  This brochure was included as an insert in paper bills and the information was emailed to those customers that have set up an online account.   The information is also posted on our website at the following link:

https://www.pplelectric.com/utility/about-us/connect-newsletter/inserts/2019/september-2019-fraud-and-deceptive-marketing.aspx

PennDOT Invites Pennsylvanians to Share Feedback on Construction, Maintenance Services

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is accepting construction and maintenance services feedback through an online survey. The public can take the survey through October 22 at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/penndotroadwork

 The 16-question survey asks how they receive PennDOT roadway information and how often PennDOT meets or exceeds expectations in construction and maintenance activities. Respondents are also asked about experiences with reporting concerns to the department, and whether or how they use the state’s 511PA traveler information services.

Low-Interest Loans for Berks and Montgomery Counties Impacted by July Storms

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) approved a request to declare a disaster in Berks County after intense storms produced flash flooding between July 11 and 12, 2019.

Homeowners, renters and businesses impacted by the flooding in Berks County, as well as neighboring counties Chester, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery and Schuylkill may be eligible for low-interest disaster loans through the SBA Disaster Loan Programs.

Low-interest loans of up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. SBA regulations permit loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property. Businesses and nonprofits can borrow up to $2 million to restore damaged or destroyed buildings, inventory, equipment and assets. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial qualifications.

Individuals and businesses may obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired), or by e-mailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Loan applications can also be downloaded at www.sba.gov/disaster. Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via the SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Completed applications should be returned to the local DLOC or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Nov. 4, 2019. The deadline to return economic injury disaster loan applications is June 3, 2020. 

Fall and Winter Trout Stocking Gets Underway​ 

Beginning on October 1 and continuing through mid-December, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) will stock more than 113,000 hatchery raised adult rainbow, brown and brook trout. These stockings will replenish some of the most popular fishing spots across the Commonwealth.

A schedule of fall stocking dates and locations is available at www.fishandboat.com by hovering over “Fish” in the upper right tab, then selecting “Stocking Schedules.” Visitors can search by individual county or view a comprehensive list by clicking the “Go – Fall Stockings Statewide” button in the middle of the page.

October 2020 Federal Enforcement Deadline for REAL ID 

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) reminds customers that in exactly one year, on October 1, 2020, federal enforcement of the REAL ID Act will begin at airports and secure federal facilities nationwide.

Beginning October 1, 2020, federally-accepted form of identification (whether it’s a Pennsylvania REAL ID driver’s license or ID card, a U.S. Passport/Passport Card, a military ID, etc.) must be used as identification to board a commercial flight or visit a secure federal building that requires ID at the door. REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and photo ID cards have been available at the customer’s option since March 2019.  

Federal regulations require that to be issued a REAL ID-compliant product, PennDOT must verify the below documents:

  • Proof of Identity: Original or certified copy of a birth certificate filed with the State Office of Vital Records/Statistics with a raised seal/embossed or valid, unexpired, U.S. Passport;
  • Proof of Social Security Number:  Social security card, in current legal name;
  • Two Proofs of Current, Physical PA Address: Current, unexpired PA driver’s license or identification card, vehicle registration or a utility bill with the same name and address; and  
  • Proof of all Legal Name Changes (if applicable): Certified marriage certificate(s) issued by the County Court for each marriage, court order(s) approving a change in legal name, or amended birth certificate issued by the State Office of Vital Records/Statistics

If residents need to obtain replacement documents, they should contact the State Office of Vital Records/Statistics, Social Security Administration and/or obtain Certified Marriage Certificate(s) from the County office in which the marriage license was issued.

Customers can bring the required documents to any PennDOT Driver License Center. More info about document requirements, including a printable document checklist, can be found on the Document Check page of the PennDOT Driver and Vehicle Services website.

Customers who choose to get a REAL ID will pay a one-time fee of $30, plus a renewal fee (current renewal fee is $30.50 for a four-year non-commercial driver’s license, $31.50 for a photo ID). The expiration date of their initial REAL ID product will include any time remaining on their existing non-REAL ID product, plus an additional four years, unless the customer is over 65 and has a two-year license This expiration date structure means that the customer won’t “lose” time that they’ve already paid for. After the initial REAL ID product expires, the customer will pay no additional fee, beyond regular renewal fees, to renew a REAL ID product.

Customers have three options for obtaining a REAL ID product:

  • If a customer has been pre-verified, customers may order their REAL ID online and receive their REAL ID in the mail within 15 business days.
  • Customers can visit one of PennDOT’s 63 Driver’s License Centers, have their documents verified, pay the one-time fee, and their REAL ID product will be mailed to them within 15 business days;
  • Visit one of the 12 REAL ID Centers have their documents verified, pay the one-time fee, and receive their REAL ID product over the counter at the time of service.

More information about REAL ID in Pennsylvania, including frequently asked questions and information on documents required for REAL ID, can be found at www.penndot.gov/REALID.

Statewide Video Competition Challenges Students to Share Ideas on Farming

Pennsylvania has a rich heritage of farming that dates back centuries, and agriculture remains the state’s top industry today. However, that heritage is threatened by difficult market conditions and an aging population of farmers. For every four farmers in Pennsylvania over the age of 65, there is only one farmer under the age of 35.

The third annual “Talk To Your State Senator” statewide video competition challenges middle and high school students to share their ideas about how Pennsylvania can reverse these trends and ensure the agriculture industry will have a bright future in our Commonwealth.

The contest, which is sponsored by the Senate of Pennsylvania and Rutter’s, is open to Pennsylvania students in grades 6 through 12, including all public school, private school and home school students. Participants are encouraged to submit video entries of no longer than three minutes that promote the future of farming in Pennsylvania.

A total of $10,000 in prizes will be awarded through the PA 529 college savings program administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Treasury. Contest entries must be submitted by January 31, 2020.

More information on the contest is available online at www.legis.state.pa.us/talk-to-your-state-senator/.

Senator Mensch and PA Turnpike Hosting Northeastern Extension Project Meeting

Keep updated with the latest highway news for the milepost A31-A38 project by visiting https://www.patpconstruction.com/mpA31toA38/status.aspx.

The Senate gave final approval of a bill to allow PA residents to put their phone numbers permanently on the Do Not Call list, rather than have to re-register every five years. It also requires robocalls to have an opt-out option at the start of the call, allows businesses to put their phone numbers on the Do Not Call list, and bans telemarketing calls on legal holidays. The bill was sent to the governor to be signed in to law.
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm…

Now is a good time to take steps to reduce winter energy costs. The PA Public Utility Commission has tips for conservation, cutting costs, shopping for electric and gas, and more. Find information if you need help heating your home, as well.
http://www.puc.pa.gov/consumer…/natural_gas/prepare_now.aspx

Municipalities, transportation agencies, economic development organizations, businesses, non-profits and other entities can apply now for PA Multimodal Transportation Fund grants to improve roadways, bridges, transit facilities, park and rides, bike lanes, crosswalks and more. Projects should coordinate local land use with transportation assets to enhance communities. The deadline to apply is Nov. 8. https://www.penndot.gov/…/MultimodalProg…/Pages/default.aspx

Around the 24th District

I was honored to attend the Veterans Glass Tear event in Pottstown on September 28. It was a pleasure recognizing Capt. Dennis Elliott, Denise Harner, Van Scott, and William Quinley, Jr. as the hero honorees for the event. I also enjoyed recognizing all of the veterans for their service and sacrifice.

It was a pleasure to welcome the Brinckman family to the PA Senate on September 23.

I was honored to attend Yang’s Martial Arts School’s 21st Black Belt Ceremony on September 15th This was a traditional Korean ceremony recognizing the students of the school who have developed skills and knowledge, and who have demonstrated the dedication to achieving their goals. These students have devoted at least three years, and in many cases much more, of their lives to the study and practice of martial arts, and this ceremony is the culmination of their efforts.

I was honored to attend and participate in the Quakertown Historical Society’s dedication ceremony for the Richard Moore PHMC Historical Marker on September 14th. Richard Moore was a leader in the Underground Railroad and over 600 slaves were guided through his “station” on their journey to freedom.

Special thanks to Jacks Lee, MMD, and the WP63 Project Team for allowing me to attend the ground breaking ceremony for the WP63 500L PCV Polysaccharide Facility. I look forward to watching this project continue and provide my best wishes for their success.

It was my honor to meet and present Robert D. McCarty, Jr. a citation from the Senate for receiving the Community Service Award from the Borough of East Greenville! Robert has provided the Borough with his dedicated service to the East Greenville Fire Co. for more than twenty years, as a firefighter, house committee representative, carnival worker, and in many other capacities.

Join us for the 4th Annual Jazzing Up the Capitol to bring awareness to Breast and Prostate Cancer

Montgomery County Veterans Affairs will be holding an event on November 19th which will focus on a veteran’s story of opioid addiction, recovery and sustainment. Registration information is listed in the flyer above.

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Twitter and Facebook I post regular updates on legislative action, committee developments, useful state-related information, happenings in the 24th Senatorial District and more on Twitter @SenatorMensch and on my Facebook page.

If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website www.senatormensch.com for more information about your state government.

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