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Security Grants

Last week the Governor signed into law a program creating grants for religious and nonprofit entities to improve their security. The program will begin with $5 million in funding.

In June, along with my colleagues Senators Andy Dinniman and Judy Schwank, I introduced legislation called “Tolerance, Respect and Understanding,” (TRU, Senate Bill 676) which was the impetus for the bill the Governor signed.

Sen. Costa Floor Remarks on Grants for Religious Entities :: October 22, 2019

Eligible organizations are those who principally serve individuals, groups or institutions that are included within a bias motivation category for single bias hate crime incidents identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigations in its 2017 hate crime statistics publication under the uniform crime reporting program: race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity.

The $5 million grant program, administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), would provide funding for security enhancements, including:

  • Planning, threat awareness, and response training.
  • Equipment and technology, such as metal detectors, lighting, surveillance, communications systems, locksets, deadbolts, trauma kits, and antitheft devices.
  • Vulnerability and threat assessments.
  • Specialty-trained canines.
  • Other upgrades to existing structures that enhance safety and security.

In this program, grant awards would range from a minimum of $5,000 to a maximum of $150,000. PCCD would select awardees in consultation with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and the Pennsylvania State Police. Entities would match the grant they receive with private funding.

Campaign Finance Reform

Campaign Finance LegislationI’ve introduced legislation to address Pennsylvania’s very lax regulations surrounding campaign finance. There is not enough transparency, and too much money in politics disenfranchises voters.

The legislation will be similar to bills I have introduced in every session since 2010, but with several additions. Previous iterations of the bill (introduced as SB 11) included:

  • Limiting the expenditures of a candidate, political committee, political action committee, political party committee or other person, for the purpose of influencing the outcome of an election
  • Requiring disclosure of the now-unlimited campaign contributions. While corporate political contributions to candidates remain illegal, these expenditures can now be made to influence the outcome of election, per Citizen’s United. The legislation will require that these expenditures be disclosed and made public to educate the public on the financial backers of candidates
  • Prohibition on the use of campaign funds for personal use
  • Ban campaign funds to be used in the purchase of gift cards

New additions to the plan this year include:

  • A requirement for full disclosure of itemized credit card expenses
  • Mandating that campaign committees provide access to expense receipts with an appeal available to the Department of State for assistance in determining whether the record should be accessible

Last year, I also introduced legislation barring foreign contributions to campaigns as SB 1068 last session. This will be reintroduced with the components of SB 11.

A longer summary of the legislation can be found here.

Weatherization Forums

The weather is finally getting cooler, and you may see your energy bill get higher. To help you find inexpensive ways to weatherize your home and maximize energy efficiency, I am hosting two weatherization forums. You’ll see a brief presentation from Duquesne Light and Peoples Gas, and then be able to ask questions of the two utility companies as well as ACTION Housing and the Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance.

They are free to attend and can help you with major savings this winter.

Saturday, November 9 – 10:30am to 12:30pm
Penn Hills Library
1037 Stotler Road
Penn Hills, PA 15235
Tuesday, November 12 – 6 to 8pm
Hosanna House
807 Wallace Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15221

Weatherization Forums

ACA Open Enrollment Window

The window for the Affordable Care Act enrollment opened on November 1, and runs through December 15. Those who need to purchase insurance outside of their employer-provided plan or Medicare will have to do so during that six-week period.

The Trump Administration; however, has slashed the budget for marketing and providing navigators for the program. To combat this and ensure that Pennsylvanians are able to find the best, most affordable option for them, the PA Senate Democratic caucus is hosting 21 free consultation events around the state.

I’m going to host two in our area to make sure you’re covered. Please come out if you have any questions.

Monday, November 25 – 5 – 7pm
University of Pittsburgh Community Engagement Center
622 N. Homewood Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15208
Monday, December 9 – 6 to 8:00pm
Pittsburgh Fire Fighters Union Hall
120 Flowers Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15207

If you’re planning to attend an event, please bring W2 or Pay Stub and Photo ID.

Veterans Lunch

In The 43rd In the 43rd

Are you keeping up with our biweekly episodes of In The 43rd? I hope that you’re enjoying them and learning a little bit more about our great region.

If you have suggestions for where we should go next, let me know on my website or social media!

Facebook/Twitter Facebook Twitter Instagram Stay Connected

If you haven’t visited my Facebook page, join the conversation by ‘liking’ the page and follow me on Twitter and Instagram. Plenty of information is available on these pages about community events and issues affecting our friends and neighbors.  If you have questions or concerns, send me a direct message or post you thoughts.

Offices to Serve You

  Forest Hills
1501 Ardmore Blvd. | Suite 403
Pittsburgh, PA 15221
Phone: (412) 241-6690
Fax: (412) 731-2332
8:30 am – 4:30 pm
2306 Brownsville Rd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15210
Phone: (412) 884-8308
Fax: (412) 886-2080
8:30 am – 4:30 pm
314 E. Eighth Ave.
Homestead, PA 15120
Phone: (412) 462-4204
Fax: (412) 462-4543
8:30 am – 4:30 pm
Harrisburg Office
Senate Box 203043
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Phone: (717) 787-7683
Fax: (717) 783-5976
8:30 am – 5:00 pm