Brewster: $215 Million in School Safety Grants Pass Senate

Brewster: $215 Million in School Safety Grants Pass Senate

Harrisburg – May 28, 2020 – Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today that the Senate has passed legislation (House Bill 1210) to drive out nearly $215 million to help school districts pay for costs associated with protecting children, cleaning buildings and modifying structures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a necessary infusion of cash to help school districts protect children and adjust the footprint of facilities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Brewster said.  “School districts need additional funds to clean buildings, make social distancing modifications and purchase necessary equipment.”

Brewster said that nearly $200 million will be earmarked for school entities.  Each school district will receive at least $120,000, plus the districts will receive additional funds based on average daily enrollment of school districts — an additional $114 million will be available for distribution on a pro rata basis.  Career and technical schools, intermediate units and other schools will receive an allocation of $90,000.

The COVID-19 Disaster Emergency School Health and Safety Grants were previously known as the School Safety and Security Grant Program.  Brewster has served as a member of the School Safety and Security Committee distributing grants to school districts since its inception. 

The funding provided to school districts can be used for:  

  • Purchasing of cleaning and sanitizing products that meet Center for Disease Control (CDC) or Department of Health criteria;
  • Training and professional development of staff on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious disease;
  • Purchase of equipment, including personal protective equipment, thermometers, infrared cameras and other necessary items;
  • Modification of existing areas to effectuate appropriate social distancing to ensure the health and safety of students and staff;
  • Providing mental health services and supports, including trauma-informed education programs for students impacted by the COVID-19 disaster declaration;
  • Purchasing education technology for distance learning to ensure the continuity of education; and,
  • Other health and safety programs, items or services necessary to address the COVID-19 disaster emergency.

Brewster said that $150 million of the total funds to be distributed will come from federal CARES Act funding.  He said that in addition to the distribution to school districts, another $7.5 million will be used for community violence prevention grants.   There will also be $7.5 million available for intermediate units to address COVID-19 issues.

The bill returns to the state House for its consideration.

Senate Democrats Announce Main Street Business Revitalization Grant Program

Senate Democrats Announce Main Street Business Revitalization Grant Program

Senators Jay Costa, Vince Hughes, John Blake, Jim Brewster and Pam Iovino today called for $550 million of funds allocated to Pennsylvania through the federal CARES act to be used for a program they are calling the Main Street Business Revitalization Initiative, which will issue grants.

“This pandemic has exposed the fragile ecosystem and slim margins that small businesses and their workers function within every single day,” Costa said. “As Pennsylvania begins to recover both economically and physically from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must make sure that our business owners have the resources they need. We must seek a just recovery from this pandemic.”

The Senators are calling for $425 million to go to traditional main street businesses, and a separate $125 million to be allocated to historically disadvantaged businesses.

Pennsylvania has received $4 billion from the federal government that must be spent or allocated by December 31, 2020. The Senate Democrats have proposed a robust plan for those funds called PA CARES (more info at pasenate.com/pacares)

“These main street businesses did not cause this pandemic, but they are feeling its worst financial effects,” Sen. Hughes said. “Our plan gets these small businesses the financial assistance they deserve. Money has been sitting in Pennsylvania’s account for six weeks, which is money intended, by the direction of the federal government, to assist small businesses, and that money needs to go out immediately. The question is: Why are we waiting? The answer is: We can wait no longer. Small mom-and-pop, main street, and neighborhood businesses — especially those businesses in historically disadvantaged communities who have born the financial brunt of this pandemic — need this help. Our plan gets it to them immediately. All grants and no loans. They need this cash now and our plan gets it to them now. From the barbershop in North Philadelphia and to the nail salon in Pittsburgh, and from the pizza shop in Scranton and to the auto body shop in Erie; our plan sees their pain, especially those in historically disadvantaged communities, and responds to it. Real money in real time.”

This initiative will be run by Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) who are committed to providing flexible loans, debt relief and business technical assistance to support the recovery and sustainability of Pennsylvania businesses. CDFIs are known to be “first responders” during periods of economic turmoil because of their keen knowledge of and connection to the communities they serve. More importantly, they have a demonstrated capacity to focus on the critical needs of small businesses.

The Main Street Business Revitalization Initiative is a retroactive way to address the serious challenges of the main street small business community caused by the COVID-19 and the devastating but necessary closures ordered in Pennsylvania to protect public health.

“Our small businesses – restaurants, barbershops, cafes, bakeries, boutiques – are the heartbeat of our communities and the backbone of our economy,” said Senator John Blake. “Throughout the pandemic, their bills have continued to mount despite limited or no sales at all, insufficient income and, to-date, inadequate support and funding from the federal stimulus package.   Our proposal will provide $550 million in grants to Main Street small business owners throughout the state using Pennsylvania’s share of the federal CARES Act COVID-19 relief package.  It will allow small business owners to pay health care premiums, insurance policy premiums, rent, loan payments, real estate tax payments, as well as covering some of the costs that must be incurred to ensure the safety of workers and customers as businesses reopen.”

Eligible businesses will include barbers, salons, restaurants, bars, and taverns, retailers, coffee shops, neighborhood hardware stores, garden shops, realtors, childcare facilities and the numerous other small businesses who have suffered economically during this challenging time.

Previous business assistance programs have inadvertently disadvantaged many main street businesses who were unprepared to tap into the network of assistance. Through the assistance of CDFIs, main street businesses will have access to job protection and initiatives through financial institutions they are comfortable with.

“To spur a vigorous economic rebound, state and federal resources must be deployed effectively including using federal CARES dollars to help small businesses that have been severely impacted by the pandemic,” Brewster said. “Driving funds out now to help businesses get their operations underway, cover costs, and navigate the regulatory environment in the immediate aftermath of a government-mandated closure is an excellent approach.

“The stimulus plan that I offered earlier this year to re-ignite business activity and speed the economic recovery once the pandemic’s health risk was addressed included elements to aid small business. Pushing financial assistance while promoting safety and security for workers and consumers is the way to reengage our economy in a meaningful way.”

“Small businesses represent nearly half of the private sector workforce in Pennsylvania – 2.5 million jobs. They are the job creators in our communities, yet they were glaringly overlooked by federal business relief programs,” said Senator Iovino. “While small business owners are making difficult decisions about how long they can hang on, they need to know that a lifeline will be available to them. We do not want to see any of these businesses fail, and the $550 million Main Street Business Revitalization Initiative is exactly the kind of lifeline that these economic drivers need.”

As many Pennsylvania counties are now in the Yellow phase of reopening and on their way to Green phase, businesses cannot be expected to open their doors and have all the issues of these past months disappear.

Local businesses, and the workers that they employee, need the legislature to act and disperse funds that will aid in the lost revenue and assist in building back up the business back bones of our community.

The Pennsylvania Senate Democrats have released their PA CARES plan with initiatives that include assistance for the business community, housing assistance programs, student debt relief, veterans’ assistance, utility assistance, and food bank support. Read all proposals at pasenate.com/pacares.

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Brewster: Funding for Volunteer Fire Departments Now Available

Brewster: Funding for Volunteer Fire Departments Now Available

McKeesport – April 2, 2020 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today that the new federal stimulus program passed in response to the pandemic allows volunteer fire companies to apply for the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and Paycheck Protection Loans (PPP).

“The federal stimulus act enables qualifying volunteer fire companies to apply for EIDL and PPP loans with funds that will be made available quickly,” Brewster said.

EIDL loans can provide up to $2 million in working capital with emergency grants immediately available. An advance of $10,000 for volunteer fire companies organized as IRC 501 (c) (3) of IRC 501 (c) 4 can be accessed within three days of application. Organizations applying for funding will not be required to repay the funds, even if a loan application is ultimately rejected.

Brewster said that qualifying volunteer organizations that pay firefighters can also access federal funds through the PPP. Under this program, loans will be forgiven if employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the funds are used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities. 

“The International Association of Fire Chiefs has provided guidance for departments to seek federal stimulus funds to help cover costs,” Brewster said. “I encourage all volunteer fire departments to examine these programs in depth and seek federal help during this very difficult time.”

Brewster said that more information on the program can be found at https://www.iafc.org/blogs/blog/iafc/2020/04/02/volunteer-departments-eligible-for-cares-act-loan-programs

Extension of Filing Deadline Applies to Trusts/Estates, Partnerships and S Corporations

Harrisburg, PA — Governor Tom Wolf recently signed into law Act 10 of 2020, which extends the due date of certain personal income tax returns and payments, as well as waiving certain other income tax dates. The Department of Revenue also announced today it is extending the due date for corporations with tax returns due in May to August 14, 2020.

Federal REAL ID Enforcement Deadline Postponed to October 2021

Harrisburg, PA –Today the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced that the Department of Homeland Security has postponed the enforcement date for REAL ID from October 1, 2020, to October 1, 2021, in response to COVID-19 and the national emergency declaration.

USDA Feeds Kids, Helps Families During COVID-19 Emergency

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working to be as flexible as possible to get food out to the people who need it during the COVID-19 National Emergency. On Wednesday, March 18, President Donald J. Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which includes billions of dollars in nutrition assistance for children and families. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is taking swift action to implement these new provisions and ensure children and families are fed. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) launched a new webpage – www.fns.usda.gov/coronavirus – to provide key information on COVID-19 nutrition assistance for program operators and the public alike.

Governor Wolf and Health Secretary Expand ‘Stay at Home’ Order to Erie County to Mitigate Spread of COVID-19

As the state seeks relief to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19, today Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine revised the “Stay at Home” order to include Erie County. The new order now includes eight counties: Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Monroe, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties. This order takes effect at 8:00 PM Tuesday, March 24, 2020, and will continue until April 6, 2020.

Brewster’s 6-Point Economic Stimulus Package Focuses on Workers, Small Business

McKeesport – March 23, 2020 – As efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 continues and federal economic plans come into view, a state stimulus effort focused on workers and small business is critical to fill gaps in national recovery efforts, state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today.

Port Authority to Begin Operating on Reduced Schedules

March 23, 2020 – Port Authority of Allegheny County will reduce bus and light rail service by approximately 25 percent beginning Wednesday, March 25, 2020, due to substantial decreases in ridership and operational challenges brought on by the ongoing global pandemic.

Brewster’s 6-Point Economic Stimulus Package Focuses on Workers, Small Business

Brewster’s 6-Point Economic Stimulus Package Focuses on Workers, Small Business

Senator says state needs to fill gaps in federal aid

McKeesport – March 23, 2020 – As efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 continues and federal economic plans come into view, a state stimulus effort focused on workers and small business is critical to fill gaps in national recovery efforts, state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today.

In a detailed letter to Gov. Tom Wolf, Brewster laid out a 6-point plan to bolster economic recovery efforts and speed help to workers and small businesses once health risks subside.

“The federal government is capable of marshalling resources to deliver short-term economic relief for those impacted by the pandemic; and Congress is moving toward adopting a robust plan to kick-start the economy once the COVID-19 threat is contained,” Brewster said.  “Without question, there will be gaps in the federal effort and that is where the state has a role to play.

“Infusing cash into the economy through grants to small business, bolstering unemployment compensation, accelerating public works projects, reducing business tax liability over the long-term, expanding bonding capacity and coordinating the response through a one-stop response office are ways the state can step in and speed relief.”

Brewster said his 6-point plan would buttress an expected a massive federal relief package now winding its way through Congress. 

Details of the plan include:

  • Unemployment Compensation (UC) Booster:  To help workers weather the economic crisis, a state-augmented booster in the form of direct payments to workers who lost their jobs in the pandemic should be an integral part of the economic recovery plan.  The UC booster would augment and supplement evolving federal efforts to help the unemployed.
  • Bridge Grants: Create short-term bridge grants to get business up and running as soon as possible and cover near-term expenses.  Once the immediate financial crisis period is over, provide additional assistance to qualifying small business can be in the form of zero-interest or very low-interest loans.  The three-step approach would give businesses breathing room and provide a foundation for recovery.
  • Expand Bonding Capacity: The funding to small businesses would come from expanding or repurposing Pennsylvania’s bonding capacity with new financing through either the Commonwealth Financing Authority or other bonding authority with funds immediately available for grants.   Plus, sweep unencumbered General Fund and special fund accounts to finance recovery efforts.
  • Special Tax Provisions: Expand Net Loss Carryforward: Help small businesses deal with long- term impacts, expand net loss carryforward program to cover taxes and help reduce future pandemic-related tax liabilities. 
  • Accelerate Infrastructure Improvement Projects: Pushing state funds out now and opening financial levers to fund water, sewer, transportation and community improvement projects would not only generate work directly in construction but also require supply chains to ramp up hiring to fill commodity requirements.
  • Pandemic Recovery Czar: Coordinate the response and the distribution of funding specifically related to the pandemic through a single contact point in state government — a “recovery czar.”  A recovery czar was effectively utilized by the federal government during the financial crisis a decade ago and has been a successful model for coordination of government services during past crises.

“My goal in detailing the plan is to begin identifying state resources and capabilities so that we can immediately respond to the economic crisis caused by the pandemic,” Brewster said.

The senator said he expects his Senate colleagues, House legislators and the governor to have other ideas about how to address the economic crisis.  He said detailing his plan would help promote discussions of a robust state effort to reinforce federal stimulus plans.

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Editor’s note:  Sen. Brewster’s letter to Gov. Tom Wolf follows.

March 23, 2020

Honorable Tom Wolf, Governor
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
225 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17025

Dear Governor Wolf:

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has had life-altering implications for citizens across Pennsylvania, throughout the United States and around the world.  The steps your administration has taken to protect the health, safety and security of Pennsylvanians will save lives and stop the spread of the disease.  Addressing the health care crisis is the priority now.

Pennsylvanians have heeded the call, and most are practicing social distancing.  In addition, swaths of businesses have now been temporarily closed to aid mitigation efforts.  Once the imminent health threat is addressed and Pennsylvanians are permitted to return to work and resume their lives, we need to look at the next steps that can be taken to restart economic activity as quickly as possible.

Economic experts generally agree that the way for our nation and state to bounce back quickly is by infusing cash back into the economy.  I wholeheartedly endorse any effort to get dollars into hands of workers, small businesses and all consumers.  This is the best way to jump-start our economic recovery from the pandemic. 

While Pennsylvania does not have the financial capacity of the federal government to present massive aid, we can provide substantial gap funding and augment national recovery efforts. The state’s effort needs to be broad-based and focused on workers, families and small business.  We must be creative and willing to explore innovations to existing programs while being flexible so that economic needs can be met.

Our current unemployment compensation (UC) program will provide a brief, but insufficient respite for workers.  While UC will help and the now-evolving federal stimulus efforts will likely bolster our UC program, it will not be enough to provide long-term family-sustaining compensation. 

Extreme pressure will be placed on the system from the tens of thousands of displaced workers.  Given the strain on the system, we must explore additional ideas to respond to needs of working men and women.  To that end, we should plan on providing a state-funded booster, or UC kicker to the federal effort.  Adding a state booster –perhaps $100 to $200 per month for pandemic-related job loss — would help workers get some relief now.  

Another critical way to help workers — once the health risk abates– is through a robust assistance package for small businesses and those essential consumer businesses that have remained at work but have lost huge amounts of revenue during the shut-down. This includes dine-in restaurants that have become drive-thru services, media companies reliant on advertising from forced-closed business establishments and others that have remained open yet have absorbed losses from the pandemic.  We cannot forget them in the recovery.

Lastly, we can put people back to work directly, and quickly, if we accelerate state grants and loans for infrastructure improvements and push out state money for water and sewer grants and loans, transportation projects and community improvements that are currently in the pipeline.  Not only will this create jobs in construction, it will require supply chains to ramp up production and hire workers to fill needs.

This broad expansion would be funded in the near term by an aggressive expansion of bonding and use of all state financial levers to open doors to capital markets.  In addition, we need to sweep unused and unencumbered state dollars in the General Fund and special accounts to speed the infusion of money and boost immediate recovery.

In an outline below, I’ve identified several elements of a state-based plan that would augment the federal assistance package that is now being crafted.  These thoughts could be combined with other proposals you and your staff are gathering as we manage the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan includes:

  • Unemployment Compensation (UC) Booster:  To help workers weather the economic crisis, a state-augmented booster in the form of direct payments to workers who lost their jobs in the pandemic should be an integral part of the economic recovery plan.  The UC booster would augment and supplement now-evolving federal efforts to help the unemployed.
  • Bridge Grants: We need to provide short-term bridge grants to get business up and running as soon as possible and cover near-term expenses. Then, once the immediate financial crisis period is over, further assistance to qualifying small business can be in the form of zero-interest or very low-interest loans.  This 3-step approach would give businesses breathing room and provide a foundation for recovery.
  • Expand Bonding Capacity: The funding provided to small business should come from an expansion of our bonding capacity with new financing provided through either the Commonwealth Financing Authority or other bonding authority with funds immediately available for grants.   Plus, we should transfer unencumbered General Fund and special fund accounts to finance recovery efforts.
  • Special Tax Provisions: Expand Net Loss Carryforward: To help small businesses deal with long term impacts, we should expand the net loss carryforward program to cover taxes and help reduce future pandemic-related tax liabilities.  Keeping business in business will spur re-hiring and be an important feature of our recovery.
  • Accelerate Infrastructure Improvement Projects: Pushing state funds out now and opening financial levers to fund water, sewer, transportation and community improvement projects would not only generate work directly in construction but also require supply chains to ramp up hiring to fill commodity requirements.
  • Business Recovery Czar: We should coordinate the response and the distribution of funding specifically related to the pandemic through a single contact point in state government — a “business recovery czar.”  A recovery czar was effectively utilized by the federal government during the financial crisis a decade ago and has been a successful model for coordination of government services during past crises.

I realize that there will be many concepts and proposals offered to address economic needs of workers and businesses.  The items noted in this letter represent one way to address the needs of working men and women and small business. 

Please contact me if you or your staff are interested in further discussion.

Sincerely,

Jim Brewster
State Senator

Pennsylvania Department of Education Extends School Closures through at least April 6

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) announced today that all schools in the commonwealth will remain closed through at least April 6 as a result of the COVID-19 response efforts. The closure order could be extended beyond April 6 if necessary to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19. When it’s determined that students can return to school, administrators, teachers and other staff will be given two days to prepare classrooms, set up cafeterias, schedule transportation and arrange other business operations. Students would return on the third day.

Brewster’s 6-Point Economic Stimulus Package Focuses on Workers, Small Business

Senator Brewster’s Stimulus Plan for Workers/Businesses Affected by COVID-19

March 23, 2020

Honorable Tom Wolf, Governor
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
225 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17025

Dear Governor Wolf:

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has had life-altering implications for citizens across Pennsylvania, throughout the United States and around the world.  The steps your administration has taken to protect the health, safety and security of Pennsylvanians will save lives and stop the spread of the disease.  Addressing the health care crisis is the priority now.

Pennsylvanians have heeded the call, and most are practicing social distancing.  In addition, swaths of businesses have now been temporarily closed to aid mitigation efforts.  Once the imminent health threat is addressed and Pennsylvanians are permitted to return to work and resume their lives, we need to look at the next steps that can be taken to restart economic activity as quickly as possible.

Economic experts generally agree that the way for our nation and state to bounce back quickly is by infusing cash back into the economy.  I wholeheartedly endorse any effort to get dollars into hands of workers, small businesses and all consumers.  This is the best way to jump-start our economic recovery from the pandemic. 

While Pennsylvania does not have the financial capacity of the federal government to present massive aid, we can provide substantial gap funding and augment national recovery efforts. The state’s effort needs to be broad-based and focused on workers, families and small business.  We must be creative and willing to explore innovations to existing programs while being flexible so that economic needs can be met.

Our current unemployment compensation (UC) program will provide a brief, but insufficient respite for workers.  While UC will help and the now-evolving federal stimulus efforts will likely bolster our UC program, it will not be enough to provide long-term family-sustaining compensation. 

Extreme pressure will be placed on the system from the tens of thousands of displaced workers.  Given the strain on the system, we must explore additional ideas to respond to needs of working men and women.  To that end, we should plan on providing a state-funded booster, or UC kicker to the federal effort.  Adding a state booster – perhaps $100 to $200 per month for pandemic-related job loss — would help workers get some relief now.  

Another critical way to help workers — once the health risk abates– is through a robust assistance package for small businesses and those essential consumer businesses that have remained at work but have lost huge amounts of revenue during the shut-down. This includes dine-in restaurants that have become drive-thru services, media companies reliant on advertising from forced-closed business establishments and others that have remained open yet have absorbed losses from the pandemic.  We cannot forget them in the recovery.

Lastly, we can put people back to work directly, and quickly, if we accelerate state grants and loans for infrastructure improvements and push out state money for water and sewer grants and loans, transportation projects and community improvements that are currently in the pipeline.  Not only will this create jobs in construction, it will require supply chains to ramp up production and hire workers to fill needs.

This broad expansion would be funded in the near term by an aggressive expansion of bonding and use of all state financial levers to open doors to capital markets.  In addition, we need to sweep unused and unencumbered state dollars in the General Fund and special accounts to speed the infusion of money and boost immediate recovery.

In an outline below, I’ve identified several elements of a state-based plan that would augment the federal assistance package that is now being crafted.  These thoughts could be combined with other proposals you and your staff are gathering as we manage the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan includes:

  • Unemployment Compensation (UC) Booster: To help workers weather the economic crisis, a state-augmented booster in the form of direct payments to workers who lost their jobs in the pandemic should be an integral part of the economic recovery plan.  The UC booster would augment and supplement now-evolving federal efforts to help the unemployed.
  • Bridge Grants: We need to provide short-term bridge grants to get business up and running as soon as possible and cover near-term expenses. Then, once the immediate financial crisis period is over, further assistance to qualifying small business can be in the form of zero-interest or very low-interest loans. This 3-step approach would give businesses breathing room and provide a foundation for recovery.
  • Expand Bonding Capacity: The funding provided to small business should come from an expansion of our bonding capacity with new financing provided through either the Commonwealth Financing Authority or other bonding authority with funds immediately available for grants. Plus, we should transfer unencumbered General Fund and special fund accounts to finance recovery efforts.
  • Special Tax Provisions: Expand Net Loss Carryforward: To help small businesses deal with long term impacts, we should expand the net loss carryforward program to cover taxes and help reduce future pandemic-related tax liabilities. Keeping business in business will spur re-hiring and be an important feature of our recovery.
  • Accelerate Infrastructure Improvement Projects: Pushing state funds out now and opening financial levers to fund water, sewer, transportation and community improvement projects would not only generate work directly in construction but also require supply chains to ramp up hiring to fill commodity requirements.
  • Business Recovery Czar: We should coordinate the response and the distribution of funding specifically related to the pandemic through a single contact point in state government — a “business recovery czar.” A recovery czar was effectively utilized by the federal government during the financial crisis a decade ago and has been a successful model for coordination of government services during past crises.

I realize that there will be many concepts and proposals offered to address economic needs of workers and businesses.  The items noted in this letter represent one way to address the needs of working men and women and small business. 

Please contact me if you or your staff are interested in further discussion.

Sincerely,

 

 

Jim Brewster
State Senator

Department of Agriculture Issues Guidance to Ensure Continuity for Animal Shelters and Boarding Facilities, Offers Advice for Pet Owners

​Harrisburg, PA – In recognition of the critical role boarding kennels, doggie daycares, shelters, sanctuaries, and rescues play in ensuring essential workers and at-risk individuals have a safe place to house dogs and the need for continued care for Pennsylvania’s strays, the Department of Agriculture today issued guidance for protecting staff and volunteers of such facilities. Advice was also offered to pet owners to protect themselves and their furry friends during COVID-19 mitigation.

Department of Human Services Encourages Medicaid Providers to Use Telemedicine Technology to Mitigate Spread of COVID-19

Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Human Services (DHS) has issued guidance to Medicaid-enrolled providers and managed care organizations that encourages the use of telemedicine as a way of mitigating the spread of COVID-19 through reduced person-to-person contact between health professionals and Physical HealthChoices members and fee-for-service beneficiaries, particularly those who are in quarantine or isolation as a result of possible COVID-19 exposure.

Brewster: Property Tax/Rent Rebate Application Period Extended to End of Year

Harrisburg – March 19, 2020 – The deadline to apply for a property tax or rent rebate has been extended to the end of the year, according to state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland).

The program is open for qualifying older citizens or residents with disabilities. The deadline was pushed back due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  The previous deadline to apply was June 30.

“I am pleased that the state Department of Revenue has pushed back the deadline to apply for property tax and rent relief,” Brewster said.  “The coronavirus outbreak has caused significant disruptions and closures of state offices and many seniors have raised questions about how they can get help in submitting the form.”

Brewster said by extending the deadline, there will be ample time for qualifying seniors or residents with disabilities to apply and receive financial help.

The senator said that his offices are currently not open for walk-ins, but staff is working remotely and can help constituents if they call or email the office. 

“We are all adjusting our schedules and making changes in our lifestyles as we deal with the health threat posed by COVID-19,” Brewster said.  “To ensure safety for all, my staff is addressing issues raised by constituents remotely, including helping with property tax and rent rebate applications.”

To be eligible for the Property Tax and Rent Rebate Program, a person must be 65-years of age or older, or, if a widow or widower 50-years of age or older, or be a Pennsylvanian with disabilities earning less than $35,000 per year for homeowners and $15,000 per year for renters. To calculate income, half of social security is excluded. The maximum rebate is $650 for most homeowners.

For more information about the program or to contact Brewster’s office about any other matter you can call 412 380-2242 or go to his website at https://www.senatorbrewster.com/

-30-

Brewster: Property Tax/Rent Rebate Application Period Extended to End of Year

Brewster: Property Tax/Rent Rebate Application Period Extended to End of Year

Harrisburg – March 19, 2020 – The deadline to apply for a property tax or rent rebate has been extended to the end of the year, according to state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland).

The program is open for qualifying older citizens or residents with disabilities. The deadline was pushed back due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  The previous deadline to apply was June 30.

“I am pleased that the state Department of Revenue has pushed back the deadline to apply for property tax and rent relief,” Brewster said.  “The coronavirus outbreak has caused significant disruptions and closures of state offices and many seniors have raised questions about how they can get help in submitting the form.”

Brewster said by extending the deadline, there will be ample time for qualifying seniors or residents with disabilities to apply and receive financial help.

The senator said that his offices are currently not open for walk-ins, but staff is working remotely and can help constituents if they call or email the office. 

“We are all adjusting our schedules and making changes in our lifestyles as we deal with the health threat posed by COVID-19,” Brewster said.  “To ensure safety for all, my staff is addressing issues raised by constituents remotely, including helping with property tax and rent rebate applications.”

To be eligible for the Property Tax and Rent Rebate Program, a person must be 65-years of age or older, or, if a widow or widower 50-years of age or older, or be a Pennsylvanian with disabilities earning less than $35,000 per year for homeowners and $15,000 per year for renters. To calculate income, half of social security is excluded. The maximum rebate is $650 for most homeowners.

For more information about the program or to contact Brewster’s office about any other matter you can call 412 380-2242 or go to his website at https://www.senatorbrewster.com/

-30-

Industry Partnerships in Allegheny, Westmoreland Receive State Grants

Industry Partnerships in Allegheny, Westmoreland Receive State Grants

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) recently approved several grants to bolster economic activity in Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties. 

On March 18, PAsmart Grants were awarded for industry partnerships in Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties. The grants will be used to enhance education and training for workers and help match job skill sets with opportunities.

Local grants include:

Hospitality and Retail Partnership ($45,000)

Westmoreland-Fayette Logistics and Transportation Industry Partnerships ($45,000)

Southwest Corner Building and Construction Industry Partnership ($250,000)

Transportation and Logistics Industry Partnership ($250,000)

Pennsylvania Steel Alliance ($145,000)

Healthcare Industry Partnership ($45,000)

Financial Services Industry Partnership ($250,000)

Construction Industry Partnership ($250,000)

Brewster to Host Higher Education Financial Aid Seminars

Brewster to Host Higher Education Financial Aid Seminars

Harrisburg – January 6, 2020 – Sen. Jim Brewster (D- Allegheny/Westmoreland) announced that he will host two free Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) Financial Aid Seminars for high school students and their families.

“Financing education after high school can be very expensive, but there are financial aid resources to help students who want to pursue college or technical school,” Brewster said.

The first information session will be hosted on Wednesday Jan. 15, 2020 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Penn State Greater Allegheny Ostermayer Room in the Student Community Center at 4000 University Dr., McKeesport, PA 15132.

The second session will be hosted on Wednesday Jan. 29, 2020 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) South Campus in the Auditorium at 1750 Clairton Rd., West Mifflin, PA 15122.

A student aid expert from PHEAA will be at both sessions to present on the student aid process and how best to plan to pay for a student’s higher education.

“Higher education has an essential role in the lives of students preparing to enter the workforce,” Brewster said. “It is important that students are financially prepared for this step in their lives.”

Students and families interested in attending these free seminars can contact Kathy Jo Osman in Senator Brewster’s office by phone at 412-664-5200 or by email at Kathy.osman@pasenate.com.

Brewster: Over $1 Million for Railway Jobs and Infrastructure Improvements

Brewster: Over $1 Million for Railway Jobs and Infrastructure Improvements

Harrisburg – December 18, 2019 – Sen. Jim Brewster (D – Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today that $1,146,950 has been awarded for various railway track upgrades and expansion projects in the region.

“The railways that serve the industrial facilities of our region remain as critical components of highly integrated rail network,” Brewster said. “I am pleased that the state has made this significant investment that will help businesses in the area and create an environment that is conducive to job creation.”

U.S. Steel Corporation has been awarded $689,500 to complete rail track updates to accommodate their new hot rolling mill in Braddock.

Union Railroad was awarded $457,450 to construct new railway track and a new rail turnout that will also serve U.S. Steel’s new hot rolling mill.

PennDOT will be distributing the funds for the projects.

“I will continue to push for investments in railway and manufacturing operations,” Brewster said.

Brewster Honors Veterans in Lower Burrell

Brewster Honors Veterans in Lower Burrell

Harrisburg – December 13, 2019 – Sen. Jim Brewster (D- Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today that he was honored to recognize more than 60 local veterans for their service to our country at a Thursday, Dec. 12 breakfast at VFW Post 92 in Lower Burrell.

“The veterans who were recognized at the breakfast — and all veterans from all branches of our armed forces — deserve to be recognized for their sacrifice and service to our nation,” Brewster said.  “Reaching out to local veterans and thanking them for what they have done to protect our nation and defend liberty was an honor.”

The lawmaker has hosted events to honor veterans at several locations throughout the year.

As a part of the breakfast, veterans were called up to receive a special pin and certificate of recognition.

Senator Brewster Veterans Breakfast

Brewster has been very involved in veterans’ issues during his tenure in the Senate.  In this session alone, he co-sponsored and voted for legislation to help pay for an education program for spouses and family members of those in the National Guard.  He is also a co-sponsor of legislation to increase the pension for blind and vision impaired National Guard veterans.

Veterans services representatives from federal, state and county offices were available at the event to answer questions about programs and services.

“I was happy to recognize veterans who came to the breakfast and offer services,” Brewster said.  “If a veteran or family member needs help at any time, they can call any of my district offices and my staff can provide assistance.”

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2020 Pennsylvania Fishing Licenses, Permits, and Gift Vouchers are Now on Sale

2020 Pennsylvania Fishing Licenses, Permits, and Gift Vouchers are Now on Sale

Harrisburg, PA – Just in time for the holiday season, Senator Jim Brewster is excited to announce that the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is now selling 2020 fishing licenses.

“When you buy a fishing license now, you really get the most value for your dollar,” said Amber Nabors, Director of the PFBC Bureau of Outreach, Education and Marketing. “Not only will you be covered for every fishing season for the rest of this year and next year, but if you like to buy your license at a store, you can avoid the long lines we often see around the start of the spring trout season.”

Trout Fishing

All fishing licenses and related permits purchased now are valid for up to 13 months, from December 2019 through December 31, 2020. Licenses and permits can be purchased at www.gonefishingpa.com, at more than 700 issuing agents, county treasurers’ offices and at all PFBC regional offices.

In addition to licenses and permits, such as the trout/salmon or Lake Erie permits, customers may choose to purchase vouchers that can be given as gifts and be redeemed by recipients.

“We are always looking for ways to spend more time with our families and friends,” said Nabors. “Vouchers make great gifts for the avid angler in your life or even someone new to the sport. If you want to introduce someone to fishing, buying them a license voucher can be the nudge they need to join you on the water this year.”

The price of an annual resident fishing license this year is still $22.90. Multi-year options are also available in 3, 5 and 10 year increments. The most popular add-ons, a trout-salmon permit and a Lake Erie permit cost $9.90 each, or $15.90 for a combination permit. Once again for the 2020 license year, customers can purchase a collectible fishing license button for $10. This year’s button features a pumpkinseed sunfish design and is customized with the angler’s individual license number (buttons are not issued at the time of purchase and will be mailed to the buyer within 3-4 weeks).

In 2020, anglers who visit a license issuing agent in-person can receive the Fishing Summary book free of charge. The book, which outlines current fishing regulations and laws, seasons and creel limits, and safety information also includes advertising and coupons. An identical, digital version of the Fishing Summary book can be viewed and printed for free at www.FishInPA.com, or viewed on the free FishBoatPA mobile app for smart phones.

“Pennsylvania anglers have a lot to look forward to this year,” added Nabors. “In 2020, we will be more than doubling the number of trophy-sized trout being stocked in lakes and streams across the state and extending many of our Keystone Select Stocked Trout Waters. We’ll also be increasing the number of Golden Rainbow Trout that we stock prior to the trout season and stocking them in-season for the first time ever. The FishBoatPA app can help you keep track of stocking locations and the expanded special regulation areas closest to you.”

Customers purchasing a 2020 license can once again can support their favorite PFBC programs through the purchase of voluntary permits for Bass, Musky, Wild Trout and Enhanced Waters, and Habitat/Waterways Conservation. These permits are not required for fishing and carry no additional privileges, but all funds generated through them are reinvested into their respective program.

While youth anglers under age 16 do not require a fishing license, they must have either a Voluntary Youth Fishing License ($2.90) or a free Mentored Youth Fishing Permit to participate in various youth opportunities throughout the season. This includes the Mentored Youth Trout Fishing Days, which occur the week before the opening of the regional and statewide openers in each area.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is a user-funded agency that operates primarily on funds generated through the sale of fishing licenses, boating registrations and associated fees. The PFBC receives no Pennsylvania General Fund tax revenue to support its programs.

Fishing Dates
December 1, 2019 – 2020 Fishing Licenses On Sale

March 28 — Regional Mentored Youth Trout Day (18 southeastern counties)

April 4 – Regional Opening Day of Trout Season

April 11 – Statewide Mentored Youth Trout Day

April 18 – Statewide Opening Day of Trout Season

November 1, 2019 through April 30, 2020 – Mandatory Life Jacket Requirement

 

Sunday Hunting Bill Headed to Governor’s Desk for Enactment into Law

Sunday Hunting Bill Headed to Governor’s Desk for Enactment into Law

Harrisburg – November 18, 2019 – Legislation that would empower the Pennsylvania Game Commission to allow hunting on up to three Sundays each year received final legislative approval on Monday (November 18) and was sent to the Governor for enactment into law, according to Senators Dan Laughlin (R-49) and Jim Brewster (D-45).

“Today was a historic vote. We are now just one step away from increasing recreational opportunities for the thousands of Pennsylvania sportsmen and women who enjoy hunting,” said Senator Laughlin, prime cosponsor of the bill and Chairman of the Senate Game & Fisheries Committee. “This has been a long time coming and is truly a tribute to the thousands of hunters and the many organizations who have supported this effort.”

“This bill is a result of collaborative effort of the major stakeholders that had an interest Sunday hunting. And will not only create opportunities for hunters- men and women, young and old to get out into Pennsylvania’s great outdoors,” said Senator Brewster, Democratic Chairman of the Senate Game & Fisheries Committee and prime cosponsor of the bill. “Also, it will generate additional revenue that we can hopefully use to solve CWD, which is fatal to deer and elk.

Senate Bill 147 provides for hunting on three Sundays: one during rifle deer season, one during the statewide archery deer season and one on a Sunday determined by the Game Commission. The bill also amends the Pennsylvania Game Code to make trespassing while hunting a primary offense and increase the penalties for the offense.

“Weekends are the only free time for many hunters,” Senator Laughlin said. “Those two days are essentially the only time that most working men and women can get out into the woods. The same could be said for many young people, the ones who represent the future of the sport. Lifting the ban will give them increased opportunities to pursue the activity that they love.”

The bill also provides that written permission of the landowner is required to hunt on private property on any of the Sundays being added to the expanded Sunday hunting provisions. The penalty for a violation of this provision will be a summary offense of the third degree.

Additionally, Senate Bill 147 requires the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to perform a financial analysis of the Game Commission’s fees, fines, penalties, royalties, Federal and state appropriations and other sources of revenue received by the commission, and of expenditures, including annual operating costs, investments, land purchases and capital projects, within 180 days after the bill is enacted.

Brewster: $1.5 million in Tax Credits Approved for Community Development Projects

Brewster: $1.5 million in Tax Credits Approved for Community Development Projects

Harrisburg – November 15, 2019 – More than $1.5 million in tax credits to spur community revitalization has been approved for projects in the Monongahela Valley, eastern Allegheny County and Westmoreland County, state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today. 

The tax credits were approved through the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit Program. 

“These tax credits will help fund a variety of community development projects in Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties,” Brewster said. “There are a wide variety of projects that received tax credits, with each having a great impact on neighborhoods and communities throughout the region.”

Brewster said tax credits were approved for the following projects:

  • Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh in McKeesport ($225,000) will complete the rehabilitation of 20 housing units. The project will create four jobs and 2000 volunteer hours of labor are included in the scope of work;
  • McKees Point Development Group in McKeesport ($360,000) will use the tax credits to stabilize existing housing stock, rehabilitate and resize the downtown business district and maximize job creation from tourism. The project includes development of historical assets and further access to the Great Allegheny Passage;
  • Tax credits were approved for the Mon Valley Initiative in Braddock ($160,000) to support new investment and development in Braddock and increase home ownership;
  • In Clairton, tax credits were approved for Economic Development South ($380,000) to spur investment and restore housing stock;
  • Greater Community Food Bank in Duquesne will use ($110,000) in tax credits to strengthen its partner network, implement new practices to expand coverage and rehabilitate a building;
  • Center for Victims were approved for ($82,500) to complete building renovations to serve those who need shelter services;
  • In East Pittsburgh, This Generation Connect will use tax credits ($110,000) to establish a permanent base to support healthy engagement and relationship building.  These tax credits will promote the development of alternative drop in space to serve as a “safe-harbor”.
  • Westmoreland Community Action in New Kensington received tax credits ($160,000) to address issues including recreation, blight, beautification efforts and main street rehabilitation while addressing concerns expressed by local businesses.
Brewster: Grants Approved for Recreation Projects in Lower Burrell, Baldwin

Brewster: Grants Approved for Recreation Projects in Lower Burrell, Baldwin

Harrisburg – November 14, 2019 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today that recreation and park projects in Lower Burrell, Westmoreland County and Baldwin Borough in Allegheny County have been awarded Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) grants totaling nearly $230,000.

“State resources redirected back to help local communities fund park and recreation projects are important and help municipalities in their redevelopment efforts,” Brewster said.  “Planning for future recreation and the preservation of open spaces, in addition to developing community parks are excellent uses of DCNR grants.”

  • Lower Burrell was awarded $19,000 to prepare a recreation and open space plan for the city;
  • Baldwin Borough will receive a $210,000 grant to help rehabilitate and further develop Elm Leaf Park. The project includes renovations, development of parking areas, dugouts, comfort stations, new play equipment in addition to other improvements.

The grants were part of third-round funding for Community Parks and Partnerships.

Brewster Credits PennDOT’s District Executive for Quick Action, Decisiveness on Rt. 51 Bridge

Brewster Credits PennDOT’s District Executive for Quick Action, Decisiveness on Rt. 51 Bridge

McKeesport – Sept. 27, 2019 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today that PennDOT’s District Executive Cheryl Moon-Sirianni acted quickly, decisively and in the interest of public safety when she ordered the temporary closure of the Route 51 Bridge between Elizabeth and West Elizabeth following a cable support failure.

“The temporary closure of the heavily-used bridge was necessary to avert a crisis,” Brewster said.  “District Director Moon-Sirianni took decisive action to protect those who use the Route 51 Bridge in Elizabeth. Safety is a top priority.”

Brewster said he has been assured that repair work will continue on the span and crews will be on scene doing repairs until the bridge can be safely reopened.

“The bridge is a key aspect of the Mon Valley transportation system and must be quickly repaired,” Brewster said.  “PennDOT leadership has been open, transparent and acted to protect those who use the bridge.”

Brewster said that PennDOT will provide further updates as work progresses.

Brewster to Hold Shredding Event on Saturday in Allegheny Township

Brewster to Hold Shredding Event on Saturday in Allegheny Township

McKeesport – September 25, 2019 – Sen. Jim Brewster (D- Allegheny/Westmoreland) will host a free shredding event at the Allegheny Township Municipal Building Parking Lot, 136 Community Road in Leechburg. The event will run from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28.

“Securely disposing of personal documents and records is incredibly important,” Brewster said. “Consumer fraud and identity theft are very real issues that can be prevented by shredding documents that hold personal information.”

Brewster said that documents such as social security documents, personal banking records, credit card statements and medical records may contain personal information and can be shredded at this event it they are no longer needed for one’s personal records.

“I look forward to this event and helping keep people’s personal information secure,” Brewster said.

Brewster to Host Senior Wellness and Safety Expo

Brewster to Host Senior Wellness and Safety Expo

McKeesport – Sept. 24, 2019 – Sen. Jim Brewster (D- Allegheny/Westmoreland) will host a Senior Wellness and Safety Expo in McKeesport this Thursday, Sept. 26 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at McKeesport Palisades, 100 Fifth Avenue.

“Hosting this event is an excellent opportunity to provide valuable information to our seniors,” Brewster said. “It is also an opportunity to provide them with beneficial health services and screenings.”

Brewster said that there will be health screenings for hearing, vision, blood pressure, bone density, carbon monoxide and blood glucose. He said that seniors will also have the opportunity to receive a flu shot for free with no proof of insurance required.

Rep. Austin Davis (D- Allegheny) is partnering with Brewster for this event.

“I look forward to seeing many of our senior citizens come out for this fun and informative event,” Brewster said.

Brewster: More than $500,000 Approved for Local Recreation Projects

Brewster: More than $500,000 Approved for Local Recreation Projects

Harrisburg – Sept. 17, 2019 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) today said he is pleased that more than $500,000 in state grant funding was approved for an array of recreation projects in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.

“Our ability to help local communities improve their recreation and public spaces is significantly bolstered by funding that is brought back from Harrisburg,” Brewster said. “These new dollars for the enhancement of recreation projects in both Allegheny and Westmoreland counties will improve the quality of life in our communities.”

Funding was approved for park and recreation projects in Port Vue, Baldwin, Plum, Elizabeth and North Versailles in Allegheny County. Vandergrift and Lower Burrell in Westmoreland County also received state funds for park and pool rehabilitation projects.

The grants were made available through the Commonwealth Financing Authority’s Act 13 program funds. The following program dollars were approved in this round of funding for projects in Brewster’s district in Allegheny County:

  • Port Vue Borough Port Vue Athletic Association Recreation Building              $53,763
  • Baldwin Borough Elm Leaf Park Improvements                                                    $50,000
  • Plum Borough Logan’s Ferry Park Improvements                                                 $150,000
  • Elizabeth Borough Streetscape, Riverfront Park Improvements                        $50,000
  • North Versailles Crestas ball field lighting                                                               $50,000

In the Westmoreland County portion of Brewster’s district, funding for the following projects were approved:

  • Lower Burrell Veterans Central Park Improvements                                             $50,000
  • Vandergrift Borough Pool Renovation                                                                      $165,313

Brewster said that while he is pleased that these grants were approved, he will continue to seek other resources for communities through other state programs.

Brewster Announces $811,844 for Local Crime Prevention/Victim Services Efforts

Brewster Announces $811,844 for Local Crime Prevention/Victim Services Efforts

McKeesport, September 13, 2019 – State Sen. Jim Brewster today announced a total of $811,844 in state funds for four local crime reduction and victim services programs.

“I am committed to using state resources to strengthen local efforts to curb gun violence and help those who are victimized by crime,” Brewster said.

Brewster said the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency this week approved the following grants:

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Brewster Announces State Funds for Region’s Community Colleges

Brewster Announces State Funds for Region’s Community Colleges

Harrisburg, September 13, 2019 – State Sen. Jim Brewster today announced a total of $26.5 million in state funds for construction work at the community colleges in Allegheny and Westmoreland County.

“As our community colleges become a more viable and important educational opportunities for area students, I am pleased that state funds are being used to improve and expand their facilities.”

According to Brewster, the state Department of Education has approved $20 million for the Community College of Allegheny County for construction of its Workforce Training Center. An additional $6.5 million was earmarked for the Westmoreland County Community College to modernize its Enterprise Resource Planning System.

The department monies represent 50 percent of the annual capital expense for the projects, with the remainder financed by local sponsorship. 

“I will continue to seek state support for projects and programs that enhance our community colleges,” Brewster said.

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School Safety and Security Panel Acts on Brewster’s Request for Safety Standards

School Safety and Security Panel Acts on Brewster’s Request for Safety Standards

Harrisburg – Aug. 29, 2019 – The statewide School Safety and Security Committee has endorsed state Sen. Jim Brewster’s (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) plan to create a subcommittee to explore the development of baseline safety and security standards applicable to all schools.

“To ensure the safety and security of our students and all who go into public schools, it is critical that schools’ baseline safety standards be in place,” Brewster said.  “A detailed safety and security plan with a focus on a school’s physical plan, accessibility to mental health services and environmental protections is necessary.”

Recommendations produced by the subcommittee will be sent to the full School Safety and Security Committee for approval, Brewster said.

Earlier this year, Brewster sent a letter to the members of the School Safety and Security Committee asking that they consider his proposal.  Brewster, who serves on the committee, has sponsored Senate Bill 788, which would create baseline standards by statute. 

Brewster said he asked the committee to act on his idea to expedite work on developing the standards. 

“All school districts should have state resources available to adhere to easily understandable and clear baseline standards regarding the physical structure of schools, access to mental health professionals for counseling, and protection from environmental problems such as lead, mold and other health threats,” Brewster said.  “Our efforts are centered on protecting students, teachers, administrators and parents who are in our school buildings and on campus.”

The McKeesport lawmaker said the state budget has included $60 million installments for each of the last two years for school safety.  This funding can be applied to helping school districts comply with baseline requirements developed by the subcommittee, he said. 

The School Safety and Security Committee was established by statute in 2018 and is administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

Brewster said he is grateful that the committee acted on his request and pleased that it made his proposal a priority.

Brewster: Nearly $1 Million for Allegheny County Airport Upgrades

Brewster: Nearly $1 Million for Allegheny County Airport Upgrades

Harrisburg – August 28, 2019 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D- Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today that Allegheny County Airport has been awarded a state grant for $900,000 to upgrade airport buildings.

“Allegheny County Airport is a regional resource that enhances development potential throughout the Mon Valley,” Brewster said.  “An improved airport, in addition to the new Mon-Fayette Expressway and other local economic projects create business development opportunities for the area.”

Funding for the $900,000 grant was through PennDOT’s Aviation Transportation Assistance Program, Aviation Development Program, and the Multimodal Fund.

Allegheny County Airport (AGC) is a key cog in the transportation infrastructure of the region.  The airport began serving the county in 1931. The airport has more than 60,000 commercial and scheduled flight takeoffs and landings every year.

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Brewster, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank Expand Partnership to Local Libraries

Brewster, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank Expand Partnership to Local Libraries

Join Forces on Collaborate-Educate-Enroll events

Harrisburg – August 22, 2019 – Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) announced today a new outreach partnership with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank on Collaborate-Educate-Enroll events.

“My office has worked with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank over the past year to successfully share state services with those who attend the Produce To People event at the Food Bank’s facility in Duquesne,” Brewster said.  “I look forward to expanding our educational partnership by traveling to numerous libraries in the region this September to offer state assistance.”

A wide variety of state services will be presented at local libraries including the Property Tax/Rent Rebate, PennDOT’s Yellow Dot Program, Unclaimed Property and the new Senior Bus Pass (ConnectCard). A representative from the Food Bank will also be on hand to discuss numerous food assistance programs. 

“The Food Bank is delighted to partner with Senator Brewster and his team to reach out to our neighbors throughout September to help them access food assistance and other resources. Hunger Action Month 2019 is a great time to draw awareness not only to the problem of hunger, but also the ways we can help each other meet the basic need for food,” said Lisa Scales, President and CEO of Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

Collaborate-Educate-Enroll events will be taking place at the following libraries:

  • Braddock Carnegie Library, 419 Library Street, Braddock
    Wednesday, September 4, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • North Versailles Public Library, 1401 Greensburg Avenue, North Versailles
    Tuesday, September 10, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
  • Baldwin Borough Public Library, 5230 Wolfe Drive, Baldwin
    Wednesday, September 18, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
  • Carnegie Library of McKeesport, 1507 Library Street, McKeesport
    Thursday, September 19, 1 9.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Carnegie Library of McKeesport-Duquesne Branch, Duquesne Education Center 300 Kennedy Avenue
    Thursday, September 19, 4 p.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Monroeville Public Library, 4000 Gateway Campus Boulevard
    Friday, September 20, 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

“Libraries are key resources to help educate and inform,” Brewster said. “I am grateful that local libraries are excited to join us in this new collaboration.” 

To learn more about this event or food assistance services in the district visit www.senatorbrewster.com/producetopeople.

Convenient Sign-Up Stations for Port Authority Senior ConnectCards Available at Brewster Offices

Convenient Sign-Up Stations for Port Authority Senior ConnectCards Available at Brewster Offices

Harrisburg – Aug. 16, 2019 – Seniors can sign up for Port Authority ConnectCards at Senator Jim Brewster’s offices in Monroeville, McKeesport or New Kensington.

“Senior ConnectCards enable those over the age of 65 to use public transportation for free,” Brewster said.  “This is an important cost-saver for seniors.”

Brewster, who is a board member of the Port Authority of Allegheny County, said he hopes seniors take advantage of the convenience of his office locations to acquire Senior ConnectCards.

“My staff is available to help seniors with the applications and resolve any bureaucratic issues that arise,” he added.

Once the applications are completed and submitted, it takes about two to four weeks for the cards to be issued, Brewster said.

The Port Authority will continue to accept blue or yellow senior transit ID cards, however, seniors who use their Medicare cards to ride public transportation must switch over to ConnectCards by January.

To obtain a Senior ConnectCard, an applicant must be 65-years of age and provide proof of age.  Driver’s licenses, birth and baptismal certificates, armed forces discharge papers, PACE or another state issued ID card or a statement from the Social Security Administration can be used to verify age.

Brewster’s district offices are located in: McKeesport at 201 Lysle Boulevard (412) 664-5200; One Monroeville Center, 3824 Northern Pike, Suite 1015 in Monroeville (412) 380-2242; and New Kensington City Hall, 301 11th Street, Suite L (724) 334-1143.

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Sen. Brewster Announces Federal Recovery Funds for July 21, 22 Storms, Low-Interest Loans Offered

Sen. Brewster Announces Federal Recovery Funds for July 21, 22 Storms, Low-Interest Loans Offered

August 8, 2019 – Senator Jim Brewster announced today that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) approved a request to declare a disaster in Allegheny County for damage from storms and flash flooding on July 21 and 22, 2019.

“This news is great for residents and businesses of this region who suffered losses from these storms and floods last month,” said Senator Brewster. “This decision by the SBA would not have happened without local, county, and state officials and emergency services staff working together.”

Homeowners, renters and businesses impacted by the flooding from the storms on July 21 and 22 in Allegheny County, as well as those in Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Washington, and Westmoreland Counties 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. Information about the program can be found at https://disasterloan.sba.gov.

The SBA will open a Disaster Loan Outreach Center (DLOC) to help with loan applications and answer questions about the disaster loan program. The DLOC will be open at the following location and times:

Renton Volunteer Department

Plum Borough

1996 Old Mine Road

Pittsburgh, PA 15239

Opening: Friday, Aug. 9 at 11 a.m.

Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday, August 10 & August 17, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Closed: Sundays

Closes: Tuesday, August 20 at 4 p.m.

Individuals and businesses unable to visit the centers in person 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 October 7, 2019. The deadline to return economic injury disaster loan applications is May 7, 2020.

Sen. Brewster Announces $2.75 Million in State Funds for Three Local Projects

Sen. Brewster Announces $2.75 Million in State Funds for Three Local Projects

McKeesport – August 1, 2019 – State Senator Jim Brewster today announced three state grants totaling $2.75 million for local development projects.

“These renovation and construction projects will help expedite key local projects and spur additional economic development in our region,” Brewster said. “I will continue to help obtain state resources for local projects.”

The projects include:

  • $1 million to renovate and expand the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank building in Duquesne. Workers will build a new cold dock, improve refrigeration capability, and construct offices and meeting rooms;
  • $1 million to build a new addition and parking lot for the Bechtel Plant Machinery, Inc. expansion on Jamison Lane, Monroeville. The funds will be used to purchase additional land, construct a three-story building and interior design; and
  • $750,000 to reconstruct the RiverLift Industries barge dock wall in West Elizabeth Borough. Workers will replace the existing embedded barge dock structure with a new 500-foot steel sheet pile wall and tie-back system.

The funds were obtained from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP), which is used for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvement projects. Qualifying projects have a regional or multi-jurisdictional impact, help create or maintain jobs and generate economic activity.

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Brewster: Grants Awarded to Local Elementary Schools to Fund Fresh Food Programs

Brewster: Grants Awarded to Local Elementary Schools to Fund Fresh Food Programs

July, 15, 2019 — Today, Senator Jim Brewster announced the award of federal grants to local elementary schools to fund healthy, fresh food programs for students.

“It is important to make healthy food accessible to students so they are nourished and prepared to learn,” Brewster said. “This program is also a great way to introduce children to produce they may not be able to get otherwise.”

Funding priority is given to the schools with the highest rates of students eligible for free and reduced-price meals.  Grantees are required to spend a majority of their grant on the purchase of fresh fruit and vegetable and must develop a plan to establish partnerships to reduce other costs.  Schools are also required to provide nutrition education to students, but cannot use Fresh Fruit and Vegetable (FFVP) funding to purchase nutrition education materials.

Local schools receiving funds include:

·         Mon Valley School, Clairton $ 2,300.00
·         Sunrise School, Monroeville $2,530.00
·         Clairton Elementary School $24,092.50
·         Duquesne Elementary School, Duquesne $22,252.50
·         Logan Elementary School, North Versailles $46,057.50
·         Francis McClure Elementary School, White Oak $38,525.00
·         Twin Rivers Elementary School, McKeesport $45,022.50
·         Propel Charter School, Pitcairn $13,110.00
·         Propel East, Turtle Creek $17,940.00
·         Propel, McKeesport $16,732.50
·         South Allegheny Elementary, McKeesport $32,142.50
·         Clara Barton Elementary School, West Mifflin $13,282.50
·         Homeville Elementary School, West Mifflin $19,377.50
·         New Emerson Elementary School, West Mifflin $9,947.50
·         Young Scholars Of McKeesport Charter School, McKeesport $10,810.00
·         Kiski Area East Primary School, Vandergrift $26,737.50

 

The funding was awarded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.  The program’s goals are to create healthier school environments by providing healthier food choices, expand the variety of fruits and vegetables students experience, increase fruit and vegetable consumption, and positively impact students’ present and future health.  FFVP was first implemented in Pennsylvania in 2004 and expanded to all 50 states in 2008.

“Fresh fruits and vegetables provide vital nutrients to growing children,” said Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera. “These grants are another way to help address food security in our schools while also providing an opportunity to teach students how to make smart and nutritious choices.”

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Brewster Applauds the Highmark – UPMC Agreement for Open Access to Health Network

Brewster Applauds the Highmark – UPMC Agreement for Open Access to Health Network

Harrisburg – June 24, 2019 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) released the following statement concerning the 10-year agreement between Highmark and UPMC to permit in-network access to UPMC doctors and hospitals. 

The agreement was announced less than a week before those with Highmark insurance would have lost in-network access to UPMC doctors and facilities. 

Brewster’s comments follow:

“The agreement today will preserve health care options and is excellent and welcomed news.  The agreement will relieve tension and anxiety from patients who were caught in the middle between the providers.

“In the Pittsburgh area, we have world class health care.  Those who are sick and need help should be able to continue to access care from professionals they are comfortable with, regardless of the insurance that they carry.   

“Highmark and UPMC have a responsibility to serve those who need care and I applaud them for their ability to reach this agreement.  Insurance coverage should not be a barrier that prevents a sick patient from seeing a doctor or provider of their choice. 

“I applaud Governor. Tom Wolf, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, officials from UPMC and Highmark, Senator Jay Costa, Representative Dan Frankel and so many others for digging in and working toward a solution to this very difficult issue.”

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Brewster Warns of Scam Targeting Senior Citizens

Brewster Warns of Scam Targeting Senior Citizens

Worried woman holding credit card

State Sen. Jim Brewster is warning residents of a scam targeting Property Tax or Rent Rebate recipients.

Brewster’s office was notified of a scam that consists of unsolicited calls from a person claiming to work for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. The caller says an application for Property Tax or Rent Rebate has been approved and then asks if the recipient would like the rebate directly deposited into a bank account – and asks for his or her bank information.

This is a scam. The Department of Revenue does not make live calls regarding Property Tax or Rent Rebate applications and does not collect applicant banking deposit information over the phone.

The Department of Revenue does contact applicants via automated calls to confirm their information has been received and approved. If the department needs more information about an individual’s Property Tax or Rent Rebate application, it sends a letter through the U.S. Postal Service.

Individuals can request that their rebate be directly deposited; those requests, however, must be made when the signed application is submitted to the Department of Revenue. 

If you receive a phone call from an individual claiming to represent the Department of Revenue and is requesting personal bank account information, DO NOT give out any banking information or any personal information (including Social Security numbers) to these callers. 

If you received one of these calls and provided your banking information or other personal information, immediately call your bank to make them aware of this potential fraud. Additionally, you can file a scam complaint with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General Bureau of Consumer Protection by calling the toll-free hotline at 1.800.441.2555 or by visiting www.attorneygeneral.gov.  Consumer Complaint forms are also available by contacting Senator Brewster’s District Office at 412.380.2242.

Brewster Applauds Approval of Sunday Hunting Bill

Brewster Applauds Approval of Sunday Hunting Bill

Legislation will be brought to a vote in the Senate

Harrisburg – June 20, 2019 – Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) applauded the passage of his Sunday Hunting Bill (Senate Bill 147) out of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The legislation, which would authorize the Game Commission to allow Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania for up to three Sundays, will be brought to the Senate floor for a vote.

“I am happy the Appropriations Committee realized the benefits of allowing Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania,” said Brewster. “Increased tourism to our state game lands, increased revenue from hunting licenses, and providing working hunters a little extra time to enjoy their sport are all positive impacts of SB147.”

Brewster authored the legislation with Sen. Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) to start a dialogue on the number of established hunting days, the process of managing public lands, protections for farmers and their crops, and how to combat chronic wasting disease that effects Pennsylvania’s deer herd. The way the bill will be amended would permit hunting on three Sundays throughout the year.

“We set out to start a conversation and I believe the approval of the bill is a positive sign that the conversation has been successful,” said Brewster. “If we are going to be a state that values the environment and conservation efforts to protect it, allowing Sunday hunting is a revenue stream that we must tap into.”

Brewster is confident that allowing the Game Commission to open state game lands for three Sundays per year will combat the decrease in hunting license sales, encourage Pennsylvania hunters to hunt in-state, and attract out-of-state hunters for weekend trips. These three aspects will bring increased revenue for conversation initiatives championed by the Game Commission and support rural communities near state game lands.

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Brewster: City of McKeesport to Receive Traffic Safety Improvement Funds

Brewster: City of McKeesport to Receive Traffic Safety Improvement Funds

McKeesport – May 29, 2019 – Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) announced that McKeesport is set to receive funding assistance to improve traffic safety through the Automated Red-Light Enforcement (ARLE) fund.

“This funding is instrumental to improve traffic flow and safety,” Brewster said. “I am glad to see our region receiving assistance to invest in traffic projects that will ensure both motorists and pedestrians are able to travel safely.”

Three projects were approved for ARLE funding totaling $344,000.

They include:

  • McKeesport Traffic Safety Project;
  • Versailles Avenue and Evans Street Signal Replacement; and
  • Lysle Boulevard and Coursin Street Audible Pedestrian Upgrade.

The approved projects will provide a variety of traffic safety improvements in McKeesport such as new traffic signal supports, updated pedestrian accommodations, and the creation of traffic safety programs.

According to Brewster, the improvements implemented with the ARLE funding will help to remediate speeding and sight issues that have concerned pedestrians and motorists in McKeesport.

“As travel increases in our area, we must do what we can to provide for traffic improvements that keep motorists and pedestrians safe,” Brewster said. “I believe this funding is an excellent step in addressing the traffic concerns of local residents and those traveling through the area.”

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Brewster: Pitcairn, White Oak to Receive State Grant Funds

Brewster: Pitcairn, White Oak to Receive State Grant Funds

Harrisburg – March 26, 2019 – State grant funding including $525,000 for road slide repairs in Pitcairn and $200,000 for a streetscape project in White Oak was approved today, state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said.

“The ability to successfully access state resources to address key projects in the area is very important,” Brewster said.  “Many communities need the state dollars to undertake valuable projects and enhance the quality of life in their communities.

“Local municipalities try to stretch dollars to meet needs, yet critical projects cannot be considered unless the state steps up to help fill funding gaps.”

The money for Pitcairn and White Oak was approved by the Commonwealth Financing Authority. 

The projects include:

  • Pitcairn Borough: Center Avenue slide remediation project involves cutting the hillside, removing material, stabilizing the hill and relocating portions of Center Avenue between Fifth and Highland Avenues ($525,000);
  • White Oak: Streetscape and pedestrian safety improvements along Lincoln Way including new light poles, electrical work and street signs ($200,000).

Brewster said that he would continue to be a strong advocate for funding and work to bring even more state funding to the district through other state programs.

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Brewster: Funding Approved for Crime Victims Programs in Allegheny, Westmoreland

Brewster: Funding Approved for Crime Victims Programs in Allegheny, Westmoreland

Harrisburg – March 13, 2019 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said that the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) has approved funding for numerous programs to aid victims in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.

“The funding is critical for important programs to address those impacted by crime,” Brewster said.  “The dollars will help fund outreach activities, training, improved communications, advocacy and those impacted by crime.”

Brewster said a total of nearly $6 million was approved for a wide range of programs in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.  The funding is available through the Victims of Crime Act and includes both non-competitive and competitive grants.  Among others, the grant recipients include:

  • Alle-Kiski Area Hope Center                                                                   $225,430
  • Center for Victims                                                                                     $571,538
  • Court Appointed Special Advocates of Allegheny County                $2,159
  • Neighborhood Legal Services                                                                 $244,803
  • Womens Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh                           $511,251
  • Center for Victims                                                                                     $1,265,361
  • Casa of Westmoreland Inc.                                                                     $173,174

PCCD supports justice-related programs with a focus on research, police and support services.  The approved funding support programs that serve individuals countywide.

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Brewster Reappointed to Port Authority Board

Brewster Reappointed to Port Authority Board

McKeesport − March 7, 2019 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) was recently reappointed to serve on the board of directors for the Port Authority of Allegheny County.

“Public transportation has always been a priority for me,” Brewster said.  “Accessible public transportation is an important feature of a community’s quality of life and is an essential element in the development of business and industry.”

Brewster, who has been a member of the board since 2013, was reappointed by Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny). Brewster serves as board secretary. 

“Public transportation helps build a strong economy by making employment opportunities accessible,” he said. “An efficient public transportation system is good for workers and their companies. Public transportation connects workers to their jobs in urban, suburban, and rural areas.”

Brewster has long been an advocate for an enhanced public transportation system.  He supported additional funding for mass transit systems that added routes and service in various communities. 

In 2018, the Port Authority conducted a customer satisfaction survey that revealed that nearly 60 percent of customers use the service five or more days per week, and 90 percent at least three days a week.

“There are many challenges that we face in public transportation and hurdles to overcome,” Brewster said. “I am confident that by working together we can rebuild and restructure our public transit system to meet the needs of public transit consumers throughout the county.”

The Port Authority is the second-largest transportation system in the state, employing about 2,600 people and serving approximately 200,000 daily riders.

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Brewster Expands Local Satellite Office Hours in More Communities

Brewster Expands Local Satellite Office Hours in More Communities

Harrisburg – January 28, 2019 – Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) announced more permanent satellite offices throughout the 45th Senatorial District.

“I am happy to announce new satellite offices and extended office hours that will be available in many communities throughout the district,” Brewster said.  “I look forward to continuing and improving the services that are offered and the help that my staff and I provide.”

The senator’s district offices have been instrumental in helping local residents apply for essential state programs and services including property tax relief, rent rebate programs, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly program (PACE), and many others.

“With new offices and hours available in more communities, residents can better access the programs and services they need with the assistance of my district offices,” Brewster said.

New district office locations and hours of operation are:

  • North Braddock Municipal Building, 600 Anderson Street, North Braddock open every Monday, 9:00 am-4:00 pm;
  • Turtle Creek Borough Building, 125 Monroeville Avenue, Turtle Creek open every Tuesday, 9:00 am-4:00 pm;
  • North Versailles Township Building, 1401 Greensburg Avenue, North Versailles open every Wednesday, 9:00 am-4:00 pm;
  • Lower Burrell City Hall, 2800 Bethel Street, Lower Burrell open the 2nd Tuesday of each month, 1:00 pm-4:00 pm;
  • Elizabeth Twp. Municipal Building, 522 Rock Run Road, Elizabeth open the 2nd Tuesday of each month, 1:00 pm-4:00 pm.

Brewster also reminds residents that other community district offices remain open and staffed during their scheduled hours of operation:

  • Allegheny Twp. Municipal Building, 136 Community Building Road, Leechburg open every Monday and Tuesday, 9:00 am − 4:00 pm;
  • Vandergrift Municipal Building, 109 Grant Avenue, Vandergrift open every Wednesday and Thursday, 9:00 am − 4:00 pm;
  • Forward Twp. Municipal Building, 1000 Golden Circle, Elizabeth open the 2nd Tuesday of every month, 9:00 am − 12:00 pm;
  • Human Services Center Corp.,413 Penn Avenue Ext., Turtle Creek open the 1st Thursday of every month, 1:00 pm − 4:00 pm.

In addition, Brewster operates full-time offices in Monroeville, McKeesport and New Kensington. 

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Legislators, County Health Department Officials Discuss Clairton Coke Works Fire, Aftermath

Legislators, County Health Department Officials Discuss Clairton Coke Works Fire, Aftermath

Brewster, Costa, Kortz, Davis receive update during morning conference call

McKeesport – January 25, 2019 – State Sens. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland), Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) and state Reps. Bill Kortz (D-Allegheny) and Austin Davis (D-Allegheny) received an update from officials from the Allegheny County Health Department concerning the Dec. 24 fire at U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works.

The update was provided during a morning conference call. 

“We had a discussion with Dr. Karen Hacker and her team at the health department about the fire and its aftermath,” Brewster said.  “Conversations will continue at a public meeting on February 7 at the Clairton Municipal Building.”

Brewster said the discussion focused on proper community notification procedures, air quality monitoring, improving communications and emergency response.  He said the county officials pledged that these issues would be covered at the February public meeting. 

The fire damaged the coke work’s gas processing system.  The fire and response were the focus of a public meeting held in Clairton earlier this week.

Brewster said that additional information would be available at a public meeting, which is a joint Senate-House Democratic Policy Committee hearing, scheduled for Feb. 7 beginning at 12 noon at the municipal building, 551 Ravensburg Boulevard, Clairton.

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Brewster: Computer Science Dedicated Funding Awarded to Local Schools

Brewster: Computer Science Dedicated Funding Awarded to Local Schools

Harrisburg, Jan. 17, 2019 – Education grants dedicated to the implementation and improvement of computer science programs and career-readiness have been awarded to schools in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, said Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland).

“As computer technology continues to evolve, it is important that students can experience and learn new computer skills first hand,” Brewster said. “I am pleased that students in our area will benefit from Pennsylvania’s grants dedicated to improving computer science programs in local schools.”

Baldwin-Whitehall, Duquesne, East Allegheny and South Allegheny in Allegheny County, along with Burrell and Kiski school districts in Westmoreland, were approved for funding through the PAsmart initiative.   The grants are for $35,000 each. 

PAsmart grants are used to fund high-quality STEM and computer science courses for K-12 students, specifically those in low-income areas where access to up-to-date STEM technology may be limited.

Brewster noted that the state’s commitment to funding innovative technology and STEM education for Pennsylvania students has resulted in the state ranking second in the country for STEM education funding.

“PAsmart grants are an excellent investment in the future of our students,” Brewster said. “We must continue to provide for educational programs and opportunities that will prepare students to enter the ever-changing, fast paced workforce.”

A total of $8.7 million were distributed to 221 school districts for 765 individual schools. 

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Brewster to Serve as Democratic Chair of Senate Law and Justice, Game and Fisheries Committees

Brewster to Serve as Democratic Chair of Senate Law and Justice, Game and Fisheries Committees

Veteran lawmaker also appointed to seats on Banking and Insurance, Education and Transportation

Harrisburg – January 16, 2019 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) has been appointed Democratic chair of the Senate Law and Justice and Game and Fisheries committees.

“Serving as chair on both Law and Justice and Game and Fisheries is an honor and privilege,” Brewster said.  “There are significant issues to be discussed and key decisions will have to be made about modernizing our liquor system and redefining game and fishing rules and regulations.”

Brewster also served as Democratic chair of both committees in the last two-year legislative session.

The veteran lawmaker was also reappointed to seats on the Senate’s Banking and Insurance, Education and Transportation committees.

“As a member of key committees that handle issues that are important to my district, I can ensure that the needs of our region are served well,” Brewster said. 

On education, Brewster has led the effort to reform charter schools.  He has fought for additional dollars for education and plans to reintroduce his “Extraction for Education” severance tax plan that will provide dollars not only to bolster basic education, but also to fund school safety initiatives.

Brewster was appointed as an inaugural member of the statewide School Safety and Security Committee established under Act 44 in 2018.

“There are key problems in education that need to be fixed,” Brewster said.  “I’ve sponsored bills to reform charter schools, aid school safety initiatives and ensure that we have more resources for our children to learn.”

The McKeesport lawmaker said his appointment to the Transportation Committee will ensure that issues that arise relative to the construction of the Mon-Fayette Expressway and mass transit will be addressed.  Brewster has long been an advocate of the Mon-Fayette Expressway and rapid expansion of mass transit into underserved areas.  He currently serves as secretary of the Port Authority of Allegheny County Board of Directors. 

“Building and expanding the reach of transportation systems that serve eastern Allegheny and western Westmoreland counties, plus meeting the unique needs of the Mon and Allegheny Valleys continues to be a priority,” Brewster said. 

Prior to his election to the Senate, Brewster served as mayor of McKeesport, and was formerly Vice-President of Operations at Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh. 

Brewster said his appointment to a seat on the Banking and Insurance Committee provides an opportunity to utilize his expertise and experience in banking to have significant impact on crafting better banking laws.

Brewster said his legislative agenda is chalk full of important initiatives.  In addition to his charter school reform package and severance tax piece, Brewster has advocated changing game laws to allow hunting on Sundays and more financial support for the Game Commission.  He has introduced a far-reaching plan to address the opioid crisis, including mandatory treatment for those addicted. 

In addition, Brewster has prime sponsored legislation to promote the use of American made steel in Marcellus Shale drilling and improve pipeline safety.  Several years ago, Brewster spearheaded a study of the country of origin for steel pipe used in drilling.  

He said he will introduce legislation to invest new dollars in environmental protection and school safety.  

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Brewster: Education Partnership Grants Approved for Technical Career Training

Brewster: Education Partnership Grants Approved for Technical Career Training

Harrisburg – January 16, 2019 – Education Partnership Grants to improve technical career training have been approved for projects in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, said Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland).

Westmoreland/Fayette Business Education Partnership and Three Rivers were approved for grant funding to help implement programs that will demonstrate the importance of technical careers to students and help those interested in technical careers prepare for post-secondary education and apprenticeship opportunities.

“STEM and technical careers are essential to our local and state economy,” Brewster said. “It is important that we continue to fund education programs that offer students pathways into these career fields.”

Westmoreland/Fayette Business Education Partnership was awarded $127,050 to develop technology projects and interactive programs that will allow students to explore and prepare for post-secondary education and careers within the STEM field. The programs, which will serve 600 K-12 students in the Westmoreland and Fayette area, will include both classroom and work-based learning opportunities.

Three Rivers in Allegheny was awarded $115,641 to implement a three-phase conference and networking program that will showcase careers in the building and construction industry.

“Providing students with the opportunity to explore more careers and the chance to gain hands-on experience is a great educational investment,” Brewster said.  “I am happy that these local programs have been awarded the funds to help students see more options available to them in their future.”

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Democratic State Senators Seek Spark to Ignite Manufacturing Expansion

Democratic State Senators Seek Spark to Ignite Manufacturing Expansion

Brewster, Hughes, Yudichak to introduce comprehensive legislative package

Harrisburg – January 11, 2019 – Three Democratic state senators today announced a comprehensive package of legislation aimed at sparking a rapid and sustained expansion of Pennsylvania’s manufacturing sector. 

State Sens. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland), Vincent J. Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) and John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) said they will sponsor legislation that would better focus state efforts to develop manufacturing opportunities and create jobs.   

“We need to focus our efforts and address all aspects of economic development, including manufacturing,” Hughes said.  “We have to do better coordinating our efforts, funding job training, purchasing new equipment and investing in communities in need.

“Manufacturing is a large and important part of our economy and it needs to continue to grow and develop. Our urban and rural areas are heavily dependent on this sector of our economy.”  

According to the Center for Manufacturing Research, 12 percent of Pennsylvania’s gross state product is directly related to manufacturing with more than 550,000 workers engaged.   Manufactured products account for $33 billion annually in exports. 

Yudichak’s legislation calls for the creation of a “Chief Manufacturing Officer” within the governor’s office and a “Manufacturing Competitiveness Board” to help craft an overall manufacturing strategy. 

“A chief manufacturing officer would serve as a strong advocate for manufacturing at the highest level of state government,” Yudichak said.  “The individual who serves in that position should be well-schooled in the development of manufacturing strategies, especially as it relates to rural areas.”

A key aspect of growing the manufacturing sector is having capital on hand to help businesses invest in new equipment and training.  Brewster’s legislation would channel up to $5 million in state grants for vocational technical schools, vocational programs and equipment purchases from the state’s Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund.   The proposal would increase the maximum loan amount from $5 million to $7.5 million and authorize loans to retrofit equipment. 

“This grant program is essential for vocational schools and small businesses,” Brewster said.  “The grants would allow schools to purchase state-of-the-art equipment to train a new generation of skilled workers.”

Over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed, and 2 million are expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap, according to Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute.

Hughes’ legislation would expand the Manufacturing Tax Credit by lifting the credit cap to $12.5 million from its current $4 million.  A portion of the tax credit – up to $2.5 million – would be set aside for businesses in distressed communities.  It would also be used for disadvantaged, minority, women and veteran-owned businesses. 

Brewster said that the investment in manufacturing pays dividends for Pennsylvania’s workers.  The average annual compensation for manufacturing employees in Pennsylvania in 2016 was $72,151. The average statewide salary for non-manufacturing and nonfarm business in Pennsylvania in 2016 was $49,059, according to National Association of Manufactures – State Data. 

“We must have investments in manufacturing to ensure that Pennsylvania has a well-rounded and diverse economy,” Brewster said.  Brewster’s Senate district includes many areas dependent on heavy manufacturing operations in the Monongahela and Allegheny River valley’s in Allegheny and Westmorland Counties.

Yudichak, who is from Northeast Pennsylvania, has a diverse district that includes manufacturing operations in cities and rural areas.  He said it was critical that Pennsylvania policy stay current with national and international economics. 

“A small manufacturing business, often located in a rural area, produces products that are used in goods manufactured all over the world,” Yudichak said. 

The changing world economic landscape has altered how manufacturing is being developed and sustained in the United States.  In 2015, compared to urban areas, manufacturing represented a greater share of both private nonfarm rural jobs (14 percent vs. 7 percent) and rural earnings (21 percent vs. 11 percent) according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

While the legislation was also introduced last session, the Democratic senators said they are hopeful they can advance the legislative package this year.  They said will question state officials about their commitment to manufacturing during the upcoming budget hearings. 

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Brewster Announces $223,000 in Funding for Allegheny County Airport

Brewster Announces $223,000 in Funding for Allegheny County Airport

Harrisburg – Dec. 6, 2018 – Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin is slated to receive a $223,000 grant to acquire equipment for the airport facility, Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) announced today.

“The Allegheny County Airport is a tremendous asset and an important part of the region’s transportation network,” Brewster said. “The grant funds will be utilized to buy equipment and support operations at the facility.”

The funding was approved through the state Department of Transportation’s Aviation Development Program.  The Allegheny County Airport is one of 26-grants approved statewide for aviation projects. Over $6 million was approved for aviation projects in this funding round. 

“The airport serves the entire economy of southwestern Pennsylvania and will grow in importance when other key local economic projects – such as the Mon-Fayette Expressway – are completed,” Brewster said. “A first-rate airport is a strong economic tool that can be used to attract other development and jobs.”

Brewster said that funding for the grants is generated through the state’s jet fuel tax and the multimodal fund. 

Brewster is a member of the Senate Transportation Committee. 

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Brewster: Conservation Partnership Grants Approved for Area Projects

Brewster: Conservation Partnership Grants Approved for Area Projects

Harrisburg – Nov. 16, 2018 – Several state grants were approved to fund conservation partnership projects in Monroeville, Brentwood and Glassport in addition to the Great Allegheny Passage in Elizabeth Township and Lincoln Borough, state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today. 

“These grants will not only open up areas for recreation, but they will enhance a community’s quality of life,” Brewster said.  “Citizens from the area will be able to enjoy greater access to open space, have improved recreational areas, site improvements, facilities and public walkways.”

The grants include the following:

  • Allegheny Land Trust: $20,000 is earmarked toward the acquisition of 30 acres in Monroeville for open space and recreation;
  • Brentwood Borough: $697,600 to revitalize the Brentwood Community Park including the reconstruction of the swimming pool, liner, piping, fencing, ADA access, landscaping and other site improvements;
  • Glassport Borough: $40,000 to develop the 9th Street Park including walkways, pavilions, fencing, ADA access and other site improvements;
  • Great Allegheny Passage in Elizabeth Township and Lincoln Borough: $170,500 to Regional Trail Corporation to rehabilitate 9.8 miles of trail from Buena Vista to Durabond bypass.  The project includes installation of gates, ADA access and other improvements.   

Brewster said the grants were approved through the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Community Conservation Partnership Program.  Partnership grants are funded through a mix of state and federal sources. 

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Brewster: Home Heating Assistance Now Available

Brewster: Home Heating Assistance Now Available

Harrisburg – Nov. 5, 2018 –State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) reminds residents that home heating assistance is available through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

“We have started to experience cold weather in the area as the winter months approach,” Brewster said. “LIHEAP is a lifeline for families who are struggling to afford home heating costs.”

The application process for LIHEAP began on November 1, 2018 and will end April 12, 2019.

Brewster said residents who can benefit from the program should apply now, before the start of winter.   He said that his office staff can help residents determine if they are income-eligible for assistance.

“I encourage those who are eligible to apply sooner, rather than later, to ensure their homes will be heated through the winter season.”

Brewster said that staff in his district offices in Monroeville, McKeesport and New Kensington are available to assist residents with the application process and answer any questions they may have regarding the program.

More than 300,000 households statewide received home heating assistance through LIHEAP in the 2017-2018 season.

Information on the program and the guidelines to apply are available through the Department of Human Services at http://www.dhs.pa.gov/citizens/heatingassistanceliheap/index.htm.

Brewster Announces $450,000 in School Safety and Security Grants

Brewster Announces $450,000 in School Safety and Security Grants

McKeesport – Oct. 30, 2018 – Sen. Jim Brewster (D- Allegheny/Westmoreland) announced today that $450,000 in School Safety and Security grants were awarded to various school districts in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.  The grant funding was authorized by the School Safety and Security Committee within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

“Pushing resources out to schools quickly was one of the top priorities of the School Safety and Security Committee,” Brewster said. “Districts can use the funds to help protect students and make our school buildings safer and more secure.” 

Brewster is a member of the School Safety and Security Committee.  He was appointed earlier this year.

Local school districts that received the $25,000 grant allocation include:

  • Baldwin-Whitehall School District (Allegheny County)
  • Brentwood Borough School District (Allegheny County)
  • Clairton City School District (Allegheny County)
  • Duquesne City School District (Allegheny County)
  • East Allegheny School District (Allegheny County)
  • Elizabeth Forward School District (Allegheny County)
  • Gateway School District (Allegheny County)
  • McKeesport Area School District (Allegheny County)
  • Plum Borough School District (Allegheny County)
  • South Allegheny School District (Allegheny County)
  • West Mifflin Area School District (Allegheny County)
  • Woodland Hills School District (Allegheny County)
  • West Jefferson School District (Allegheny County)
  • Burrell School District (Westmoreland County)
  • Kiski Area School District (Westmoreland County)
  • New Kensington-Arnold School District (Westmoreland County)
  • Leechburg Area School District (Westmoreland County)
  • Penn-Trafford Area School District (Westmoreland County)

Gov. Tom Wolf signed Act 44 into law in June of 2018 which established the School Safety and Security Committee. The committee was charged with developing criteria for school safety and security assessments along with issues surveys to measure their safety and security preparedness.  It also administers grants to schools to improve safety and security.

There was a total of $52.5 million allocated to the School Safety and Security Grant Program for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

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Brewster: Legislation to Help Ambulance Services Awaits Govs Signature

Brewster: Legislation to Help Ambulance Services Awaits Govs Signature

Harrisburg – Oct. 24, 2018 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today that legislation to help ambulance services recoup costs of responding to emergencies is set to become law. 

“This legislation will financially help ambulance companies who respond to emergencies,” Brewster said.  “Insurance companies will no longer be able to expose emergency responders to costs simply because services were refused.”

Brewster said that the legislation (House Bill 1013) passed unanimously in the Senate and state House of Representatives in the last week of session.  The bill was presented to the governor for his signature into law on Oct. 17.

“This is clearly a step forward in the effort to help our local first responders,” Brewster said.  “Ambulance services respond to emergencies regardless of cost and they should not bear the responsibility if an insurance company determines that medical help was not necessary.”

Brewster has long been a supporter of emergency services.  He said that his experience in local government underscored his appreciation for the work of emergency responders.

“Emergency responders put their lives on the line to help others,” Brewster said.  “This new law will help them continue their life-saving work.”

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Brewster: Grant Targets Runoff Pollution from Round Hill Park in Elizabeth Township

Brewster: Grant Targets Runoff Pollution from Round Hill Park in Elizabeth Township

Harrisburg – Oct. 18, 2018 – A $40,000 grant has been approved for the Allegheny County Conservation District to reduce pollution runoff from Round Hill Park in Elizabeth Township, according to state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland).

“Reducing pollution runoff requires focus and resources,” Brewster said.  “The grant to fund work at Round Hill Park will improve the environment and eliminate pollutants that get into our water systems.”

Brewster said the funds are made available from a legal settlement with Sunoco related to the Mariner East 2 pipeline project.  There were 61 projects approved to receive a piece of the $12.6 million settlement. 

The Sunoco settlement funds were awarded not only for pollution abatement, but also for invasive species removal, reforestation, farm runoff and other projects designed to address water quality. 

Brewster said he would continue to seek funds for other critical environmental projects in the region. 

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Brewster: Recycling Grants Headed for Baldwin and New Kensington

Brewster: Recycling Grants Headed for Baldwin and New Kensington

Harrisburg – Oct. 12, 2018 – Baldwin Borough in Allegheny County and New Kensington in Westmoreland County are set to receive grants to support their recycling efforts, according to state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland).

Baldwin will receive $264,681 and New Kensington $98,716.

“Recycling grants help municipalities deal effectively with reducing waste and extending the life of landfills,” Brewster said.  “Recycling helps the environment and provides a way to remove waste.

“Recycling is a win for municipalities, citizens and the environment.”

The Wolf Administration said today that $37 million will be distributed to nearly 200 local and county governments for recycling efforts. 

Brewster said the funds can be used not only to bolster recycling, but funds may also be employed in leaf litter collection and education.

“I am pleased that this grant funding was approved and certain that it will be put to good use in New Kensington and Baldwin,” Brewster said. 

The lawmaker said that the funds were approved under the Department of Environmental Protection’s Recycling Development and Implementation Grant program.

Under the program, municipalities are eligible for up to 90 percent funding. 

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Local Fire Companies Awarded Grants to Guard Against Wildfires, Brewster says

Local Fire Companies Awarded Grants to Guard Against Wildfires, Brewster says

Dravosburg, Elizabeth Volunteer Fire Companies Receive Grants 

Harrisburg – Oct. 9, 2018 — Two local fire companies In the Mon Valley were awarded grants to help combat wildfires in state forests and undeveloped areas, according to state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland).

Dravosburg Volunteer Fire Department No. 1 is slated to receive $2,775 and Elizabeth Volunteer Fire Co. $10,000 to respond to wildfires. 

“Our volunteer fire companies do an extraordinary job in responding to fires and emergency situations, not only in built up areas but also in forests and more rural regions,” Brewster said.  “These grants will help equip firefighters and provide training in dealing with forest or brush fires.”

There were 132 grants for fire companies approved statewide.  The total grant funding available this year is $646,891.

Since 1982, more than $12.5 million in grant funding has been approved.  The funding was received through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

“We simply must do more to support our fire services,” Brewster said.  “These dollars will be put to good use in both Dravosburg and Elizabeth.”

Brewster said fires in forests and undeveloped areas are difficult to manage and often require special equipment and training. 

“These grants are a tool that we can use to help local fire companies save lives and property,” Brewster said. 

Last year, nearly $600,000 in grant funding was released to 129 volunteer fire companies. 

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Sen. Brewster Announces Area School Safety Grants

Sen. Brewster Announces Area School Safety Grants

McKeesport – October 4, 2018 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) today announced a total of $154,000 in state grants to improve safety and security in local schools.

“This funding will help establish safety programs, hire additional security personnel and purchase security-related equipment,” Brewster said. “I’m pleased with this round of state support and will continue to seek additional dollars to make our schools safer and more secure.”

The statewide grants were announced today by the state Department of Education following a report issued by the recently-established Pennsylvania School Safety Task Force. Brewster was the first state lawmaker to call for such a statewide task force, which provides an encompassing review of school safety procedures and makes recommendations for improvements.

Local schools receiving funds today include:

  • $20,000 for the McKeesport School District (violence prevention program);
  • $30,000 Baldwin-Whitehall School District (hire/train school security officers);
  • $30,000 Plum Borough School District (hire/train school security officers);
  • $30,000 Elizabeth Forward School District (hire/train school security officers);
  • $30,000 Allegheny Township (hire/train school security officers)
  • $14,000 for the Westinghouse Arts Academy (equipment);

Brewster said another round of grant funds will be coming from the new $60 million School Safety and Security Grant program he supported in this year’s state fiscal budget. Those grants will be administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD). The deadline for schools to apply for the PCCD grants is Oct. 12.

“Following the tragic school shooting in Florida last year, I am pleased to see that local schools are working to bolster school security and safety,” Brewster said. “It is imperative that we continue taking steps to provide a safe and positive learning environment for all students.”

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Brewster Hails $3 million for Steel Valley Trail, McKeesport Multimedia Center, City Parking Garage

Brewster Hails $3 million for Steel Valley Trail, McKeesport Multimedia Center, City Parking Garage

Transportation grant validates Brewster’s work in seeking significant investment

Harrisburg – Oct. 2, 2018 – Nearly $3 million in grant funding will help bolster downtown McKeesport, expand the Steel Valley Trail, connect the new Multimedia Center and fund improvements to the city’s parking garage, state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) announced today. 

“This massive investment will yield tremendous benefits for years to come,” Brewster said.  “We aggressively sought state funding to help the city transform its downtown, tie-in new development with an expansion of the trail, enhance tourism and rehabilitate nearby parking to attract more visitors to the city.”

The $2.9 million state multimodal grant to McKeesport was one of 43 approved statewide.

Brewster said he envisions the development of a secure, lighted elevated track that encompasses an area along the RIDC property that will generate foot and bike traffic and add to the work now being done at the former Daily News building.  He said the new Multimedia Center will be a focus point of activity. 

“This is incredibly exciting news for the region,” Brewster said.  “The expansion of the trail, coupled with the new energy and activity at the center — including excellent access to nearby parking –creates even more commercial opportunities in the city.”

Brewster credited Gov. Tom Wolf for approving the funds for the project.  He said McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko along with the many officials involved in the effort to bring the former Daily News building back should be extremely pleased with the funding.   He said the officials worked exceptionally hard to bring dollars and development back to the city’s center.

“This is a big development project for the downtown area,” Brewster said.  “Now, it is up to all the officials involved to effectively use the state grant funding to complete the critical work and make the next phase of the development a success.”

Brewster said the trail expansion and new multimedia center will generate additional commercial activity it the vicinity of the trail and in the downtown area.  He said there will be substantial spinoff benefits once the grant funding is applied and the area improved. 

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Brewster, Davis Host Senior Wellness Expo in McKeesport

Brewster, Davis Host Senior Wellness Expo in McKeesport

McKeesport, Sept. 19, 2018 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) and Rep. Austin Davis (D-Allegheny) will host a Senior Wellness and Safety Expo in McKeesport on Thursday, Sept. 27.

The Expo will be held at the McKeesport Palisades at 100 Fifth Avenue in McKeesport. The event will open at 10:30 a.m. and close at 1:00 p.m.

“Helping seniors in the community connect with services and benefits that assist them is a top priority,” Brewster said. “By hosting events such as this we are able to increase awareness and provide access to many community services that improve the well-being of Pennsylvania seniors.”

“This event will highlight community services, opportunities, and assistance for seniors,” Davis said. “We encourage seniors and their families to attend the expo for the chance to discuss and find more information on a variety of programs available in the community.”

Services and organizations at the expo will include offering free flu shots, available without proof of insurance, and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Outreach Unit to connect veterans with available services.

More information on the September 27 expo is available at Brewster’s district offices.  His offices are located at One Monroeville Center, 3824 Northern Pike, Suite 1015, Monroeville (Phone: 412-380-2242); 201 Lysle Boulevard, Suite 100, McKeesport (Phone: 412-664-5200); and New Kensington City Hall, 301 11th Street, Suite L, New Kensington (Phone: 724-334-1143).

Davis’ district offices at 627 Lysle Blvd, McKeesport (Phone: 412-664-0035), 3910 Main Street, Suite 5, Munhall (Phone: 412-476-3046), and 551 Ravensburg Blvd, Clairton (Phone: 412-233-2505).

 

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McKeesport Receives Gun Violence Reduction Program Funds, Brewster says

McKeesport Receives Gun Violence Reduction Program Funds, Brewster says

Harrisburg – Sept. 7, 2018 – Finding new ways to reduce gun violence remains a top priority for cities and communities, state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today following the announcement that McKeesport received $149,999 in state funds to help reduce gun violence.

“The funding will allow McKeesport to deploy even more resources in the fight against gun violence,” Brewster said.  “The city has been working in concert with law enforcement, the housing authority, school district and other entities on strategies to halt gun violence.”

Brewster, who formerly served on council and as mayor of McKeesport, is currently the chair of the city’s housing authority.  He said he knows the importance of using all resources to combat gun violence. 

The funding will be channeled to the city through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency for the McKeesport Gun Violence Reduction Program.  The state dollars will be used to employ proactive policing, intervention strategies, community outreach and aspects of community policing.

Grant funding can be used for personnel, equipment and consulting.

Gov. Tom Wolf said today that seven other municipalities, in addition to McKeesport, have been awarded grants.  A total of $1.5 million was released for the program. 

“As a former councilman, mayor, chair of the housing authority, and ranking member of the Senate’s Law and Justice Committee, I realize the incredible challenges cities, school districts, and housing authorities face in dealing with gun violence,” Brewster said.  “State resources combined with local initiative can help save lives and protect communities.”

Brewster said he is pleased that the grant was approved and will work to help make more state resources available to fund additional local safety programs.  He said that the efforts of his office, McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko, District Attorney Steve Zappala, state Rep. Austin Davis (D-Allegheny) and other local officials in finding funding to support anti-gun violence initiatives are critically important. 

“My hope is that the anti-gun violence grant program can be expanded so that more communities facing gun violence challenges are able to receive assistance,” Brewster said. 

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Brewster Secures $500,000 in Funding for Marine and Rail Terminals in Glassport

Brewster Secures $500,000 in Funding for Marine and Rail Terminals in Glassport

Harrisburg – Sept. 6, 2018 – A $500,000 state grant for environmental upgrades at the Three Rivers Marine and Rail Terminals in Glassport has been secured by state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland).

“This is an important project for the facility,” Brewster said.  “The grant will be used to ensure that the environmental upgrades to the ponds on site meet all state standards.”

Brewster said the project includes synthetic liners and outfalls for two ponds.  He said that officials at Three Rivers Marine and Rail Terminals have worked with state and county environmental officials to ensure that all requirements are met. 

“The redevelopment of our region, including the growth of business and jobs, requires state investment,” Brewster said.  “Finding state resources to complete local projects will pay dividends for years to come.”

Brewster said that the funding was approved through the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. 

Brewster said that he, along with state Rep. Bill Kortz (D-Allegheny) who represents Glassport in the state House of Representatives, know the importance of securing state funding of local projects.  He said he and Kortz actively seek funding from various state programs, including those on the state’s capital budget.   

The senator said that Gov. Tom Wolf was instrumental in helping find the dollars for the grant. 

“The governor has stepped up and worked to fund important grants for worthwhile projects,” Brewster said. 

The state Department of Environmental Protection has worked closely with Three Rivers Marine and Rail Terminal on the project.

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Brewster: Grant Funds to Aid Renovation at Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics in West Mifflin

Brewster: Grant Funds to Aid Renovation at Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics in West Mifflin

Harrisburg – Sept. 5, 2018 – The Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics (PIA) in West Mifflin has been awarded a $500,000 state grant to aid renovations of the campus, according to state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland).

“Facilities at the PIA campus in West Mifflin will be significantly improved as a result of these new state funds,” Brewster said.  “PIA is a well-established school dedicated to training students for jobs in aviation.

“These new dollars will help the institute continue its critical mission.”

The funding will be used to renovate several areas on the campus.  The rehabilitation project includes new entry doors, building upgrades, reconfiguration of the learning center, replacement of the HVAC system, as well as lighting and technology improvements.

The funding has been earmarked through the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.

Brewster credited the governor with seeing the value of the project. 

“The governor’s support of this project was critical, and I am pleased that he was engaged and delivered the funding,” Brewster said. 

Brewster said that both he and state Rep. Bill Kortz (D-Allegheny) who serve West Mifflin and the surrounding areas are strong supporters of PIA.  He said they welcome more state investment for the school because of the job opportunities that are created for its students. 

The estimated total cost of the project is $1.3 million. 

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Vietnam Veterans “Wall That Heals” Memorial

Vietnam Veterans “Wall That Heals” Memorial

McKeesport – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) visited “The Wall That Heals” Vietnam Veterans Memorial Replica and Mobile Education Center in McKeesport’s Renziehausen Park.

Funded by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the Wall That Heals is a three-quarter sized replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C.

The Wall was escorted to its place in Renziehausen Park on Aug. 7 by more than 200 motorcycle riders and police.  The procession began at 5 p.m. at Olympia Shopping Center in McKeesport and moved to the park where wall setup began on Aug. 8.

The wall is displayed at Jimmy Long Field in Renziehausen Park from until Sunday, Aug. 12.  The opening ceremony was at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 9.  At the opening ceremony, a pinning presentation honored more than 40 Vietnam veterans

Reading of the names took place at various times on Aug. 10 and Aug. 11.

The closing ceremony will be on Sunday, Aug. 12 at 11 a.m.   Admission is free, and visitors are welcome around the clock.

Brewster Thanks Arway For Service on Fish Commission

Harrisburg – Aug. 3, 2018 – State Senate Democratic Game and Fisheries Committee chair Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) today praised retiring Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director John Arway for being a leader on environmental issues and a friend to anglers in Pennsylvania.  

Arway recently said that he will retire in November.  He has been with the commission for 38 years and served as its executive director since 2010. 

Brewster’s comments follow:

“I have had the great fortune to work with John Arway as a result of my committee responsibilities.  He has always been the consummate professional.  John is committed to helping preserve outdoor recreation opportunities and promoting fishing for anglers of all ages. 

“In John’s nearly two generations with the commission, he has left a lasting imprint.  His leadership, skill and dedication have been appreciated.  During his tenure, he had to deal with many tough issues and fiscal challenges, yet he kept the mission of the commission in focus.

“My thanks to John for his years of service and my best wishes for a happy, fulfilling retirement.”

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“The Wall That Heals” is Coming to Renziehausen Park in McKeesport

“The Wall That Heals” is Coming to Renziehausen Park in McKeesport

McKeesport – Aug. 1, 2018 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today that “The Wall That Heals” Vietnam Veterans Memorial Replica and Mobile Education Center is coming to McKeesport’s Renziehausen Park.

Funded by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the Wall That Heals is a three-quarter sized replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C.

The Wall will be escorted to its place in Renziehausen Park on Aug. 7 by more than 200 motorcycle riders and police.  The procession will begin at 5 p.m. at Olympia Shopping Center in McKeesport and move to the park where wall setup will begin on Aug. 8.

The wall will be displayed at Jimmy Long Field in Renziehausen Park from Thursday Aug. 9 to Sunday Aug. 12.  The opening ceremony will be at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 9.  At the opening ceremony, there will be a pinning presentation honoring more than 40 Vietnam veterans

Reading of the names will take place at various times on Aug. 10 and Aug. 11.

The closing ceremony will be on Sunday, Aug. 12 at 11 a.m.   Admission is free, and visitors are welcome around the clock. 

What:                  “The Wall that Heals”

When:                 Opening Ceremony, Thursday Aug. 9 at 6:30 p.m.

Where:               Jimmy Long Field, Renziehausen Park | 2100 Eden Park Boulevard | McKeesport, PA

 

Brewster: “Green Light-Go” Grants Awarded to Monroeville, Versailles and White Oak

Brewster: “Green Light-Go” Grants Awarded to Monroeville, Versailles and White Oak

Harrisburg – July 12, 2018 – Over $1 million in grant funding has been approved for three local municipalities to pay for traffic signal improvements and enhanced safety at heavily used intersections, according to state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland).

PennDOT’s “Green Light-Go” funding was approved for Monroeville ($226,709), Versailles ($265,191) and White Oak ($601,808) in Allegheny County.  The program is designed to reimburse local municipalities for signal upgrades and intersection safety improvements. 

“These grants funds will help our local communities improve safety and security in heavily used intersections,” Brewster said.  “Protecting motorists and pedestrians, while improving traffic flow, is critical.

“Our communities are committed to making investments that will positively impact motorists and pedestrians for years to come.” 

Monroeville’s grant funding is earmarked for traffic signal upgrades at Monroeville Boulevard and Wyngate Road.  Versailles will use the funds to replace outdated equipment and install new technology to aid first responders at two intersections in the borough. 

The grant for White Oak will address issues at six intersections.  The funds are targeted for equipment upgrades related to vehicular and pedestrian traffic and helping first responders manage intersections in the borough.  

Seventy municipalities shared in the $31 million that was distributed in this round of funding.

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Senators Jim Brewster and Jay Costa Statement on Antwon Rose

Senators Jim Brewster and Jay Costa Statement on Antwon Rose

Any loss of life is tragic, and especially so when the victim is so young – like Antwon Rose was. When our police are involved in an incident like this, it is imperative that there be a detailed, thorough and transparent review. We join others in the community in calling for the District Attorney to begin such a process. Our hearts go out to the family, friends and classmates of Antwon Rose. The death of a child is an unimaginable horror, and we cannot fully grasp their pain.

Brewster: School Building Security Features Must be Installed or No State Reimbursement

Brewster: School Building Security Features Must be Installed or No State Reimbursement

Harrisburg – March 27, 2018 – Hundreds of millions of dollars per year are committed to school construction and rehabilitation projects in Pennsylvania; and if Sen. Jim Brewster’s (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) new legislation is approved, there would be no state reimbursement for buildings that are not equipped with state-of-the-art school safety features. 

“Given the tragic school shootings, we have to explore all ways of improving school safety and keeping our children safe,” Brewster said.  “New or refurbished school buildings must be equipped with state-of-the-art safety features to prevent trespass, stop assailants and secure space for children.”

Brewster’s legislation would prohibit state reimbursement for any school building construction or rehabilitation through Pennsylvania’s “PlanCon” process unless baseline safety elements are included in the plans. PlanCon is the acronym for the state’s Planning and Construction Workbook where school districts are reimbursed for approved school construction projects.

Brewster said the installation of safety stops, emergency lights and panic buttons, impenetrable strong glass, secure access points and surveillance cameras should be part of a “school security blanket.” 

“Specific baseline school safety features would be approved through a statewide school safety panel so that experts would have the opportunity to express their ideas about best practices,” Brewster said. 

The western Pennsylvania lawmaker is sponsoring legislation to create an 11-member commission that would be responsible for recommending new policies and procedures to protect students.  He said recommendations related to school building safety is a perfect example of why a statewide commission is necessary. 

“School districts are working exceptionally hard to protect students, but new, sophisticated threats require a fresh approach to school building safety,” Brewster said.   “Taxpayers, students, teachers and administrators should be confident that a school building is protected from external and internal threats.”

Brewster said his proposal is a commonsense idea that can be quickly and easily implemented.  He expects to introduce the measure within the next several weeks. 

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Brewster: Grant Approved for Solar Energy Program in West Mifflin

Brewster: Grant Approved for Solar Energy Program in West Mifflin

Harrisburg- March 16, 2018 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D- Allegheny/Westmoreland) announced today that Extra Space Management, Inc. of West Mifflin Borough in Allegheny County will receive a $84,176 grant for the installation of a rooftop photovoltaic power generation facility (solar panels) on the roof of their self-storage facility.

“Pennsylvania has abundant natural resources — solar being just one of them. I am pleased that we can earmark state grant money so local businesses can access energy efficient technologies,” Brewster said.

Extra Space Management will be using the Solar Energy Program funds to engineer, purchase, and install the solar photovoltaic system on their roof. The total cost of the project is $269,588, with Extra Space Management providing $175,392 in matching funds for the project. The company has owned and operated managed self-storage properties across multiple states and regions since 1977.

The grant program is administered jointly by the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) under the direction of the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA).

The Solar Energy Program (SEP) provides financial assistance in the form of grant and loan funds to promote the use of solar energy in Pennsylvania. Businesses, economic development organizations, municipalities, counties and school districts are all eligible to apply for the grants.

The use of the solar photovoltaic system will provide up to 98 percent of Extra Space Management’s power demand, and will generate 106,600 kilowatts of electricity per year.

 

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Sen. Brewster Calls for Armed Security in School Buildings

Sen. Brewster Calls for Armed Security in School Buildings

McKeesport – March 9, 2018 – In the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students died, state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) today proposed placing an armed security guard at all school buildings that conduct classroom instruction.

“It is clear to me that we need to have an armed security officer in each school building where classroom instruction is taking place,” Brewster said.  “Students must be better protected.

“Parents deserve assurance that school buildings are safe and secure environments.”

Brewster said his plan to add armed security to each school building would be part of a menu of school safety ideas considered by his proposed statewide school security panel.  Last week, Brewster called for the creation of the panel to examine school security ideas and present recommendations for safety upgrades. 

“The recent accounts of horrific school shootings where students have been killed or wounded by armed assailants — should prompt action by lawmakers,” Brewster said.  “A statewide school safety panel could evaluate a range of ideas and use proposals from experts on safety and security.

“There have a been many ideas offered about how we can improve school safety,” the McKeesport lawmaker said. “We need to be open-minded and willing to consider both conventional and non-conventional school safety proposals.” 

Brewster said metal detectors, automatic emergency doorstops, police call buttons and other security ideas are excellent proposals that would help secure buildings from armed assailants.  He added that armed security personnel would augment these safety initiatives. 

Brewster’s legislation would create an 11-member Statewide School Safety Panel responsible for reviewing proposed changes to strategic plans, analyzing existing safety procedures and studying new ideas, technologies and strategies. The panel would make recommendations, policy suggestions and design plans to help school officials protect students.

“There should be an ongoing panel of experts who can recommend new policies and procedures we can use to protect children in school and on buses,” Brewster said.  “We need to understand how schools are providing protection now and seek ideas about improving safety standards.

“The panel could stipulate specific training and requirements applicable to all school security officers and identify how the costs can be equitably apportioned between the state and school district,” he added. “Many schools have implemented security procedures and strategies that could be used by other schools to better protect students when there are threats.” 

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Sen. Brewster: $75,000 Approved for Local Projects to Promote PA Breweries

Sen. Brewster: $75,000 Approved for Local Projects to Promote PA Breweries

Harrisburg – February 28, 2018 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) today announced three state grants to local entities totaling $75,000 to develop and market the Pennsylvania beer industry.

“The Pennsylvania Malt and Brewed Beverages Industry continues to grow, create jobs and contribute to our economy,’ Brewster said. “I’m pleased that these state grant dollars will be used locally to foster interest in this growing industry.”

The grants include:

  • $35,000 to the Pittsburgh District of the Master Brewer’s Association of Pennsylvania for its Professional Development and Education Program: The funds will be used to provide professional speakers, technical seminars and other professional development opportunities to help local brewers improve the quality and marketing of beer;
  • $30,000 to the Pittsburgh Brewers Guild to create an innovative and interactive online and print guide for breweries across Allegheny County — focused on increased knowledge of unique local brewing traditions, tourism and economic impact. The senator discussed the grant recently with guild members at the Rivertowne Brewing Company in Export, Westmoreland County, recently; and
  • $10,000 to Hops on Lots Pittsburgh to work with the community to create of an urban hop farm to supply a local brewer that could brew a truly local beer for the community.

The grant program was established by Act 39 of 2016. These grants were part of the 13 announced statewide today.

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Brewster: State Funds Approved for Traffic Light Enforcement in Allegheny Township

Brewster: State Funds Approved for Traffic Light Enforcement in Allegheny Township

Harrisburg – February 26, 2018 – State Sen. Jim Brewster today announced $122,000 grant to upgrade traffic signals and warning devices with LEDs located throughout Allegheny Township.

“This funding program improves safety at signalized intersections through automated enforcement at locations where data shows red-light violations have been a problem,” Brewster said. “The funds should also help with safety, mobility and relieving traffic congestion.”

The Automated Red-Light Enforcement program is administered by PennDOT. The Allegheny Township grant was one of 41 issued today.

“I will continue to seek state support for projects that improve highway safety and efficiently moderate the flow of traffic,” Brewster said.

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Brewster Calls on Gov. Wolf to Go Further on Opioids and Endorse Mandatory Treatment

McKeesport – Jan. 11, 2018 – On the heels of Gov. Tom Wolf announcing a disaster declaration for the heroin and opioid epidemic, Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) today called on the governor to go even further and endorse mandatory treatment for any person charged with a non-violent crime who is treated by first responders for an overdose or addiction.

“The governor has been very aggressive in taking executive action to battle heroin and opioid abuse,” Brewster said.  “We need the governor to recognize that mandatory treatment is the most significant and effective step that can be taken to resolve the problem once and for all.”

Brewster has put his ideas concerning mandatory treatment into bill form.  He introduced a package of legislation (Senate Bills 710-712) called “Prevention, Recovery and Enforcement Act” that is designed to address each component of the crisis.  His legislation includes measures that would limit opioid prescriptions, impose mandatory treatment, and add stiff penalties for drug pushers who possess illegal guns.

“The governor’s disaster declaration will open up resources that can be used in the fight to stop opioid and heroin abuse and I am very pleased that he took this step,” Brewster said.  “It focuses energy and attention on the problem. The next phase in dealing with the crisis is getting at the root cause and addressing it through mandatory treatment of those who are treated by first responders or face criminal charges.”

Brewster said there should be both civil and criminal referrals for mandatory treatment.  He also supports Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa’s (D-Allegheny) legislation that would enable family members to seek mandatory treatment for loved ones.   

The McKeesport lawmaker said that it was clear to him that long-term mandatory treatment is necessary given the recidivism of those who complete short-term treatment regimens.  He said that testimony of experts from the medical community at Senate hearings indicates that at least nine months of treatment for those addicted is necessary. 

“Whether long-term treatment is offered at a residential treatment facility or through an intensive outpatient process that is heavily monitored, it’s clear that what is being done now is not sufficient and too many loved ones are being lost to the drug abuse,” Brewster said. 

Brewster said he realizes that there are costs involved in mandatory treatment, but noted that many patients could be covered through Medicaid and that other funds could be released through a redirection of drug forfeiture funds and savings from reduced corrections costs. 

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Brewster, YWCA Greater Pittsburgh Team Up to Help with High Heating Bills, Health Care Needs

Sign-Up Event in Braddock in December

Harrisburg – Dec. 1, 2017 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) and the YWCA Greater Pittsburgh have joined together to host an event to enroll residents who may be eligible for help in paying their heating bills, or those in need of health care through the insurance marketplace.

Brewster’s staff will be helping eligible residents sign up for the state’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  LIHEAP helps low-income individuals and families manage their home heating bills. 

In addition, a health care navigator will be on hand to enroll those interested in accessing insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

Citizens can ask questions about health insurance and, if interested, enroll in health insurance coverage through Health Insurance Marketplace.

“The weather has turned cold and many need access to health care,” Brewster said.  “I am pleased that my staff will be working with the YWCA Greater Pittsburgh to enroll those who may be eligible for assistance.”

The enrollment event will be held on Monday, Dec. 11 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Braddock Carnegie Library, 419 Library Street.  To make an appointment for assistance, please call 412- 255-1471.  Walk-ins will not be accepted after 3:30 p.m.

Eligibility for LIHEAP is determined by family income.  Those seeking assistance should bring name, date of birth, social security numbers, recent pay documents or other proof of household income and a recent heating bill.

There are two kinds of LIHEAP grants available: a cash grant sent directly to the utility company or a cash grant for those who may be without heat. 

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Brewster: Open Enrollment for Health Insurance Coverage Begins Nov. 1

Harrisburg – October 30, 2017 — Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) reminded individuals and families who need health coverage through the Affordable Care Act for 2018 that the open enrollment period begins on Nov. 1 and runs through Dec. 15.

“It is important for individuals and families to understand that they can access health care through the insurance marketplace,” Brewster said.  “With the attempted repeals of the Affordable Care Act, there has been a great deal of confusion about the future of the marketplace.  The marketplace will be open for enrollment in November.

“The fear is that those who can access health care through the marketplace will not sign up for coverage.” 

Brewster said that lawmakers need to reverse the impression that access to health care coverage is not available. 

Individuals can re-enroll or enroll for coverage by visiting HealthCare.gov or call the Marketplace Call Center 24 hours a day at 1-800-318-2596.

The Affordable Care Act has helped more than a million Pennsylvanians receive health care.  More than 700,000 individuals gained coverage through Medicaid expansion and another 400,000 purchased coverage on the individual marketplace.

According to the Wolf Administration, the state’s rate of uninsured Pennsylvanians is at 5.6 percent, its lowest level ever.

“Taking a moment of time to explore the insurance marketplace to find the right insurance plan for your family is a good investment,” Brewster said. “Health insurance provides life-saving access to care and saves individuals and families money when they face medical issues. 

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Brewster Announces District Outreach Office Locations, Dates and Times

Harrisburg – July 7, 2017 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today that he will again have outreach office hours at various locations throughout the region.

“We have had great success with our outreach offices in various parts of the district in the past, and I hope to continue making state services more accessible for the constituents throughout my district,” Brewster said. 

Brewster has permanent district offices in Monroeville, McKeesport and the Alle-Kiski Valley as well as satellite office hours in Allegheny Township, Forward Township, Turtle Creek, and Vandergrift.

The senator said that he and his staff will be on-hand to help with various state-related issues while also assisting them with completing applications for pharmaceutical assistance, senior bus passes, and state Property Tax and Rent Rebate forms.

The dates and times for Senator Brewster’s first of multiple phases of district outreach offices are in the municipal buildings of the following communities:

  • North Versailles Township: 9 a.m. – noon- July 10, August 14, September 11, October 16, November 13 and December 4
  • Borough of Pitcairn: 1 p.m.- 4 p.m.- July 18, August 22, September 19, October 24, November 21 and December 12
  • Borough of Plum: 1 p.m.- 4 p.m. – July 24, August 28, September 25, October 30, November 27 and December 18
  • Borough of Trafford: 9 a.m.-noon- July 24, August 28, September 25, October 30, November 27 and December 18
  • Borough of Turtle Creek: 9 a.m.-noon- July 17, August 21, September 18, October 23, November 20 and December 11
  • Borough of Versailles: 9 a.m.- noon- July 25, August 29, September 26, October 31, November 28 and December 19
  • Borough of Wall: 9 a.m.-noon- July 11, August 15, September 12, October 17, November 14 and December 5
  • Borough of White Oak: 1 p.m.-4 p.m. – July 25, August 29, September 26, October 31, November 28 and December 19
  • Borough of Wilmerding: 1 p.m.- 4 p.m. – July 11, August 15, September 12, October 17, November 14 and December 5

Residents can call or visit one of the senator’s district offices for assistance.  Contact information and help is also available online at www.senatorbrewster.com.

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Brewster: 2nd Annual “Going for the Goal Sprint Triathlon” Set for June 25

Harrisburg – June 21, 2017 – The 2nd Annual “Going for the Goal Sprint Triathlon” will get underway on Sunday, June 25 at 8:00 a.m. at McKeesport High School in McKeesport, Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today.  

“This event attracts exceptional athletes from all over the country to compete and experience the beauty of the Mon Valley,” Brewster said.  “While an athletic competition, the triathlon has also become an exciting way to showcase the many resources and opportunities in the McKeesport area.”           

The triathlon consists of three events: 300-yard swim in the high school swimming pool, 8.5-mile bike ride through the Great Allegheny Passage trail and a 5K run through beautiful Renziehausen Park.  

If you are interested in signing up, individually or as a team, simply go to www.parunners.com to register. Same day registrations will also be accepted. Any questions contact Event Coordinator Alison Piccolino at 412-398-1256.    

The triathlon will benefit the McKeesport Trail Commission and programs operated by the McKeesport-White Oak Kiwanis. 

Brewster has partnered with the McKeesport Hospital Foundation, McKeesport Area School District, City of McKeesport, the McKeesport Trail Commission and McKeesport-White Oak Kiwanis to put the program together.   

“There has been a lot of teamwork involved by all partners and supporters of the triathlon,” Brewster said.  “We have worked together to create a health and wellness event that people of all ages can enjoy.” 

This year’s “Going for the Goal Sprint Triathlon” will also be the kick-off for “Live Well City of McKeesport”.  

This initiative made possible by the City of McKeesport and McKeesport Area School District’s collaboration with the Allegheny County Health Department’s Live Well Allegheny campaign.  

This initiative focuses on bringing awareness to building healthy lifestyles for all residents in the city. County Executive Rich Fitzgerald will be joining the event this year to congratulate the community on focusing on an important county campaign while also cheering on the triathlon participants.  

“We are all looking forward to a competition that harnesses the energy of the region, creates good will for local residents and highlights the growth of the area,” Brewster said.   

The triathlon has significant local support from businesses and community groups.   

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Television Program Features Discussion of Opioid Crisis, Brewster’s Legislation

Harrisburg – June 19, 2017 – The “Pennsylvania Report” featuring state Sen. Jim Brewster is focused on the state’s opioid and heroin crisis and Brewster’s legislation to effectively deal with the epidemic.

“We need to find new ways to address the opioid crisis” Brewster said.  “My approach is comprehensive in scope and depth and will tackle the problem on multiple levels.”

 

The senator’s legislation (Senate Bills 710, 711 and 712) includes mandatory treatment for addicts, a limitation on the total milligrams of opioids that may be prescribed per patient and new, tough sentences for drug dealers who possess illegal weapons. 

Jason Snyder, special assistant to the Pennsylvania secretary of the Department of Human Services, was a guest on the program and offered his expertise about the opioid crisis and detailed how policymakers have responded with new laws and legislative initiatives.  He also commented on the ways the epidemic can be dealt with in the future and how family members can seek help for a loved one who is addicted.  

The “Pennsylvania Report” can be viewed by going to Brewster’s website or it will be available on Greensburg, Penn Hills, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Suburban and Tarentum cable outlets Sunday evenings on channel 190 at 8 p.m. beginning on June 25.

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Brewster to Host Senior Wellness and Safety Expo in Lower Burrell

Harrisburg – April 1, 2016 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) is sponsoring a senior wellness and safety expo on April 7 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the V.F.W. Post 92 Wildlife Lodge Banquet Hall in Lower Burrell.

The V.F.W. Post 92 Wildlife Lodge Banquet Hall is located at 1601 Wildlife Lodge Road in Lower Burrell.

Click on image to download flyer.

Click on image to download flyer.

“Wellness and safety expos present opportunities for seniors and their families to learn about a wide variety of services while also taking advantage of numerous health screenings that are available on site,” Brewster said. “By hosting a senior wellness and safety expo in Lower Burrell, area residents will not have to travel far and have easy access to screenings and services.

“The expo will also provide an excellent opportunity for area residents to find information that is helpful.”

Services will include blood pressure checks, balance screenings, massages, and hearing screenings. Brewster said that in addition to free information and health screenings, both the Pennsylvania Mobile Veteran Service Van and the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf Mobile Unit will be on hand.

Those interested in more information about the expo can contact any of Senator Brewster’s district offices or visit his website at www.SenatorBrewster.com

Senator Brewster’s district office telephone numbers are 412-380-2242 (Monroeville), 412- 664-5200 (McKeesport) and 724-334-1143 (New Kensington).

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Republican Stopgap Budget a Non-Starter, Brewster says

Harrisburg – Sept. 18, 2015 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today that the Senate Republican stopgap budget plan is a non-starter because it represents one-third of an already-vetoed budget and it does not include property tax relief or a reasonable Marcellus Shale extraction tax.

Brewster voted against the $11.22 billion Republican stopgap budget proposal. The Republican short-term budget, which would fund government through Oct. 31, 2015, was approved along party lines.

The Senate Republican stopgap budget (Senate Bill 1000) is roughly one-third of the Republican budget (House Bill 1192) that was vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf in late June. Wolf has said that he plans to veto the stopgap if it reaches his desk.

Brewster’s comments:

“The Republican stopgap budget is simply a non-starter. The plan does not include property tax relief, nor does it have a responsible Marcellus Shale extraction tax that is tied to additional education funding.

“It is simply one-third of an already vetoed spending plan. Appropriately, the governor has pledged to veto this short-term effort. A stopgap spending plan addresses funding issues temporarily, but may result in more distress over the long-term. The whole exercise is a waste of time.

“Instead of working toward a comprehensive spending plan that includes real dollars for education, job creation, human services or deficit reduction, Republicans have refused to compromise and negotiate toward a resolution of the budget impasse.

“The governor has offered compromises and solutions on the two main Republican issues — pension reform and liquor sales — yet they continue to be inflexible. After more than two months of refusing to compromise, the best the Republicans can do is offer an unacceptable, short-term, short-sighted, deficient plan.”

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State Police Job Application Deadline is Tuesday

Harrisburg, June 26, 2015 – State Sen. Jim Brewster today said people have until June 30 (Tuesday) to apply for a job with the Pennsylvania State Police.

“I urge men and women interested in a law enforcement career to look into this opportunity,” Brewster said. “The State Police is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious law enforcement agencies; and troopers receive a starting salary of $57,251.”

Brewster said people can obtain information, get an application and apply online at www.patrooper.com.

From the pool of applicants, numerous candidates will be invited to take a written examination in August. Those who pass the written examination are then asked to take an oral examination. Those who successfully emerge from the examination process must also pass a physical fitness test, polygraph test, background investigation and medical and psychological evaluations before being appointed as a cadet.

Cadets must complete an intense and sometimes grueling 27-week training course before they become troopers. To apply, applicants must:

  • Be at least 20-years-old when they apply; and be between 21 and 40 by the date they become a state police cadet.
  • Possess a high school diploma or a GED certificate, plus an associate’s degree or 60 semester credit hours at an accredited institution of higher education at the time of application. Certain waivers to the education requirement are available.

# # #

 

Property Tax and Rent Rebate Filing Deadline Extended to Dec. 31, Brewster Says

Harrisburg – June 16, 2015 – The deadline for filing for a property tax or rent rebate has been extended to Dec. 31, 2015, according to state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland).

“This is an important program that helps seniors and those with disabilities manage their property tax bills,” Brewster said.  “While we continue to work through more aggressive solutions that significantly reduce taxes, this program is a good way to channel funds back to those who need help.”

The program benefits Pennsylvania residents aged 65 or older, widows and widowers aged 50 and above and those with disabilities over the age of 18.  Homeowners must have an annual income of $35,000 or less, and renters must have an annual income of $15,000 or less.

Brewster said homeowners who qualified for rebates in 2014 and who received Social Security should pay attention to income guidelines since one-half of Social Security is discounted in the income calculation.

The maximum rebate is $650 with supplement rebates available for qualifying homeowners.  Brewster said that applicants should check with the state revenue department or call his office to determine eligibility.

Brewster encouraged those who believe they are eligible to contact his district offices.  Brewster’s district office telephone numbers are as follows: Monroeville, (412) 380-2242, McKeesport, (412) 664-5200 and the Alley-Kiski office can be reached at (724) 334-1143.

The program is funded by the state lottery and gaming revenues.

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Brewster Announces Two Free Local Identity Theft Seminars

McKeesport, March 3, 2015 – State Sen. Jim Brewster today announced that he is co-hosting two local Senior Identity Theft Seminars.

“All of us have heard stories about how people can get their identity stolen and become victimized in so many ways,” Brewster said. “These seminars are aimed at helping people become more aware of some of the various schemes and scams targeted at senior citizens.

“Just as important, I hope to give people good information about what steps they can take if they believe their identity has been stolen.”

Hosted jointly with the state Attorney General’s Office, the seminars will be held in:

  • Brentwood on Monday, March 9 at 2 p.m. in the Brentwood Community Room at Brentwood Public Library, 3501 Brownsville Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15227; and
  •  New Kensington on Thursday April 23 at 10:30 a.m., Alle-Kiski Valley Center for Active Adults, 1039 3rd Avenue, New Kensington, PA 15068

Registration is required. Contact Kathy Jo Osman in Senator Jim Brewster’s McKeesport office at 412-664-5200 or by email at kosman@pasenate.com to register.

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Brewster Introduces Senate Democratic Liquor Modernization Plan

Harrisburg – Feb. 27, 2014 – Senate Democrats outlined their liquor modernization plan today, a day after the House of Representatives passed an ill-conceived privatization plan.

“No banker would back it and no business would implement it,” Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) sponsor of the Senate Democratic proposal said today about the House plan (House Bill 466). “The plan that passed the House takes the wrong approach at precisely the wrong time — it makes zero business sense and there are better alternatives.

“Under valuing a profitable asset and selling it off at fire-sale prices is no way to proceed.”

Brewster was vice-president of operations at Mellon Bank and has decades of experience in private business.

He said the modernization plan produced by Senate Democrats, introduced as Senate Bill 15, has the potential to produce an extra $150 million annually. The state’s liquor system generated $320 million in liquor taxes, $124 million in sales taxes and $80 million in net profits last year on more than $2.24 billion in sales.

The lawmaker said the Senate Democratic modernization plan would:

  • Remove the cap on the number of stores that can operate on Sunday and extend the permitted hours of operation from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.;
  • Improve opportunities to partner with grocery stores to increase the number of stores-within-a-store;
  • Offer customer-service programs to improve customer experiences in stores;
  • Sell lottery tickets within wine & spirits stores;
  • Require final determinations on store lease arrangements within 90 days;
  • Join with other states on purchasing arrangements to help secure the very best price;
  • Fashion demand reforms such as allowing beer distributors to sell smaller quantities than cases, and permits for direct wine shipments to homes.

“We have a valued asset in our wine-and-spirits stores and they can be a tremendous resource for our taxpayers for years to come if we modernize and adapt,” Brewster said. “The last thing we should do is sell off an asset for a below-market price in an attempt to serve an ideological impulse.

“The Senate Democratic plan would improve convenience, create better access, provide service and delivery options while preserving thousands of jobs.”

The House-passed privatization plan, which involves selling 1,200 licenses, has been sold as a way of plugging the $2.3 billion budget hole created by the Republicans and former Gov. Tom Corbett. However, according to a Republican fiscal analysis, the plan will only raise a small portion of $2.3 billion in one-time revenue in 2015-16.

The House privatization plan passed 114-87. Gov. Tom Wolf has indicated his opposition to the plan.

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Brewster Applauds Gov. Wolf’s Plan to Tie Severance Tax to Education Investments

Harrisburg – Feb. 11, 2014 – Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to use the proceeds from a new 5 percent gas severance tax to fund education is being applauded by state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland).

“Using shale tax revenues to rebuild education following the severe cuts made by the Corbett administration is the right thing to do,” Brewster said. “These cuts have impacted our schools and burdened our taxpayers and new resources are desperately needed.

“The proposed 5 percent tax will not harm the industry and connecting it to education will help close the funding gap that has developed as a result of short-sighted policy and an ineffective shale impact fee.”

Brewster said that Corbett cut $1 billion from education during his tenure. The senator said that the entire education community has suffered as a result.

In mid-December, Brewster announced his plan to use severance tax revenue to make investments in education. Brewster’s “Extraction for Education” plan parallels Wolf’s proposed “Pennsylvania Education Reinvestment Act” in several ways, including the call for a 5 percent shale tax levy, the retention of impact fee payments to communities under the umbrella of the tax ceiling and the direct tie to education.

Brewster introduced his plan this session as Senate Bill 395. He said he expects consideration of a severance tax plan to be a part of budget negotiations this year.

“I am pleased that the governor has announced a reasonable shale extraction tax and that he plans to use the proceeds of the tax to support education,” Brewster said.

According to the governor’s office, the new levy will generate in excess of $1 billion by the end of 2017. The plan is modeled after the tax structure now in place in neighboring West Virginia.

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Brewster Comments on the Death of former U.S. Rep. Joseph Gaydos

Harrisburg – Feb. 10, 2015 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) offered the following comments on the recent death of former U.S. Rep. Joseph M. Gaydos Sr.  Gaydos served briefly in the state Senate, but he was better known for his work in congress from 1968-92.

Gaydos’ political career was rooted in the Mon Valley.  He was born in Braddock, graduated from Glassport High School and lived in Liberty Borough.  Gaydos was a veteran of the United States Navy where he served in the Pacific during World War II.

Brewster’s comments are as follows:

“Congressman Joe Gaydos was a dedicated public servant, patriot and representative of working men and women who made his mark both in Washington D.C. and in the Mon Valley.   He fought hard for labor and to rebuild our region following economic turbulence that displaced so many workers in the 1980’s.

“While serving with presidents, senators and others during his time in congress, Joe never forgot his roots in the Mon Valley.  His character was forged here and his principles were as strong as the steel that was produced in the Mon Valley.   On a personal level, he always had a kind word and offered welcomed advice about how to approach a problem or a political issue.

“As a lawyer who once represented steelworkers, to his later service in the state Senate and the United States House of Representatives, Joe always wore the interests of working men and women on his sleeve.  He fought to improve their lives as a member of the labor committee where his laser-like focus was on addressing critical problems that impacted workers.

“At this very difficult time, my thoughts and prayers are extended to his family and his many friends.  Our region is better today because of the work of Congressman Joe Gaydos.”

 

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Brewster Opens Local Satellite Offices

Harrisburg, February 5, 2015 – Calling it a way to reach and assist more constituents, Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) today announced that he will be staffing four satellite district offices over the next three months.

“These additional area locations will make it more convenient for people to obtain state government services,” Brewster said.

Brewster said he will provide services at the following locations:

Baldwin Borough Building

3344 Churchview Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15227

Second Wednesday in February, March and April

February 11, March 11, and April 8 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Brentwood Borough Building

3624 Brownsville Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15227

Second Tuesday in February, March and April

February 10, March 10, and April 14 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Forward Twp. Municipal Building

1000 Golden Circle, Elizabeth, PA 15037

First Wednesday in February, March and April

February 4, March 4, and April 1 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

West Elizabeth Borough Building

800 4th Street, West Elizabeth, PA 15088

First Wednesday in February, March and April

February 4, March 4, and April 1 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Brewster said he and his staff stand ready to help constituents with PennDOT services, higher education aid, birth and death certificate applications, notary applications, and senior citizen information ranging from PACE to Property Tax/Rent Rebate applications.

He said the offices can also help cut government red tape and have access to extensive information on legislation, state government issues, programs and services.

Brewster also has full-time district offices in McKeesport (412-664-5200), Monroeville (412-380-2242) and New Kensington (724-334-1143).

# # #

Brewster Re-appointed Port Authority Board Secretary

Harrisburg – February 2, 2015 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) will serve another year as secretary of the board of the Port Authority of Allegheny County.

“There are many challenges that we face in public transportation and many hurdles that have to be overcome,” Brewster said.  “I am confident that by working together we can rebuild and restructure our public transit system to meet the needs of the citizens of Allegheny County.”

Brewster is a veteran of the board and serves on the Financial Audit Committee.  He is a member of the Senate Transportation Committee and was a strong advocate of the $2.3 billion transportation finance law (Act 89) that has bolstered funding for road, bridge and mass transit systems.

“The Port Authority board works well together in trying to address transportation needs,” Brewster said.   “The board members are all dedicated and committed to making our transportation network better.”

Brewster said that board is working on a number of initiatives such as smart card technology and real-time vehicle tracking.

The Port Authority has 2,600 workers and serves more than 200,000 riders on a daily basis.

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Tax Advantages, Savings Boost for 529 Contributions, Brewster Says

Harrisburg – Dec. 17, 2014 – To better manage the cost of higher education and cut tax liability this year, state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) today reminded students and parents that contributions to an approved college savings plan by Dec. 31 are tax deductable.

pa529“The high cost of a college education is a real challenge for students and parents,” Brewster said.  “A 529 plan helps families manage costs and provides a means to reduce tax obligations.”

Brewster noted that state Treasurer Rob McCord’s office is offering free enrollment in the PA Guaranteed Savings Plan and the PA 529 Investment Plan.

“There are a great many resources available to help students, parents and families deal with the high cost of college,” Brewster said.  “Establishing a PA 529 plan and making contributions is an excellent way for families to both save for college and lower tax bills at the same time.”

The treasurer reported that there are now nearly 200,000 accounts with more than $3.3 billion in assets that are being managed by his office.

Taxpayers can deduct up to $14,000 per beneficiary in PA 529 contributions from Pennsylvania taxable income on their state tax returns for 2014. Married couples filing jointly can deduct up to $28,000 per beneficiary if each spouse has taxable income of at least the amount deducted.

The PA 529 College Savings Program is offering free enrollment ($50 savings) for all new PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP) accounts opened by Dec. 31.

Brewster said that if students, parents, guardians or others need more information or want to enroll, they can visit www.PA529.com. To take advantage of the $50 savings, use enrollment code Brewster when prompted.

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Brewster Details “Extraction for Education” Plan

Proposal features shale tax levy, education trust fund, fee credit

Harrisburg – Dec. 16, 2014 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) will soon introduce a plan that would earmark revenue from a new shale gas extraction tax for public schools while retaining current well impact fees that support local government operations.

“My ‘Extraction for Education’ proposal is simple, reasonable and credible because it uses the proceeds of an extraction tax to support education,” Brewster said. “Yet it also retains funds that are currently generated from impact fees for use by local and state government. Pennsylvania taxpayers, school children, teachers and others who are involved in the education community have paid a high price because the Corbett administration has failed to embrace a responsible shale gas extraction tax.”

Brewster said a 5 percent levy would generate between $700 million to $1 billion. His plan calls for distributing this revenue via a new basic education subsidy formula that is now being developed by a bipartisan legislative commission.

Under the plan, shale drillers would be able to credit current impact fee expenses (Act 13) against their severance tax liability. That way, the senator said the effective tax rate is 5 percent, which would keep the industry competitive. The current impact fee equates to an estimated 1.8 percent tax over the life of the well, he added.

“It is important that energy companies pay a reasonable tax for a Pennsylvania resource, but we also need to balance well fees and market competitiveness so we don’t harm the industry,” Brewster said.

Brewster said he was encouraged that Gov.-elect Tom Wolf campaigned on using a robust shale tax to fund education. He said the governor elect’s support for a responsible shale tax is critical. The lawmaker said he hopes his plan will be the basis for further legislative discussions.

Targeting new dollars for education is important because Gov. Tom Corbett and his administration cut $1 billion from schools, Brewster noted. School districts have never recovered from the funding reduction and homeowners have seen their property taxes rise. Approximately 75 percent of school districts have raised taxes as a result of the underfunding of schools in Pennsylvania.

According to figures cited by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission – the state agency responsible for collection and distribution of the state’s current impact fee — more than $200 million was generated from impact fees (Act 13) every year since 2011. A portion of the funds collected from the well impact fee are distributed to local municipalities to cover the impact of drilling in their communities.

Under the Brewster proposal, all revenues from his proposed extraction tax would be placed in the “Extraction for Education Fund” and all dollars would be spent in support of education.

“All funding earmarked for the Extraction for Education Fund will be used to help schools, taxpayers and children and not siphoned off for other purposes,” Brewster said. “We have to make the connection between the extraction tax and education clear.”

In 2011, Brewster authored legislation linking an extraction fee to education support (SB 1286). However, the bill was never acted on by the Senate.

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Sen. Brewster: “Catch the Value” with Holiday Savings on 2015 Fishing Licenses

CatchValueBuyMcKeesport – Dec. 9, 2014– State Sen. James Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today that the holiday season will come early for many anglers this year as a result of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s “Catch the Value” discounted
license promotion.

“This is by far the best time to buy your fishing license for 2015 and beyond,” Brewster said. “Fishing is a great activity for the whole family and now we can enjoy Pennsylvania’s streams and lakes for a lower price.”

Under the promotion, prices for 2015 licenses will be reduced by $1 for annual resident, non-resident, and senior fishing licenses throughout the fishing season. Additionally, anglers who purchase their licenses during the month of December will receive $3 off of the three-year multi-year license and $5 off of the five-year multi-year license.

CatchValue3_5Brewster, an avid outdoorsman, noted that these discounts also apply to the purchase of gift vouchers, making a 2015 fishing license an ideal gift for the holiday season.

“Through the ‘Catch the Value’ program, fishing licenses are at historic lows,” Brewster continued. “This holiday season, consider a fishing license for the angler in your life, and give the gift that keeps on giving.”

During this discount period, the price of licenses will be as follows: a resident annual license, $20; non-resident annual license, $50; senior annual resident, $9; 3-year resident, $60; 3-year non-resident, $150; 5-year resident, $100; and 5-year non-resident, $250. An optional 2015 fishing license button, which serves as a valid display requirement, is available for $5. Each online transaction is subject to a $1.70 processing fee.

More information and a list of issuing agents can be found at www.fishandboat.com.

# # #

Brewster Announces $ 95,000 Grant for City of Arnold

McKeesport, December 5, 2014 – Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) today announced a $ 95,000 state grant for the City of Arnold to implement a five year financial management plan and operation strategy.

“These funds will help officials from Arnold establish a sound financial strategy moving forward,” Brewster said. “I am hopeful this will lead to a number of helpful efficiencies, improved management practices and long range cost savings.”

As former mayor of nearby McKeesport, Brewster said capitalizing on proven planning strategies, workable contingency planning and capitalizing on a host of other best practice financial and management tools can have an extensive impact on a community’s viability.

Brewster said he will continue to work with city leaders to obtain state funds to support efforts aimed at improving Arnold’s infrastructure and economic standing.

The grant is being administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Early Intervention Program.

# # #

Brewster’s District Offices to Serve as “Toys for Tots” Donation Sites

Harrisburg – Nov. 6, 2014 – State Sen. Jim Brewster’s district offices in Monroeville, McKeesport and New Kensington will serve as donation/drop off sites for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.

Toys For Tots“Toys for Tots is a wonderful program that helps others during the holiday season,” Brewster said. “I am happy to be a part of the program and I hope that having my district offices as toy drop off sites will make it easier for more individuals to get involved and donate.”

Brewster said he is pleased to team up with the Marines in support of their Toys for Tots program because it helps so many children.   In 2012 the program had collected more than 16.8 million toys and distributed them to more than seven million children.

The location of Brewster’s offices and the drop off sites:

Monroeville District Office
One Monroeville Center
3824 Northern Pike, Suite 1015
Monroeville, PA 15146
412-380-2242
 
McKeesport District Office
201 Lysle Boulevard, Suite 100
McKeesport, PA 15132
412-664-5200
 
New Kensington District Office
New Kensington City Hall
301 11th Street, Suite L
New Kensington, PA 15068
724-334-1143
 

Offices are open Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Contact Kathy Jo Osman at 412-664-5200 or at kosman@pasenate.com with any questions.

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Home Heating Aid Can Help Families Manage Energy Costs, Brewster Says

Harrisburg – Nov. 3, 2014 – Help with home heating costs is available to eligible families through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) reminded area residents.

“Families can use LIHEAP funding to offset heating costs,” Brewster said.   “Recent winters have been very cold and heating costs have hobbled too many families in our region.”

Brewster said that LIHEAP offers aid in the form of grants to eligible applicants.   Once approved, the cash grant is forwarded to the energy company on behalf of the family and is credited on the bill.

Eligibility is determined by household income. In order to take advantage of LIHEAP, an individual homeowner or renter must earn less than $17,505 in income. For a family of four, the income threshold increases to $35,775. Proof of income, family size and a recent heating bill is needed as a part of the application process, Brewster said.

The lawmaker said that those applying for assistance do not have to be on public assistance or have and an unpaid heating bill to be eligible.

Information and program applications are available at www.compass.state.pa.us or call 1-866-857-7095.

In addition, Brewster said anyone who needs help completing the application can visit one of his district offices in Monroeville, McKeesport or New Kensington or by visiting www.senatorbrewster.com

LIHEAP enrollment begins today and continues through April 3 for the 2014-15 heating season.

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Brewster, Human Services Center Corp. bring state services to Turtle Creek Area

Harrisburg – Oct. 31, 2014 — State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) will begin having permanent satellite office hours the first Wednesday of every month beginning Nov. 5th from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Human Services Center Corporation’s building in Turtle Creek.

The Human Services Center Corporation building is located at 413 Penn Avenue in Turtle Creek.

“I’m pleased to be partnering with the Human Services Center Corporation to bring a permanent satellite district office to the residents of the Turtle Creek Valley,” Brewster said. “The Human Services Center Corporation is a strong and effective organization that helps individuals access services on a daily basis.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity for me and my staff to work in concert with the Human Services Center personnel to deliver state assistance directly to the region.”

Senator Brewster’s office will provide assistance with filling out Property Tax/Rent Rebate applications, PACE/PACENET, ACCESS applications, senior bus pass applications, PennDOT forms along with a wide variety of state related issues.

Brewster’s district includes communities in the Turtle Creek Valley including Turtle Creek, Wilmerding, Wall, Pitcairn, Trafford, Braddock and North Braddock.  He has district offices in McKeesport, Monroeville and New Kensington.

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Brewster: Affordable Care Act Information Session Scheduled for Nov. 5

Harrisburg – Oct. 29, 2014 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland), in conjunction with the Consumer Health Care Coalition, will be holding an information session at Penn-State Greater Allegheny on Nov. 5 to assist families in obtaining health care insurance through the federal Affordable Care Act.

“The Consumer Health Coalition will be on hand to help families gain an understanding of the insurance coverage that is available and get insurance through the federal insurance marketplace,” Brewster said.  “I encourage those who need health insurance to attend and learn about how the new federal law and state policy changes may help.”

Brewster said that the session will include information on open enrollment, how to enroll and places where those interested may go for assistance.  Information about Healthy PA will also be available, including how the Medical Assistance reforms, that are a part of the state initiative, can help those eligible to enroll.

The session is on Wednesday, Nov. 5 in the Ostermayer Room, Penn State Greater Allegheny Student Community Center, 4050 University Drive, McKeesport from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The public is invited to the session.  To reserve a seat, residents should RSVP to Kathy Jo Osman at 412-664-5200 or kosman@pasenate.com

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Bridge Ramp in McKeesport Dedicated to Officer Frank Miller Jr.

McKeesport, Oct 20, 2014 – State Sen. Jim Brewster hosted today’s “Officer Frank Miller Jr. Memorial Ramp” dedication ceremony in McKeesport.

“The naming of this roadway will serve as a reminder of Officer Miller’s sacrifice,” Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said. “Frank Miller was a young, dedicated public servant who lost his life while on duty protecting the citizens of McKeesport.”

Brewster was joined at the ceremony by Officer Miller’s parents, Gwen and Frank Miller Sr, and other members of the family, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko, McKeesport Chief of Police Bryan J. Washowich, McKeesport Councilwoman Jamie Brewster-Filotei and city police officers.

Miller was killed while on duty in McKeesport in 1993.

Brewster prime-sponsored the legislation (SB 1225) naming the ramp for Officer Miller. His bill was signed into law in June as Act 68. The ramp is located on the McKeesport side of the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge to State Route 148.

“I am honored to be joined by Officer Miller’s parents and family members along with officials from McKeesport as we continue to honor Frank Miller and his service to our community,” Brewster said.

Brewster said local police need more resources and funding to better protect citizens. He mentioned pending legislation (SB880) he sponsored that would increase salaries for part-time police officers as a “good first step.”

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Officer Frank Miller Jr. Ramp Dedication Slated for Oct. 20

Media Advisory – For Planning Purposes

Contact: Tim Joyce
Phone: 412.380.2242
Email: tjoyce@pasenate.com

Harrisburg – Oct. 17, 2014 – The ceremony to dedicate the ramp off of the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge for Officer Frank Miller Jr. is slated for 4 p.m., Monday, Oct. 20.

Officer Miller was slain in 1993 while walking a beat in downtown McKeesport.  Sen. Jim Brewster prime-sponsored the bill (SB 1225) that named the ramp for Officer Miller.  The legislation was signed into law on June 18.

Officer Miller’s parents, McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko, the chief of police in McKeesport, police officers plus local and state officials will join Brewster for the dedication ceremony.

What:              Designation of Ramp for Officer Frank Miller Jr.
When:             Monday, Oct. 20
Time:              4 p.m.
Where:           McKeesport side of the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge, near 1681 Fifth Avenue, (1600 Block of 5th Avenue)

Your coverage is encouraged.

Brewster: Consider Opening PA529 College Savings Plan to Aid Students

Harrisburg, August 29, 2014 – State Sen. Jim Brewster today said that opening a PA529 College Savings Plan can help students offset the rising cost of college debt.

The program is offered through the state Treasury.

“It is important that parents understand what is available to them to help manage the cost of a college education for their children,” Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said.

He noted that the U.S. student debt is now more than $1 trillion so parents should consider opening or contributing to a Pennsylvania 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP) before August 31 to take advantage of last school year’s lower credit rates. Credit rates typically increase on September 1.

The PA 529 GSP is offering free enrollment – a $50 savings – for all new accounts opened before September 30, Brewster noted.  Families will have a chance to win one of five $529 college savings accounts by registering at PA529.com by September 30.

To open or contribute to an account, visit www.PA529.com or call 1-800-440-4000.

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Brewster Announces that Independence Day is a “Fish-for-Free Day”

Harrisburg, June 30, 2014 – State Sen. Jim Brewster today announced that people can fish for free in Pennsylvania this Friday, July 4.

“This fish-for-free program is a great opportunity to try the sport while visiting the beautiful lakes and parks throughout the state,” Brewster said. “I encourage those who are interested to try some fishing while enjoying time with friends and family this Independence Day.”

Independence Day will mark the second free fishing day in Pennsylvania this year. The program allows anyone – residents and non-residents – to legally fish on that day without a fishing license.

“Free fishing days are a great way to encourage more people to give fishing a try without the cost,” Brewster said.

More information is available on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website at: www./fishandboat.com/fishforfree.htm. The website includes interactive maps, regional fishing reports, and tips on fishing fundamentals.

Brewster serves on the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee.

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Brewster Praises Veterans Housing Preference Legislation: Plan Unanimously Approved by Senate Committee

Harrisburg – June 18, 2014 – Legislation designed to bolster the ability of veterans to access public housing has cleared the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee, state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-McKeesport) said today.

“Giving veterans preference during the housing selection process is meaningful and appropriate,” Brewster said. “These individuals and their families have made sacrifices defending our nation and they should be given preferential treatment.

“I am a co-sponsor of this measure and I was pleased that the legislation was unanimously approved by the committee.”

The bill (SB 1135), sponsored by Senate Democratic Appropriations Chair Sen. Vincent J. Hughes (D-Philadelphia), would require that preference in the public housing selection process be given in the following order: homeless veterans; disabled veterans and their families; families of deceased veterans when the death is service related; other veterans and their families.

Brewster serves as the Democratic chair of the Senate’s Urban Affairs and Housing Committee and has been involved in helping to manage public housing in McKeesport for decades.

“For years, I have served as the chair of the McKeesport Housing Authority and I know the struggle that veterans and their families face when they confront housing issues,” Brewster said. “This legislation is an excellent step and a positive development that will assist veterans gain affordable housing.”

According the figures cited by the Senate Democratic Appropriations Committee, on any single day there are 1,500 veterans who are homeless.

The measure now goes to the Senate Floor, and will likely be referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee

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Pennsylvania Hunting Licenses On Sale Now

Harrisburg, June 10, 2014 – State Sen. Jim Brewster announced today that hunting and fur-taker licenses for Pennsylvania’s 2014-15 seasons are on sale now.

Licenses can be purchased through the Pennsylvania Automated License System website, as well as at Game Commission regional offices.

Licenses can also be purchased through more than 600 issuing agents; a list of issuing agents is available on the Game Commission’s website.

The 2014-15 hunting and fur-taker licenses are effective July 1, when the licenses that now are valid expire; the new licenses are valid through June 30, 2015.

Please note that county treasurers will begin accepting antlerless license applications July 14 from state residents.

Also, please note:

• Changes to the schedule for landowners to enroll properties in the Deer Management Assistance Program should result in all DMAP permits being available when licenses first go on sale;

• Hunters holding senior lifetime hunting or fur-taker licenses must pick up new licenses and harvest tags;

• Now-valid permits for shooting ranges at state game lands expire June 30, and new permits need to be purchased for range use on and after July 1;

• July 31 is the new, earlier deadline to apply for a 2014 elk license; and

• Hunters purchasing licenses early might not be able to immediately get a 2014-15 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest. However, the publication is posted on the agency’s website here, and hunters may pick up the booklet from issuing agents after they are delivered.

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Property Tax/Rent Rebate Application Deadline Extended

Harrisburg, June 10, 2014 – State Sen. Jim Brewster announced today that the deadline for older Pennsylvanians and residents with disabilities to apply for Pennsylvania’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program has been extended from June 30to December 31.

“This deadline extension is great for those who have not yet applied for this tax rebate,” Brewster said.  “It provides all eligible individuals the opportunity to take advantage of this valuable tax 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. Half of Social Security income is excluded.

The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975.

Applications and related information about the program can be obtained online at the Department of Revenue’s website.

Application forms and assistance are also available at Sen. Brewster’s district offices, Department of Revenue district offices, local Area Agencies on Aging and local senior centers.

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Brewster: Clean Diesel Grants Accepted Through June 10

Harrisburg – April 30, 2014 – School Districts, local governments, state agencies, corporations or businesses that operate diesel fleets have until June 10 to apply for 2014 Pennsylvania State Clean Diesel Grants, state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-McKeesport) said today.

“The grants will help local government, nonprofits and businesses who have diesel fleets run those vehicles more efficiently and remove pollutants,” Brewster said. “The grant program is open to governmental units plus nonprofits and businesses that are incorporated or registered in Pennsylvania.”

The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) administers the program. It is funded by an allocation from the federal clean diesel program.

According to DEP, the goal of the clean diesel program is to clean the air by reducing emissions from vehicles. The grants fund projects that retrofit vehicles with clean air emissions equipment in addition to the purchase and installation of idle-reduction equipment or clean energy vehicles.

“It is important for those who may be eligible to seek more information about the grant program,” Brewster said.

To apply for a grant or for more information, visit www.dep.state.pa.us, keyword “Clean Diesel.”

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Brewster: PHEAA Grant Application Deadline Looms

Harrisburg – April 23, 2014 – The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) 2014-15 State Grant application deadline is May 1, state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-McKeesport) reminded constituents today.

“The application deadline applies to all first-time and renewal applicants so it is important that all students act now to ensure they are considered for grant funding,” Brewster said. “Those planning to enroll in colleges, universities or two-year institutions or renew their grants should make sure their applications are filed.”

To qualify for consideration for a State Grant award, applicants must have completed the 2014-15 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The applications for both the 2014-15 State Grant and the FAFSA can be accessed on PHEAA’s website at www.pheaa.org

The FAFSA is used to determine eligibility for many types of need-based financial aid, including the Pennsylvania State Grant, federal Pell Grant, low-cost student loans, as well as other scholarships and institution-based awards.

First-time grant applicants must also submit a Pennsylvania State Grant Form. Those who complete the FAFSA online will be redirected to the State Grant Form. Those who are first-time applicants and who have submitted their FAFSA, but not their State Grant Form, should visit www.pheaa.org to complete the process.

Brewster said that if constituents have questions they can contact any one of his offices. If there are questions about FAFSA or the State Grant Program and students or their families need to speak to a PHEAA representative, they can call 1-800-692-7392.

PHEAA was created in 1963 and has developed into one of the nation’s leading student aid organizations.

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Sen. Brewster Applauds Attorney General’s Rejection of Lottery Privatization Scheme

McKeesport, February 14, 2013 — State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) today provided the following statement in response to state Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s decision to reject the legality of the Corbett Administration’s Lottery privatization contract.

“I commend Attorney General Kane for her thorough review and reasoned rejection of this Lottery privatization scheme. While this secretive deal with this foreign firm is questionable in many ways, I commend the attorney general for making an impartial decision based solely on our constitution.

“Attorney General Kane’s decision clearly exposes this privatization scheme for its legal failings. From the beginning, the governor’s privatization plan was poorly conceived, secretly executed and hinged on greatly expanding gambling in Pennsylvania.

“It was a bad idea from the start, and I hope today’s legal opinion will put an end to it once and for all.”

# # #

Sen. Brewster Elected Vice Chair of Budget and Finance Committee

McKeesport, January 24, 2013 – State Sen. Jim Brewster has been unanimously elected vice-chairman of the bipartisan, bicameral Legislative Budget and Finance Committee.

“I am pleased with my new position on this important committee that helps foster legislative efficiency, accuracy and accountability,” Brewster said. “I see this as an opportunity to better measure the performance of state programs and services, streamline expenditures and establish reliable baseline accuracy for much of the research that drives legislative debate.”

Established in 1959, the 12-member committee conducts studies, makes recommendations aimed at eliminating unnecessary expenditures; promotes state government efficiency; and assures that state dollars are being used in accordance with legislative intent and law.

To achieve these goals, the legislative Budget and Finance Committee conducts a wide range of research activities pertaining to the operation and performance of state-funded programs and agencies.

“In these difficult economic times, it is imperative that we invest state revenue wisely and that programs and services operate effectively and cost efficiently,” Brewster said. “Striving to achieve more with less should be a legislative standard, not some occasional house cleaning effort.”

First elected to the Senate in 2010, Brewster also serves as Democratic chair of the Senate Committee on Urban Affairs and Housing. He is also a member of the committees on Transportation, Banking and Insurance, Community Economic and Recreational Development, and Game and Fisheries.

# # #

Brewster Blasts Corbett for lack of Transparency/Public Input on Prison Closing Decision

McKeesport, January 11, 2013 – State Sen. Jim Brewster today sharply criticized the Corbett Administration for its backroom decision that led to this week’s announcement to close the state prison in Hempfield, Westmoreland County.

Brewster said he will work with fellow lawmakers to keep the prison open.

“For a governor who constantly boasts about being transparent, this secretive backroom decision reeks with hypocrisy,” Brewster said. “There was no public input, no notification to any local officials and no warning to any of the 400 prison workers.

“The department has provided little reasoning or justification for its decision and provided little opportunity for anyone to contest this abrupt move.”

Earlier this week, the state Corrections Department announced that it was closing the prison in Westmoreland County, along with one in Cambria County, and would relocate prisoners to a recently-constructed facility in Centre County.

“The plans to close this facility had to have been made months ago if not longer. Had the governor discussed the closing when the plans were first drafted, the employees would have had time to make informed decisions,” Brewster said. “The elected representatives would have had the time to come up with options. The stealth approach was unnecessary.

“This closing will uproot families, likely result in lay-offs and hamper our local economy,” Brewster said. “Before announcing its plan, the administration should have laid out all of the factors, provided details, clearly stated its reasoning, held public hearings and consulted with state and local government leaders.

“Instead, this was handled like a sneak attack using the same closed-door, secretive tactics that Gov. Corbett campaigned against,” Brewster said.

The McKeesport lawmaker said he would work with area lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, to delay and reverse the Corbett Administration’s decision.

# # #

Brewster Appointed to Several Key Senate Committees

McKeesport, January 9, 2013 – State Sen. Jim Brewster has been re-appointed Democratic chairman of the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee. In addition, Brewster was appointed to the Committees on Transportation, Banking and Insurance, Community Economic and Recreational Development, and Game and Fisheries.

“I will continue to use the position on the Urban Affairs and Housing Committee to focus on issues and challenges facing struggling cities and towns in the Mon Valley and throughout our state,” Brewster said. “We must do more to help smaller cities attract new businesses, investment and jobs.

“I am determined to steer more of the state’s effort to help expanding businesses partner with cities and adjacent suburban communities to revitalize and breathe new economic life into our mill towns.”

Brewster and his fellow Democrats last month announced their “Growth, Progress & Sustainability” (GPS) plan for Pennsylvania’s communities. The plan will focus legislative attention on improving the fiscal climate for local governments by reforming the state’s financial distress program (Act 47) and stepping up local tax reform efforts. Furthermore, the plan will develop a sound investment strategy in addressing economic development, public safety and infrastructure needs of local government.

After winning a special election to replace Senator Sean Logan, the former Mayor of McKeesport has used his business experience of 27 years in the Banking industry and 25 years in local government to maneuver his way through a tumultuous 24 months, which included an historic rebuttal of the Republican-controlled redistricting effort that he said would deprive the citizens of Western Pennsylvania representation in Harrisburg. Brewster’s refusal to accept what he called an obscene process, and his effort to mount what many others said was unachievable, with the help of others, has thus far convinced the state Supreme Court to deny moving the 45th district to the Pocono Mountain area.

“My goal in the next 18 months is to focus on transportation and education issues. These are expensive budget items that require listening to the will of the people,” Brewster said. “For example, once a transportation strategy and legislation is approved, who will prioritize the projects to ensure that all Pennsylvanians will benefit without political influence?”

With regard to education, Brewster said an egregious attack by the Corbett administration on public education resulted in local school taxes being raised in 70 percent of the 500 public school districts. Brewster said he is more determined than ever, regardless of party affiliation, to ensure that education reform is done to benefit all, including private, charter and cyber schools. Because education touches all families and the impact of that process affects millions of young people and the productivity of our state, he said it is important that education reform does not result in winners and losers.

“This administration took a pledge not to raise taxes, and many Pennsylvanians are paying more in local school taxes as a direct result of a poorly designed education reform program,” Brewster said. “The goal of having choice of schools is available today and certainly can be made more available, and I am committed to making sure that there’s a level playing field as it relates to standardized testing, teacher evaluation, certification, and funding, to name a few.”

Brewster was sworn in to another four-year term on January 1. He was first elected to the Senate in 2010.

# # #

Brewster to Honor State Champion Clairton Bears in PA Senate

McKeesport, December 24, 2012 – Sixty-three straight wins and four consecutive PIAA Class A football championships won by the Clairton High School Bears will be honored by the state Senate early next year, state Sen. James Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today.

[frame align=”right”]Clairton[/frame]“The Clairton Bears football team’s 63 game winning streak and four consecutive state championships is an incredible achievement,” Brewster said. “It is my honor to host the team and recognize their achievements on the Senate floor and in front of my Senate colleagues.”

Clairton stretched its winning streak to 63 on December 14 with a 20-0 win over Dunmore in the state title game. The win capped a 16-win season for the Bears.

“We often hear of the problems experienced by economically struggling schools like Clairton, while academic and athletic achievements are passed over,” Brewster said. “The hard work the players and coaching staff put in to build this record is an accomplishment that deserves to be acknowledged.”

The Bears’ winning streak is the longest in the nation.

“The football team’s success has energized the community and brought it together,” Brewster said. “It is a success story featuring the overcoming of challenges and taking advantage of opportunities that deserves to be told and heard statewide.”

Brewster said he plans on sponsoring a resolution honoring the Bears and thanking them for their dedication, perseverance and resolve in building the record over the last four years.

“Clairton has had a long history of achievement on the football field and the classroom,” Brewster said. “It is fitting that the players, coaches, parents, supporters and the town itself be honored.”

“High school sports are a source of pride and I will be pleased to honor the Bears, their coaches, fans and supporters when they visit Harrisburg early next year,” Brewster said.

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Brewster Re-Appointed Democratic Chair of Senate Committee on Urban Affairs and Housing

Harrisburg, December 21, 2012 – State Sen. Jim Brewster today was re-appointed Democratic chairman of the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee.

“I will continue to use my position on this committee to focus on issues and challenges facing our cities and towns in the Mon Valley and throughout Pennsylvania,” Brewster said. “It is critical that we do what we can to help cities revitalize, attract investment and continue providing adequate services.

“I am determined to steer more of the state’s focus to the plight of struggling urban and suburban communities, and on ways state government and new businesses can partner in local economic revitalization efforts.”

The former McKeesport mayor said he and his Senate Democratic colleagues are in the process of developing a comprehensive plan aimed at helping smaller urban centers and their outlying suburban communities. He said they will address issues ranging from affordable housing to curbing urban crime and blight.

Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny), who appointed Brewster to the post, said the McKeesport lawmaker’s lengthy experience and knowledge as a former mayor uniquely qualify him to be the leading Democratic voice on the Urban Affairs and Housing Committee.

Elected to the Senate in 2010, Brewster was first appointed to the Urban Affairs and Housing post that same year.

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Brewster to Host College Savings “Webinars”

McKeesport, October 15, 2012 – State Senator Jim Brewster is teaming up with the Pennsylvania Treasury Department to host free webinars titled “Saving for College with the PA 529 College Savings Program” on Monday, October 22 at 7 p.m. and Wednesday, October 24 at noon.

“Finding the means to fund a college education is one of the biggest challenges facing families in these tough economic times,” Brewster said. “This webinar is aimed at helping families get a better understanding of savings options.”

The Pennsylvania 529 College Savings Program offers two plans and many investment options that have helped over 150,000 families of all income levels afford college.

Brewster said those who sign up for the webinar will:

  • learn about the tax benefits of 529 plans;
  • find out how your savings affect financial aid;
  • get tips on how to set savings goals; and
  • have your questions answered by program experts.

Space is limited, so Brewster is urging parents to sign up now. The October 22 webinar will go from 7 to 7:30 p.m. You can register at https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/381997054

The October 24 webinar will go from noon to 12:30 p.m. and the registration link is https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/482298286 

Those who sign up for the saving plan online www.PA529.com can save the $50 enrollment fee. Brewster said they can enroll for free through December by using the Promo Code: Brewster

# # #

Brewster Announces October Satellite Office Hours

McKeesport – September 26, 2012 – Sen. Jim Brewster today announced that his staff will be holding October office hours at outreach offices in numerous locations.

“This schedule helps accommodate constituents and allows my staff to meet face to face with more people to get a better understanding of local issues and problems,” Brewster said. “Holding these outreach hours saves many people a trip and brings quality service to my constituents.”

The outreach offices will be open throughout October at the following locations:

Sen. Brewster has full-time district offices in Monroeville, One Monroeville Center, 3824 Northern Pike, Suite 350 (412) 380-2242; McKeesport, 201 Lysle Boulevard, Suite 100 (412) 664-5200; and New Kensington, New Kensington City Hall, 301 11th Street, Suite L (724) 334-1143.

# # #

Brewster: Republicans Stop Effort to Halt Property Tax Reassessments

McKeesport – July 5, 2012 – When the state Senate returns to session later this year it may have a second chance to pass legislation to stop the unfair property tax reassessments that have plagued property owners in Allegheny County, state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today.

Stopping the property tax reassessments would have already been achieved had a bill passed the Senate late Saturday night with the moratorium language included.  The measure likely would now be on the governor’s desk had the Senate Republicans not acted to remove the prohibition, Brewster said. 

“I was extremely disappointed that language which would have imposed a moratorium to halt property tax reassessments in Allegheny County was removed at the last minute by Senate Republicans,” Brewster said.  “The Republican claim was that the moratorium was unconstitutional.

“The Republicans control the process.  The governor is a Republican and there are large Republican majorities in both the House and Senate.  If they want to halt property tax reassessments that have hurt Allegheny County residents they could move quickly.”

The moratorium was removed by Senate Republicans in Appropriations Committee action.  The bill was then passed by the Senate.  The moratorium was then restored by the House later in the evening when it passed a previous version of the bill.

“Taxpayers in Allegheny County have faced court-ordered property reassessment while some other counties haven’t reassessed in generations,” Brewster said.  “The reassessment is arbitrary and inequitable and has caused pain for homeowners.”

Brewster is planning to introduce legislation to prohibit reassessments and eliminate property taxes using a variation of the STOP plan. 

# # #

Brewster Votes No on State Budget

McKEESPORT, July 3, 2012 — State Sen. Jim Brewster today issued the following statement about the state’s recently-enacted 2012-13 fiscal year budget:

“While I am pleased there are no tax increases, I voted against this budget because it fails to use the state’s resources responsibly, and needlessly hurts too many people.

Everyone knew that the state’s stagnant finances would necessitate additional cuts this year, but it seems the governor chose to balance this budget on the backs of working families, our children and vulnerable people while giving his corporate friends tax breaks. The governor did not maximize potential new revenue that would have mitigated some of the cuts. For example, closing the so-called Delaware corporate tax loophole and imposing a reasonable severance fee on gas drillers could have generated millions in revenue — without raising broad based taxes.

The Corbett Administration showed a lack of experience in preparing budgets. I was also disappointed by the continued lack of transparency. For a governor who campaigned on reform and making government more transparent, this budget was secretly crafted, negotiated and finalized behind closed doors exclusively by the governor and majority Republicans in the legislature.

I was also disappointed that the budget hands more tax breaks to huge corporations while making little investment in proven programs that would create jobs, help small businesses and stoke economic development.

In the end, this budget leaves our public schools out on a limb, will force local property taxes to go up and will further erode important programs and services people rely on.” 

# # #

Senator Brewster Offers Free Help with Property Tax/Rent Rebate Applications

McKeesport, May 31, 2012 – State Senator Jim Brewster today reminded people that he and his local staff stand ready to help people apply for the 2011 state Property Tax and Rent Rebate Program — for free.

Brewster said some businesses have solicited by mail that they will help seniors apply for the Lottery-funded property tax/rent rebate program – at a charge of up to $50.

“While these businesses can legally charge people to help them apply for a rebate, I want to remind seniors and others that there is no need to pay for such a service because my staff and I stand ready to provide that help for free,” Brewster said.

The Property Tax and Rent Rebate program benefits Pennsylvanians who are 65 years old and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older.

Brewster said he and his local district office staff can help constituents determine if they are eligible, and assist them in completing and filing their rebate application.  For assistance or to obtain an application, contact any of the Senator’s District Offices:

  • One Monroeville Center, 3824 Northern Pike, Suite 350, Monroeville  (412) 380-2242;
  • 201 Lysle Blvd., Suite 100, McKeesport (412) 664-5200; and
  • New Kensington City Hall, 301 11th Street., Suite L (724) 334-1143

Forms can also be found on line at http://www.revenue.state.pa.us/ or by calling 1-888-222-9190.

“Again, I urge local seniors to not pay for something they can readily get for free,” Brewster said.

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Sen. Brewster Announces Outreach Office Hours for June

McKeesport – May 29, 2012 –Sen. Jim Brewster today announced that his staff will be holding June office hours at outreach offices in numerous Allegheny County locations.

“This schedule helps accommodate constituents and enables my staff to meet face to face with more people to get a better understanding of local issues and problems,” Brewster said. “Holding these outreach hours saves many people a trip and brings quality service to my constituents.”

The outreach offices will be open throughout June at the following locations:

  • Clairton Municipal Building at 551 Ravensburg Blvd. on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon through June 26;
  • Duquesne City Hall, 12 South Second Street, on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. till noon through June 27;
  • Glassport Borough Building, 440 Monongahela Ave., on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon through June 28; and
  • Jim Brewster Community Center, Corner of Ohio and Brown Way, McKeesport, on Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. through June 28.

Brewster has full-time district offices in Monroeville, One Monroeville Center, 3824 Northern Pike, Suite 350 (412) 380-2242; McKeesport, 201 Lysle Boulevard, Suite 100 (412) 664-5200; and New Kensington, New Kensington City Hall, 301 11th Street, Suite L  (724) 334-1143

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Sen. Brewster Calls Senate Budget Approval a Step Forward

HARRISBURG, May 9, 2012 – State Sen. Jim Brewster provided the following comments after the Senate today voted 38 to 9 in favor of a revised version (Senate Bill 1466) of the 2012-13 state budget:

“While I hope we can do more to restore funds in the weeks ahead for important services and programs, this budget is a solid step in the right direction.

“With our improved economy brightening the state’s revenue picture, there is more room to restore funds that Gov. Corbett proposed cutting in his February budget proposal. While holding the line on taxes, this spending plan restores funding to our public schools, colleges and human service programs.

“As the budget negotiations wrap up in the weeks ahead, I hope we can provide additional monies for education, the social services block grant program, transportation and job creation.

“This budget is a reflection of a cooperative effort between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate. All of us recognized the pain and devastation the governor’s proposed cuts would have caused and we will continue seeking ways to restore these funds.

“I will continue to fight for adequate school funding, property tax relief, college financial aid programs, economic development efforts and the community service programs that some of our most vulnerable citizens rely on.”

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Brewster: Lawmakers Need to Address Dwindling State Police Ranks

McKeesport, April 5, 2012 — Calling it a serious public safety issue, state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) today said lawmakers must find a way to replace retiring state troopers.

“We cannot expect the state police to provide more service with significantly fewer troopers,” Brewster said. “Failing to solve this problem will compromise police protection, lead to unacceptable delays – and endanger people.”

Brewster said expected state police retirements in the coming years would reduce the number of troopers to 3,924 by 2015, or 765 fewer than the department’s authorized complement. Unless funds are provided to train new cadets, he said the problem will only worsen in future years.

In his 2012-13 budget address, Gov. Tom Corbett proposed freezing state police funding at this fiscal year’s level and only provided enough dollars to train 115 new troopers – only about a third of the number necessary to maintain adequate staffing levels.

Brewster said the state police average 150 retirements a year. He said there have already been 180 retirements this year, with still three months remaining in the fiscal year.

“While we all recognize that this is a difficult budget year, state police service is not an area we can skimp on,’ Brewster said. “The General Assembly needs to find a reliable and dedicated means to adequately fund the state police.  A restructuring of the Marcellus Shale Extraction fee distribution could provide the necessary funds.”

Apart from the expected wave of retirements, Brewster said state police resources have already been stretched thin in recent years due to newly imposed state and federal mandated responsibilities. He added that the recession has also compelled a growing number of municipalities to disband their local departments and rely solely on the state police for primary police service.

According to state police statistics, troopers patrol 70 percent of Pennsylvania’s municipalities and 83 percent of the state’s land area.

“If we don’t adequately fund the state police, we will begin to see stations close down, response time suffer and unacceptable backlogs in many of the laboratory and specialized services the department provides,” Brewster said.

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