|Strong Moms Lead to Strong Babies
Bipartisan legislation seeking to help mothers who may suffer from postpartum depression unanimously passed the state House this week and is going to the Senate for review.
Under House Bill 200, infants whose mothers screen at risk for depression would automatically qualify for early intervention assessment, tracking and – if necessary – ongoing in-home services. The legislation also has the added, proven benefit of connecting mothers with depression to mental health care.
This would allow infants and their mothers who suffer from this condition to have access to the services that are already in place in our Pennsylvania communities to support healthy child development.
Studies show that one in seven women can experience depression in the year following giving birth and the results can be debilitating and devastating. Untreated, postpartum depression may last for many months, and can cause emotional and behavioral problems, such as sleeping and eating difficulties, excessive crying, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the children and their parents.
Keeping Vaping Products Out of Minors’ Hands
Two bills that would prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes, e-cigars, JUULs and other related vaping products to minors (House Bill 2226) and make it illegal to possess the devices in Pennsylvania schools and on school buses (House Bill 2268) unanimously passed the state House this week.
E-cigarettes, sometimes known as vape pens, are used to deliver nicotine and other substances into the body in the form of a vapor. The products come in a variety of flavors and generally resemble the size and shape of traditional cigarettes, which may increase their appeal to minors.
Every day in the United States, about 2,300 children try their first cigarette and another 350 become regular daily smokers, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. And, in recent years, the use of other nicotine-based products, such as electronic cigarettes, has increased such that today nearly three in five high school students use e-cigarettes, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.
“Juuling” is the latest craze among teens that is also raising serious health concerns. Named after the vaping device, the JUUL also delivers nicotine and looks like a flash drive. In fact, the product can actually be placed into the USB port of a computer to be charged, making it even easier for young people to conceal their underage use.
Both bills now advance to the state Senate for consideration.
The House Republican Policy Committee, of which I am a member, held a breakfast roundtable discussion on legal reforms this week. It is a priority in the General Assembly.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Deadline Extended Until Dec. 31
Older adults and Pennsylvanians with disabilities now have until Dec. 31, 2018, to apply for the state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate program. The original deadline was June 30.
The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded. The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for certain qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975.
As of June 1, the department had received 472,564 rebate applications. As specified by law, rebate distributions cannot begin until July 2. After June 30, rebates will be distributed as claims are received and processed. Applications typically take four to six weeks to process.
For the 2016 program year, more than $262 million was paid to nearly 600,000 income-eligible seniors and people with disabilities who applied for rebates on rent and property taxes.
Eligibility information and forms are available on my website at repwheeland.com, or my contacting my office at (570) 321-1270. Residents are reminded that assistance in filling out the applications is available free of charge at my district office. There is no need to pay a private firm for help.
Claimants who already applied for rebates may check the status of claims online at revenue.pa.gov by clicking on the “Where’s My Property Tax/Rent Rebate?” link. Claimants may also call, toll-free, 1-888-PATAXES to check the status of their rebates.
Be Aware of Elder Abuse
This Friday, June 15, is Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Pennsylvania and House Resolution 970, which passed the House this week, encourages the public to be more aware of the well-being of our state’s elderly population.
Approximately 28,600 reports were made to the Department of Aging in FY 2016-17. It is assumed the number is drastically underestimated, given the fact many cases of elder abuse go unreported in the Commonwealth.
Elder abuse comes in many forms including physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse, neglect of care, abandonment and financial exploitation.
If you suspect a senior citizen in your family or community is a victim, the Statewide Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-490-8505 is open 24 hours a day.
Attention Hunters: Internet Update Could Block Online License Purchases
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is cautioning hunters who purchase their licenses online that an upcoming internet security update may prevent internet-based sales.
The update affects all purchasing websites – not just the Pennsylvania Automated Licensing System – and users of older-model computers are impacted most because many of these systems will be unable to make online purchases of any kind once the update is complete. Newer computers largely won’t be affected, though users might need to install updated versions of operating systems and web browsers.
According to the Game Commission, the easiest way to determine whether your computer will be capable of making internet purchases once the update is complete is by clicking here to test your system. If your machine passes the test, it should be good to go in making future online purchases, including buying a hunting license.
Licenses for the 2018-19 license year go on sale Monday, June 18. The licenses become valid July 1 and, after that date, all who hunt, trap or who want to apply for an antlerless deer license must have an up-to-date 2018-19 license to do so.
A complete list of licensing requirements can be found at pgc.pa.gov.