|Ensuring Sexual Harassment is not Hidden
Recognizing the rampant problem of sexual harassment in the workplace, the House approved legislation this week to help prevent these offenses – and the offenders – from being hidden and dealt with.
House Bill 849 would prohibit employers from requiring employees and prospective employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement related to sexual harassment as a condition of employment.
This would ensure workers who face sexual harassment in the workplace can exercise their voice to report such egregious offenses they may suffer at the hands of a co-worker or superior.
Employees and employers would still be able to voluntarily enter into such agreements.
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Lowering Health Insurance Costs
Pennsylvanians who buy their health insurance on the federal exchange could see lower prices under legislation adopted by the House this week.
House Bill 3 would establish a state-based health insurance exchange and reinsurance program, an option offered by the Trump administration and supported by the Wolf administration as a means for helping make health care more affordable for Commonwealth citizens.
The proposal is also expected to save taxpayer money, as the cost of the state running its own exchange is expected to be about half the cost of fees currently being paid to the federal government to run it for us.
The bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration.
Attention Hunters! Licenses Go on Sale Monday, June 17
Hunting licenses for the 2019-20 hunting season go on sale this Monday, June 17, across the state.
All license buyers will receive a complimentary copy of the 2019-20 Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest.
A pocket guide for the upcoming season, including key details about general hunting regulations, hunting hours, fluorescent orange requirements, a map of the Wildlife Management Units and season dates and bag limits, is also available to be printed.
Click here to find a licensing agent near you.
Click here to purchase your new license online (on or after June 17).
For more information about hunting seasons, safety and more, visit pgc.pa.gov.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Deadline Extended Until Dec. 31
Older adults and Pennsylvanians with disabilities now have until Dec. 31 to apply for the state’s 2018 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 432,411 rebate applications. As specified by law, rebate distributions cannot begin until July 1. After June 30, rebates will be distributed as claims are received and processed. Applications typically take six to eight weeks to process.
For the 2017 program year, more than $253 million was paid to 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 or by contacting my office. 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.
Beware of Financial Aid Scams Targeting Unsuspecting Students and Borrowers
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency is warning students and borrowers to be wary of financial aid scams that could expose them to identity theft and significant financial loss.
The most effective way to avoid becoming the victim of a scam is to be alert and vigilant when asked to provide any form of personal information or when engaging in financial transactions.
Recent scams include:
• Student loan forgiveness scams in which complete forgiveness is guaranteed in exchange for a fee.
• Tuition scams in which someone claiming to work for your school’s administrative office calls to warn you that your tuition is late and you risk being dropped from class unless you pay immediately. Hang up and contact your school directly.
• Students and borrowers are also commonly targeted with unnecessary fees for services that can be easily accessed for free.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recommends the following tips to avoid scams:
• Don’t share your Social Security number, credit card information, or account passwords.
• Never pay up front for a promised prize. It’s a scam if you are told that you must pay fees or taxes to receive a prize or other financial windfall.
• After hearing a sales pitch, take the time to compare prices. Ask for information in writing and read it carefully.
• Too good to be true? Ask yourself why someone is trying so hard to give you a “great deal.” If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
• Watch out for deals that are only “good today” and pressure you to act quickly. Walk away from high-pressure sales tactics that don’t allow you time to read a contract or get legal advice before signing. Also, don’t fall for the sales pitch that says you need to pay immediately, for example by wiring the money or sending it by courier.
• Put your number on the National Do Not Call Registry. Go to donotcall.gov or call 888-382-1222.
If you believe that you have been targeted or victimized by a scam, please contact the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities, the CFPB, or the Federal Trade Commission.