Aug. 11, 2023

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#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol
In this Edition:
  •   More People Eligible for Property Tax/Rent Rebates Next Year
  •   Real ID Extension
  •   Free Help Available to PA Small Businesses
  •   ATV, Snowmobile Grant Program Taking Applications
  •   Teacher Certification Wait Time Reduction
  •   Beware of Financial Aid Scams
  •   You’re Invited to Tea with Tom
  •   Out and About Photos – MC 130J Commando II Arrival
More People Eligible for Property Tax/Rent Rebates Next Year

More Pennsylvania seniors and people with disabilities will be eligible for increased property tax or rent relief next year under a new law approved by the General Assembly in July.  

Act 7 of 2023 increases income limits for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program for homeowners and renters to $45,000 annually. The law also raises the maximum rebate each homeowner or renter can receive from $650 to $1,000.

Thanks to the new law, more than 150,000 additional individuals will be eligible for assistance, which is more important than ever due to rising costs driven by inflation. The expansion will be in effect next year when residents apply for assistance based on rent and property taxes paid in 2023. Those claims will be paid in 2024.

There is still time to apply for the current year’s program, which is based on rent and property taxes paid in 2022. Apply online at or contact my office for free assistance.

The Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program benefits eligible residents 65 years and older; widows and widowers 50 years and older; and people with disabilities 18 years and older.
Real ID Extension

Due to an extension recently granted by the federal government, Pennsylvania residents will be able to use their current driver license to access federal facilities up until May 7, 2025. Afterward, entrance to a federal facility will require a Real ID.

Real ID is the result of a federal law affecting how states issue driver licenses and ID cards. Real ID adds extra verification to the process to make the card acceptable for the following federal purposes: boarding a domestic commercial flight, entering a military installation or federal facility. After May 7, 2025, Pennsylvania residents will need a Real ID, valid passport or military ID for the underlined federal purposes.
Free Help Available to PA Small Businesses

Pennsylvania has 15 Small Business Development Centers that provide free, confidential consulting and low-cost training to small businesses across the state. Training sessions cover a range of business issues, including testing a new business proposition, shaping a business plan, investing funding opportunities and more.

Whether you have an idea for a new business, want to improve your existing business or would like to buy or sell a business in Pennsylvania, experienced business consultants are available to help you. Learn more here.
ATV, Snowmobile Grant Program Taking Applications

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Bureau of Recreation and Conservation recently announced it is accepting applications for the All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and Snowmobile Program’s fall grant round.

The program awards grants from the ATV and Snowmobile Management Restricted Accounts for projects proposing land acquisition, planning, development, rehabilitation, maintenance, equipment purchase or educational programs for ATV or snowmobile trails and facilities.

Eligible applicants include for-profit organizations, nonprofit organizations and municipalities in the Commonwealth.

Proposals must be submitted via DCNR’s online grant application portal no later than 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29.

For assistance with the portal, contact the Department's Grants Customer Service Center at 800-326-7734 or

Bureau staff are available to assist applicants with developing a competitive application and it is strongly recommended that prospective applicants contact their regional advisor early in the grant process. Staff contact information is available here.
Teacher Certification Wait Time Reduction

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) recently announced that the wait time for In-State Level 1 certificates has been reduced by approximately 10 weeks since last year. The PDE also launched a new feature on its website to improve transparency and responsiveness in the educator certification process. The certification “clock” on PDE’s Certification page will show, in real time, the length of time needed to process a certificate once all required information is submitted to the department.

The online clock shows that, as of today, an educator can expect their certification to be processed in the following timeframes:

  •   In-State Level I Certificates: 2-4 weeks
  •   Level II Certificates: 4-6 weeks
  •   Add-On Certificates: 1-3 weeks
  •   Emergency Certificates: 2-4 weeks

The new processing timelines reflect an approximate 10-week improvement in response times since last year for In-State Level I Certifications.
Beware of Financial Aid Scams

In light of the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding the Federal Student Loan Debt Cancellation Program, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is cautioning borrowers to be aware of an increase in harmful financial aid scams that could expose them to identity theft and significant financial loss.

Last year, scammers stole an estimated $5 billion from Americans in student loan-related scams, according to a recent report. Scammers use multiple modes of communication to reach borrowers, including social media, text messages, emails and phone calls.

Scammers are also very skilled at posing as government representatives and may even have look-alike government websites and logos to trick unsuspecting victims. Borrowers are encouraged to visit the U.S. Department of Education’s website,, for information about all available student loan debt relief and repayment plans. Borrowers should never pay for a service that is available to them for free.

For a list of red flags you should look for to avoid being scammed and what to do if you become a victim of a scam, click here.

You’re Invited to Tea with Tom

Couples who have been together for 30 years or longer are invited to join me on
Thursday, Nov. 16, from 10 a.m. to noon at the South Hanover Township municipal building, 161 Patriot Way in Hershey. During the event we will enjoy tea and other light refreshments, celebrate your marital milestones, and discuss state programs and services available to those in attendance. Reservations are required due to limited seating. Please call 717-534-1323.
Out and About Photos – MC 130J Commando II Arrival

I was honored to attend the MC-130J Commando II arrival ceremony at the 193rd Special Operations Wing in Middletown. I am pictured with Brig. Gen. Michael Regan, deputy adjutant general of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.

The 193rd Special Operations Wing is the first, and currently only, Air National Guard unit to receive the MC-130J Commando II mission. The MC-130J Commando II flies low visibility, single or multi-ship, low-level infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces by air drop or air land and air refueling missions.