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The Latest News from Your State Representative
Please do not reply to this e-mail, as I am unable to respond to messages sent to this address. You can contact me directly at vgaydos@pahousegop.com or here.
As chair of the House Cancer Caucus, my colleagues and I are dedicated to addressing legislative issues related to cancer of all kinds, along with issues related to treatment, care, insurance, co-pays, family, parental support, caregiving and more. During the last week, the Cancer Caucus was active in recognizing several special guests.

As part of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, which is in September, we welcomed two guest speakers – Col. James E. Williams, chairman of the board of directors for the Pennsylvania Cancer Coalition and Omar Perez, head of medical diagnostics at AstraZeneca. Williams spoke about the importance of men advocating for their health, while Perez shared an overview of the value of precision medicine and recent innovations in the advancement of targeted therapies.

 Pictured with me from (left) are Williams and Perez.

This week, we also had the opportunity to join numerous breast cancer fighters and survivors as we commemorated Breast Cancer Awareness Month at the state Capitol. To honor those who have fought the disease, the Capitol fountain is dyed pink each October. This month serves as a reminder to all women of the importance of regular breast cancer screenings and early detection.

People with low to moderate income, who are uninsured or underinsured and meet certain age requirements may qualify for testing through the Pennsylvania Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, which is a free early detection program funded through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For more information, click here.

 As chair of the Cancer Caucus, I will continue to advocate for measures that help us fight these deadly diseases, and to use our state government dollars wisely to make life easier for those who are challenged by them.

Valerie Gaydos
Gaydos Resolution to Study Common Interest Owned Communities Passes House

Rep. Gaydos’ resolution that would direct the Joint State Government Commission to study common interest owned communities (CIOCs), passed the House unanimously this week. House Resolution 69 will focus on the impact the communities have on local governments and Pennsylvania and the challenges facing the residents and governing bodies of these CIOCs.

The number of CIOCs in Pennsylvania is rapidly expanding as this type of community is becoming a more popular way of developing housing. Due to these factors, it is important to continually receive an updated picture of these communities and recommendations, in order to better serve residents.

In 2009, the House passed House Resolution 350 directing the Joint Stat Government Commission to conduct a similar study. Released in 2011, it provided a more robust picture of the planned communities, cooperatives and condominiums, or CIOCs, that are located in Pennsylvania.

Gaydos feels that new rules for private communities are needed as they have evolved over the years. Many residents voice their complaints about association fees and limited services, including a lack of full police coverage to road repairs and trash pickup.
House Passes Legislation to Help Students in Disadvantaged Schools

Legislation that would increase scholarships for students attending economically disadvantaged schools has passed the House this week.

House Bill 1642 would change the Public School Code to change the economically disadvantaged school threshold from at least 75% to 51% of students receiving an Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit scholarship in the previous school year.

The legislation would also allow eligible elementary and middle school students to receive up to $2,000 in scholarships, and eligible high school students to receive up to $4,000. Currently, eligible students can receive up to $1,000.

The Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program provides tax credits to eligible businesses that contribute to an Opportunity Scholarship Organization. Those contributions are used by Opportunity Scholarship organizations to provide tuition assistance in the form of scholarships that eligible students attending a low-achieving school can use to attend a non-public school or a public school outside of their district.

A low-achieving school is defined as a public elementary or secondary school ranking in the bottom 15% of its designation as an elementary or secondary school based upon combined math and reading Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) scores.

Students are eligible to receive a scholarship if their household’s annual income is no greater than $96,676 plus $17,017 for each dependent member of the household. For the 2021-22 school year, the maximum scholarship award available to non-special education students is $8,500 and the maximum for a special education student is $15,000.
House Passes Bill to Extend PACE/PACENET Benefits

This week, Rep. Gaydos voted with a majority of her House colleagues in support of extending PACE/PACENET benefits until Dec. 31, 2021.

Extending this program supports older Pennsylvanians by ensuring they have access to the medications they need, regardless of cost of living changes. An increase in Social Security benefits will not disqualify a person for PACE/PACENET.

Pennsylvania’s prescription drug assistance programs for seniors, provide life-sustaining medications to nearly 300,000 older Pennsylvanians.

House Bill 291
would continue Act 95 of 2019, which resulted in permitting approximately 12,700 PACE and PACENET cardholders to remain in the program and benefit an additional 5,100 cardholders who will exceed the income limits following the 1.3% COLA in 2021. This measure would amend the State Lottery Law to extend a moratorium on increases in income due to a Social Security COLA, thereby extending benefits until Dec. 31, 2023. Without this legislation, the current COLA moratorium under Act 95 will expire on Dec. 31, 2021. More than 17,000 cardholders will benefit from House Bill 291.

The measure now moves to the state Senate for consideration. More information about PACE and PACENET is available at www.aging.pa.gov.
Important Medicare Information

Do you have questions about Medicare? Medicare’s Annual Open Enrollment period is from Friday, Oct. 15, to Tuesday, Dec. 7. This is a time when you can enroll or change your Medicare Advantage Plan or Prescription Drug Plan.

As a resident of Allegheny County, you are entitled to free Medicare counseling through PA MEDI. It is a state funded program that is administered by Wesley Family Services, a local non-profit organization located in New Kensington. They work in partnership with Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging.

Call 412-661-1438 or email PA.MEDI@wfspa.org to make an appointment.
Bill Calls for Transparency from PA Department of Health

The state House passed legislation this week that would require the state Department of Health to release more data on disease outbreaks.

Specifically, House Bill 1893 would clarify that disease-related information is subject to the state’s Right to Know law just as aggregate data in other parts of government are. Most importantly, personal information would remain protected. With the passage of this legislation, citizens can feel confident knowing the data on which government makes decisions, something that was lacking during much of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The measure now goes to the Senate for consideration.                                    
Committees Discuss Higher Education Funding

The House Education Committee’s Subcommittee on Higher Education and the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Education held a joint hearing this week to discuss higher education funding in Pennsylvania.

The 2021-22 budget allocates more than $1.86 billion to support higher education. That includes funding for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE); state-related universities; community colleges; and grants for students through the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA).

Testimony focused on how funding from the Pennsylvania is used and its impact on students and families. Since these schools work in partnership with the Commonwealth, in-state tuition is discounted greatly compared to out-of-state rates and it helps to keep the discount rates flat year after year.

Watch the full hearing here.
Redistricting Hearings to Conclude This Month

The House State Government Committee will hold a half dozen hearings over the next three weeks to conclude its work to ensure transparency in this year’s congressional redistricting process.

Hearings are scheduled in Wellsboro, Tioga County, and York, York County, on Tuesday and Wednesday next week. The committee will be in Kingston, Luzerne County, on Monday, Oct. 18; Spinnerstown, Bucks County, on Tuesday, Oct. 19; and Philadelphia on Wednesday, Oct. 20. The final hearing is set for Thursday, Oct. 28, at the state Capitol.

Citizens interested in offering testimony can do so in writing through Oct. 13. The deadline to testify in person for next week’s hearings has passed; however, people can register to testify for the hearings the following week through Oct. 13 as well.

Details about the hearings and how to offer testimony, along with video of past hearings and other resources, is available at www.PARedistricting.com.
Fire Prevention Week Highlights Importance of Alarms

This week was National Fire Prevention Week, an annual event to help raise awareness about how to prevent fires and fire-related injuries. This year’s theme is “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety!” It aims to educate everyone about the different sounds of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and how to respond when those alarms go off.

Three loud beeps from a smoke alarm means smoke or fire. Anyone inside when the alarm sounds should get out and call 9-1-1. A continuous set of four loud beeps from a carbon monoxide alarm means the gas is present in the home and anyone inside should get out and call 9-1-1. A chirping noise from either type of alarm means the battery is low and must be replaced.

For more information from the National Fire Protection Association, click here.
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District Office:
1005 Beaver Grade Road, Suite 106, Moon Township, PA 15108 | Phone: (412) 262-3780, Fax: (412) 262-3783
Capitol Office:
Room 428, Irvis Office Building, House Box 202044, Harrisburg PA 17120-2044 | Phone: (717) 787-6651 |
Email: vgaydos@pahousegop.com