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Friday, January 26, 2018

Capitol Update By Rep. Martin Causer

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Capitol Update
Friday, January 26, 2018 The latest news from the State Capitol
Bill to Help Ambulance Services Poised for House Vote

Earlier this week, the House Appropriations Committee unanimously approved my legislation to help our struggling ambulance services by providing a desperately needed increase in Medicaid reimbursement rates. This vote puts the bill in place for a vote by the full House in the near future.

House Bill 699 would increase reimbursements for Advanced Life Support (ALS) services from $200 to not less than $300, and for Basic Life Support (BLS) services from $120 to $180. The rates were last adjusted in 2004. This is an important step toward addressing some of the most pressing financial challenges facing our emergency medical services.
Outreach Hours Set for Feb. 1

To help ensure access to state government information and services, I will hold outreach office hours at the following locations on Thursday, Feb. 1:
  • Emporium Borough Office – 9-10 a.m.
  • Port Allegany Borough Office – 11 a.m. to noon.
Services available include assistance with any state-related issues or concerns, driver license and vehicle registration applications, and applications for various state programs, such as the senior citizen Property Tax/Rent Rebate and PACE/PACENET prescription drug assistance programs.

As always, you are welcome to stop by my offices in Bradford (78 Main St., first floor), Coudersport (107 S. Main St., Room 1) or Kane (55 Fraley St.) Monday through Friday, or visit my website at or my Facebook page at for the latest news from state government.
New Law Addresses Control of Noxious Weeds

Legislation to protect against the spread of noxious weeds was recently signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf. The law updates the Department of Agriculture’s authority to ensure these plants, some of which can have economic or medicinal value, are kept under control. If allowed to grow out of control, these plants do a lot of damage, choking out native plants and animals, as well as clogging waterways and filtration systems. As chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, I was pleased to work with the department to implement much-needed updates to this law. I am pictured at the table with Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, minority chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee and prime sponsor of the bill; Gov. Tom Wolf; and Sen. Elder Vogel, majority chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.
Veterans Assistance Available

Veterans service officers will be available in my Kane, Bradford and Coudersport offices in February to assist veterans and their family members with issues such as compensation, education, pension, health care and death benefits. The schedule is as follows:
  • Monday, Feb. 5, 1-3 p.m.Melissa Davis of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) will be at the Kane office, 55 Fraley St. No appointments are necessary.
  • Thursday, Feb. 8, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dan Falls of the American Legion will be at the Coudersport office, 107 S. Main St. Appointments are required and should be made by calling 814-274-9769.
  • Monday, Feb. 12, 1-3 p.m.Melissa Davis of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) will be at the Bradford office, 78 Main St. No appointments are necessary.
Protecting Your Personal Information from Tax Identity Thieves

To bring greater awareness to the crime of tax identity theft, House Resolution 646 recognizes Jan. 29 through Feb. 2 as Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week in Pennsylvania. According to the Federal Trade Commission, tax refund fraud is the largest and fastest-growing identity theft category.

Tax identity theft occurs when someone steals a person’s personal information, often obtained through old tax returns, and uses it to file current fraudulent tax returns in someone else’s name to receive a tax refund.

Taxpayers in their 20s are at the highest risk for tax identity theft victimization; however, anyone at any age can be targeted. The best way to safeguard a person’s identity is to properly dispose of any documents that contain personal and identifying information by shredding bank and credit card statements, as well as old tax returns. In addition, individuals should use firewall and anti-virus software on devices, create strong passwords on websites, and refrain from opening emails from unknown senders.

In addition to using stolen information to get a tax refund, thieves may also use stolen Social Security numbers to get a job. If you receive a letter from the IRS saying more than one tax return was filed in your name, or IRS records show you have wages from an employer you don’t know, then you may be the victim of tax identity theft. Also, if you suspect a letter, email or telephone call about your tax records is a scam, call the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue at 717-787-8201 or the IRS at 800-829-1040.

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