May. 18, 2018

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Weekly News Update


 The latest news from the State Capitol

Veterans: Applying for Benefits Should Never Come with a Fee
The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) reminds veterans and their dependents that they should never have to pay for help to apply for veterans’ benefits.

Under both state and federal law, accredited veterans service organizations were authorized to provide free advice and assistance to veterans as they apply for veterans’ benefits.

My office serves as a site for these services on the first Tuesday of each month in my Bloomsburg District Office. Appointment are required. Please call 570-387-0246.

These veteran service officers are experienced, trained professionals who provide veterans with the best advice and assistance available at no cost.

Accredited veteran service officers provide veterans and their dependents free assistance to identify, determine eligibility for and apply for a wide range of benefits on the local, state and federal levels.

Taking Care of New, Expectant Moms
A new law to take effect soon will help improve health outcomes for expectant and new mothers by establishing a Maternal Mortality Review Committee within the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

In the United States, more women die from pregnancy complications than in any other developed country. Causes of death for expectant mothers include preventable conditions like preeclampsia and obstetric hemorrhage. Mental health conditions, including suicide and overdose, are also becoming the leading cause of maternal mortality in a number of states.

A Maternal Mortality Review Committee will better identify pregnancy-related deaths, oversee the review of these deaths, recommend actions to help prevent future deaths and publish review results. This information will help clinicians and public health professionals better understand circumstances surrounding pregnancy-related deaths and enable them to take appropriate actions to prevent them. No cost will be associated with the committee since the department can absorb any administrative costs within its existing funding.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) monitors maternal mortality on a national level. Pennsylvania now becomes the 33rd state to have maternal mortality review committees either in operation or in development.

In states where such committees already exist, there has been a significant decline in maternal mortality, as well as improvements in infant health with more babies making it to full term.

Are You Owed Unclaimed Property?
The Pennsylvania Treasury Department is currently holding more than $3.2 billion in unclaimed property, with about one in 10 residents eligible to recoup that property.

Unclaimed property is any financial asset that has been left inactive by the owner for a period of three years or more. The most common kinds of unclaimed property include savings and checking accounts, uncashed checks, unclaimed insurance benefits and items abandoned in forgotten safe deposit boxes. The amounts can range from a few dollars to a few thousand dollars.

The Treasury is required to advertise the names and addresses of unclaimed property owners in their last known county of residence, but only if the property is valued in excess of $250. The names and addresses of unclaimed property owners appear in the newspaper only once per year, even though they may be owed multiple pieces of property. State officials are also cautioning individuals to be wary of services or “finders” that charge costly fees to help locate unclaimed property.

There is no need to pay a private service to submit a claim when there is a FREE and more effective way to conveniently determine if the state is holding some of your money.

To search Pennsylvania’s unclaimed property online database, go to the Treasury Department’s website,, and follow the simple instructions.

Around Our Community
Last week, I held my final spring Drug Forum. These six events shared information about drug abuse, the opioid crisis and how to avoid drug addiction. Pictured with me at the Catawissa Fire Hall is Garrett Robinson from the Columbia County Drug Court Program.

Importance of Seat Belts and Common Misconceptions
While there are many things we can do to keep ourselves safe while in a vehicle, one of the most important is to wear a seat belt. Seat belts are the best defense against a crash injury or fatality and increase the chances of survival by up to 60 percent.

Seat belts are important for all passengers, no matter where they are seated in the vehicle. An unbelted person can be ejected from the vehicle even from the back seat, with the windows up and the door locked. An unbelted person can even become a projectile and pose a risk to others in the vehicle.

Some common misconceptions about seat belt use include:

• I’m not driving very far. FACT: Three out of four crashes occur within 25 miles of home.
• I’m riding in the back seat at night, and the police won’t see me. FACT: Police departments are increasing nighttime enforcement. In addition, more high-risk drivers are on the roads at night, such as impaired drivers and drowsy drivers, which may present increased risk for a crash.
• I’m pregnant, and the seat belt is too tight. FACT: Wearing your seat belt is the best defense for you and your baby in the event of a crash. Adjust the lap belt so that it fits snugly over the hips and pelvis, below your belly.
• I don't want to be trapped by a seat belt in case my vehicle catches fire or is submerged in water. FACT: Less than one-half of 1 percent of all injury crashes involves fire or submersion. Also, national research has shown you are 25 times more likely to be killed if you are ejected from the vehicle.

For more information about traffic safety, visit

Upcoming Events
• West Berwick School will be holding its carnival on Friday, May 18, from 5-8 p.m.
• The ALS Walk in Bloomsburg will be held on Saturday, May 19, at 9 a.m. at Town Park.
• The Mifflinville Community Carnival will be held from May 25-27.
• Catawissa Community Sales will be held on Saturday, May 26.
• Pennsylvania Fish for Free Day, Sunday, May 27. For more details, please visit here.
• My offices will be closed on Monday, May 28, in observance of Memorial Day. Thank you to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
• Monthly Radio Address: Thursday, May 31, at 8:30 a.m. on WHLM 94.7 FM.
• A representative of the Veterans Administration will be in my Bloomsburg district office on Tuesday, June 5. By appointment only. Call 570-387-0246.
• Bloomsburg YMCA will be holding its annual yard sale on Saturday, June 9, from 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• Park Place Village, Berwick, will hold its annual community yard sale on Saturday, June 9, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• The Mifflinville Community Yard Sale will be held on Saturday, June 16.
• The Sugarloaf Columbia County Historical Society will hold a plaque dedication at the Sugarloaf School on Saturday, June 16, at 1 p.m. This was the first consolidated school in Columbia County.
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Office Locations
904B Orange St., Berwick PA, 18603 | Phone: (570) 759-8734
Market Street Plaza, 1000 Market St. (Suite 39), Bloomsburg, PA 17815 | (570) 387-0246
316 Main Capitol, PO Box 202109, Harrisburg, PA 17120-2109 | Phone: (717) 783-1102
TTY: 855-282-0614