Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!
My family and I would like to wish all of you a safe and happy holiday season and a Merry Christmas. This festive photo of our Maggie and Wolfgang is the product of almost 100 unsuccessful attempts!
A long-time resident of Coaldale recently shared with me an old Coal Region tradition from the 1960’s: Black Christmas. It’s a bit different from Irving Berlin’s classic “White Christmas”!
New Preliminary State Senate and House Maps for Schuylkill and Berks
Every ten years, state legislative districts need to be redrawn to reflect changes in population. Last week, Pennsylvania’s preliminary maps were released.
These districts are drawn by the bipartisan Legislative Reapportionment Commission which consists of the Republican and Democratic leaders of the state legislature and a “neutral” Chairperson. Once approved by the commission, neither the legislature nor the governor can vote to approve or reject the final maps. The maps have been challenged in the courts in the past and will likely be challenged again this year.
The Senate map was approved by a vote of 5-0. The House map, which is much more controversial, was approved by a 3-2 vote.
Under the proposed map, Schuylkill County would remain in the 29th Senate district and, for the first time, would include a portion of Luzerne County. If this version is approved, I would no longer represent Berks County and Rep. Joe Kerwin would no longer represent western Schuylkill County.
The other House districts for Berks and Schuylkill County will also see significant changes if this proposal is finalized. Next week, I will provide all of you with a more detailed map listing the names of each municipality.
The public now has the next 30 days to review the maps and submit comments to the Legislative Reapportionment Commission. After the public comment period, the Commission will issue its final maps. Visit this link to view the full maps and share your thoughts.
Deadline Approaching for Property Tax/Rent Rebate Applications
The deadline for older and disabled Pennsylvanians to apply for rebates on rent and property taxes paid in 2020 is Dec. 31, 2021.
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.
Claimants of the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program are encouraged to file their rebate applications online by visiting mypath.pa.gov. You can check the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program instruction booklet to learn which information you will need to input/upload to complete the process.
Tips for Winterizing Your Home
As the days get colder and heat bills rise, it’s important to remember that there are some basic steps you can take to save money. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection put out a list of different options, which you can read in its entirety here. Here are just a few:
Dealing with the Challenges of Driving in Snow
No one wants to get behind the wheel when it’s snowing, but sometimes we have no choice. PennDOT offers tips for driving in wintry conditions:
You can also find ideas for preparing your vehicle for winter weather and creating a winter emergency kit.
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