Senator Laughlin E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • This Week’s Hot Jobs in Erie County
  • Laughlin Chosen to Represent PA on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Legislative Caucus Executive Committee
  • Survey Results
  • 2023 Adult Trout Stocking Schedule Now Available
  • Report Tracks College Savings Accounts in Rural and Urban Counties
  • How to File PA Income Tax Returns Online
  • Federal Fire, EMS Grant Program Closes Feb. 10
  • Educational Gratuity Program Helps Children of Fallen Military Members
  • Entries Accepted for Statewide “Art of the State” Exhibition
  • Watch PA Wildlife Anytime from Home

This Week’s Hot Jobs in Erie County

Check out Erie County Hot Job listings at PA CareerLink. For more information on the postings below, type in the job number at:

Laughlin Chosen to Represent PA on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Legislative Caucus Executive Committee

Recently, I was unanimously confirmed to represent Pennsylvania on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Legislative Caucus (GLLC) Executive Committee.

Being an Erie native, I know how important the Great Lakes are to the regions that are fortunate enough to border them – they provide our communities with a distinctive historical, economic and cultural identity.

The GLLC’s mission is to strengthen the role of state and provincial legislators in the regional, national and binational policymaking process by providing a forum to exchange good practices, ideas and opportunities, and by advancing legislation to promote the restoration, protection, economy and sustainable use of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River for current residents and future generations.

All eight states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Wisconsin) and two Canadian provinces (Ontario and Québec) in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence basin are represented on the GLLC Executive Committee.

I look forward to representing Pennsylvania on the executive committee and working with the committee’s other members to ensure we do all we can to protect these wonderful natural resources.

Survey Results

Last week, I ran a survey asking if you thought Pennsylvania should reduce the House of Representatives from 203 members to 150 members; legislation which I have previously introduced. This would increase the size of the House districts by approximately a third, bringing the ratio of lawmakers in Pennsylvania more in line with other states. The results showed 74% favored reducing the size of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, while 26% were opposed. Thank you for participating!

2023 Adult Trout Stocking Schedule Now Available

The 2023 adult trout stocking schedule is now available – click on the above graphic to be taken to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission for more information.

Report Tracks College Savings Accounts in Rural and Urban Counties

A new report from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Treasury Department evaluated trends in post-secondary education savings accounts, also known as PA 529 accounts.

PA Treasury offers two PA 529 plans: the PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP), which allows families to save at today’s tuition rates to meet tomorrow’s tuition costs, and the PA 529 Investment Plan (IP), which offers a variety of investment options.

The report examined differences between rural and urban Pennsylvania beneficiaries in the amount of savings, consistency of contributions and types of accounts opened. Key findings:

  • Education savings in PA 529 accounts are more highly concentrated in urban counties.
  • More than 60% of all contributions in PA 529 accounts between January 2018 and March 2022 went to Investment Plan accounts in urban counties.
  • A sharp increase in contribution amounts occurred in the third and fourth quarters of 2021, with Investment Plan contributions rising more than 30% from inflation-adjusted prior-year values.
  • Rural beneficiaries received an average $56 less per quarter than their urban counterparts – even after controlling for income, education and age.

The Treasury Department is increasing rural outreach to promote college savings. You can watch a discussion of the findings here.

How to File PA Income Tax Returns Online

Tax-filing season has opened, and the state Department of Revenue reminds taxpayers of the free online option to file their Pennsylvania personal income tax returns:

Taxpayers do not need to create a username or password to perform many functions in myPATH. That includes filing the Pennsylvania Personal Income Tax Return (PA-40), making a payment, responding to department requests for information and checking the status of a refund.

The deadline to submit 2022 personal income tax returns is April 18. Personal income tax assistance is also available through the department’s Online Customer Service Center and by calling 717-787-8201 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Taxpayers may also visit a Department of Revenue district office for state personal income tax filing assistance.

Federal Fire, EMS Grant Program Closes Feb. 10

Fire departments and non-affiliated EMS organizations have until Feb. 10 to apply for federal grants for equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training and other resources.

Administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Assistance to Firefighters Grants Program helps firefighters and other first responders obtain critically needed resources necessary for protecting the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.

Fire and EMS organizations can find an application checklist, a rundown of recent program changes, Frequently Asked Questions, videos and more here.

Educational Gratuity Program Helps Children of Fallen Military Members

We owe a debt of gratitude to Pennsylvanians who served in the military, especially those disabled or killed during conflict. Part of paying that debt is helping to care for the impacted families.

The Educational Gratuity Program provides education financial assistance for children of honorably discharged veterans with service-connected disabilities who served during war or armed conflict, or children of veterans who died during war or armed conflict.

Children of eligible veterans must be between the ages of 16 and 23, living in Pennsylvania five years prior to application and attend a school within the commonwealth. You can read more about eligibility and applying here.

Entries Accepted for Statewide “Art of the State” Exhibition

Artists and craftspeople are invited to submit applications to show their work in the 56th annual “Art of the State” exhibition.

“Art of the State” is a juried exhibition open to Pennsylvania residents at least 18 years of age. Artists will compete in five categories: painting, work on paper, sculpture, craft, and photography and digital media. Entries must be submitted online. Additional information and the link to enter are available at The application deadline is May 5.

More than $4,000 in cash awards will be presented. “Art of the State” is scheduled to open to the public at The State Museum on Sept. 10.

Watch PA Wildlife Anytime from Home

You can watch black bears, eagles and snow geese this winter through the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s round-the-clock livestreams.

A new 24-7 livestream from a black bear den in Pike County brings to four the number of livestreams the Game Commission plans to run into the spring of 2023. Also showing are the Farm Country Eagle Livestream, which provides a bird’s-eye view into a long-established nest in a giant sycamore overlooking scenic farmland, the popular Hanover, Pa. Eagle Livestream and the agency’s Snow Goose Livestream capturing the migratory action at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area.

Pennsylvania’s black bears usually are born in January and begin walking in about eight weeks. They leave the den when three months old. Bald eagles typically lay eggs in mid-February and the eggs hatch in mid- to late March. Snow goose migration typically peaks at Middle Creek from mid-February to March.

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