In this Update:
House Committee Advances Data Breach Notification Legislation
Earlier this week, the House State Government Committee sent to the full House of Representatives for consideration my legislation that would require state agencies to notify victims of a data breach within one week.
We are now all well aware information security is an endless battle. Pennsylvania state government has been a big target for hackers, with prime examples being last year’s Insight Global data breach that exposed COVID-19 contact tracing data and the personal information of some 72,000 Pennsylvanians, and the more recent data breach that has been impacting many unemployment compensation claimants who had bank account information changed within their accounts allowing criminals to steal their jobless benefits.
Under Senate Bill 696, any state agency, county, municipality, public school or third-party vendor that conducts business with a state or local agency that experiences a data breach would be required to provide notice of the breach to affected victims within seven days of determination.
The measure would also require the state’s Attorney General to be notified concurrently of the breach that occurs in a state agency. A county’s district attorney would be notified within three business days if the breach occurred in a county, school district or municipality.
It is understandable that any agency victimized by a data breach would be embarrassed and reluctant to publicly report the incident, but it is certainly much more important to immediately inform citizens about the theft of their personal information so that they can take steps to protect their assets. Pennsylvania’s recent experience with data breaches clearly shows the need for the state to act quickly to protect its citizens when a data breach occurs.
Senate Acts to Help Local Police Departments Find and Keep Officers
The Senate approved legislation expanding pension benefits for law enforcement officers who want to buy back service. The legislation now advances to the House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 669 gives municipal and regional police officers the option to buy back up to five years of previous part-time or full-time service at another department.
The change could serve as a recruitment tool for police departments. Senate hearings on rising crime in Pennsylvania uncovered a crisis facing local police departments in recruiting and retaining officers.
Still Accepting Responses to Survey Question
There’s still time to provide a response to the legislative survey question I have on my website. Your answers to the question will help guide policymaking regarding the issue of plea deals for felony gun crimes.
You can provide a response to the question here. For those who have already answered the survey question, and for those who plan to do so, thank you for your help.
Recognizing the Jefferson Civic Leadership Academy
Earlier this week, I had the honor of welcoming to the floor of the Pennsylvania Senate members of the Jefferson Civic Leadership Academy.
The academy prepares Erie professionals for meaningful engagement within the Erie area by providing them with a dynamic and unique environment that fosters teamwork, growth and learning through a transformative experience for those seeking to be change-agents for their community.
This year, the Leadership Academy is devoting its research to Bridging Erie County’s Urban and Rural divide, touching on the infrastructure, resources and services throughout Erie.
It was great to see all these great people at the state Capitol and I want to thank them for all the important work they do to better the Erie community.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program Application Deadline Extended to Dec. 31
The deadline for older and disabled Pennsylvanians to apply for rebates on rent and property taxes paid in 2021 has been extended from June 30 to Dec. 31, 2022.
The Property Tax/Rent 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. You can apply online at mypath.pa.gov.
Under state law, the annual deadline for the program is set as June 30. However, the law requires the Department of Revenue to evaluate the program to determine if funds are available to extend the deadline. To date, funding has been available to allow all who qualify, meaning the deadline can be extended to Dec. 31 for the current year.
College Aid Webinars in June and July
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is holding free webinars covering the two most requested topics during this time of year as families look to achieve an affordable postsecondary education.
Deep Dive into Covering the Gap
This one-hour webinar answers questions that might arise after students receive their first semester bill, such as additional costs to plan for and available loan programs.
Borrowing for Education: Which Loan is Right for Me?
This one-hour webinar covers available loan programs and advantages and disadvantages of each.
You can find more information on these sessions and register here.
Look Out for Texting Scams about Unclaimed Property
The Pennsylvania Treasury Department is warning Pennsylvanians that scammers are using text messages to target potential unclaimed property claimants.
About one in 10 Pennsylvanians is owed some of the more than $4 billion in unclaimed property held by the department, making the subject ripe for exploiting by scammers.
The Treasury Department never reaches out to people about any program, including unclaimed property, via unsolicited text messages. You can search the online database at patreasury.gov/unclaimed-property to see if you have property waiting and start the claim process.
Celebrating Fathers and Fatherhood
To all dads, I hope you enjoy your special day on Sunday, as we celebrate all the unique joys and talents you bring to a family.
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