TAX SEASON IS AROUND THE CORNER – SCHEDULE YOUR APPOINTMENT NOW
If you made less than $50,000 in 2011, you are likely eligible for PathWays PA’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. VITA helps return thousands of dollars into the community every year and provides free income tax preparation services to those that need it most.
To schedule your appointment, call PathWays PA at 610-543-5022!
PATHWAYS PA IS LOOKING FOR GENTLY USED PROFESSIONAL CLOTHING!
PathWays PA has recently launched our Dress For Your Dreams – MLK Day 2012 campaign! We’re looking for gently used professional and semi-professional clothing. With this, we’ll enable our clients to have the right clothing for job interviews and starting work at new places of employment. If you’d like to donate, contact Chelsea Kohler at email@example.com. For more information, visit the Dress for Your Dreams site.
Federal Policy Updates
HELP RAISE THE TIPPED MINIMUM WAGE
The federal minimum wage for tipped restaurant workers in the United States is $2.13 and hour. This rate has remained unchanged for the last 20 years. Tips are very inconsistent, varying widely by day, week, and season, which leaves restaurant workers vulnerable to the $2.13 per hour base pay meaning many struggle to make ends meet
Help change this by urging Congress to pass the Working for Adequate Gains for Employment in Services (WAGES) Act which is the first bill ever introduced into Congress focused on tipped workers. This bill would significantly close the wage gap that currently exists between tipped employees and all other workers.
The WAGES Act would do this in 3 steps:
- It would raise the minimum wage of tipped employees from the current level of $2.13 per hour to $3.75 per hour 90 days after enactment.
- It would then raise the minimum wage of tipped employees to $5.00 per hour one year after enactment.
- Finally, two years after enactment, the tipped minimum wage would be increased to 70% of minimum wage, but no less than $5.50 per hour.
State Policy Updates
PENNSYLVANIA PLANS TO REINSTATE ASSET LIMITS ON SNAP (FOOD STAMPS)
Last week, Pennsylvania's Department of Public Welfare (DPW) announced that it was sending a request to the USDA to re-implement asset tests to ascertain eligibility for the SNAP (food stamp) program. If the request goes through, asset limits will go into effect on May 1, 2012.
Implementing an "asset test" means that in addition to income eligibility guidelines, applicants may not have above a certain amount in additional resources. Under the proposed measure, Pennsylvanians with more than $2,000 in savings or assets ($3,250 for adults 60 and over) would not be able to obtain food stamps, even if they meet income guidelines. While housing and retirement benefits do not count against the asset test, savings for emergencies or medical needs would be counted. Pennsylvanians applying for food stamps would be able to have one car under the measure, but could not have an additional car if it is valued above $4,650, which could create a serious burden on two-adult families, especially those in rural areas.
As of 2010, all but 14 states had eliminated asset tests for food stamps or raised the asset limits to at least $7,000. Pennsylvania is believed to be the first state asking to reinstate asset testing, which it eliminated in 2008.
For more information about this change please check out articles listed on our Policy Blog. If you have questions or concerns about the change please contact DPW.
JOIN THE INSURING MOTHERHOOD COALITION
Health insurance is absolutely critical to ensuring healthy births, which is why Senator Farnese has introduced SB 1063, important legislation that would expand pregnant women’s access to insurance in Pennsylvania.
The bill would ensure that individual and small group plans provide essential maternity care insurance coverage to women. The bill would also guarantee that pregnancy could no longer be considered a pre-existing condition by insurance companies in determining eligibility for coverage.
Sign a petition to encourage the Senate to pass SB 1063. You can also follow the Insuring Motherhood Coalition on Facebook and Twitter. Also be sure to check out their new video by clicking here.
Information and Events
JOIN THE MARCH FOR ABORTION RIGHTS IN PENNSYLVANIA
In their ongoing efforts to secure reproductive choice, the We’ve Had Enough Campaign will be holding an action on Friday, January 20th to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that said a woman’s reproductive choice is between her and her doctor.
But currently in Pennsylvania, such rights are under attack – two separate bills make it harder for women to obtain the abortion services they need by setting hard-to-attain clinic physical space and staffing guidelines and preventing any plan participating in the state health insurance exchange from offering abortion coverage.
If you’d like to participate, the action meet at Walnut and Broad streets in Philadelphia at noon on the 20th. For more info, go to wevehadenoughpa.org. You can also find out more details by following them on Twitter @WeveHadEnoughPA.
SAVE THE DATE FOR THE BUDGET SUMMIT
From our friends at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center:
Governor Tom Corbett will unveil a state budget plan next month that is likely to mark the fifth straight year of cuts to state services.
Join us at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's 2012 Budget Summit for an in-depth look at the state and federal budget plans and what they mean for communities and families across Pennsylvania
WHEN: Thursday, February 23, 2012, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
WHERE: Hilton Harrisburg
The Summit will also feature workshops on how to talk about government and public services and lessons from successful budget campaigns in other states.
Registration is free and lunch is included. Register today!
THE POLITICS OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY: WILL GROWING POVERTY AFFECT ELECTION 2012?
If you are unable to attend CLASP’s Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity’s upcoming forum in person, you can now join the forum by live audio conference. The event will examine how the struggles facing growing numbers of low-income families will affect the 2012 elections. The forum will also include the release of new polling data from Spotlight that looks at how voter concerns about growing poverty are influencing perceptions about candidates.
CLICK HERE to register for the live audio conference.
The forum also will be recorded and posted on the Spotlight website
following the event. For more information, please contact Tamanna Mansury at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NONPROFIT VOTES UPDATES FACT SHEETS AND WEBINAR SCHEDULE
Nonprofit VOTE partners with America's nonprofits to help the people they serve participate and vote. This year they have new materials and webinars to help 501(c)(3) organization work with candidates and help ensure their clients are voting.
Fact Sheets – To view the information below visit their factsheet library.
- Election Day Registration, explaining what it is, which states have it, and how it helps voters keep their registration current.
- Expanding Voter Registration Opportunities, discussing advances in online voter registration and pre-registration that streamline the registration process and make it more accessible.
- The National Voter Registration Act, describing the role of public assistance agencies that are required to offer voter registration to clients.
Nonprofit VOTES will be hosting a webinar every month until November. They will cover a variety of voter engagement topics to ensure you know how to conduct registration drives, educate voters, and get out the vote. Their webinars are free for 501(c)(3) organizations and will be available on their YouTube channel.
See the full webinar lineup for 2012.
Registration is open for our January 26th webinar, Plan Ahead: Build a Voter Engagement Timeline for 2012.
FRAC CALL ON SUMMER MEALS
Sponsors are crucial to the success of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and can feed children at numerous sites throughout the community. The sponsor is administratively and fiscally responsible for operating SFSP. Therefore, it is important to focus on sponsor recruitment in your community, so there are enough sponsors to serve the need. Presenters will share strategies to recruit sponsors and talk about the work they do to foster a good relationship with Summer Food Program sponsors.
WHEN: Tuesday, February 7, at 1:00 pm
Click here to register for the next Summer Meals Matter call.