Veterans and Military Issues
2011: Pennsylvania Legislative Military Installations and Base Development Caucus, Co-Chairman
In his first year in office, Senator Blake helped to establish and now serves as a co-chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Military Installations and Base Development Caucus. The purpose of the Caucus is to serve as an active forum for members of the General Assembly, working with the Governor’s office – and our federal Congressional delegation – to find ways to improve our military installations; expand business development opportunities; and ensure the long-term viability of these installations and our defense industry throughout the state.
Senator Blake worked with Governor Corbett and Lieutenant Governor Cawley to establish the Pennsylvania Military Community Protection Commission. The purpose of the Commission is to assist the Governor in the enhancement of the military value of and advocacy for all installations, organizations and defense related stakeholders in the commonwealth. Senator Blake was appointed by the Governor to serve on the Commission.
Building on the impact first of the Military Installations and Base Development Caucus, and then the Military Community Protection Commission, Senator Blake worked effectively with his Republican and Democratic counterparts to insert the commission and its mission into Pennsylvania law.
Veterans-Related Proposals Signed into Law:
Blake amendment required the Municipal Police Officer Training Commission to work with the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, the Department of Health, and other agencies and groups with experience in post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, to assess the training needs of police officers in this area.
Signed into law October 24, 2012
After successful passage of Senator Blake’s SB 1252 in the Senate, this bill was included in Act 177 of 2012. This bill renamed the noteworthy Davis Street bridge over I-81 in Moosic, PA as the “Andrew A. Pompey and Durando J. Pompey Memorial Bridge.” Brothers Andrew and Durando Pompey were killed in combat during WWII.
Signed into law October 24, 2012
This legislation would remove a three-year time limit within which members of the Scranton Police and Fire pension systems must begin working for the city in order to be eligible for purchasing credit for time spent in the armed forces.
Signed into law June 18, 2014
This Act honors the memory of Colonel Frank Duffy, the highest-ranking officer from Lackawanna County to be killed in World War I, by designating the new bridge carrying Harrison Avenue over Roaring Brook in Scranton, PA as the Colonel Frank Duffy Memorial Bridge.
Signed into law October 30, 2015
Affordable Housing Proposals for Veterans and Other Pennsylvanians Introduced:
Under this legislation, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) would establish the program in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA). The DMVA would implement a program to identify homeless veterans and veterans at imminent risk of becoming homeless. PHFA would establish a housing ombudsman to advocate for homeless veterans in the housing market, including lease negotiations and credit counseling issues.
The DMVA may require a veteran to engage in activities such as counseling, health education, job training, or other self-help programs as a condition of participation. Financial assistance in the form of a rental voucher will be provided to the veteran. The amount of the voucher will be for a maximum of $1,000 per month for 12 months to cover housing costs. A veteran will be able to file for an extension. With a $12,500,000 annual appropriation and $500,000 set aside for administrative costs, this program could help as many as 1,000 homeless or imminently homeless veterans annually.
As an effort to incent greater investment in adequate and affordable housing in Pennsylvania, this bill would grant counties the option of raising fees on “other writs” such as easements, declarations of plans or rights of way. Deed and mortgage fees could not be increased. Once counties increase their currently-charged fees: 75% would be directed to a state fund to enable PHFA to issue a bond to pay for affordable housing projects in participating counties. Those counties can keep 25% for affordable housing projects or deposit into already-established county-housing-trust funds.
Other Services for Veterans and Military Personnel:
Veterans may contact or visit either of Senator Blake’s district offices for information on state programs designed to assist and benefit veterans or military personnel like the Property Tax and Rent Rebate program or PennDOT driver and identification services specifically for military personnel and veterans.
Main District Office
409 Lackawanna Ave., Suite 210
Scranton, PA 18503
Toll Free: 1-877-346-5721