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In this email update:
Discussions on blight and revitalization in Western PA
As a continuation of the Senate Majority Policy Committee’s statewide discussions on blight and revitalization, I joined Senators Pat Stefano (R-Fayette/Somerset/Westmoreland) and John Eichelberger (R-Blair/Cumberland/Franklin/Fulton/Huntingdon) this past week for a public hearing and roundtable discussion on these topics in Western PA.
Tuesday’s public hearing was with Senator Stefano at Penn State Fayette, and Wednesday’s roundtable discussion with Senator Eichelberger was at the Hollidaysburg Area Public Library. During these two events, we had an in-depth discussion on anti-blight initiatives and the communities that illustrate the good, the bad and the ugly.
These discussions are critical as we work to address urgent needs in many of our communities. These forums also provide us with the opportunity to work with local elected officials and stakeholders to develop more solutions to combat blight and abandonment.
After Tuesday’s public hearing in Fayette County, we also had the opportunity to tour Fallingwater, a National Historic Landmark designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. This site is a very important part of the area, helping the local economy by attracting approximately 180,000 visitors each year.
Watch the public hearing with Senator Stefano. Read more about the hearing here.
Watch the roundtable discussion with Senator Eichelberger.
Fall voters will decide on proposed constitutional amendment to expand homestead exclusion
On November 7, 2017, Pennsylvania voters will be asked to consider a proposed constitutional amendment to permit the General Assembly to enact legislation to expand the current homestead exclusion. The existing homestead provision was approved by the electorate on November 4, 1997 by a vote of 1,240,406 to 778,104.
In order for the Pennsylvania constitution to be amended, the General Assembly must pass identical legislation containing the proposed amendment in two consecutive legislative sessions. The proposal must then be approved by the voters. In the 2015-2016 legislative session, the proposed language was contained in House Bill 147, which passed the House 200-0 and the Senate 45-2. During the current session, House Bill 1285, containing the proposed change, passed the House 190-0 and the Senate 46-2.
Under Section 1, Article XI of the Pennsylvania Constitution, after passage by the General Assembly, the proposed amendment must be published in at least two newspapers in every county in which such newspapers are published. The Secretary of the Commonwealth is responsible for ensuring the proper publication of the amendment. Pursuant to law, the Secretary of the Commonwealth will submit the proposed amendment to the electors of Pennsylvania in the form of a ballot question at the Municipal Election to be held on November 7, 2017. If a ballot question is approved by a majority of electors voting on it, the corresponding amendment becomes part of the Constitution.
The question which will appear on the ballot states:
Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to permit the General Assembly to enact legislation authorizing local taxing authorities to exclude from taxation up to 100 percent of the assessed value of each homestead property within a local taxing jurisdiction, rather than limit the exclusion to one-half of the median assessed value of all homestead property, which is the existing law?
Stay tuned over the coming weeks on how this constitutional amendment could impact you and your family.
The impact of PA’s impact fee
With the debate on whether or not to implement a severance tax on the Marcellus Shale industry still alive, many of you have asked me about the results of our state’s impact fee compared to other states that utilize a severance tax.
Here’s the latest:
Looking at tax collections on drilling activity for the most recent full year available – 2016, Pennsylvania’s impact fee collections of $173.3 million were more than the severance tax collections of four other leading producing states: West Virginia ($69 million); Ohio ($36.67 million); Colorado ($26 million); and Arkansas ($38.2 million).
Given these figures, we can see that Pennsylvania’s impact fee has generated significantly more revenue than other states that implement a severance tax.
There has been widespread debate on both sides of the spectrum about imposing a severance tax. Proponents of a severance tax argue that Pennsylvania is the only natural gas producing state without one. Opponents of a severance tax note that Pennsylvania currently levies an impact fee and places other taxes on businesses which are not in effect in many other states, as well as the tax being passed on to consumers.
Stay tuned for more information on this issue in the future!
Recognizing the ASSIST Team from Blue Mountain Academy
Our first feature of the initiative I recently launched encouraging residents to recognize their friends and neighbors who have made a positive impact on their communities goes to the ASSIST Team from Blue Mountain Academy in Hamburg.
The members of the ASSIST Team are: Lorena Alves; Jessica Ulloa; Brandon Reese; Keren Castro; Felipe Rocha; Tatianna Terrell; Brianna Terrell; Alison Smith; Josephene Sanchez; Karstan Noziere; and Autumn Dekle.
Each and every day, these students take time out of their busy schedules to help their communities, whether it is visiting residents in local nursing homes or organizing various drives for the needy.
So far this year, the ASSIST Team has helped in many ways:
The ASSIST Team is hoping to dress up as cartoon characters and visit a children’s hospital next month to visit patients and spend time with them.
These students selflessly serve their communities and they truly deserve to be commended for their efforts.
Thank you ASSIST Team for helping out your friends and neighbors!
Vietnam Veterans Pinning Ceremony
On Tuesday, September 26, a Vietnam Veterans Pinning Ceremony will be held for Schuylkill County Vietnam Veterans.
Led by Col. Bob DeSousa, who serves as U.S. Senator Pat Toomey’s State Director, the ceremony will recognize the dedication and sacrifice of our brave men and women who fought to defend our freedom and liberties.
During the event, each veteran will receive a special commemorative pin on behalf of Senator Toomey.
The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. in Courtroom #1 of the Schuylkill County Courthouse located at 401 N. 2nd Street in Pottsville.
All Schuylkill County Vietnam Veterans are encouraged to attend this ceremony.
For more information about the ceremony, please contact my Mahanoy City office at: 570-773-0891.
Learn more about the Clinical Outcomes Group
Last week, members of the Clinical Outcomes Group (COGI) in Pottsville visited my office in Mahanoy City to provide Representative Neal Goodman and me with information about a number of special programs the organization will be providing to the community.
Since its establishment, COGI has been committed to providing citizens with several health and social services across the state, ranging from drug and alcohol counseling to workplace and community wellness programs.
Pictured: Representative Neal Goodman, Alicia Fleischut, Executive Director at COGI and Boo Boo Bear, the French Mastiff Therapy Dog at COGI.
More information about COGI can be read here.
Keeping safe from the Deer Tick
What’s smaller than a freckle and thrives after first frost? According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH), it is a deer tick and there are ten things you should know about its potential to make you sick or even change your life.
Autumn hikers, leaf peepers, and hunters will need to remain vigilant for acquisition of a deer tick during their ventures, regardless of first frost and the freezing temperatures of winter. Late fall, a January thaw, or an early spring day are no match for adult stage deer ticks.
The DOH emphasizes, a deer tick should be removed within 24 hours. An infection can be mild and last a few days; severe with symptoms lasting several weeks; cause permanent neurological effects; or be fatal.