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Welcome to "Mike's Memo," an update on what's happening in the 48th Legislative District, the State Capitol, and the progress of my legislative priorities. If you haven't done so already, please take a few moments to visit my website at www.senatorfolmer.com to learn more about issues that may affect you and your family.

Week of May 22, 2017

Applications for Medical Marijuana Testing Laboratories Now Available Online
The PA Department of Health announced applications are now available online for laboratories to become approved for the testing of medical marijuana as part of the Commonwealth’s Medical Marijuana Program. Laboratories approved by the Department will conduct third-party tests on medical marijuana samples from growers and processors, and laboratory approval will be valid for two years from the date of issuance. The applications are available here.

Column: Explaining SB 76
I’m proud to stand with Senator Argall in supporting his Senate Bill 76 to eliminate school property taxes because I believe no tax should have the power to leave you homeless.

SB 76 is the only plan to totally eliminate school property taxes – not partial reduction, not elimination for some but not all taxpayers, and not a new program to lessen tax burdens. SB 76 eliminates school property taxes.

Total elimination of school property taxes requires approximately $14 Billion in other revenues and there are just four basic replacement options: Personal Income Tax, Earned Income Tax, Sales Tax, or some other – new – tax.

SB 76 eliminates school property taxes by expanding the PIT and the Sales Tax to replace existing school property taxes dollar-for-dollar while giving schools the ability to raise additional revenues through either a local PIT or EIT – after voter approval.

Opponents say this plan is complicated. It isn’t. Well over half its provisions involve the expanded Sales Tax while most replacement moneys would come from the PIT as each 0.1% increase generates about $400 Million in replacement revenues and going from the current 3.07% to 4.95% would generate about $8 Billion.

A 1% Sales Tax increase (including the Hotel Tax) from 6% to 7% (7% to 8% in Allegheny County and 8% to 9% in Philadelphia) would generate approximately $1.7 Billion in replacement revenues. Expanding the base generates about $4.6 Billion but is admittedly what causes much opposition. However, rather than offering alternatives, critics oppose the entire bill.

The proposed expansion would not include food items on the WIC list – things like: fruits and vegetables, milk, cheese, and yogurt, juices for women and children, infant food, whole wheat breads and grains, breakfast cereals, peanut butter, and eggs. However, expansion would include foods with little nutritional value: sodas, fruit and sports drinks, cheese spreads, and foods with added sugars, fats, salt, or oils.

Expansion to clothing would generate about $460 Million in replacement revenues. However, clothing under $50 would be exempt, impacting lower incomes less.

Combined, the PIT and Sales Tax changes account for most of the needed revenues to totally eliminate school property taxes with the remainder coming from current gaming moneys.

Once you get through the proposed Sales tax changes, the remaining provisions are less controversial. Yet, some critics focus on another proposal to protect schools: retaining some property taxation to repay outstanding debt. Such claims are misleading as once debts are repaid, all school property taxes are eliminated under SB 76.

If you don’t like the proposed mixture of taxes to eliminate school property taxes, offer an alternative. If you don’t like the proposed Sales Tax expansion, offer an alternative. If you don’t like allowing schools to continue to levy a property tax to cover debts, offer an alternative.

If you’re not going to offer alternatives, please, don’t offer plans that don’t provide for the complete elimination of school property taxes.

It’s only a matter of time before the current system will be unable to fund schools as school property taxes increase about half a billion dollars a year: $426 Million from last year to this year ($13.868 Billion to $14.294 Billion), with projected increases of $488 Million next year, $537 Million the year after that, $558 Million the following year, and $578 Million from 2020–2021 to 2021–2022.

The clock is ticking: property taxes continue to rise and taxpayers continue to bear the burdens. There’s just one plan to completely eliminate school property taxes: Senate Bill 76, which I support because no tax should have the power to leave you homeless.

My May Community Report Cable Show at Quittie Glen, Annville
My May Community Report cable show is ready to watch! This month's show features the beautiful Quittie Glen in Annville, Lebanon County, a center for nontraditional therapeutic activities, integrated medicine and wellness-oriented complementary services, including yoga, acupuncture, massage therapy, mindfulness meditation and summer day camps for kids. Comcast on Demand and Harrisburg Broadcast Network (Harrisburg, WHBG-20) should also be airing the show through the month. You can watch the show below!

May 2017 - Quittie Glen

We filmed my June Community Report cable show last week at several local breweries in Dauphin County and the 48th Senatorial District, including The Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey (Londonderry Township), Boneshire Brew Works (Swatara Township), and Tattered Flag Brewery & Still Works (Middletown). We have some talented entrepreneurs who have really built their small businesses into success stories in our communities! Stay tuned for the upcoming show!

PennDOT Repairs 4.5-Mile Section of US 422 in Lebanon County
The PA Department of Transportation started prep work to repair and resurface a 4.52-mile section of US 422 in Lebanon County from the intersection at Clear Spring Road (North Annville/South Annville Township line), through Annville and Cleona, to the intersection at 25th Street (North Lebanon/North Cornwall Township line). Pennsy Supply, Inc., of Annville, was awarded the $3,719,384 contract, and work is scheduled to be completed by mid-November.

The Pennsylvania Bulletin
Pennsylvania government’s official journal of information and rulemaking is the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Issued weekly, it includes proposed and enacted rules of state agencies and courts, executive orders by the Governor, actions by the General Assembly and more. You can search current and past issues here.


Contact Information
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