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Information on Proposed Ballot Question on the 2017 General Election Ballot
On November 7, Pennsylvanians will be asked to vote on a constitutional amendment dealing with how the law treats residential school property taxes through the homestead exemption.
The legislation providing the voter referendum was approved by the General Assembly in two consecutive sessions, as required by the state constitution.
Currently, local taxing authorities can exclude from taxation up to 50 percent of the median assessed value of homestead (owner-occupied) property within the taxing district. The constitutional amendment would expand it up to 100 percent for property owners who apply.
Below is information from the Pennsylvania Department of State that provides the exact language of the question as it will appear on the ballot and a plain English explanation from the Attorney General’s office on what the proposed constitutional amendment would do if approved. You can find these official documents on the Department of State website in both English and Spanish.
PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
AMENDING THE HOMESTEAD PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENT EXCLUSION
Plain English Statement of the Office of Attorney General
The purpose of the ballot question is to amend Article VIII, Section 2(b)(vi) of the Pennsylvania Constitution to permit the General Assembly to pass a law authorizing local taxing authorities to increase the amount of assessed value of homestead property that may be excluded when determining the real estate tax owed for homestead property. If the ballot question is approved, the General Assembly could then pass a law authorizing local taxing authorities to exclude up to one-hundred percent (100%) of the assessed value of each homestead property when calculating the real estate tax owed on homestead property.
The Pennsylvania Constitution currently permits the General Assembly to pass a law authorizing local taxing authorities to exclude only a portion of the assessed value of homestead property when determining the amount of real estate tax owed. Under current law, the amount of assessed value that may be excluded from taxation cannot exceed one-half the amount of the median assessed value of all homestead property within a local taxing jurisdiction. Local taxing authorities may not increase the millage rate of its real property tax to pay for homestead property exclusions.
The effect of the ballot question would allow the General Assembly to pass a law increasing the amount of assessed value that local taxing authorities may exclude from real estate taxation for homestead property. Currently, local taxing authorities can exclude from taxation only up to one-half the amount of the median assessed value of all homestead property located in the local taxing jurisdiction. But if the ballot question is approved, the General Assembly would have authority to pass a law permitting local taxing authorities to exclude up to one-hundred percent (100%) of the assessed value of each homestead property. Local taxing authorities would continue to be prohibited from increasing the millage rate of its tax on real property to pay for the homestead exclusions.
The ballot question, by itself, does not authorize local taxing authorities to exclude up to one-hundred percent (100%) of the assessed value of each homestead property from real estate taxation. Local taxing authorities could not take such action unless and until the General Assembly passes a law authorizing them to do so. The ballot question authorizes the General Assembly to pass that law.
Vietnam Veterans Wall of Faces Program: Help Locate the Last 57 Photos!
The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) wants to help pay tribute to all of the men and women from Pennsylvania who died as a result of the Vietnam War, but needs your assistance in locating the last 57 photos.
The DMVA is partnering with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) in Washington, D.C. to find a photo of every Pennsylvanian whose name appears on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. Once found, the photos get added to a virtual wall so everyone, no matter where they are, can honor the fallen from Vietnam.
Below is a graphic that includes the recent list of names of photos needed. The full list with additional information on each person can be found by going to Wall Of Faces: http://www.dmva.pa.gov/veteransaffairs/Pages/Outreach-and-Reintegration/Wall-of-Faces.aspx.
Information on how to submit a photo can be found by going to Submit A Photo (insert link) http://www.vvmf.org/how-to-submit .
Veteran Legislation Update
I am a co-sponsor of and I support both Senate Bill 933 and Senate Bill 939, two bills introduced on Wednesday, November 1, that would help further benefit our veterans.
Senate Bill 933 was introduced by a colleague of mine at the suggestion of a veteran. The bill would earmark any fines collected as a result of the violation of Pennsylvania’s “Stolen Valor” statute (Section 6701 of Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes-Wearing of Uniforms and Insignia and Misrepresentation of Military Service and Honors) to the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Trust Fund ( 51 Pa.C.S. Section 1721). The Pennsylvania Veterans’ Trust Fund, which issues grants to statewide charitable organizations that assist veterans, to veterans’ service organizations, and to county directors of veterans affairs to assist veterans in need of shelter and the necessities of living. Section 6701 of Title 18 originally provided that the wearing of a uniform or other indicia of membership, without authority, constituted a summary offense. The Section was amended by HB 168 (Act of June 27, 2017, P.L. 214, No. 9) to add that an individual commits a misdemeanor if, with the intent to obtain certain benefits, he or she fraudulently holds himself or herself out as a member of the armed forces or as the recipient of any decoration or medal. In any case, a violation of Section 6701 subjects an individual to the imposition of a fine.
Thirteen other states have enacted “Stolen Valor” legislation. In six of those states, the fines imposed as a result of a violation are earmarked to veterans’ causes. In this way, not only will the Stolen Valor legislation protect the valor and integrity of our veterans and the honors that they have earned, but it would also serve to support them and their present day needs.
Senate Bill 939 would amend the Workforce Development Act to provide members of the PA National Guard and reserve components of the U.S. Armed Forces who serve on active duty, as well as their spouses, preference for placement into job training programs for one year after discharge. Under current law, the Workforce Development Act provides no preference for veterans or their spouses.
As of 2016, Pennsylvania had the 8th highest rate of veteran unemployment, according to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, at 5.2%.
I believe that we owe our veterans an opportunity for a good, family-sustaining job in return for their service to our County. This legislation is one way we can help show our appreciation and to strive to reduce the rate of veteran unemployment here in our Commonwealth.
Senate Bill 933 was referred to the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee on November 1, 2017; and Senate Bill 939 was introduced and referred to the Senate Labor & Industry Committee on that same date.
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program opened November 1, 2017
How to Apply: There are three different ways you can apply for LIHEAP, online, on paper, or in person.
1. You can apply for the LIHEAP benefits online by using COMPASS. https://www.compass.state.pa.us/Compass.Web/Public/CMPHome COMPASS is the name of the website where you can apply for LIHEAP and many other services that can help you make ends meet.
2. Download an application for LIHEAP benefits and return it to your local county assistance office,
Download an application here: http://www.dhs.pa.gov/citizens/heatingassistanceliheap/index.htm
3. File an application at your local county assistance office.
Satellite Offices Now Open to Better Serve You
How We Can Help You
Here are some of the ways that my office can assist you:
How to Contact Me
I have staffed offices in the district and Harrisburg to provide you with top-notch constituent service and provide answers to legislative inquiries.
The district offices are located at:
4110 Edgmont Ave, Brookhaven, PA 19015. The phone number is (610) 447-3163.
780 E. Market St, Ste140, West Chester, PA 19382. The phone number is (610) 436-3320.
Both offices are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
My Harrisburg office can be reached by phone at (717) 787-4712 or by mail at Senate Box 203009, Harrisburg, PA 17120.
If you are having any problems with state agencies or need help with a problem relating to government, my staff and I will be happy to assist you.
Senate Box 203009
4110 Edgmont Ave
780 E. Market St