View in browser

Senator Mario Scavello

In this Edition:

  • Scavello Senior Expo Set for July 17
  • Senators Introduce Plan to Eliminate School Property Taxes
  • Animal Protection Bill Sent to Governor’s Desk
  • Other Bills Sent to the Governor for Enactment
  • Bipartisan Clean Slate Legislation Nears Senate Vote
  • Other Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House
  • Senate Confirms Revenue Secretary
  • Committee Roundup
  • Around the 40th
  • Next Week

Scavello Senior Expo Set for July 17

I am hosting my annual Senior Expo on Monday, July 17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Pocono Mountain Swiftwater Elementary Center (135 Academic Drive, Swiftwater, PA) with my co-hosts State Representatives Rosemary Brown and Jack Rader.

This event promises something for everyone, with a myriad of state and local resources available to seniors. Join us for a day full of free educational seminars, prices, health screenings, door prizes and more. Exhibitors from numerous government agencies and senior citizen organizations will be on hand to offer their services.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call my office at 570-620-4326.


Senators Introduce Plan to Eliminate School Property Taxes

A bipartisan group of 20 lawmakers joined together Monday to introduce a plan drafted by over 80 grassroots taxpayer groups from across the state to eliminate school property taxes for the state’s 500 public school districts.

Senate Bill 76, the Property Tax Independence Act, would replace the revenue generated by the property tax for public schools with an increase to the Personal Income Tax rate from 3.07 percent to 4.95 percent and an increase in the Sales and Use Tax from 6 to 7 percent. The tax would also be expanded to cover more goods and services that are currently exempt.

The bill has attracted eight prime sponsors and 12 additional cosponsors in the Senate so far. The bill’s eight prime sponsors – four Republicans and four Democrats – believe it’s long overdue to enact this much-needed reform.

I issued the following statement on SB 76 with Senators David Argall (R-Schuylkill), Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon/Dauphin/York), Judy Schwank (D-Berks), John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon), Scott Wagner (R-York), Lisa Boscola (D-Lehigh/Northampton) and Andy Dinniman (D-Chester):

“School property taxes are by far the fastest-rising tax in Pennsylvania and the largest concern from the residents we represent across the state. Efforts to reform the archaic tax in the past, while well-intentioned, have fallen short of the expectations of taxpayers. This plan is unlike any other piece of legislation as it was drafted by hardworking men and women across this state dedicated to the eradication of the 1834 model of funding our public schools. Clearly the time has come to eliminate school property taxes and in this age of partisanship, this is an issue that crosses party lines since it affects every property owner of this state.”

David Baldinger, leader of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayers Association – the group of citizen activists pushing the legislation – said this is the people’s bill:

“For too long, we’ve been overpromised school property tax relief. Thanks to the hard work of many concerned residents across this state, we have a bill that paves the way towards the total elimination – not partial reduction – of school property taxes across the state. This was drafted by volunteers, not lobbyists or special interests, to look out for the best interest of property owners. We’ve said all along: no tax shall have the power to leave you homeless. This is our solution – the people’s solution – and we look forward to a robust debate in the legislature on this critical issue.”

Senate Bill 76 was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

The issue was last voted on November 23, 2015, when it was defeated on a 24-24 tie vote. The Lieutenant Governor then broke the tie, voting no, making the final tally 24 votes for, with 25 votes against. The 2016 election brought additional members in favor of property tax elimination. It’s time for the will of the people to become law.


Animal Protection Bill Sent to Governor’s Desk

It was my privilege today to support a Comprehensive Animal Abuse Prevention Measure which included Libre’s Law, providing for the creation of a new definition of “aggravated cruelty to animals” in order to enact tougher penalties for crimes committed against animals. This legislation will now go to the Governor for his signature!

This legislation is long overdue. I have been fighting both as a House Member who prime-sponsored this legislation and as a Senator to give these animals a voice and I applaud the General Assembly for getting this to the finish line.

 House Bill 1238, is a comprehensive animal cruelty bill. The bill adds sections setting forth new offenses of “neglect,” “cruelty,” and “aggravated cruelty;” adds a provision against tethering a dog for an extended period of time; reforms the process for the appointment of humane society officers; and adds civil immunity for veterinarians, veterinary technicians and assistants, and humane society police officers.

This legislation was prompted by heartbreaking cases of abuse and neglect, leaving animals out in harsh winter conditions and harsh summer conditions, and something had to be done. A special thanks to Humane PA PAC and many others who fought to see this bill pass!


Other Bills Sent to the Governor for Enactment

Senate Bill 8 reforms state law regarding the seizure and forfeiture of property.

House Bill 168 makes it a crime for anyone to fraudulently present themselves as a soldier or a veteran of any branch of the armed forces, or to be the recipient of a service medal or other military decoration.

House Bill 217 amends the Crimes Code concerning endangering the welfare of children.


Bipartisan Clean Slate Legislation Nears Senate Vote

Bipartisan legislation I am co-sponsoring that would provide for automatic sealing of criminal records for minor offenses received the unanimous support of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 529 would eliminate the hurdle that individuals with a criminal record face when seeking opportunities, particularly for employment.  Senate Bill 529 and a companion measure, House Bill 1419, are the first “Clean Slate” bills of their kind in the nation. 

Under the legislation, records of low level, non-violent, misdemeanors would be sealed after 10 years of the individual being crime-free and as long as court obligations have been met. Non-convictions would be sealed after 60 days and fulfillment of court obligations. It also exempts individuals from having to disclose sealed criminal records, a current hurdle for individuals attempting to obtain a job or housing.

This legislation will create new opportunities for men and women across the Commonwealth who have dealt with barriers due to minor criminal records, providing a “Clean Slate” going forward.

Senate Bill 529 now goes to the full Senate for consideration.


Other Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House

Senate Bill 144 amends Act 537 (Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act) to allow the use of “alternative systems” for planning purposes.

Senate Bill 178 updates and modernizes the state History Code.

Senate Bill 180 updates and revises state law relating to organ and tissue donations.

Senate Bill 242 transfers enforcement authority for the Pennsylvania One Call System from the Department of Labor and Industry to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Senate Bill 446 provides for the regulation and certification of addiction recovery houses.

Senate Bill 553 provides for chemical testing and other measures related to driving after imbibing alcohol or using drugs.

Senate Bill 639 amends the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) Act to allow municipalities or municipal authorities to include private lateral rehabilitation or replacement in PENNVEST funding applications under certain conditions.

Senate Bill 656 would allow municipalities and municipal authorities to make public funds available to repair or replace contaminated private water lines when they pose a threat to the public health or safety.

Senate Bill 741 extends or removes sunset provisions related to funding for the courts and indigent legal services.


Senate Confirms Revenue Secretary

The Senate confirmed the nomination of Dan Hassell to serve as Secretary of the Department of Revenue on Monday. Hassell had served as Acting Revenue Secretary since the April 21 retirement of Revenue Secretary Eileen McNulty. He has served in several posts in the Revenue Department over his career and had previously served as Revenue Secretary in 2010.


Committee Round-Up

A recap of activity by the Senate committees I serve on.

Community, Economic and Recreational Development

6/20/17 - PREP Program and Partners

The Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee, which I chair, held a hearing Tuesday on Partnerships for Regional Economic Performance (PREP) programs and partners, specifically the funding and delivery of these programs, as well as the economic impact to the Commonwealth. Written Testimony

Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved 11 bills this week.

Senate Bill 180 updates and revises state law relating to organ and tissue donations.

House Bill 217 amends the Crimes Code concerning endangering the welfare of children.

Senate Bill 326 is Fiscal Year 2017-18 funding for Penn State University.

Senate Bill 327 is Fiscal Year 2017-18 funding for the University of Pittsburgh.

Senate Bill 328 is Fiscal Year 2017-18 funding for Temple University.

Senate Bill 329 is Fiscal Year 2017-18 funding for Lincoln University.

Senate Bill 446 provides for the regulation and certification of addiction recovery houses.

Senate Bill 662 establishes a second degree felony for the delivery or distribution of an illicit drug that results in "serious bodily injury" to the user.

Senate Bill 741 addresses sunset provisions related to funding for the courts and indigent legal services.

House Bill 1238 updates and clarifies the existing animal abuse statute and increases the penalties for abusing any animal.

The Appropriations Committee approved five bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 211 enhances the PA 2-1-1 system.

Senate Bill 242 transfers enforcement authority for the Pennsylvania One Call System from the Department of Labor & Industry to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Senate Bill 639 allows municipalities or municipal authorities to include private water lines in Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) funding applications under certain conditions.

Senate Bill 656 allows municipalities and municipal authorities to make public funds available to repair or replace contaminated private water lines when they pose a threat to the public health or safety.

Senate Bill 677 allows contributions into a PA ABLE account to be deducted annually from taxable income up to a maximum of the annual federal gift tax exclusion (currently $14,000) per beneficiary. It also provides that any distributions from or changes to a PA ABLE account that are not subject to federal income tax will not be subject to Pennsylvania state income tax.

Transportation

The Senate Transportation Committee approved six bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 56  would require window tinting be included as part of the vehicle safety inspection process  and subjects businesses to the Unfair Trade Practices law if they fail to inform a purchaser that window tinting will cause a motor vehicle to be out of compliance with the Vehicle Code.

Senate Bill 785 would allow golf carts use on public highway crossovers for recreational purposes as well as golf carts and low-speed utility vehicle use for incidental travel on public highways for maintenance purposes.

Senate Bill 786 prohibits novice drivers (16 and 17 years old) from using cell phones while driving.

House Bill 1219 renames a bridge in Cherryhill Township, Indiana County, as the Sgt. Robert Eugene Goodlin Memorial Bridge.

House Bill 1288 adds optometrists to the list of medical providers who may certify an application for a disability placard or registration plate.

House Bill 1431 designates a portion of Routes 54, 901 and 2023 in Northumberland County and Schuylkill County as the Honorable Robert E. Belfanti, Jr., Memorial Highway.

The committee also recommended to the full Senate approval of the nomination of John Wozniak as Commissioner of the PA Turnpike Commission. You can view the proceedings here.


Around the 40th District

This week, I welcomed Amanda, Sophia, Isabella and Rachel of Keystone Girls State to Harrisburg. Through their participation in the American Legion Auxiliary's Keystone Girls program, these outstanding young women will further their commitment to responsible citizenship and prepare for future leadership roles. It was great meeting with all of you.


Lehigh Valley Health Network - Pocono celebrated the grand opening of their new Inpatient Rehabilitation Center. Thank you for continuing to invest in our community and offering many diverse services for our local residents.


Senator Scavello  

I recently welcomed Dr. Gina Foglia, her husband, Ralph, and mother, Sara, to Harrisburg as they visited the State Capitol. It was a pleasure meeting you and bringing you to the floor of the Senate Chamber.


Congratulations to the student winners of this year’s “There Ought to be a Law.” These students from my district demonstrated outside-the-box thinking to come up with ideas for legislators to consider in Harrisburg. Each student didn’t just come up with the “what,” but they also demonstrated a great ability to explain why their idea should be considered and how it should be implemented.


Members of the Keystone Boys State visited my office in Harrisburg to discuss good citizenship and how government works. It was great speaking with each of you and I commend you on your commitment to our community, state and nation.


Next Week

The Senate will reconvene on Monday at 1 p.m. You can watch live at PASenateGOP.com.


Follow Me on Facebook and Twitter!

To stay up-to-date on state issues and events affecting Monroe and Northampton counties, I invite you to follow me on my new Facebook and Twitter pages.

If you have a public event benefiting our community in Monroe or Northampton Counties, please feel free to contact my office at (570) 620-4326 or by email mscavello@pasen.gov to include the event in my E-Newsletter at no charge. Requests should include details about the community event such as the time, location and the public purpose.

facebooktwitter

Offices

Senate Box 203040
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3040
Phone: (717) 787-6123

Monroe County Office
DePue Plaza
2989 Route 611, Suite 103
Tannersville, PA 18372
Phone (570) 620-4326
FAX (570) 620-4379
8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.

Northampton County Office
2 North Robinson Avenue
Pen Argyl, PA 18072
Phone (610) 863-1200
FAX (610) 863-1214
8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.

If you do not wish to receive this email, click here to unsubscribe.

Privacy Policy
2017 © Senate of Pennsylvania
marioscavello.com