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Senator Mario Scavello

In this Edition:

  • Scavello Tele-Town Hall Oct. 30 to Focus on Property Tax Exemption Ballot Question
  • Pennsylvanians to Vote on School Property Tax Exemption on Nov. 7
  • REAL ID Building and Air Travel Restrictions Delayed Through October 2018
  • Around the 40th District
  • Governor vetoes Welfare Reform Bill
  • Additional Measures Set for Enactment
  • Senate Approves Legislation to Combat Opioid Addiction
  • Bill to Make Grants for Distance Education Permanent Approved by Senate
  • Senate Acts to Improve Disabled Parking Access
  • Additional Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House
  • Committee Roundup
  • Next Week

Scavello Tele-Town Hall Oct. 30 to Focus on School Property Taxes & Exemption Ballot Question

I will join two other Senators to take questions and gather input from constituents on the upcoming property tax exemption ballot question during a live telephone town hall on Monday, October 30, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. We will also discuss the status of current school property tax legislative proposals. 

Residents of the 40th Senatorial District can register for the event here

The tele-town hall format encourages constituents to participate in a discussion on issues without the need to travel throughout the region. Participants can ask questions or simply remain on the line to listen to the discussion. 

The event will also feature a live audio stream page that allows smartphone, tablet and computer users to listen in and submit questions online. 


Pennsylvanians to Vote on School Property Tax Exemption on Nov. 7

On November 7, Pennsylvanians will have the opportunity to vote on a ballot question to eliminate residential school property taxes through the state’s existing homestead exclusion program.

The proposed constitutional amendment would allow local taxing bodies to exclude from taxation 100% of the assessed value of owner-occupied homes.

The exact language of the ballot question requires a “yes” or “no” response and will read as follows:

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?

Passage of the referendum is step one. If the ballot question is passed, the Legislature will have to pass a bill expanding the homestead exclusion program and providing the revenue necessary to eliminate school property taxes on primary homes. As a constitutional amendment, this voter referendum was approved unanimously by the Legislature in two consecutive sessions and now requires voter approval.


REAL ID Building and Air Travel Restrictions Delayed Through October 2018

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has announced that Pennsylvania has received an extension from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for implementing REAL ID restrictions through October 10, 2018.

This means there will be no new restrictions on entering a federal facility or boarding a commercial flight. A PennDOT-issued product (driver’s license or identification card) will be accepted to enter a federal facility or board a commercial flight through October 10, 2018, without a REAL ID or alternative form of identification.

For regularly updated information and resources on this topic, visit PennDOT’s REAL ID webpage.


Around the 40th District

This week it was my honor to welcome my dear friend Reverend Samuel Kofi Ashley to the Capitol as guest chaplain for the Senate. Rev. Ashley serves as pastor of Mount Pocono United Methodist Church. It was an honor to have you in Harrisburg to offer the opening prayer for Session.

The Capitol fountain in Harrisburg is dyed pink in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To the many survivors, fighters and those who have passed from this disease, we honor your strength and pray for you and your families. Remember that early detection is key to fighting back against breast cancer, so please make sure you check yourself and see a physician regularly.

Some scenes from my recent Senator for a Day event at Northampton Community College with 150 area high school students. Students discussed, debated and amended ten pieces of legislation in five different committees. Outstanding job everyone!


Governor vetoes Welfare Reform Bill

Legislation targeting fraud, waste and abuse in Pennsylvania’s public welfare system was signed in the Senate and House this week but vetoed by the Governor. The bill now returns to the House for further action.

House Bill 59, a comprehensive Human Services Code bill, included reforms, such as work search requirements for able-bodied adults on Medicaid, projected to save hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars.  The measure also addressed Pennsylvania’s opioid crisis by requiring the Department of Human Services to submit a federal waiver so federal dollars can be used for opioid addiction treatment after 15 days of inpatient treatment, which is currently prohibited. It also extended provider submissions for child welfare placement costs, preserving nearly $31 million in federal Title IV-E placement maintenance funds.


Additional Measures Set for Enactment

House Bill 16 amends the Local Tax Collection Law to prohibit tax payments to an account in an individual’s name and requires the creation of a separate account to be used solely for tax purposes.

House Bill 176 exempts roadside agricultural stands from the Uniform Construction Code.

House Bill 1287 is a land conveyance bill.

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


Senate Approves Legislation to Combat Opioid Addiction

The Senate approved legislation on Wednesday combating the state’s growing opioid addiction crisis.

Senate Bill 472 limits the prescription for a controlled substance containing an opioid to seven days unless there is a medical emergency that puts the patient’s health or safety at risk. The bill also requires prescribers to discuss the risks of addiction and dangers of overdoses associated with the medication with the patient or family.

The bill is the latest of a number of measures approved by the Senate in recent years that focus on heroin and opioid addiction. Senate Bill 472 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.


Bill to Make Grants for Distance Education Permanent Approved by Senate

The Senate on Tuesday approved legislation I’m co-sponsoring that would permanently allow for distance education to be included in the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) State Grant Program.

In 2013, the General Assembly approved legislation creating a five year pilot program permitting students who take the majority of their courses online to apply for PHEAA grants.  Senate Bill 53 would make the pilot program permanent.


Senate Acts to Improve Disabled Parking Access

Legislation I’m co-sponsoring to improve accessibility and strengthen enforcement measures of parking spaces for persons with disabilities was approved by the Senate on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 888 would address deficiencies in current law pertaining to penalties and enforcement of parking spaces for persons with disabilities. Under the legislation, violators who illegally park in parking spaces or block access aisles designated for persons with disabilities will be subject to towing, charged with a summary offense and susceptible to increased fines.

A key provision creates parking regulations for access aisles. In order to accommodate vehicles equipped with ramps, wheelchair lifts and other devices, parking spaces that are designated for persons with disabilities include access aisles, generally marked with diagonal lines adjoining the space. These parking spaces and access aisles are necessary to improve mobility for persons with disabilities to access medical appointments, shopping centers and other locations.


Additional Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House

Senate Bill 499 would allow the Board of Prison Inspectors in Eighth Class counties to meet less frequently.

Senate Bill 552 redirects funds from the Veterans Trust Fund that came from the Pennsylvania Monuments License Registration Plate to the new Pennsylvania Veterans' Monuments and Memorial Trust Fund and would require those funds be used for the operation and maintenance of monuments designated by Department of Military & Veterans Affairs in consultation with the State Veterans’ Commission.

Senate Bill 663 amends the Uniform Construction Code Act to require a municipality to contract with at least three third party agencies. I voted against this measure.

Senate Bill 728 exempts Schedule V epilepsy drugs currently included in the state’s prescription drug monitoring program requirements.

House Bill 790 establishes the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act to provide for the regulation of noxious weeds and controlled plants and repeals the Noxious Weed Control Law. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Senate Bill 887 is a highway renaming bill.


Committee Roundup

Agriculture & Rural Affairs

The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee and the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee held an informational meeting Wednesday on the problems caused by the Spotted Lanternfly in parts of Pennsylvania. Video

Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved four bills on Monday.

Senate Bill 53 would permanently allow for distance education inclusion in the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency State Grant Program.

House Bill 165 creates the Pennsylvania Achievement Medal and the Pennsylvania Veterans Service Award and adds those two new decorations to the list of existing medals, badges, and awards that are authorized and presented by the Governor in the name of the Commonwealth.

Senate Bill 676 addresses ongoing funding deficiencies in the Workers’ Compensation Uninsured Employers Guarantee Fund.

House Bill 790 establishes the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act to provide for the regulation of noxious weeds and controlled plants and repeals the Noxious Weed Control Law.

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Infrastructure, Environment and Government Operations

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Infrastructure, Environment and Government Operations held a public hearing Tuesday on municipal coverage by the Pennsylvania State Police. Watch

Banking & Insurance

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 877 amends the Insurance Department Act to allow producers and insurers to spend as much as $100 in marketing insurance to a client or prospective client.

Senate Bill 878 amends the Insurance Company Law to allow producers and insurers to spend as much as $100 in marketing insurance to a client or prospective client.

House Bill 1388 changes the expiration date of CHIP from December 31, 2017 to December 31, 2019 and prohibits the use of funds for sex change procedures.

Consumer Affairs & Professional Licensure

The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee, approved three bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 384 removes the current exemption for Philadelphia from the Assessors Certification Act of 1992.

Senate Bill 892 amends the Chiropractic Practice Act to provide clarity on the topic of clinical training.

House Bill 1019 establishes procedures for the sale and purchase of a cemetery and reasonable access guidelines.

Environmental Resources & Energy

The Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee approved two measures on Tuesday.

Senate Resolution 168 directs the Joint State Government Commission to establish an advisory committee to analyze the potential impact of removing Cambria County from the emissions testing program.

Senate Bill 799 would improve water quality and help Pennsylvania meet federal pollution reduction mandates in the Chesapeake Bay watershed at a reduced cost to taxpayers.

Finance

The Senate Finance Committee approved House Bill 984 on Tuesday. The bill extends the income tax donation check-off box for the Military Family Relief Program until January 1, 2023.

The committee also held a public hearing on fees being charged to manage the state’s two public pension funds: Public School Employees’ Retirement System and the State Employees’ Retirement System. Watch

Health & Human Services

The Health and Human Services Committee approved three bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 179 creates a statewide voluntary reporting system to identify available psychiatric beds.

Senate Bill 439 requires carbon monoxide detectors in child care facilities if the facility uses a fossil fuel-burning heater or appliance or has an attached garage.

Senate Bill 674 implements automatic scheduling changes for controlled substances.

Local Government

The Senate Local Government Committee, which I chair, held a public hearing Tuesday on beverage tax imposed in the City of Philadelphia. The hearing is being held at the request of Senator Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia/Delaware). Hearing Video & Testimony

State Government

The Senate State Government Committee approved five bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 99 sets regulations for containers or bins placed in outdoor locations by organizations to collect donated clothing or other items for charitable purposes.

Senate Bill 563 requires the Department of State to develop a secure online system for military and overseas voters to electronically return absentee ballots.

Senate Bill 817 extends a lease.

Senate Bill 900 transfers a property title.

Senate Bill 921 conveys a property.

The committee also considered the nomination of Greg Fajt to serve on the Pennsylvania Board of Claims. Video

Urban Affairs & Housing

The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee approved two bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 851 amends the Real Estate Tax Sale Law to clarify ownership of properties that are in the delinquent tax sale process.

Senate Bill 919 allows a tenant of a housing authority unit, who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence, to be relocated to another unit.

Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness

The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee approved three measures on Tuesday.

Senate Resolution 5 establishes a Women’s Veterans’ Health Care task force to address the needs of Pennsylvania’s growing female veteran population.

Senate Bill 798 allows the appointment of a one-star or two-star military officer to the Military Enhancement Commission.

House Bill 1231 establishes a veterans’ registry, within the Department of Veterans Affairs, to provide veterans with information regarding state benefits, programs, and services. 


Next Week

The Senate returns to session Monday at 1 p.m. You can watch it live at PASenateGOP.com.

You can find a schedule of Senate committee meetings and hearings here.


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Offices

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

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DePue Plaza
2989 Route 611, Suite 103
Tannersville, PA 18372
Phone (570) 620-4326
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2 North Robinson Avenue
Pen Argyl, PA 18072
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