Hello! Thank you for subscribing to my E-newsletter. I am honored to serve the 23rd Senate District and look forward to working with you toward building a better future for Pennsylvania!
This E-newsletter serves to keep you updated on what is happening throughout Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Union counties and what I am doing as your state senator in Harrisburg. I hope that you will find this E-newsletter helpful, and if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.
Never cut what you can untie.
Remembering Our Veterans
On Saturday, November 11th, we remember and honor the sacrifice of our country's veterans.
As one of 22 million men and women who have worn our nation's uniform, I know firsthand the sacrifices our veterans and their families have made in order to protect and serve our amazing country. Their bravery and heroism make me proud to be an American.
In Pennsylvania, we are blessed with a strong community of over 906,000 veterans in every corner of our state. While we pause to remember their commitment to our Nation, we must also recommit ourselves to fulfilling the promises our country has made to our veterans -- because they deserve nothing less.
We can never repay the debt we owe for the sacrifices that they have paid, but we can honor them for their service. We once again, on this Veterans Day, express our deepest gratitude.
To learn more about Veteran Resources in Pennsylvania, click here.
Governor Signs Budget Revenue Bills
On October 30th, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed a revenue plan, approved by the General Assembly, to provide $2.3 billion for the state and end a four-month budget impasse. In June, the state Senate gave approval to a $31.99 billion spending plan for fiscal year 2017-18.
The legislation signed by the Governor will boost revenues in part by expanding gambling and securitizing expected funding from tobacco companies for healthcare costs.
The move permits online gambling for the first time by both casinos and the Pennsylvania Lottery, and is expected to yield an estimated $200 million annually in licensing and tax revenue.
The new law also allows 10 of the Commonwealth’s 12 casinos to build smaller, satellite casinos. Video gaming machines will also be allowed in airports and some truck stops.
A majority of the revenue plan will re-direct $1.5 billion from the state’s tobacco settlement fund.
Tax Code Change Now Legalizes Consumer Fireworks for PA Residents
This week, Governor Wolf signed Pennsylvania’s Tax Code, as part of the state’s revenue plan. The Tax Code includes language, which for the first time, legalizes the sale of consumer fireworks in Pennsylvania to Pennsylvania residents.
Currently, in-state residents can only purchase consumer products from brick and mortar locations with a municipal permit. Meanwhile, out-of-state residents can purchase consumer products using their driver license or government issued ID.
The new law:
Landmark Law Will Now Implement Performance-Based Budgeting
Landmark legislation requiring all state departments and agencies to justify their budget requests beginning with the first dollar was signed into law Monday.
Senate Bill 181 (Act 48 of 2017), which I supported, will require the Secretary of the Budget and the director of the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) to establish a schedule of performance-based budget reviews for all agencies at least once every five years. The reviews will include:
Performance reviews will also be required for all state tax credit programs.
Senate Approves Bill Addressing Opioid Abuse, Escalating Costs Under Workers’ Comp
On October 25th, the state Senate approved legislation to address opioid abuse within Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation system.
Senate Bill 936, which I co-sponsored and supported, would require the state Department of Labor & Industry to adopt an evidence-based drug formulary for Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation program.
The passage of Senate Bill 936 came on the heels of a recent investigatory report from the Philadelphia Daily News which exposed a new business arrangement between lawyers and doctors. The report illustrated in detail how attorneys representing injured workers have jointly purchased pharmacies with the physicians who treat their clients.
Senate Bill 936, which passed the Senate with bi-partisan support, is awaiting committee referral in the House of Representatives.
ICYMI: Committee Hearing on Lyme Disease Task Force Report
On October 24th, the Senate Aging and Youth Committee & Senate Health and Human Services Committee held a public hearing to discuss the most recent report issued by the “Lyme Disease Task Force.” To watch the hearing LIVE, click here
Act 83 of 2014 established a “Task Force on Lyme Disease and Related Tick-Borne Diseases”. The individuals appointed to the task force culminated their year-long effort with the delivery of the Task Force Report to the Secretary of Health. Individuals from multiple walks of life, effectively came together to compile this comprehensive set of 16 recommendations covering prevention, Education & Awareness, and Surveillance which are critical to beginning the process of slowing, then reducing, the growing incidence of Lyme and other tick-borne Diseases.
Public Hearing on Lead Exposure and Mitigation
On October 30th, the Senate Environmental Resources & Energy (ERE) Committee, which I chair, held a public hearing in Pittston on lead exposure and mitigation in Pennsylvania. Testifiers at the hearing offered a regional perspective on lead policy in Northeastern Pennsylvania as well as an overview of services that state agencies provide currently to address lead exposure.
Earlier this year, the Senate approved legislation sponsored by Senator Yudichak (SR 33) which creates a Lead Task Force and Advisory Committee that will work with the Joint State Government Commission to study the extent of lead contamination in Pennsylvania and provide recommendations on changes to laws and policies. The Lead Task Force and Advisory Committee is expected to hold its first organizational meeting in December.
Chili Cook-Off Held in Shunk
[Pictured from left are Sullivan County Commissioner and chili cook off judge Wylie Norton, Rose Hamilton 3rd place chili cook off winner, Lysay and Joe Trostle "People's Choice Award" winner (there were 2 tied for people's choice) Eloise Caseman organizer of The 3rd Annual Chili Cook-Off, Sullivan County Commissioner chili judge Donna Ianonne, State Rep. Tina Pickett and chili judge, Janenne Goliash Legislative Assistant to Senator Gene Yaw and chili judge, Sullivan County Commissioner and chili judge Brian Hoffman, Heather Daugherty holding son Darby, Dustin Daugherty voted "People's Choice Award" for their chili, Wilma Consylman from Lancaster, traveled the farthest and Jeff Wheeler 1st place winner in the chili cook off.]
The 3rd Annual Chili Cook Off was held on Saturday, October 21st at the Endless Winds Fire Company in Shunk on Route 154. There was a Chinese Auction also. All monies raised was to help cancer victim, 49 year old Dale Shisler, a Hillsgrove Township Supervisor. There were 17 chili entries.
“Plain English” Statement on the Property Tax Referendum on the November 7th Ballot
In my most recent E-newsletter (click here for Oct. 23rd Edition), I included information on the upcoming November 7th ballot question proposing an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution to expand the homestead property tax exclusion.
Specifically, what the proposed amendment to Article VIII of the constitution would do is increase the exclusion level to up to 100 percent of the value of each "homestead," or primary residence, in a municipality, county or school district. The current exclusion level, adopted in 1997, is capped at 50 percent of the median assessed value of all homesteads in a local taxing jurisdiction.
Let's say the median assessed value of homes in a school district is $100,000 and that district currently excludes 50 percent or $50,000. That means the owner of a home valued at $200,000 currently would pay property taxes on $150,000 of the home's value while someone with a home worth $50,000 would not pay any property taxes.
If this constitutional amendment were approved and the school district's homestead exclusion was set at 100 percent of any owner-occupied residential property's assessed value, no homeowner would pay property taxes.
However, let’s be pragmatic - Even if the voter referendum passes this fall, it doesn't mean property owners will stop paying all school taxes immediately. Money to replace that lost property tax revenue would have to come from somewhere. New taxes could be imposed or other tax rates could rise. It might be at the local level or perhaps at the state level.
The bottom line is funding will need to come from somewhere. Furthermore, taxpayers would still have to pay property taxes to finance their district's long-term debt, if the district has debt.
October Satellite Hours and Locations
As a means to better serve area residents through increased outreach efforts, the below hours and locations have been added to provide better opportunities for area residents to meet directly with a member of my staff.
Thursday, November 9, 2017
Thursday, November 30, 2017
Satellite Office hours provide area residents with the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the senator’s staff to address state-related problems they may be encountering. A staff member will be able to offer assistance with driver license and vehicle registration applications, and help in filling out applications for various state programs, such as the senior citizen Property Tax/Rent Rebate and PACE prescription drug assistance programs.
Constituent services are always available at Senator Yaw’s Williamsport District Office, located at 175 Pine Street, Suite 105, from 9AM-5PM, or by calling (800) 443-5772.