View in browser
In this Edition:
Governor Vetoes Emergency Funding, House Plans Vote on Wolf Tax Hikes
Last week, the General Assembly passed emergency funding bills that would provide much needed funding to schools and social service agencies while negotiations on enacting a full budget continue.
It was an attempt to spare these entities further pain caused by Gov. Tom Wolfís veto of a balanced budget on June 30. This week, the Governor vetoed this emergency funding. He apparently believes that withholding funds from schools, rape crisis centers and food banks will pressure legislators into accepting his demands for record tax increases.
As the attached listing shows, York City School District could run into cash flow problems this month. With all of the problems that the York City schools have faced in recent years, I find it deplorable that they could endure further revenue problems because the Governor from their home county refuses to authorize their funding.
The Auditor General reported that school districts statewide might have to borrow about $500 million in October for expenses usually covered by state funds. If it goes past Nov. 1, estimates say they might have to borrow about $1 billion, with the number continuing to climb. And taxpayers will have to pay the interest on those loans.
The fact is, the Governor simply does not have the votes in the legislature to pass his record tax and spending increases. Most lawmakers of his own party oppose his budget. Weíll know for sure next week when the House of Representatives will hold a vote on the Governorís tax plan.
Itís my hope that once Gov. Wolf sees his budget has very little support, heíll stop using schools and social services as pawns and agree to a reasonable budget that boosts school funding without massive tax hikes.
Bill to Reduce Fresh Water Use in Drilling Sent to Governor for Enactment
Legislation I am co-sponsoring to reduce the use of fresh water in oil and gas drilling operations was approved by the Senate on Tuesday and sent to the Governorís desk to be signed into law.
Senate Bill 875 clarifies legal liabilities associated with the use of treated mine water in oil and gas operations. The use of treated mine water holds the potential to significantly decrease the use of fresh water in the natural gas extraction process, reducing the withdrawal demand on Pennsylvania rivers, lakes and streams.
The legislation does not weaken any existing environmental safeguards designed to protect public health. It would only clarify parties that could be held responsible if the mine water is not treated or utilized properly.
The Senate sent two other bills to the Governorís desk this week.
Senate Bill 513, which I am co-sponsoring, allows the vehicular transportation of leachate discharged from a municipal or private landfill's collection and handling system.
House Bill 33 amends the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code to permit alternate members for planning commissions.
Visiting Team Physician Bills Sent to House
The Senate approved two bills this week that will allow out-of-state visiting athletic team physicians to treat athletes during athletic events without the need for a Pennsylvania medical license.
Many teams in Pennsylvania and around the country employ medical personnel who travel with the team and coaches for the purpose of providing medical care. These team physicians have established medical relationships with the athletes and are well suited to provide care while teams are competing. 21 states currently allow for visiting team physicians to practice in their state without meeting home state licensing requirements.
Senate Bill 685 and Senate Bill 686 amend state laws to allow out-of-state visiting athletic team physicians to treat athletes during athletic events without the need for a Pennsylvania medical license as long as they are licensed in their home state and have an agreement with the visiting sports team to provide care for them while traveling.
Additional Bills Sent to the House
Senate Bill 785 clarifies that buildings, whether or not permanently attached to land, water, gas, electric or sewer facilities, are subjects of taxation for real estate tax purposes.
House Bill 823 amends Act 164 of 2014 regulating local Tax Collectors to make it easier to fill vacancies, expand the criminal history checks, and more. The bill returns to the House of Representatives for concurrence on Senate amendments.
Senate Bill 898 provides clarification on provisions that require the adjustment of property tax rates following a countywide reassessment in Second Class counties to make them revenue neutral.
Senate Bill 899 provides clarification on provisions that require the adjustment of property tax rates following a countywide reassessment in Second Class counties to make them revenue neutral.
A recap of activity by the Senate committees I serve on.
Urban Affairs and Housing Committee
As Chairman, I convened a meeting of the Urban Affairs and Housing Committee on Monday to consider three bills:
House Bill 792 provides additional funding for the statewide Housing Trust
Fund (HTF) - PA Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund (PHARE);
Companion legislation to SB 566, which passed the Senate unanimously in June.
Senate Appropriations Committee reported out the following bills Monday:
The Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday approved the following bills:
Senate Bill 840 provides a trial period for PennDOT to place speed cameras
in active work zones on limited access highways to reduce work zone injuries and
Majority Policy Committee
The Senate Majority Policy Committee held a joint hearing Wednesday with the Senate Minority Policy Committee on legislation establishing waterfront development tax credits.
Under Senate Bill 292, tax credits would be available to individuals or businesses that contribute to nonprofit waterfront improvement organizations. Contributions would be used for specific waterfront development projects, such as: streets and public rights-of-way; waterfront parks, gardens and open spaces; erosion control, storm water management and other environmental projects which promote economic development; water transportation facilities for use by the public, including water transit landings and boat docking; and amenities, including infrastructure and recreational projects. Total tax credits which may be granted in any fiscal year would be capped at $10 million.
You can watch the hearing and read testimony here.
The Senate returns to session Tuesday, October 14. You can watch session live at my website.
I welcome your feedback and input. Please donít hesitate to contact me via my website.