View in browser
Follow Sen. Argall on Twitter for Senate happenings –
In this Email Update:
House and Senate Majority Leaders speak out in support of property tax elimination; Pro-Senate Bill 76 billboards visible near Capitol
Two key legislators spoke out in favor of school property tax elimination in the last few days.
Representative Dave Reed, the House Majority Leader, supported the movement to eliminate school property taxes during a recent breakfast meeting in Indiana County, stating that eliminating school property taxes by raising income and sales taxes would be “predictable and based on the ability to pay.”
You can read the full story here in the Indiana Gazette .
Senator Jake Corman, the Senate Majority Leader, is opposing the broad-based sales and income tax increases Governor Wolf is seeking for his 2015-16 state budget to increase spending for a number of state programs. Property tax elimination advocates fear that, if the governor’s tax increases are approved, Senate Bill 76 will not move forward to eliminate school property taxes. Read more about those discussions in PennLive.
In June, Senator Corman promoted the idea of property tax elimination, not partial reductions, on the floor of the Senate during our budget debate.
Over the last few weeks, two property tax elimination billboards funded by private donations went up along Interstate 83 South right before the Capitol exit between exits 43 and 44a in Harrisburg and along the exit off of Interstate 83 heading into Harrisburg.
These billboards will further educate the public about this troublesome tax that has forced citizens out of their homes and created discrepancies in education funding among school districts statewide.
In its first month alone, approximately one million commuters will see these billboards as they travel. This billboard has also received media attention, shedding light on the need for property tax elimination. Fox 43 highlighted the billboard’s importance in a story that can be viewed here.
The effort to completely eliminate property taxes remains at the top of my to-do list, and we are gaining much more ground and momentum on this initiative. Last month, the results from a statewide school property tax survey reported more than 80 percent of participants are in favor of the Property Tax Independence Act!
Congratulations to Galen Glen Winery for 20 years of success!
On Thursday, I joined Representative Jerry Knowles and Schuylkill County Commissioners George Halcovage and Gary Hess to congratulate Galen Glen Winery for 20 years of success. Since its establishment, Galen Glen has impressed me with their ingenuity, entrepreneurship and a commitment to modern agricultural stewardship. When Galen and Sarah began this endeavor, the very idea of a winery in Schuylkill County was pretty unusual. I'm sure that Galen's grandparents never imagined vineyards on the slopes of their old family farm. I was very pleased to honor their hard work, against considerable odds, and their success over the past 20 years.
County boosting efforts to fight blight
Last week, I joined Schuylkill County District Attorney Christine Holman to discuss countywide efforts to attack blight plaguing our communities. The countywide blight task force, modeled after Pottsville’s efforts, will target the “Dirty Dozen” – 12 of the most blighted properties in the county utilizing several new state tools and laws to remediate blight and encourage redevelopment.
Learn more about the county’s efforts here.
Municipal Authority earns statewide recognition
Congratulations to the Schuylkill County Municipal Authority (SCMA) for being awarded with the 2015 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence. On Tuesday, I presented the Authority with a congratulatory citation from the Senate of Pennsylvania for their recognition.
Pennsylvania’s stolen valor law gets national attention
On July 10, the governor signed a measure sponsored by Senator Lisa Baker (R-20) into law that would make it a criminal offense to falsely claim veteran status.
Under the new law, individuals falsely claiming veteran status to take advantage of state programs would face third degree misdemeanor charges with a fine up to $2,500 and up to one year in prison.
Earlier this week, my colleague was featured on FoxNews to discuss the importance of the new law.
You can watch the program here.
Proposal would add penalties on municipalities protecting illegal immigrants
I am cosponsoring a measure by Senator Rich Alloway (R-Adams/Cumberland/Franklin/York) aimed to prevent cities from self-proclaiming themselves as “Sanctuary Cities.” Sanctuary cities hold illegal immigrants and do not report the individuals to the Department of Homeland Security for deportation.
Under Senator Alloway’s bill, governing bodies such as counties or municipalities may not adopt rules or ordinances that contradict federal and state immigration laws. The proposal would disqualify the eligibility of any municipality not enforcing federal and state immigration laws from state grants for law enforcement purposes.
Property taxes by state – Where do we rank?
One key question that may come to mind from local residents is: Where does Pennsylvania rank nationally for property taxes?
According to a study done by The Tax Foundation, Pennsylvania ranks 13th in the nation for property taxes. These rankings were formulated by examining the effective tax rates on owner-occupied housing, which is “the average amount of residential property tax actually paid, expressed as a percentage of home value.” Based on the organization’s use of this standard, Pennsylvania’s effective tax rate is 1.54 percent, followed by Iowa who ranked 14th nationwide with a tax rate of 1.49 percent.
A map illustrating how each state ranked in property taxes can be seen here.
Altoona taking advantage of anti-blight tools
As a follow-up to one of my e-newsletters about Act 90 of 2010, the Neighborhood Blight Reclamation and Revitalization Act, the City of Altoona launched its efforts to make property owners liable for their blighted properties.
The City of Altoona will enforce a provision in Act 90 that permits municipalities to file liens on any assets against property owners who violate codes. By taking action and filing liens against violators, the city is able to effectively increase culpability from property owners and receive payment for the violations. The city has also begun the process of obtaining a list of repeat violators who will receive a letter stating the potential for a seizure of their assets.
According to City Manager Marla Marcinko, during her time managing Wilkinsburg she witnessed first-hand the positive support from the community with regard to the implementation of Act 90 – especially from residents who live near abandoned and ruined properties.
Read the entire story here.