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In this Email Update:
Looking ahead to next session for school property tax elimination
School property tax elimination remains my number one priority as the Senate starts a new legislative session in January. I recently discussed my outlook on efforts to pass Senate Bill 76, also known as the Property Tax Independence Act.
You can listen to my comments here.
The Reading Eagle also highlighted our bipartisan efforts to advance this issue in the upcoming session, which begins on January 3, 2017. You can read that article here.
We have made some real progress on this issue due to the tireless efforts of grassroots advocates all across the state who are passionate about eliminating this unfair and archaic tax once and for all.
The Sunbury Daily Item highlighted the issue where they interviewed David Baldinger, leader of the grassroots coalition behind Senate Bill 76, who highlighted the bill’s momentum as we head into the new session.
The current school property tax system is rotten at the core and the only way to fix it is to eliminate it.
Coal industry workers see a friend in President-Elect Trump
Over the last two years, I’ve been asked by many local coal company workers to highlight the inequities between Pennsylvania anthracite and foreign anthracite from Russia, China, Ukraine and other countries.
At my request, the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held a public hearing in Pottsville where we reviewed these concerns.
One key issue is this: Steel manufacturers in the United States that proudly boast “Made in the USA” on their products are using foreign coal as part of their production process.
The Standard Speaker highlighted what industry workers hope President-Elect Trump will do for the coal industry in an article earlier this week.
George Ellis, speaking on behalf of our local coal power plants, said it best when he stated, “What we’d like to see and we’re hoping for is a Trump administration ushering in a new era of regulations that are science-based and necessary to address a problem, not a political agenda.”
I look forward to the incoming administration and will continue to work with local stakeholders to ensure their concerns are heard both at the state level as well as the federal level.
Pension reform, school property taxes key for Berks County Intermediate Unit meeting
On Friday I joined school district superintendents and legislators from Berks County to discuss education issues that are likely to be on the agenda in the 2017-18 legislative session.
Key topics discussed were the need for pension reform, which continues to balloon local school district budgets and is the leading culprit behind school district property tax hikes. We also discussed charter school and cyber charter school reforms, among other efforts for cost saving at the local level.
Apply now for clean diesel grants
DEP is now accepting applications for the Pennsylvania State Clean Diesel Grant Program.
More than $500,000 will be made available to school districts, municipal authorities, political subdivisions, state agencies, nonprofit entities, corporations, and limited liability companies or partnerships incorporated or registered in Pennsylvania that operate diesel fleets.
The clean diesel program's goal is to improve air quality by decreasing emissions from diesel-powered motor vehicles. The program supports projects that re-power or retrofit fleet vehicles to curb emissions; purchase and install idle-reduction technology; or purchase clean alternative-fuel fleet vehicles.
The grant program is funded through an annual allocation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's State Clean Diesel Program. Since the program's inception in 2008, DEP has awarded more than $1.7 million in grants.
All applications must be postmarked on or before December 28, 2016. Faxes and electronic copies will not be accepted.
To apply for a grant or for more information, visit www.dep.pa.gov/Business/Air/BAQ under the heading “Grant Availability.”
And the winners of my calendar contest are…
The votes have been tallied and we have 12 excellent photos for a 2017 calendar based on YOUR votes!
I look forward to unveiling the 2017 “Scenes of the 29th Senatorial District” calendar with you soon as we are finished with the final design.
You will be able to pick up the calendar at any of my local offices, or download a copy to print at home.
Stay tuned for the winners of my photo contest! Thank you to everyone who submitted photos as well as those who voted for their favorites!