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In this Email Update:
The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee, chaired by Senator Scott Wagner (R-York), unanimously approved legislation I sponsored to allow counties to generate funds for demolition purposes.
Revitalization is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and this legislation will give counties that have a need for demolition funding an added tool in their anti-blight toolbox.
Senate Bill 486 will allow the option for counties to add up to $15 on any special deed and mortgage a recording fee for demolition purposes.
You can listen to my comments at the committee meeting here.
On Friday, the Senate Majority Policy Committee, which I chair, held a joint public hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee to review the state’s pet protection laws, specifically as it relates to pet tethering and sheltering of animals. The committee held the hearing at the request of Senator Rich Alloway in Gettysburg. Testifying at the hearing were the Adams County Animal Shelter/SPCA, Western Pennsylvania Humane Society and the Humane Society of the United States. You can view the hearing in its entirety and read testimony submitted here.
On Wednesday, I joined Representative Jake Wheatley, Democrat Chair of the House Finance Committee, to discuss the governor’s proposed property tax relief plan during a call-in program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network. You can watch the program in its entirety here.
During the program, I advocated for the complete elimination of the school property tax and answered several questions from callers across the state.
The Senate approved several bills last week including legislation addressing individuals who fraudulently pose as doctors or decorated veterans. The following bills now go to the House of Representative for consideration.
Senate Bill 43 imposes penalties for those who falsely wear military awards and decorations.
Senate Bill 61 officially recognizes bike medics and permits them to operate their bicycles in the same manner as a police officer on a bicycle.
House Bill 152 amends the Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel Death Benefit Act by extending the filing period for the death benefit. This bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.
Senate Bill 333 provides for state preemption of local mandated leave ordinances.
Senate Bill 485 increases the criminal grading for impersonating a doctor of medicine and providing medical treatment, from a second degree misdemeanor to a first degree misdemeanor.
On Tuesday, I joined the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) to announce the Neighborhood Restoration Act, which will help to improve our cities and neighborhoods throughout the Commonwealth, while leveraging the wealth of talent of incoming architects.
Numerous communities across the Commonwealth are in desperate need of revitalization. This legislation will help to bring architecture services and an infusion of new project ideas to areas where they may not have been available.
Learn more about this initiative here.
Public pension reform is a top issue for Senate Republicans this year. The unfunded liabilities of the State Employees Retirement System and the Public School Employees Retirement System pose one of the greatest budgetary challenges in a generation. Underfunding in previous years, combined with the recession’s impact on pension fund investments have caused skyrocketing pension payments for the state and school districts.
The Senate Finance Committee heard several plans to address the crisis during a Wednesday afternoon public hearing on “Proposals to Change the Design of Public Pensions.” More information and video from the hearing is available here.
Students from Trinity Academy visited the state Capitol on Tuesday. During their visit, they met with Representative Neal Goodman and me to learn more about state government.