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In this Email Update:
Property Tax Independence Act receives tie vote in Senate
Last week, the Senate of Pennsylvania voted on the Property Tax Independence Act, which would eliminate school district property taxes. (More information on the Property Tax Independence Act is available on my website)
Earlier in the day, the governor came out against the plan, calling it a “ distraction.” I don’t think people who are losing their homes due to school property tax increases would call this issue a “distraction.” Perhaps he should have attended a recent event in Berks County where over 500 local residents showed their support for the elimination of school property taxes.
The vote on the issue resulted in a 24-to-24 tie in the Senate. While not required, the lieutenant governor exercised his authority to break the tie vote and voted against the measure – watch here.
While this legislation did not gain enough votes to pass the Senate last week, the problem of ever-rising school property taxes does not go away. Each session, we continue to pick up support in all parts of the state and the historic tie vote in the Senate shows the importance of this issue.
I’ve got news for the governor and the lieutenant governor who voted against us: we are not giving up!
Senate adopts resolution urging greater screening of Syrian refugees
The Senate adopted a Resolution last Tuesday directing the governor to reject the placement of Syrian refugees within the Pennsylvania until the federal government establishes increased security procedures to screen refugees coming from this region.
In light of the terror attacks that occurred in Paris, Senate Resolution 248 requests that the President of the United States direct the Department of Homeland Security to review its security procedures for vetting refugees and to send a report detailing the increased measures to the states that are under consideration to receive refugees. The federal government has already indicated that it will accept 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year, but has not detailed the security measures that will be used to screen these refugees.
The main priority and responsibility of our governor is to protect the residents of Pennsylvania, and it is critical that we receive proper instructions on how to properly screen incoming Syrian refugees in order to ensure that we do not compromise the safety and lives of innocent Pennsylvanians.
Senate approves bill authorizing Transportation Network Companies
Transportation network companies, like Uber and Lyft, could operate safely in every county in Pennsylvania under a bill approved by the Senate last Tuesday.
Senate Bill 984 would establish a regulatory framework for the operation of transportation network companies throughout Pennsylvania. These companies are currently permitted to operate in some, but not all Pennsylvania counties and municipalities under a two-year temporary authority granted by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC).
The bill, which now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration, would ensure transportation network companies and drivers meet key requirements, such as maintaining proper insurance coverage, meeting vehicle safety requirements and reporting accidents. In addition, the bill would implement a zero tolerance policy on the use of drugs or alcohol for a driver using the digital network and prevents individuals convicted of certain crimes, including burglary, robbery and sexual offenses, from offering rideshare services.
Visiting team physician bills sent to governor
Two bills that will allow out-of-state visiting athletic team physicians to treat athletes during athletic events without the need for a Pennsylvania medical license received final legislative approval last week and were sent to the governor for his signature and enactment into law.
Senate Bill 685 and Senate Bill 686 amend state laws to allow visiting team physicians to treat athletes 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.
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.
Three additional bills were also sent to the governor last week.
Senate Bill 130 bans the practice of allowing persons sentenced to community service to purchase gift cards in lieu of performing the service.
Senate Bill 490 includes the PEMA Director as a position subject to review and confirmation by the Senate. Currently, the post is filled by appointment by the governor.
House Bill 698 allows for the use of a motorized wheelchair by permanently disabled hunters, and provides permits for individuals with disabilities.
Other bills approved by the Senate and sent to the House last week include:
House Bill 477 would create the Activities and Experiences for Children in Out-of-Home Placements Act to give foster parents the ability to approve or disapprove their foster child participating in extracurricular activities. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.
Senate Bill 482 would allow counties to impose a fee of up to 10 percent of the final sale price of a property sold at a judicial sale for a Demolition and Property Rehab Fund.
Senate Bill 735 would allow mobile retail food facilities to operate in multiple food safety jurisdictions without having to pay multiple fees in each county it operates.
Senate Bill 859 would consolidate the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole into a single state agency titled the “Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.”
Senate Bill 860, which amends the Crime Victims Act making technical changes related to the consolidation of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole into a single state agency titled the “Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.”
Senate Bill 1065 would add falconry to the list of exemptions for Sunday hunting.
Guy Reschenthaler sworn in to State Senate
Guy Reschenthaler was sworn in to office as the state senator representing the 37th Senatorial District in Allegheny and Washington counties during a ceremony last Tuesday in the Senate Chamber. With Reschenthaler’s swearing in, Senate Republicans now hold a 31 to 19 majority, the largest margin since 1954.