In this Update:
Berks, Lancaster and Lebanon Counties Receive $1.6 Million in Impact Fees
I was happy to announce that the Impact Fee on unconventional natural gas wells will deliver more than $1.6 million to Berks, Lancaster and Lebanon counties.
Impact Fees are levied in addition to regular business taxes paid by every corporation in Pennsylvania. The disbursements were based on a formula established in Act 13 of 2012 to ensure communities affected by drilling receive their fair share of funding for projects such as road and bridge repairs, housing and other infrastructure needs.
The Impact Fee provides funding to the Commonwealth Financing Authority, which has generated more grants for the counties as listed below:
Impact Fee distributions are very beneficial because they fund important updates to our communities that enhance our lives – and none of the dollars come out of taxpayer pockets. We’re able to improve parks, trails, creeks and more without further burdening taxpayers, which is always my goal.
A complete list of disbursements to counties and municipalities is available on the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s website at www.puc.state.pa.us.
Municipal and First Responder Grant Workshop
On June 15th, the Office of Congressman Dan Meuser and I hosted a Municipal Leaders & First Responder Grant Workshop at Cabela’s in Hamburg.
The workshop featured experts from various government departments from both the state and federal government. My office frequently gets questions regarding state grants, and I find that these workshops help bridge the gap between applicants and the state.
If you were unable to make the workshop, please do not hesitate to reach out to my district office for a resource guide or if you have questions regarding grants.
Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee Meeting
This week, the Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee held a meeting to consider two bills.
Senate Bill 173, sponsored by Senator Wayne Langerholc, would amend Title 53 to establish Safe Exchange Zones for goods purchased online and child custody exchanges. With the rise of online marketplaces, this bill would help prevent future issues such as the tragic death of an individual in Cambria County.
Senate Bill 373, sponsored by Senator Lisa Baker would amend the State Lottery Law to provide a level of privacy for winners. Under the current law, the Lottery is permitted to post on their public website the first name, last initial, and locality of residence of all prize winners of $1,000 or more.
In cases where the Lottery receives a request from the media or an individual seeking the full name of a game winner, the Lottery is required by Pennsylvania’s Right to Know Law to release the winner’s full name and home address.
This bill would protect the identity of the winner but would still allow the disclosure of the prizewinner’s city, township or borough of residence, county of residence and prize amount paid to the winner as well as the location of the Lottery retailer that sold the winning ticket to maintain the public confidence in the integrity of the lottery operations.
Both bills passed unanimously and will now move to the full Senate.
Senate Bill Fights Porch Pirating
Legislation cracking down on “porch pirating” was approved by the Senate this week.
In Pennsylvania, theft of mail – also known as porch pirating – is currently charged under other theft offenses based solely on the value of the item taken. The average cost of a package stolen in Pennsylvania is $43, and nearly 2 million Pennsylvanians have been victimized by a porch pirate.
Senate Bill 527 would implement specific penalties for theft of mail, which includes a package, bag or letter. The grading of this offense would increase if the person had prior convictions for theft of mail.
Ensuring Adequate Funding for Roads and Bridges
To ensure sound funding for Pennsylvania roads and bridges, the Senate approved Senate Bill 656 to replace the state Alternative Fuels Tax on electric vehicle owners with a flat annual fee of $290.
The fee was calculated based on the average annual gas taxes paid by owners of gas-powered vehicles. Like the gas tax, the revenue from the flat fee will be deposited into the Motor License Fund for highway maintenance and construction.
Currently, owners of electric vehicles are required to file monthly statements with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and remit the alternative fuels tax on how much electricity their vehicle uses. However, most electric vehicle owners do not do this, or are inconsistent at doing so, due to the cumbersome process or simply being unaware.
Senate Passes Bill Protecting Prescription Coverage for Social Security Recipients
The Senate passed Senate Bill 607 to protect PACE and PACENET participants who may be pushed beyond the eligibility limits due solely to a cost-of-living increase in Social Security payments.
The PACE and PACENET programs help Pennsylvanians age 65 or older to afford their prescription medications. Eligibility for the programs is based on income, and Pennsylvanians on Social Security received an 8.7% cost-of-living increase in their benefits for 2023.
Single older Pennsylvanians earning $14,500 or less are eligible for PACE, while those earning between $14,500 and $33,500 are eligible for PACENET. Married couples earning $17,700 or less are eligible for PACE. Those earning between $17,700 and $41,500 are eligible for PACENET.
Bill to Prevent Distracted Driving Deaths Passes Senate
Legislation prohibiting the handheld use of cellular and other devices while driving passed this week in the Senate.
Senate Bill 37 would enhance driver responsibility by prohibiting the handheld use of cell phones or other communication devices while operating a motor vehicle on a Pennsylvania highway or trafficway. A driver could only use their wireless device while holding or supporting it when the vehicle is parked on the side or shoulder of a roadway and the vehicle is safely able to remain stationary.
To help educate drivers of the change in the law, this legislation includes a provision directing law enforcement to issue warnings for violations for the first 12 months following the signing of the bill.
Senate Acts to Exempt Newer Vehicles from Emissions Test
To relieve motorists from outdated and unnecessary emissions testing, the Senate approved Senate Bill 561 to exempt the five newest model-year vehicles.
Pennsylvania is mandated by the federal government to implement an emissions inspection and maintenance program to comply with federal 1990 Clean Air Act amendments. Pennsylvania’s program requires motorists in 25 counties to participate in an annual emissions test.
As fuel-efficient cars have become more widespread, a vehicle emissions test has proven to be less effective at reducing air pollution. Between 2010-19, there were more than 21 million newer vehicles that passed the emissions test 99.65% of the time. Newer vehicles consistently pass emissions tests due to newer, more fuel-efficient vehicles on the market.
Senate Approves Expanding Access to Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners
To provide comprehensive, trauma-informed quality care to survivors of sexual assault, the Senate passed Senate Bill 414 to improve access to Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs).
SANEs collect critical forensic evidence when a sexual assault survivor seeks medical attention after an attack. In addition to conducting forensic exams or rape kits, SANEs may provide expert testimony if a case goes to trial.
There are less than 50 certified SANEs across Pennsylvania despite the state having about 280 hospitals. Most hospitals do not offer access to a SANE.
The bill would improve SANE availability as it identifies a funding stream for hospitals to establish and maintain operation of SANE programs; and directs the Department of Health to compile a list of all hospitals in the commonwealth that offer SANE services and to make that information available statewide.
Prioritizing Workforce Development and Job Opportunities
The Senate has approved legislation to help establish Pennsylvania as an international leader in the development, testing and implementation of cutting-edge technologies.
Senate Bill 497 establishes the Max Manufacturing Initiative Act, which provides grants and loans to state universities so they can partner with engineering entities to enhance research capabilities, promote business alliances, produce high-value products and create family-sustaining jobs.
Advanced manufacturing is the use of innovative technologies to create and enhance products and is utilized in most industries. The manufacturing industry in the United States produces more than $4 trillion annually and thousands of job opportunities in the commonwealth.
Women Veterans to Benefit from Health Care Task Force
To provide care for the unique health needs of women veterans, the Senate approved a measure establishing the Task Force on Women Veterans’ Health Care in Pennsylvania.
The task force will study health issues facing women veterans and make recommendations to the governor and General Assembly. The panel will be composed of individuals with relevant specialties, including the chair of the State Veterans’ Commission and health care providers.
Senate Resolution 46 would also pave the way for Pennsylvania to potentially receive additional federal funding to address women veterans’ health care issues.
Recognizing National Cancer Survivor Month
National Cancer Survivor Month, celebrated every June, recognizes those who have fought cancer and those who are still in treatment.
Because of the advancement of treatment and the increased accessibility to it, there are more than 18 million cancer survivors in the United States.
To provide Pennsylvanians with important tools to fight cancer, the Senate passed Act 1 of 2023, which eliminates out-of-pocket costs for genetic testing of hereditary cancer syndromes and supplemental breast screenings for women at high risk of developing breast cancer. Learn more here.
Saturday, June 24, 9am-3pm, Lebanon Valley Summer Craft & Vendor Marketplace
Saturday, June 24, Traditional Cherry Fair & Early American Craft Show
Saturday, June 24, 4:30pm, MGH Summerfest 2023
Saturday, June 24, 10am, Schoolhouse Games
Saturday, June 23-24, 60th Annual Antiques Show
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