I am pleased to present my electronic newsletter. These e-newsletters enable me to provide information about issues, events and activities in Harrisburg and around the 47th Senatorial District to you in a timely manner while saving postage costs.
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Last week was FFA Week in Pennsylvania. I had the opportunity to welcome the officers of the Pennsylvania FFA to the Capitol. Click here for more information about the FFA of PA.
My Statement on 2015-16 Budget Proposal
I am extremely disappointed that Governor Wolf is proposing an onerous extraction tax on the Marcellus Shale industry. Pennsylvania already has a special tax on the natural gas industry, it’s called the impact fee. This tax raised more than $600,000 and has brought much needed money to all of our local governments to deal with impacts of the industry and environmental programs. The severance tax proposed by Governor Wolf would just send more money to Harrisburg, likely at the expense of the host counties and municipalities. In the long run, the Governor’s tax would slow that industry and have a serious impact on jobs and the economy of numerous western Pennsylvania communities.
While I strongly support reducing the Corporate Net Income Tax, it cannot be
at the expense of the hardworking middle class through the historic sales and
income tax increases which Governor Wolf is proposing. Raising taxes is not a
“big idea.” It’s a small idea, one which puts our businesses and citizens at
risk for failure. In fact, Governor Wolf’s 10 percent sales tax increase is
especially troubling since it would put small businesses in western Pennsylvania
at a further disadvantage to those in neighboring states with lower tax rates,
such as Ohio (5.75 percent).
Butler County Satellite Office Opening
As part of my effort to make state services readily accessible to the people of the 47th Senatorial District, I’ll be operating a “satellite” office in Butler County beginning Thursday, March 5.
The new office will be open every Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau building, located at 310 East Grandview Avenue in Zelienople. The office phone number is (724) 656-3284.
Visitors to the Zelienople satellite office can access the same services that are available at my Rochester and New Castle district offices. Local residents will be able to pick up state forms, maps and other information and receive assistance with Property Tax/Rent Rebate applications, driver’s licenses, vehicle registrations, PACE and PACENET and other state-related programs, agencies and departments.
I want to make it as convenient as possible for my Butler County constituents to receive the state services and information that they deserve. I hope people will stop by to see what is available.
State Representative Jim Marshall holds a satellite office at the same location on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
AG Committee Approves Horse Racing Industry Bill
Last week, the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee approved Senate Bill 352, legislation that I sponsored, that makes substantial regulatory changes necessary to protect and bolster Pennsylvania’s horse racing industry.
The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
This legislation will bring the regulations regarding the horseracing industry into the 21st Century. The parameters and guidelines for the oversight of the racing industries in Pennsylvania have not be updated in over twenty years despite drastic changes in the way the industry is funded, raced and regulated. The Senate unanimously approved this measure last session and hopefully we can take the next step and get it to the Governor’s desk and enacted into law this year.
Senate Bill 352 makes a number of substantial and essential changes to the state’s oversight of the horse racing industry. One major change dissolves the separate state commissions under the Department of Agriculture for thoroughbred and harness racing in favor of a single oversight commission.
We have seen the economic benefits of our racing industries. Purses, racing days, employees and horses operating at our tracks have all increased. At the same time, the regulation of the industry has become more expensive and complex. My bill makes a number of changes to licensure, fines, fees and the pari-mutual tax structure to properly fund regulatory oversight and drug testing.
The Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee also approved Senate Bill 201 . This measure would allow land owners with a property enrolled in the Clean-and-Green program to lease the site to a third party in certain cases without penalty.
To hear my comments on Senate Bill 352, click here.
Committee Hearing Focuses on “True Costs of E-911”
With the end of the Emergency Telephone Act looming at the end of June, the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee held a public hearing Wednesday to gather testimony on the “True Costs of E-911” in Pennsylvania.
Substantial changes in technology and society since the original enactment of the law have increased equipment and personnel costs for county dispatch centers, while whittling away at funding sources, such as landline surcharges, that were intended to support those operations.
Testifiers included representatives from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, Legislative Budget & Finance Committee, County Commissioners Association of PA, and a panel consisting of officials from the Allegheny, Philadelphia, Tioga, and Westmoreland County E-911 centers. Click here to watch the entire hearing.
Last week I joined colleagues from the House & Senate to introduce Senate Bill 70, the Taxpayer Protection Act. This constitutional amendment places legal limits on the growth of government and requires any additional revenue to be used to pay down pension obligations, boost budgetary reserves and reduce the Personal Income Tax rate. For more information, click here .
Apply for Volunteer Fire Assistance Grants
Volunteer Fire Assistance Grants are available to local fire departments
through the Department of Conservation and Natural Resource’s Bureau of
Forestry. The grants are to train and equip local forces in rural areas or
communities under 10,000 population to prevent, control, and suppress fires
which threaten human life, livestock, wildlife, crops, pastures, orchards,
woodlands, farmsteads, or other improvements in rural areas.
Grants can be used for the purchase of wildfire suppression equipment, wildfire protective gear, mobile or portable radios, installation of dry hydrants, wildfire prevention and mitigation, or wildfire training. Funds may also be used for certain projects involving the conversion and maintenance of federal excess vehicles received from the Bureau of Forestry and used for fire suppression. A priority will be placed on projects that include the purchase of wildland fire suppression equipment and wildland fire protective gear. Grants cannot be used for the purchase of structural fire equipment or protective gear, supply hose larger than 2½ inches in diameter, structures, routine maintenance of vehicles not received from the Bureau of Forestry, medical services, ambulance services, fire police equipment and gear, or search and rescue equipment and gear.
For more information and to apply, click here.
New Castle Municipal Airport Receives $100,000 State Grant
New Castle Municipal Airport was recently awarded a $100,000 state Aviation Transportation Assistance Program grant.
The grant is intended to construct a hangar addition that will support growth at the airport. Last year, the airport received a $601,667 Aviation Transportation Assistance Program grant to rehabilitate a runway and improve taxiway lighting.
New Castle Municipal Airport is a key part of our regional economy and it
certainly will take on an even larger role in the future. This grant continues
the state’s investment in our community. By developing and enhancing the New
Castle Municipal Airport, we give local leaders another great marketing tool to
use when competing for new businesses and jobs.
Free Computer Recycling
Job Training for Beaver County, Inc., in partnership with Goodwill Industries of Southwestern PA, is now providing a Computer Recycling Program to help you properly dispose of your equipment. They are now accepting donations of obsolete, outdated and unusable computer equipment that will be responsibly recycled free of charge. This program is authorized by the Dell Asset Recovery & Recycling Groups. All data is wiped off of the hard drive.
Equipment can be dropped off Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Beaver Valley Mall. Turn into the loading area in front of Planet Fitness and drive to the garage door straight ahead. Ring the bell and someone will assist you with unloading the equipment. For more information, call Dave Zusinas, Demanufacturing Program Manager, at 724.728.2020 etc. 129.
Great American Cleanup of PA
Join over 4 million volunteers in the nation’s largest annual community improvement program. The Great American Cleanup of PA will be from March 1 to May 31. I invite all to learn more about the program and participate in keeping Pennsylvania beautiful. Register ahead of time and receive free cleanup supplies, including bags, gloves, vests donated by PennDOT, DEP, and Keep America Beautiful—the national organization coordinating this program across the United States. Visit www.gacofpa.org for more information.
Variety’s My Bike/My Voice/My Stroller Program
Last week, I participated in the kickoff of three different programs geared towards children with disabilities in our community. Variety the Children’s Charity, based in Wexford, needs your assistance in raising awareness and identifying children in our area that could benefit from their programs. The “My Bike” program provides adaptive bikes to children with disabilities so they can have the freedom & joy that comes from riding a bike. The “My Voice” program provides communication devices (tablets) to children who are nonverbal to give them a voice at all times. The “My Stroller” program provides adaptive strollers to kids with disabilities. If you know of anyone that could benefit from these great programs, please contact Variety the Children’s Charity at 724.933.0460 or visit their website at www.varietypittsburgh.org.
Online Hunter-Trapper Education Course
A new, online Hunter-Trapper Education course is available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The course can be completed in about 6-8 hours. After passing the test, a temporary certification card can be printed, and a license purchased immediately. Traditional classroom courses will continue to be offered. For more information, click here.
Follow Me on Twitter!
I have a Twitter account to better connect with my constituents and provide daily updates on my voting record, whereabouts, state government, and local news affecting the 47 S.D. To access my Twitter page, click here.
Please contact me to provide input on any state-related matter, or to
receive help in dealing with a state agency.
Senate Box 203047