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House Republicans & Democrats Reject Governor’s Tax Increases
Last Wednesday, the House of Representatives rejected Governor Wolf’s most recent tax-increase proposal by a margin of 127-73 with Republicans and Democrats standing together and voting against it. Prior to the vote, Governor Wolf characterized the vote as a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity to, presumably, raise taxes on all working Pennsylvanians.
The most recent proposal would have raised the personal income tax by 16% and instituted a severance tax in addition to the impact fee already paid by drilling companies. Combined, the two levies would have resulted in the highest natural gas tax in the nation at a time when the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania is laying off employees in Pennsylvania by the hundreds and rig count has dropped 33% due to historic lows in the price of natural gas.
This bipartisan vote should be a reminder to all that Governor Wolf’s agenda has neither the support of Republicans or Democrats in Pennsylvania. Click here to see how your representative voted.
It is my sincere hope that this vote will signal the end of Governor Wolf's crusade to raise taxes on working Pennsylvanians and we can finally deliver a budget that fully funds all core functions of state government and reforms our most challenging fiscal issues without punishing, broad-based tax increases on working Pennsylvanians.
Senate Hearing on Act 60 Seasonal Workers & Unemployment Compensation
Last week, the Senate Labor & Industry Committee held a public hearing on Act 60 of 2012 and its effects, in particular, on seasonal workers. Act 60 made a number of changes to PA's Unemployment Compensation Law, most importantly, the requirement that an individual must make at least 49.5 percent of their wages outside their high quarter to be eligible for UC.
I voted against Act 60 because of the impact that it would have on many of my constituents that work in the building trades, transportation workers, and many more. This most recent hearing of the Labor & Industry Committee spent significant time discussing this issue. I will continue to support a repeal of this onerous requirement that deprives many seasonal workers from receiving the unemployment compensation that they deserve.
House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee Hearing on Race Horse Industry Reform Act
Recently, the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee met to consider my legislation, Senate Bill 352, making much-needed updates to the Race Horse Industry Reform Act. The legislation was approved by the Senate earlier this year.
DEP Accepting Applications for 2016 Environmental Education Grants
Projects and programs geared toward environmental education are now eligible to apply for grants from the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Environmental Education Grant Program. Schools, colleges and universities, county conservation districts, nonprofit organizations, municipalities, and businesses can apply for the grants.
Eligible projects include, but are not limited to, teacher professional development; curriculum integration; outdoor learning resources, such as trails, shelters, streamside plantings, and educational programming; transportation to field study sites; water chemistry testing equipment; and educational events. Grants are awarded for up to $3,000.
In April, DEP awarded 110 grants totaling more than $304,000 to groups in support of environmental education programs across the state. Since the program’s inception, DEP has awarded more than $9.8 million in grants.
PennDOT Accepting Multimodal Grant Applications
PennDOT is offering more than $40 million in grants to communities,
businesses and economic development agencies to improve transit, aviation, rail
freight, bicycle and pedestrian alternatives. Applications for Mulitmodal
Transportation Fund Grants are due by December 18, 2015.
Click here for more information.
PHARE Funding Announced in 47th Senate District
It was recently announced that the three counties of the 47th Senate District will be awarded grant monies from the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Program (PHARE), also known as the State Housing Trust Fund. Beaver County will receive a maximum of $25,000; Butler County a maximum of $25,000; and Lawrence County, a maximum of $40,000. The monies will be used to address blight, housing rehabilitation, and homelessness. Funding for PHARE is made possible by proceeds from the Marcellus Shale Impact Fee, a tax levied on natural gas wells.
DEP Reminds Pennsylvanians to Maintain Home Heating Oil Tanks
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) encourages residents to take precautions before filling their home heating oil tanks. Poorly maintained or leaking home heating oil tanks can pose a fire risk, diminish indoor air quality, or contaminate groundwater.
DEP encourages homeowners to consider these tips:
• For safety reasons, always assume the tank contains at least some oil;
• Routinely inspect the exterior of the tank and all attached equipment;
• Check for signs of rusting on the tank and its structural supports;
• Examine the tank’s fill line and feed line to the furnace for leaks;
• Never tip over or empty a tank onto the ground;
• Enlist a professional to perform maintenance or alterations to a heating oil tank system; and
• Recognize that wet spots or odors near the tank may signal a problem.
For more information about maintaining a home heating oil tank, click here or call DEP’s Division of Storage Tanks at 717-772-5599.
PHEAA My Smart Borrowing
PHEAA has a new online tool to help parents and students make the best choices about choosing the right college, financing your student loans, and planning for their repayment. Check it out at www.MySmartBorrowing.org
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Senate Box 203047