In this update:
Senate approves my bill protecting seniors and their eligibility for Property Tax/Rent Rebate program
This week, the Senate of Pennsylvania unanimously advanced a bill I sponsored that would close a loophole that made many senior citizens ineligible for the state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate program.
The problem arose when senior citizens transferred retirement funds into other retirement accounts, which would show up as available income on an application and make the individual ineligible. My legislation would allow retirees to transfer those retirement account investments between accounts within 60 days without counting toward income when applying for property tax or rent relief. If those funds are not invested into another qualified retirement plan within 60 days, the funds will be considered income.
With greater market volatility, this bill will protect seniors who decide to move investments in and out of various retirement accounts.
Read more here.
Helping our locally owned restaurants, bars, taverns, clubs during summer months
The Senate Law and Justice Committee approved my legislation that would allow restaurants, bars, taverns, breweries, and hotels with outdoor seating to have music during certain hours.
I sponsored the bill after hearing from many locally owned businesses that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdowns. Many restauranteurs invested in and expanded their outdoor seating options to ensure the safety of customers and staff during COVID-19 restrictions. The provisions in the legislation expand outdoor music options and limitations already available to wineries to all liquor license holders, including bars, taverns, restaurants, hotels, clubs and breweries.
You can learn more here.
Spring Grove Rocketry Team recognized for National Title
This week, a team from Spring Grove Area High School was seated on the Senate Floor during session. This opportunity is reserved to only those teams that have achieved the greatest success on the national stage.
The Rocketry team brought home a national title in the Mars Rover Event at the Battle of the Rockets Competition held in Culpeper, Virginia this past April.
They bested high schools, universities, and colleges from across the nation. It was an honor to host the team, their families, and coaches during session this week. We look forward to the continued success of this storied program. Congratulations to the entire team, including the coaches, for your significant achievements!
You can view a photo of their visit here.
2022 YMCA Legislative Champion
I was honored to be named the 2022 YMCA Legislative Champion along with my friend from the other side of the aisle, Sen. Tim Kearney, during a ceremony earlier this week at the state Capitol. I was grateful to receive the award from Larry Richardson, president and chief executive officer of the YMCA of the Roses.
I noted during my comments that Larry has helped us in the community find solutions to our greatest challenges. You can watch the ceremony below.
Recognizing PIAA State Champions during Senate session – Max Pfleiger & Daniel Gordon
It was an honor to host not one, but two PIAA State Champions from this year’s swimming and diving championships.
Max Pfleiger of Susquehannock High School was this year’s PIAA 2-A state champion diver. With an impressive score of 412.75, Max brought home the gold with his 404, inward double somersault.
Photos can be found here.
Daniel Gordon from Spring Grove Area High School brought home two gold medals for his swims at the 2022 PIAA District 3A State Championships in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle.
Daniel is also the first gold medal male swimmer at Spring Grove.
He sprinted to the finish line with winning times of 20.12 in the 50 and 44.11 in the 100 to capture his two gold medals.
Photos can be found here.
Congratulations to both of these young men on their significant achievements in the pool this year. Max will be attending Millersville University, and Daniel will head to the University of Florida this fall.
Girls wrestling growing in popularity, local wrestler, Natalie Handy, earns state title
High school girls’ wrestling continues to rise in popularity across the state. This week, the legislature honored the young ladies who captured the state title in their respective weight classes. I was honored to meet and congratulate Natalie Handy from South Western High School. Natalie is the 2022 Pennsylvania Girls State Wrestling champion in the 100-pound weight class, where she defeated a wrestler from Slippery Rock High School by a six-to-one decision. Only a sophomore, Natalie will certainly be a name to keep an eye on through the remainder of her high school career.
Congratulations, Natalie, on your state title and I do not believe this is the last time we will see her in the state Capitol being recognized for a state title!
Declining revenue projections highlight the risk of Gov. Wolf’s budget proposal
The state Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) released its initial revenue estimate for 2022-23 and warns that tax revenue is likely to fall in the coming fiscal year. The IFO’s projection for General Fund revenue next year is $42.26 billion – about an 11.5% drop from 2021-22.
The new numbers further highlight the risk of Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed state budget and emphasize what Senate Republicans have been saying all along: the governor’s bloated spending plan is unrealistic and unsustainable. His plan to increase spending by more than $4.5 billion next year would come at the expense of Pennsylvania’s long-term financial security.
The new figures from the IFO build on previous analysis that shows the potential for Gov. Wolf’s $45.7 billion budget to create multi-billion-dollar deficits for years to come.
As the June 30 deadline for enacting a state budget approaches, I will work to draft a more responsible plan that protects taxpayers already struggling with staggering inflation and an uncertain financial future.
FINAL REMINDER: New electric rates take effect June 1
With costs for electric generation increasing on June 1 for many utility customers, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) is reminding consumers they have options to manage anticipated higher bills.
According to the PUC, the best response for those struggling to pay energy bills is to call utilities and ask about assistance programs, manage energy use and shop for competitive electric generation suppliers. You can find more from the PUC about consumer options here.
The rate increase will occur even before Gov. Tom Wolf’s carbon tax kicks in, which could nearly quadruple new electricity costs for consumers. The carbon tax is part of Pennsylvania’s entry into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which was enacted by the governor without legislative approval.
Local students job shadow at state Capitol
This week, I had the opportunity to host three local students for the day to shadow me throughout a busy session week.
Garrett Kilgore of Hopewell Township joined me on Monday for a busy day at the Capitol. Garrett currently attends Millersville University where he is a double major studying government and secondary education with a concentration in American History.
On Tuesday, I was joined by Elexis Haywood and Alyssa Starr. Elexis recently finished her second year at Harrisburg Area Community College where she is studying office administration. Alyssa graduated from Red Lion Area High School and she will be attending Fairhaven Baptist College in Indiana in the fall.
I always enjoy showing our next generation of leaders the opportunities available to them in public service.
Further extension of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program to June 17
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has been extended a second time to June 17, allowing additional households to apply for help.
LIHEAP is a federally funded program administered by the state that provides assistance for home heating bills. Assistance is available for renters and homeowners.
You can apply for benefits online using COMPASS, or download a paper application, print it, fill it out and return it to your local county assistance office.
Paying for college and career training with 529 accounts
Sunday is College and Career Savings Day to promote the savings opportunities offered by 529 accounts, such as the PA 529 College and Career Savings Program.
The PA 529 College and Career Savings Program offers two plans, the PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP) and the PA 529 Investment Plan (IP). PA 529 GSP account earnings are based on college tuition inflation rates, while PA 529 IP account earnings are tied to investment choice and financial market performance.
PA 529 accounts can be used to pay for tuition, fees, books, equipment and room and board at technical schools, apprenticeship programs, community colleges and four-year colleges nationwide. Through Tuesday, May 31, families can take advantage of special PA 529 promotions at pa529.com/529day.
Upcoming PennDOT maintenance projects
PennDOT shared its list of their scheduled maintenance projects for next week. You can view the upcoming projects below.
Remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice this Memorial Day
This Memorial Day, please take a moment to pause and reflect on the life, dedication, love for our country and ultimate sacrifice of the many brave men and women who donned the uniform to serve our nation.
I look forward to participating in many events this weekend to honor these local heroes who have protected and preserved our freedoms we love in our nation.
This weekend, I will discuss the history of Memorial Day in our country that dates back to the Civil War and how this day continues to serve as a solemn reminder that freedom is not free.
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