In this update:
Ensuring adequate funding for roads and bridges
Ensuring the 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.
Thank you to all of you who reached out with your feedback on having a flat rate fee on EV vehicles in lieu of the current remit system! The overwhelming feedback I received was in favor of replacing the state Alternative Fuels Tax.
You can learn more here.
York County seeing more than half million dollars from impact fee
Although York County does not have any active natural gas drilling, we are still seeing the benefits of the natural gas industry. Our community will be receiving $547,550 from these fees!
Impact Fees are collected on unconventional natural gas wells in addition to regular business taxes.
The disbursements were based on a formula established in Act 13 of 2012 to ensure that communities receive their fair share of funding for projects such as roads and bridge repairs, housing, and other infrastructure needs.
With the 2022 distribution, the natural gas industry, which provides thousands of family-sustaining jobs, has paid $4.7 million to York County in impact fees since 2012.
You can find more information on the Impact Fee here.
District Attorney Sunday testifies before Senate committee on data-driven solutions to fight crime
York County District Attorney Dave Sunday testified at a public hearing on examining criminal justice statistics and trends in Pennsylvania alongside fellow prosecutors from across the state.
The hearing was held by the Senate Majority Policy Committee, chaired by Sen. Dan Laughlin, at the state Capitol on Wednesday. The goal is to find the correlation between data-driven decisions and policies that mitigate and deter crime in communities across the Commonwealth.
The Senate is seeking to tackle this issue to give law enforcement and prosecutors additional resources to fight crime.
You can learn more here.
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, including York County, 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.
Neighboring Adams County is exempt from testing for emissions for all vehicles, which is a major frustration for motorists who live along the western border of York County.
Bill fighting porch pirating heads to House
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.
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.
Celebrating 10 years of the Northern Central Railway
The Northern Central Railway (NCR) held festivities this past weekend to celebrate a decade of providing family fun and unique experiences to York Countians.
It was an honor to attend their events and say a few words about the importance of this nonprofit to southern York County and how it has been the impetus and remains the anchor for the Trail Towns program that connects the Heritage Rail Trail with so many of our downtown communities.
Congratulations to the entire team at NCR for serving more than 140,000 visitors from 48 states and 15 countries!
Watch this short video of the NCR #17 steam engine here.
You can learn more about the NCR here.
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.
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.
As you may know, I send out monthly updates specifically geared towards veterans. The June update will be sent out next week!
If you don’t want to miss out on the newest veteran updates, sign up to receive them directly in your inbox here.
Touring Keystone Electronics
I recently had the opportunity to tour and meet with the leadership of Keystone Electronics, located in Spry. It was fascinating to see the level of detail that goes into the production of their products: circuit boards and cable harnesses that make a huge impact in products we use on a daily basis.
With workforce development being such a critical component of this local employer’s needs, it was great to get a first-hand look at this small business right in our own backyard.
Keystone Boys State visit Capitol
I had the great opportunity to meet with Keystone Boys State in the Capitol this week! The weeklong Keystone Boys State program helps participants develop leadership skills, gain civics experience and opens scholarships opportunities.
Thank you for stopping by and thank you to the American Legion for sponsoring this important program that has such a positive impact on so many young lives.
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.
Local guest pages help during session
The Senate of Pennsylvania was in great hands this week with Jocelyn, Silas, Preston, and Justin Hillegass from Codorus Township, who served as guest pages on Tuesday.
They had the opportunity to get a first-hand experience learning more about their state government and how it operates.
Local job openings
The Senate of Pennsylvania reconvenes on Monday, June 26, at 1 p.m. Follow me on Twitter for all of the latest updates on session convening times. You can watch all of the Senate votes and view our agenda here.
Tune in this weekend as I join Dennis Owens of ABC27 on This Week in Pennsylvania, which airs on Sunday, June 25, at 10 a.m.
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