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Senator Mario Scavello

Dear Friend,

Below is a recap of this week’s legislative activity in the Senate. It covers votes by the full Senate and committee hearings, plus a look ahead.

The highlight of the week was Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address on Tuesday. I outline my thoughts on the spending plan below.

If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website www.MarioScavello.com for more information about your state government. If you do not wish to receive these e-newsletters, please click the "unsubscribe" button at the bottom of the page.

Sincerely,

Mario


In this Edition:

Senate to Review Governor’s FY 2015-16 Budget
Senate Acts to Create a Select Committee on Purely Public Charities
Scavello, American Legion to Offer Veterans Assistance Days at Tannersville District Office
Bill Sets Penalties for False Claim of Veteran Status
Senate Committees Hold Hearing Highlighting Natural Gas Impact Fee
Up Next


Senate to Review Governor’s FY 2015-16 Budget

I am open to working with the Governor and my colleagues in the Senate and House to develop a responsible state budget that meets the needs of the Commonwealth while making government live within its means. However, I was disappointed to hear the Governor’s call to drastically increase taxes on families and employers to pay for more government spending.

His initial proposal would raise taxes by $12 billion over the next two fiscal years – about $1,000 for every man, woman and child in Pennsylvania. His personal income tax increase alone would reduce the take home pay of the average Pennsylvania family by more than $300.

Absent spending reforms, billions of dollars in new spending will not curb our debt, rather, it will add to it. Parents will pay higher taxes today, leaving children to pay the long-term debt tomorrow.

Of most concern to my constituents is the issue of school property tax reform. I was pleased to hear the Governor speak of property tax relief, but I am concerned about property tax relief being woven into an overall increase in the state tax burden. My continued commitment is to ensure that my school districts receive their fair share of education funding while furthering action on the Property Tax Elimination Act, legislation of which I am a prime sponsor.

I intend to use my position on the Senate Appropriations Committee to work for a responsible budget that does not further burden the working families of the Commonwealth. We have many needs and challenges to address and I look forward to working with my colleagues, the Administration, and all stakeholders to ensure that Pennsylvania is an attractive place to live and work.

The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold three-weeks of budget hearings beginning on March 16. You can watch the hearings at www.pasenategop.com.

Senate Acts to Create a Select Committee on Purely Public Charities

The Senate on Tuesday approved legislation I am sponsoring to establish a select committee on “Purely Public Charities.”

Under Senate Resolution 28, the bipartisan panel will conduct statewide hearings and work with non-profits, elected officials, tax experts, public safety organizations and other stakeholders to determine whether additional legislation is needed and make recommendations relating to legislation on the treatment of purely public charities in Pennsylvania.

With Act 55 of 1997, the General Assembly used its constitutional power to provide clear and uniform standards in statute to define which purely public charitable institutions may claim a tax exemption. A 2012 state Supreme Court decision struck down the provisions and reinstated standards established by the courts as the means to determine the definition of a charity. The decision has created uncertainty and the potential for increased litigation.

The Senate recently approved a proposed constitutional amendment to restore the General Assembly’s power to determine whether an institution is a purely public charity.

We have nearly 100,000 nonprofits across the Commonwealth, providing critical services to our communities, helping vulnerable populations in this Commonwealth and reducing the burden of local governments with regard to administering government functions for those populations. This makes it vital for the legislature to talk about the many issues and meet with all stakeholders involved to achieve the appropriate balance between the cost of services provided by local governments and the protection of our local charities.

Scavello, American Legion to Offer Veterans Assistance Days at Tannersville District Office

I have partnered with the American Legion to hold a Veterans Assistance Day each month at our Tannersville district office.

Office hours to assist veterans will occur the third Tuesday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 2989 Route 611, Suite 103 Tannersville, PA 18372.

The next Veterans Assistance Day will be Tuesday, March 17.

Gina Svoboda, a Service Officer with the American Legion Pennsylvania Department, will be on site to assist veterans with issues including: compensation and pension claims, education benefits, enrollment in the VA health care system, burial and survivor benefits, state benefits, and obtaining military personnel and medical records.

Veterans do not need to be a member of the American Legion to receive these services. Please contact the Tannersville office to schedule an appointment at 570-620-4326.

Bill Sets Penalties for False Claim of Veteran Status

The Senate passed a bill on Tuesday intended to protect the integrity of the “veteran” driver’s license designation process.

Under Senate Bill 42 those who falsely claim to be a veteran on their Pennsylvania driver’s license application would be subject to a summary offense with a $300 fine and possible imprisonment of between 30 and 90 days for those who fail to pay the fine. A state law enacted in 2012 allows veterans to self-certify their status subject to verification by state military officials.

On Monday, the Senate approved Senate Bill 130, a measure banning the practice of allowing persons sentenced to community service to purchase gift cards in lieu of performing the service. Both bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Committees Hold Hearing Highlighting Natural Gas Impact Fee

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and the Senate Local Government Committee held a joint public hearing on Tuesday to discuss the benefits of the Act 13 Impact Fee on Pennsylvania communities.

The public hearing featured testimony from counties, townships, conservation districts and economic development organizations throughout the state. Act 13 of 2012 imposed an unconventional gas well fee which has provided more than $630 million to local and county governments to compensate for impacts of the industry, in addition to more than $2 billion companies have paid in state taxes.

Click here for video of the hearing and written testimony.

Up Next

The Senate returns to voting session on Monday, April 13.

My colleagues and I on the Senate Appropriations Committee begin three-weeks of budget hearings on the proposed 2015-16 state budget on Monday, March 16. You can watch the hearings at www.pasenategop.com.

Senate Committee Schedule


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Offices

Senate Box 203040
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3040
Phone: (717) 787-6123
Fax: (717) 772-3695

Monroe County Office

DePue Plaza
2989 Route 611, Suite 103
Tannersville, PA 18372
Phone: (570) 620-4326
FAX: (570) 620-4379
Monday - Friday
9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.

Northampton County Office

2 North Robinson Avenue
Pen Argyl, PA 18072
Phone: (610) 863-1200
FAX: (610) 863-1214

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