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Senator Mario Scavello


In this Edition:

  • Elimination of School Property Taxes Comes Up One Vote Short
  • Senate Adopts Resolution Urging Greater Screening of Syrian Refugees
  • Senate Approves Bill Authorizing Transportation Network Companies
  • Scavello Bill to Allow Falconry on Sundays Approved by Senate
  • Other Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House
  • Visiting Team Physician Bills Sent to Governor
  • Other Bills Sent to the Governor
  • Guy Reschenthaler Sworn in to State Senate
  • A Christmas Tradition: “Change” at the Sherman Theater
  • Thursdays on “Gary in the Morning,” Pocono 96.7

 

Congratulations to Pocono Township Volunteer Fire Company on their 75th Anniversary. Thank you for all you do to keep our community safe and your willingness to serve at any time of day or night.


I hope you have a warm and loving Thanksgiving. I am grateful for the honor of serving all of the residents of the 40th Senatorial District.

Elimination of School Property Taxes Comes Up One Vote Short

11/23/15 - Property Tax Independence Act

I voted Monday for legislation that would permanently eliminate all school property taxes in Pennsylvania and establish a fairer way to fund public schools.

The vote to amend House Bill 683 to include provisions from Senate Bill 76, known as the Property Tax Independence Act, failed by a vote of 25 to 24, with the Lieutenant Governor breaking a 24-24 tie.

The measure would have eliminated all school property taxes across the state. To replace the revenue the property tax currently provides to public schools, the legislation would broaden the base of the state sales tax to include more services and products and increase the rate from 6 percent to 7 percent. The remainder of the funding necessary for public schools would be generated by an increase in the state personal income tax from 3.07 percent to 4.95 percent.

Existing revenue dedicated to property tax relief from casinos would be used to eliminate school property taxes. The Property Tax/Rent Rebate program would continue to provide assistance for county and municipal property tax relief for those who qualify. The new revenue sources would replace dollar-for-dollar the revenues lost by the school property tax elimination.

Under the proposed legislation, any school district seeking to spend above the allotment from the state would have to ask the voters for their support in a referendum. School districts may locally increase the personal income tax or earned income tax only if approved by the voters in that district, Scavello said.

The legislation was authored through the combined efforts of more than 80 grassroots groups who are committed to eliminating the school property tax.

School property tax reform has remained my highest priority since I was first elected State Representative. This fight is of particular importance for Monroe and Northampton counties – and the entire Commonwealth – as it provides much-needed relief to seniors on fixed incomes, families struggling to make ends meet while putting their children through school, and first-time homebuyers pursuing the “American Dream” of homeownership. It is extremely frustrating to come so close to a historic victory and come up short.

This fight is not over. As has been said before, no tax should have the power to leave you homeless.”

Bushkill Emergency Corps celebrated their 50th Anniversary this week. I presented them with a Senate Citation honoring their work and tradition of service. They also presented me with a community partner award. A special thank you to all the volunteers who have given of their time and sacrificed much for the safety and lives of others.

Senate Adopts Resolution Urging Greater Screening of Syrian Refugees

The Senate adopted a measure Tuesday that I am co-sponsoring to direct the Governor to reject the placement of Syrian refugees within the Commonwealth until the federal government establishes increased security procedures to screen refugees coming from this region.

In light of the terror attacks that occurred in Paris, Senate Resolution 248 requests that the President of the United States direct the Department of Homeland Security to review its security procedures for vetting refugees and to send a report detailing the increased measures to the states that are under consideration to receive refugees. The federal government has already indicated that it will accept 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year but have not detailed the security measures that will be used to screen these refugees.

Senate Approves Bill Authorizing Transportation Network Companies

Transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft could operate safely in every county in Pennsylvania under a bill approved by the Senate on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 984 would establish a regulatory framework for the operation of transportation network companies throughout Pennsylvania. These companies are currently permitted to operate in some, but not all Pennsylvania counties and municipalities under a two-year temporary authority granted by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC).

The bill, which now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration, would ensure transportation network companies and drivers meet key requirements, such as maintaining proper insurance coverage, meeting vehicle safety requirements and reporting accidents. In addition, the bill would implement a zero tolerance policy on the use of drugs or alcohol for a driver using the digital network and prevents individuals convicted of certain crimes, including burglary, robbery and sexual offenses, from offering rideshare services.

 

Congratulations to Scott Benko on achieving his Eagle Scout rank. It was a pleasure to attend your ceremony.

Scavello Bill to Allow Falconry on Sundays Approved by Senate

Legislation I introduced to allow falconry on Sundays in Pennsylvania was unanimously approved by the Senate on Tuesday.

Currently, state law prohibits hunting on Sunday with the exception of the hunting of foxes and coyotes. Senate Bill 1065 would add falconry to list of exemptions for Sunday hunting.

Falconry is the sport of hunting small game species with birds of prey. Of all the field sports that fall under the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, falconry is the only one that uses a trained wild animal. The hawks and falcons that are utilized are a valuable part of the Commonwealth's wildlife and the current laws and regulations governing falconry have been enacted to ensure that the competent falconer recognizes this and takes care to follow sound conservation principles in pursuit of the sport.

This legislation is being offered because these birds of prey are wild and need to fly and eat daily. A falconer who wishes to take his or her bird of prey out in the wild, even for daily flight and not to hunt, would still be in violation of the Sunday hunting prohibition. Falconers do not use a gun or a bow, therefore an exception would be less intrusive than fox and coyote hunting which is already allowed on Sundays.

Other Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House

House Bill 477 creates the Activities and Experiences for Children in Out-of-Home Placements Act to give foster parents the ability to approve or disapprove their foster child participating in extracurricular activities. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Senate Bill 482 allows counties to impose a fee of up to 10 percent of the final sale price of a property sold at a judicial sale for a Demolition and Property Rehab Fund.

Senate Bill 735 allows mobile retail food facilities to operate in multiple food safety jurisdictions without having to pay multiple fees in each county it operates.

Senate Bill 859 consolidates the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole into a single state agency titled the “Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.”

Senate Bill 860 amends the Crime Victims Act making technical changes related to the consolidation of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole into a single state agency titled the “Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.”

Visiting Team Physician Bills Sent to Governor

Two bills that will allow out-of-state visiting athletic team physicians to treat athletes during athletic events without the need for a Pennsylvania medical license received final legislative approval this week and were sent to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law.

Senate Bill 685 and Senate Bill 686 amend state laws to allow visiting team physicians to treat athletes as long as they are licensed in their home state and have an agreement with the visiting sports team to provide care for them while traveling.

Many teams in Pennsylvania and around the country employ medical personnel who travel with the team and coaches for the purpose of providing medical care. These team physicians have established medical relationships with the athletes and are well suited to provide care while teams are competing. 21 states currently allow for visiting team physicians to practice in their state without meeting home state licensing requirements.

Other Bills Sent to the Governor

Senate Bill 130 bans the practice of allowing persons sentenced to community service to purchase gift cards in lieu of performing the service.

Senate Bill 490 SSSSincludes the PEMA Director as a position subject to review and confirmation by the Senate. Currently, the post is filled by appointment by the Governor.

House Bill 698 allows for the use of a motorized wheelchair by permanently disabled hunters, and provides permits for individuals with disabilities.

Guy Reschenthaler Sworn in to State Senate

Guy Reschenthaler was sworn in to office as the state senator representing the 37th Senatorial District in Allegheny and Washington counties during a ceremony Tuesday in the Senate Chamber. With Senator Reschenthaler’s swearing in, Senate Republicans now hold a 31 to 19 majority, the largest margin since 1954.

Senator Reschenthaler served in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General Corp, volunteering for service in Iraq. He worked in private practice at a multi-state law firm in Mt. Lebanon and was elected Magisterial District Judge for Pleasant Hills, Jefferson Hills and South Park, winning the nomination of both parties.

I recently attended the Northampton County 4-H Achievement Banquet along with Rep. Harhart and Rep. Hahn. The accomplishments of these kids, their projects and ongoing work to bring greater awareness to the agriculture industry is phenomenal. They carry our rich farming traditions into the future.

A Christmas Tradition: “Change” at the Sherman Theater

If you have time this Christmas season, I encourage you to check out the local theater production of “Change” at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg. The production will have three different shows on December 11, 12, and 13. You can find more information on the show and reserve your spot here. The show is produced by the East Stroudsburg-based “Labor of Love USA.”

I highly recommend taking your whole family to see “Change.” My wife and I have not missed a showing since it debuted in 2008.

Thursdays on Gary in the Morning, Pocono 96.7

I am a guest every Thursday on Gary in the Morning 96.7 at 7:30 a.m. to answer your questions. Thanks to everyone who has called in so far, I look forward to speaking to you in the future.


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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.- 5 p.m.

Northampton County Office

2 North Robinson Avenue
Pen Argyl, PA 18072
Phone: (610) 863-1200
FAX: (610) 863-1214
9 a.m.- 5 p.m.

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