In this Update:
Senate Approves Scavello, Langerholc Bill Boosting Job Growth Around PA Airports
Continuing efforts to restore Pennsylvania’s economic vitality, the Senate approved legislation sponsored by Senator Mario Scavello and Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr., chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, to spur job growth in and around airports across the Commonwealth.
Senate Bill 562 creates the Airport Land Development Zone (ALDZ) program, providing tax credits to employers that make a significant new investment by expanding operations and creating new jobs.
The problems facing airports have gotten much worse with the COVID-19 travel restrictions and business shutdowns. Airports have had severe reductions in flights and general aviation business. Slashed revenues have forced airports to reduce employees and make drastic budget cuts. Pennsylvania needs to help airports develop new streams of revenue and expand aviation’s economic impact in the Commonwealth.
Under the legislation, industrial and commercial employers locating in an ALDZ could receive a $2,100-a-job tax credit for each new job they create in Pennsylvania, each year for 10 years. The tax credit is structured like that of the Keystone Special Development Zone program (KSDZ).
Targeted tax credits that promote the creation of new, Pennsylvania jobs on vacant land and buildings owned by Pennsylvania’s airports can help accelerate economic activity at and around airports. Creating more business formation and real estate development in and around Pennsylvania airports, on land and buildings owned by airports, will also help generate new sources of much needed airport revenue.
In October, the Senate Majority Policy Committee, which I chair, held a public informational meeting with the Aviation Council of Pennsylvania to discuss the legislation.
Passage of Senate Bill 562 is the latest in a series of Senate votes aimed at moving Pennsylvania from pandemic to recovery. Earlier this week, the Senate acted to increase public-private partnerships (between state universities and private entities) and enhance employment opportunities. Last month, the Senate approved two measures making it easier for small business employers to remain competitive and create jobs. Senate Bill 562 will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
School Property Tax Reform: We Have The Bill, We Need The Will
I again took to the senate floor to call on my fellow Senators to join me at the table and work to make the hard choices that Pennsylvanian’s are demanding to reform the outdated school property tax system. We’ve debated, researched, held meetings, and hosted town halls long enough. It is time for action! I’ve personally sponsored bill after bill and continue to fight for their passage. I will never stop leading one this issue.
Deadline Approaching for Property Tax/Rent Rebate Applications
The deadline for older and disabled Pennsylvanians to apply for rebates on rent and property taxes paid in 2020 is Dec. 31, 2021.
The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older, widows and widowers age 50 and older, and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded.
Claimants of the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program are encouraged to file their rebate applications online by visiting mypath.pa.gov. You can check the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program instruction booklet to learn which information you will need to input/upload to complete the process.
Measures to Increase Jobs in Manufacturing and at Airports Approved by Senate
Continuing efforts to restore Pennsylvania’s economic vitality, the Senate approved bills to spur job growth in manufacturing and at airports across the commonwealth.
Senate Bill 706 establishes the Max Manufacturing Initiative Fund and Max Manufacturing Endeavor Loan Fund. This bill aims to create stronger public-private partnerships between state universities and private entities and maximizes research capabilities with cutting edge technologies.
Senate Bill 562 creates the Airport Land Development Zone program, providing tax credits to employers that make a significant new investment by expanding operations and creating new jobs.
Passage of these measures is the latest in a series of Senate votes aimed at moving Pennsylvania from pandemic to recovery. Last month, the Senate approved two measures making it easier for small business employers to remain competitive and create jobs. Senate Bill 706 and Senate Bill 562 will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Acts to Provide Parents with Online Access to their Children’s School Curriculum
Parents would have greater ability to review what their children are being taught in school through curriculum transparency legislation approved by the Senate.
House Bill 1332 would require K-12 schools to post curricula online in a standardized, user-friendly manner. Under the bill, beginning with the 2022-23 school year, school districts must post on their websites an internet link or title for:
To prevent placing another burden on teachers, the bill stipulates that a school administrator or designee would be required to post the curricula online. House Bill 1332 is on it’s way to the Governor.
Senate Votes to Expand School Choice Eligibility
The Senate approved three bills that preserve school choice access for families and give more flexibility to students pursuing college degrees without incurring unnecessary debt.
Senate Bill 931 excludes pandemic stimulus payments from a household’s income when determining eligibility for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs. This important legislation ensures children will not see their educational opportunities diminished because of one-time government handouts.
Senate Bill 932 revises the definition of “school-related fees” so students can use EITC and OSTC scholarships toward dual enrollment programs. This option gives Pennsylvania’s next generation of professionals the flexibility to pursue college degrees or access career training while minimizing excessive student loan debt.
Both bills will head to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
House Bill 1642 loosens the threshold for schools to be considered “economically disadvantaged,” which would allow more students to access a supplemental tax credit scholarship offered through the EITC’s Economically Disadvantaged Schools program.
House Bill 1642 was sent to the governor for enactment.
Monroe & Northampton County Human Service Directories Available
As a service to my constituents, each year my office updates a Human Services Directory for both Monroe and Northampton County.
Both books have just been updated before the new year and are available at my district offices. They are also available in PDF form on my website under the resources tab.
Senate Prohibits Vaccine Mandates for School Children
As Pennsylvania has struggled to keep children in their classrooms because of questionable COVID-19 policies, the Senate acted to prevent students from being barred from school if they don’t get vaccinated for COVID-19.
Senate Bill 937 would prohibit a child from being required to be immunized for COVID-19 as a condition of attendance in any public or private K-12 school. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The bill does not contest the efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, which is now available to children ages 5 to 15 under U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorization, and full FDA approval for anyone 16 years of age and older.
The legislation acknowledges parents have a right to be involved with the health care decisions for their children. And because the COVID-19 vaccine for those under age 16 has only received FDA emergency use authorization (EUA), federal EUA law prohibits patients from being coerced into taking the vaccine. That means those children have the right to refuse the medical treatment, with their parents exercising that right on their behalf.
Landmark Bipartisan Broadband Legislation Approved by Senate
The Senate acted to improve access to high-speed internet in underserved communities by creating the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority (PBDA). The bill was sent to the governor for enactment.
House Bill 2071 would establish a single point-of-contact for federal broadband funding and includes safeguards so legitimate contractors are chosen. Entities eligible for funding must have technical, managerial and financial expertise to design, build and operate high-speed service infrastructure.
The PBDA primarily would be tasked with creating a broadband plan that allows the state to apply for competitively awarded federal infrastructure money. The bill would also require the state to create a database to monitor all broadband deployment activities across the state.
Comprehensive Probation Reform Approved by Senate
The Senate approved probation reform measures aimed at reducing the amount of taxpayer dollars spent on the system while better integrating probationers into society. The bills will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 913 provides an opportunity for early release from probation and ensures fewer individuals return to prison by offering incentives that reward positive behavior and participation in education, employment, vocational and drug treatment programming shown to reduce recidivism.
Among other goals, the measure is intended to prevent cases in which technical violations, such as a minor traffic offense, can perpetually extend the clock on an offender’s term and result in re-confinement.
Around the 40th District
Monday night I stopped by Roseto Borough to present a citation to Cathy Martino as she completes her 30th year of dedicated service to the Borough and its residents. Since 1991 Cathy has been Borough Secretary and eventually became the manager in 2010. A resident of the Borough since 1978 Cathy is an exceptional resource for everything as it relates to the Borough. Congratulations Cathy!
Congratulations to Troop 84 newest Eagle Scout, Cole Fetterhoff! Cole renovated a fire circle at Twin Pines Camp. He removed old benches and a cross, leveled the area with fill material and added a finished layer of stone. Cole built new benches and a new cross, along with a new fire ring for the campfires. He also placed lights for safety at the fire pit.
We recently attended the Northampton County Council meeting to honor Margaret “Peg” Ferraro with a plaque who is retiring from County Council after 23 years of dedicated service. Before serving on council Peg was a Supervisor for Upper Nazareth Township and also served on the Planning Commission and Zoning Hearing Board. In addition to her work at the municipal and county levels Peg also served on a variety of local and Valley-wide charities in many capacities. Peg is a dear friend and I thank her from the bottom of my heart for her dedicated service to Northampton County. Happy retirement it is well deserved!
Friday night in Nazareth the Nazareth Area Chamber of Commerce hosted their annual tree lighting in the center square. After a virtual event last year it was wonderful to gather together again this year and enjoy the season!
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