Jun. 09, 2017

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Legislative Report

#Listrak\DateStampLong#   The latest news from the State Capitol

House OKs Pension Changes for New Employees
In keeping my promise, I voted this week with my colleagues in the House to approve pension reform legislation. The governor is expected to sign the bill on Monday. The measure aims to slow the growth of pension liabilities, shift risk away from taxpayers and ensure the Commonwealth can meet its future pension obligations. Senate Bill 1 would establish three new public pension plans from which state employees and teachers hired in 2019 or later can choose. The two first plans are hybrids that offer both a defined benefit and a defined contribution retirement. The other plan is a complete defined contribution, similar to a 401(k) commonly offered to workers in the private sector. The plans provide future employees with retirement security and portability while also protecting taxpayers. Current employees will have the opportunity to opt in to a new plan or continue in their current plan, and retirees would not see any changes to their plans. For more information, click here.

Nelson’s Bill to Protect Seniors’ Prescription Drug Assistance Eligibility Passes House
The House this week unanimously approved my legislation to prevent seniors from losing their eligibility for the state’s prescription drug assistance due to a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). The state’s PACE and PACENET programs provide prescription drug assistance to about 300,000 Pennsylvania seniors. A 2015 state law allowed seniors previously eligible to not lose their PACE and PACENET benefits due to a Social Security COLA. However, this law sunsets in December. Under House Bill 425, the COLA moratorium would be extended through Dec. 31, 2019. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

New Law Helping Veterans Celebrated
This week, I met with Gov. Tom Wolf and Reps. Ryan Mackenzie (R-Lehigh/Berks) and Greg Rothman (R-Cumberland) to recognize a new pro-veterans small business bill. Act 135 of 2016, which was signed into law last year, waives state business startup fees for individuals transitioning to the civilian workforce from the U.S. Armed Forces, including reserve units and the National Guard. As a veteran and businessman, I was pleased to support this law as a way to help our veterans as they enter the private sector.

Hempfield Eagle Scout Visits Capitol
This week Aaron Riggleman, a Hempfield High School student and a friend of my family, visited the Capitol with his mother, Jessie, to observe the General Assembly in person. Aaron recently earned his Eagle Scout rank as a member of Troop 259 of Herminie. His project consisted of constructing an outdoor classroom at West Hempfield Middle School. It included 11 benches and a podium so students and teachers can enjoy a technology-free class outside. I was happy to celebrate his accomplishments.

Bill to Base Budget Decisions on Performance Passes House
To help ensure tax dollars are used to their maximum benefit, the House passed legislation, which would require performance-based budgeting. This type of budgeting uses performance matrices to determine whether each state department has met its goals and objectives, and bases future budget allocations on what was accomplished with the dollars given. Budget requests would include itemized expenditures for all activities required by state and federal statutes at minimum and current levels. This is another effort by the House to stand up for taxpayers and reinvent the way state government operates. House Bill 410 now goes to the Senate for review.

Improving a Health, Human Service Helpline
To help residents better access both private and public human services, House Bill 211 passed the House this week to improve Pennsylvania’s 2-1-1 system. The 2-1-1 system is a free, confidential, 24-hour information and referral service provided by the United Way that connects Pennsylvanians in need with health and human service assistance available through government programs, along with private and nonprofit organizations in their communities. The new public-private grant program established under House Bill 211 would help expand the service, develop mobile applications and ensure efficiency and quality standards across the state, all while reducing the taxpayer costs needed ensure its success. House Bill 211 now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Tax Amnesty Ends June 19
Taxpayers who owe state taxes only have a few more days to take advantage of the latest tax amnesty period. The program, which offers incentives to Pennsylvanians to settle their delinquent tax accounts, is expected to generate as much as $150 million in revenue for the Commonwealth. The program does not “forgive” taxes owed but instead waives penalties, collection and lien fees, and half of the interest owed. All taxes owed to the Commonwealth administered by the Department of Revenue are eligible for the program. The delinquent taxes must have been owed as of Dec. 31, 2015. Any unpaid taxes, penalties and interest resulting from periods after Dec. 31, 2015, are not eligible for the program. The amnesty period runs until June 19, 2017. More information is available at revenue.pa.gov. For a video explaining the program, click here.
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