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||The latest news from the State Capitol
|Anti-Fraud Measure Signed into Law
Legislation to reform the local tax collection system to reduce instances of fraud was signed into law this week.
Act 38 of 2017 prohibits checks made payable to a tax collector’s name only. Under the new law, checks should be made payable to the name of the tax collector along with the office, title or position; or be made out just to the office, title or position and then be deposited into a separate bank account used only for tax money.
Previously, the Local Tax Collection Law did not specify how taxes are to be paid, so it was left to individual tax collectors to determine how they want checks made out for the payment of taxes and to what account the tax money was to be deposited.
Changing how accounts are set up and how checks are written will give municipalities and taxpayers an added layer of protection by ensuring their tax dollars go where they are intended. Act 38 goes into effect Jan. 1, 2018.
Concealed Carry Seminar
|Rep. Garth Everett and I held our 14th joint Concealed Carry Seminar this week. These educational seminars have provided more than 3,200 residents with important information concerning the laws related to carrying a firearm. Addressing the group is Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Angela Bieber. We plan to hold future events in early 2018.
Voters to Decide on Property Tax Reform Nov. 7
Many residents have reached out to me with questions regarding the opportunity voters will have next week to vote on a property tax reform measure.
Currently, the state Constitution permits local governments – counties, municipalities and school districts – to exclude up to 50 percent of the median assessed home value from a homeowner’s tax bill. However, a referendum on the ballot in November will allow voters to decide if the maximum homestead exclusion could be increased to 100 percent of primary residences.
For example, under the current homestead exclusion, if the median assessed home value in your school district is $100,000, up to $50,000 can be excluded from your tax bill if your school district elected the full 50 percent exclusion rate. If the value of your home is assessed at $150,000, your local property tax rate would only be applied to $100,000 of that value.
If the resolution amending the Constitution is approved, the homestead exclusion cap could be removed. However, the General Assembly would still have to pass a law to implement the change, and local governments would still be responsible for establishing exclusion amounts for homesteads within each district.
Tax Code Change Now Legalizes Consumer Fireworks for PA Residents
This week, Gov. Tom Wolf signed Pennsylvania’s Tax Code into law, as part of the state’s 2017-18 revenue plan. The Tax Code includes language to legalize the sale of consumer fireworks in Pennsylvania to Pennsylvania residents.
Currently, in-state residents can only purchase consumer products from brick and mortar locations with a municipal permit. Meanwhile, out-of-state residents can purchase consumer products using their driver license or government issued ID.
The new law:
• Allows PA residents to purchase consumer products without a permit.
• Imposes a new tax at the rate of 12 percent of the sale price on consumer fireworks that are suitable for use by the public. The tax would be in addition to the sales and use tax already imposed on such sales.
• Directs one-sixth (2 percent) of the consumer fireworks taxes collected, not to exceed $2 million annually, to be distributed as follows: 75 percent to the Emergency Medical Services Grant Program and 25 percent to a special account for volunteer firefighter training.
• Allows temporary structures (tents) to sell a limited line of consumer products.
• Implements licensure fees/location requirements for brick and mortar locations and temporary structures.
Use Caution: Deer on the Move
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is reminding motorists to slow down and stay alert for deer on the roadways.
Deer become more active in the autumn with the lead-up to their fall breeding season, commonly referred to as the “rut.” Autumn also sees a number of people taking part in outdoor activities that might flush deer from forested areas or briar thickets, and deer are more actively feeding to store energy for winter months. Add to this the end of daylight saving time, which results in more traffic between dawn and dusk, and the chances of vehicle accidents with deer increase significantly.
In fact, Pennsylvania ranks third nationally in State Farm’s annual report on the likelihood drivers in each state will collide with a deer or other large animal. According to the report, Pennsylvania drivers have a 1-in-63 chance of experiencing a collision with a deer or other large animal – a 6.3 percent increase from 2016.
Drivers can reduce their chances of collisions with deer by staying alert and better understanding deer behavior. Be especially alert in “Deer Crossing” areas, and remember deer tend to travel in family groups, so if you see one deer, more are likely coming.
To report a dead deer for removal from state roads, motorists can call the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation at 1-800-FIX-ROAD. If the deer is on a locally owned road, contact the appropriate municipality.
Nominate a Historical Marker in Your Community
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) is encouraging individuals, private organizations, local or county governments and public agencies to nominate historic properties, persons and events of significance on a state or national level for the Pennsylvania Historical Marker Program.
The person, place, event or innovation to be marked must have had a significant impact on its times, and have a statewide and/or national, rather than local or regional, historical significance. The significance of the subject must be historically established rather than of contemporary interest.
The annual deadline to nominate is Dec. 1. Click here for all the details, eligibility requirements, nomination form and contact information if you are interested in learning more.
Honoring Our Veterans
Millions of people around the country will honor our nation’s veterans with ceremonies next weekend to commemorate Veterans Day on Saturday, Nov. 11. Activities will also be held on Friday, Nov. 10, in many areas.
I am pleased to participate in the Lycoming County Annual Veterans parade in South Williamsport that will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11. The parade will begin on Clark Street and conclude on Howard Street. . Included in this event will be a special SNJ-4 fly over provided by the Buffalo Heritage Squadron.
For more than 240 years, men and women in uniform have been called to serve our country by protecting our freedom and defending our democracy. Throughout the Veterans Day weekend, please take time to remember and thank the thousands of men and women who have served our country in the U.S. Armed Forces and who continue to make a positive difference in our communities.
Veterans Day, originally known as Armistice Day, first marked the one-year anniversary of the end of World War I, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month and sought to honor the veterans of the World War – the only world war to have occurred at that time. Armistice Day was declared a national holiday in 1938 to acknowledge world peace, and then renamed Veterans Day in 1954 to celebrate the contributions of veterans of all wars.
Turn Those Clocks Back This Weekend
Daylight saving time will end at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 5, and Pennsylvania residents will be turning their clocks back one hour before going to bed on Saturday night.
Experts recommend using this reminder to check or change the batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms should be replaced every 10 years, and located near bedrooms and on each level of the residence.
Road Maintenance Info Available Online
To make your travels easier, the weekly road maintenance schedule is available at the PennDOT Regional Office website here. For statewide information, visit www.511pa.com.
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