In this Update:
Senate Approves Resolution to Evaluate Allentown Tax Incentive Program
The commonwealth and its taxpayers are one step closer to being able to evaluate the effectiveness of a more-than $500 million state tax program targeting economic development investments in Allentown after the state Senate this week unanimously approved a measure I introduced.
Senate Resolution 110 calls for the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a performance audit of the Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ) and Allentown NIZ Development Authority programs administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.
Pennsylvania’s NIZ program was first established by law in 2009. State and local taxes collected within the NIZ are used to repay debt service and bonds issued by the Allentown NIZ Development Authority to fund various economic development projects within the zone, including the PPL Center arena.
More than $500 million has been invested in Allentown’s NIZ during the past decade.
While hundreds of millions of dollars have passed through the program, Pennsylvanians have no way of knowing if the NIZ has been an effective means of generating economic activity.
Bill to Give Professionals a Second Chance Awaiting Governor’s Signature to Become Law
A bill I introduced that would enable professionals who make minor mistakes to have a second chance by clearing their disciplinary record is one step away from becoming law after it was approved unanimously Wednesday by the state House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 910 to expand the ability of the commissioner of the Pennsylvania Department of State Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs to clear a professional’s disciplinary record.
The bureau commissioner under current law can expunge a disciplinary record for two reasons.
The professional’s record can be cleared if it was due to a failure to complete continuing education requirements. It also can be expunged if the discipline was related to practicing for six months or less on a lapsed or expired license, registration, certificate or permit.
Other minor infractions can remain on a professional’s disciplinary record for life.
Allentown Office Serves as Toys for Tots Dropoff Site
Every child deserves to experience the joy of unwrapping a gift and feeling the warmth of the holiday season. Toys for Tots is a wonderful organization that aims to deliver joy and hope to children whose families could use a little help for the holidays. The organization’s focus on spreading happiness and making a positive impact in our community is something everyone can support.
Those interested in participating in the Toys for Tots gift program can bring new, unwrapped toys suitable for children of various ages to our Lehigh County office at 7535 Windsor Drive, Suite 200B on the second floor, Allentown. Gifts can be dropped off Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. until Wednesday, Dec. 20. Those who drop off toys may receive bookmarks, coloring books, recipe books or other small tokens of appreciation.
Those who want to participate, but cannot supply a toy, can help by sharing our Facebook post about the initiative or otherwise spreading the word about the gift program.
Senate Finalizes 2023-24 State Budget
The Senate on Wednesday finalized the 2023-24 state budget by approving two major bipartisan budget implementation bills, which have now been enacted into law.
A large portion of the 2023-24 state budget was completed in August with enactment of the General Appropriations Act. However, several important components still required additional budget implementation language to be passed by both the Senate and House and signed by the governor.
House Bill 1300 (Fiscal Code amendments) and House Bill 301 (School Code amendments) make major investments in the future of Pennsylvania and achieve many of the principles and priorities identified by Senate Republicans as a focus in March.
House Bill 1300 includes several important and time-sensitive measures, including reauthorization of funding for county 911 systems, expansion of a tax credit helping parents seek and maintain employment and allocation of funding for an additional 100 Pennsylvania State Police troopers to help make our communities safer. House Bill 301 includes many provisions to expand education empowerment and access and increase school safety. Read more.
Bill to Safeguard Transit Operators Passes Senate
The Senate passed legislation to safeguard transit operators against assault.
Senate Bill 977 would make it a felony of the third degree to interfere with and cause bodily injury to an operator of any public transit vehicle. The offense would be steepened to a felony of the first degree if the intrusion causes serious bodily injury or death.
Senate Votes to Preserve Prescription Benefits for Seniors
Legislation to preserve senior citizens’ access to the state’s PACE and PACENET prescription drug benefit plans passed the Senate and is set for enactment.
Senate Bill 607 would continue a law set to expire this year through Dec. 31, 2025 that prevents Social Security cost-of-living increases from making seniors ineligible for PACE and PACENET.
Current income eligibility levels for PACE are set at less than $14,500 for a single person and less than $17,700 for a couple. PACENET, which covers those individuals with incomes exceeding PACE maximums, is open to individuals earning between $14,500 and $33,500 and couples with incomes between $17,700 and $41,500. The minimum age to participate in the programs is 65, and they are funded from proceeds of the Pennsylvania Lottery.
2024 Fishing Licenses, Permits for Sale Now
Fishing licenses, permits and vouchers for 2024 purchased now are valid immediately through Dec. 31, 2024. The price of an annual resident fishing license is $27.97. Multi-year options are also available in increments of three years, five years or 10 years.
They can be purchased through the HuntFishPA online portal on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website, via smartphone by using the FishBoatPA mobile app or by visiting a retail license issuing agent.
Vouchers that can be given as gifts and are redeemable by recipients are also available.
Don’t Get Scammed This Holiday Season
Sadly, just as the holiday season is often a charitable time, there are people hoping to take advantage by scamming others.
From email and text phishing to delivery stealing to credit card skimming and more, there are so many ways to fall prey. Learn more about the common scams criminals use.
Protect yourself and your family by setting up alerts with your credit card company so you know when purchases are made and avoid paying with a prepaid gift card, CashApp or Venmo to buy a gift online. Never use Alexa to find a customer support number and dial for you or click on a hyperlink in an email, social media ad or text message to make a purchase. Instead, go directly to the store’s website.
Celebrating Bill of Rights Day
Friday, Dec. 15, is Bill of Rights Day, when we recognize
We hold those liberties – and the others that make up the Bill of Rights – dear and cherish how they impact our daily life as the true framework of our society.
Bill of Rights Day was first observed on the document’s 150th anniversary when former President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a proclamation dedicating Dec. 15 as the day to recognize our God-given rights.
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