Apr. 07, 2017

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Weekly News Update


 The latest news from the State Capitol

No-Tax-Increase Budget Moves Ahead in House

This week, the House approved a $31.52 billion budget proposal that does not increase taxes or borrowing but does invest in education, public safety, human services and infrastructure.

House Bill 218 reflects a collective need to reinvent the way Pennsylvania budgets and governs, by moving ahead to streamline programs and services; eliminate duplicative state functions; reduce bureaucracy; and create an endowment fund that will generate money to pay future costs.

The budget will be balanced using several options, including expanded gaming and liquor privatization proposals, which have previously passed the House.

Additional details about the proposal are available here.
Committee Endorses Liquor Bills to Encourage Choice, Convenience

This week, the House Liquor Control Committee passed two bills designed to further dismantle the state-owned wine and spirits system.

House Bill 991 would allow for the creation of privately owned retail stores to sell bottles of wine and spirits in an effort to provide greater convenience and choice for consumers.

Another proposal, House Bill 438, would allow spirits to be sold in the same retail locations as wine. This would specifically apply to grocery and convenience stores with restaurant seating.

The measures are not only designed to improve consumer choice and convenience but also to help the state generate much-needed revenue.

Both bills now move to the full House for a final vote.
Tourism Committee Learns About Potential Pittsburgh Sports Commission

This week, the House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee heard from several representatives of the Pittsburgh Tourism Committee about the need for a Pittsburgh Sports Commission to attract additional sports and recreational tourism opportunities to the city.

Currently, 100 cities have sports commissions, which serve as liaisons to help attract tournaments, championships and other revenue-generating opportunities. Later this session, the Tourism Committee may consider a bill that would authorize Pittsburgh to levy a small tax on hotel rooms to fund a sports commission for Pittsburgh.
House OKs Bill to Get Tougher on Criminals

To ensure criminals are appropriately sentenced, the House passed House Bill 741 to address constitutional issues with Pennsylvania’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws cited by the state Supreme Court in 2015.

House Bill 741 would allow for mandatory minimum sentences for drug traffickers, trafficking drugs to minors and for selling drugs in drug-free school zones. Other crimes affected include offenses committed with firearms, on public transportation, against the elderly or infants, or while impersonating a law enforcement officer.

Mandatory sentences have proven to be a necessary tool to ensure that people committing serious drug and gun crimes are held accountable for their actions.

The bill now goes to the state Senate.
If You Owe Back Taxes, Amnesty Program Can Help

Pennsylvanians who owe state tax will soon have the option to pay those back taxes through a new tax amnesty program.

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 from April 21 to June 19, 2017. More information is available at revenue.pa.gov.
PennDOT Litter Cleanup Next Week in I-80 in Columbia and Montour Counties

Next week, PennDOT maintenance crews in Columbia and Montour counties will be removing litter and debris along Interstate 80.

Crews will be working along I-80 from the Montour-Northumberland County line to the Columbia-Luzerne County line. All cleanup activities will be during daylight hours from Tuesday, April 11, to Thursday, April 13.

Motorists are asked to be alert and drive with caution when encountering PennDOT workers along area roadways. This work is weather permitting.

Motorists can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles by visiting 511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 770 traffic cameras.
Upcoming Events

• A representative from Congressman Lou Barletta’s office will be in the Bloomsburg district office on Thursday, April 13, from 1-3 p.m.
• All offices will be closed on Friday, April 14, for Good Friday.
• A drug take-back event will be held on Saturday, April 15, at the Catawissa Police Department from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Monthly Radio Address: Thursday, April 27, at 8:30 a.m. on WHLM 94.7 FM.
• A drug take-back event will be held on Saturday, April 29, at the Berwick Police Department from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• The Renaissance Jamboree will be held on Saturday, April 29, on Main Street in Bloomsburg starting at 10 a.m.
• Our Spring Art Expo will be held on Monday, May 1, at our Bloomsburg district office from 6-8 p.m.
• The Bloomsburg Fire Department Carnival will be held from Wednesday, May 3, through Saturday, May 6.
• An addiction awareness event will be held on Saturday, May 6, at Wesley United Methodist Church, Bloomsburg.
• Our Senior Caregiver Support Forum will be held on Thursday, May 11, from 6-8 p.m. at 702 Sawmill Road, Bloomsburg. Call 570-387-0246 to RSVP.
• Celebrate Historic Berwick will be held on Saturday, May 13, beginning at 11 a.m. on the 500 block of Market Street.
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Office Locations
904B Orange St., Berwick PA, 18603 | Phone: (570) 759-8734
Market Street Plaza, 1000 Market St. (Suite 39), Bloomsburg, PA 17815 | (570) 387-0246
316 Main Capitol, PO Box 202109, Harrisburg, PA 17120-2109 | Phone: (717) 783-1102
Email: dmillard@pahousegop.com
TTY: 855-282-0614