Jun. 16, 2023

Capitol Report
The latest news from the State Capitol
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Celebrating Local Eats, Art and Entertainment at Jubilee Day

On Thursday, Mechanicsburg hosted its 93rd annual Jubilee Day. Known as the largest, one-day street fair on the East Coast, Jubilee Day proudly displays the best Central Pennsylvania has to offer and draws massive crowds each year.

Thank you to all who stopped by my booth to chat with my team and learn more about Pennsylvania’s numerous state programs and resources.

Children’s Lake Nears Completion

This week I stopped by Children’s Lake to check in on the progress of the construction. The dam and two spillways are completed, and the lake is nearing the point where it can be refilled and enjoyed by everyone who lives near or passes by.

This Week in Harrisburg

On Tuesday in Harrisburg, I was joined by Holden Gaughen. He served as a guest page in the House chamber and is entering 10th grade at Cumberland Valley High School. I hope he was able to take a lot away from his experience at the Capitol!

Proposed Energy Tax Would Be Devastating to Consumers, Economy

House Democrats passed their budget proposal last week on a party-line vote. Their draft of the budget includes an energy tax that would be devastating to consumers already struggling to pay their utility bills, and to employers who help drive the state’s economy.

The energy tax was the subject of a House Republican Policy Committee hearing at the state Capitol this week.

While the non-partisan Independent Fiscal Office has indicated the estimated $663 million energy tax would increase by four times people’s utility bills, the committee also heard from the heads of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association and National Federation of Independent Business about how the tax would negatively impact employers and the state’s economy overall.

Video of the hearing is available at www.PAGOPPolicy.com.

To hear more about my thoughts on the energy tax, please click here.
House Approves Measure to Reduce Cell Phone Bills

With people across the Commonwealth dealing with the burden of inflation, the House this week adopted a measure that would help bring down the cost of cell phone bills.  

House Bill 1138 would exempt cell phone service from the 6% Sales and Use Tax, as well as the 5% gross receipts tax.

This is a much-needed change, as Pennsylvania currently has the seventh highest combined rate of taxes, fees and surcharges on cell phone bills at 16.62%. Statistics show nearly 70% of American households no longer have a landline and instead rely only on cell phones for voice communication. A growing number of people also use the cellular data on their smartphones for their only form of internet access.

The bill now moves to the Senate.  
Protecting Seniors’ Access to Prescription Drug Assistance

Continuing our commitment to supporting Pennsylvania’s senior citizens, the House this week approved legislation that will help low-income seniors maintain access to prescription drug assistance through the PACE and PACENET programs.  

Specifically, House Bill 1184 places a “moratorium” on the inclusion of income from a Social Security cost of living adjustment (COLA) in determining eligibility for the programs.

PACE and PACENET are available to residents age 65 and older. The annual income limit for PACE recipients is $14,500 or less for a single person and $17,700 for a married couple. The annual income limit for PACENET is between $14,500 and $33,500 for a single person and between $17,700 and $41,500 for a married couple.

Full details on eligibility and how to apply are available here.

House Bill 1184 is pending consideration in the Senate.
Application Deadline Extended for 2022 Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program

The deadline for senior citizens and Pennsylvanians with disabilities to apply for rebates on rent and property taxes paid in 2022 has been extended to Dec. 31.

The Property Tax/Rent 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 annually for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded.

The maximum standard rebate for homeowners is $650, but supplemental rebates for certain qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975. The Department of Revenue automatically calculates supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners.

Claimants may file rebate applications online by visiting www.mypath.pa.gov. Applicants who still wish to file a paper application form may obtain the forms, along with free assistance, at my district offices. Claim forms (PA-1000) and related information also is available online here or by calling 1-888-222-9190.

Rebates will be distributed beginning July 1, as required by law.
Attention Hunters: Changes Made to Antlerless Deer License Purchase

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is reminding hunters of a series of changes to the process for purchasing antlerless deer licenses.

Antlerless licenses will go on sale during the first day of hunting license sales, which is Monday, June 26, starting at 8 a.m. Resident hunters can purchase their first antlerless license at that time. Nonresidents can purchase their first antlerless license on Monday, July 10. Additional rounds of sales will begin July 24, Aug. 14 and Aug. 28.

Hunters can buy 2023-24 antlerless licenses online at www.huntfish.pa.gov, or at any in-store hunting license issuing agent. View a map of those locations here.  

The prices of the antlerless deer licenses remain the same at $6.97 for a resident antlerless license and $26.97 for a nonresident antlerless license. Pink envelopes will no longer be used in the antlerless license purchasing process.  

Full details are available here.
Juneteenth National Freedom Day

This Monday, June 19, is Juneteenth National Freedom Day. Considered the longest-running African American holiday, Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when union soldiers reached Galveston, Texas – the furthest point in the south – with news of the end of the Civil War, which had occurred two months earlier with the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Virginia.

The troops’ arrival also came two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves and ending slavery in the United States. Learn more about the history of Juneteenth here.