In this update:
This Week in Pennsylvania
I recently sat down with abc27 News to discuss changes taking place within state government and legislation passed by the Senate this month. You can watch our conversation here to learn more about key issues impacting our state.
Constitutional Amendments Passed by the Senate
The Senate passed Senate Bill 1 to provide voters with a direct voice on voter identification, legislative review of regulations and opening the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse survivors through constitutional amendments. This legislation is currently awaiting action in the House of Representatives.
My latest op-ed explains Pennsylvania’s constitutional amendment process and why voters should be presented with questions on these three important issues on the May primary election ballot. You can read it here.
Voter ID: Time for PA to Catch Up with Other States, Nations
A proposed constitutional amendment passed by the Senate earlier this month to require ID verification at polling places remains in the House of Representatives. Its approval is needed to let voters have a say through a ballot question in the spring primary election.
Pennsylvania’s failure to enact this key component of election integrity has put it behind not only a vast majority of states and most developed countries, but behind many developing nations as well.
Every excuse used to block this rational election reform has been shown to be false. Requiring proof of identification before voting does not suppress turnout, and acceptable IDs are not difficult to obtain.
Nationally, the calls for voter ID come from Democrats and Republicans alike. Eighty percent of Americans favor voter ID as do 74% of Pennsylvanians. Now is the time to pass Senate Bill 1 and let the voters decide.
Restoring Checks and Balances in Pennsylvania Government
In addition to letting citizens decide whether voters should be required to show ID, Senate Bill 1 includes a proposed constitutional amendment allowing the people’s representatives in the General Assembly to overturn any government regulation that conflicts with the will of the people.
The need for this change was made clear by the Wolf administration’s unilateral decisions during the pandemic, closing businesses and schools with no input from the people. Despite the clear design of our government with three co-equal parts, the executive branch elevated itself above the legislative and judicial branches in an obvious violation of the checks and balances afforded by the Pennsylvania Constitution.
No governor of any party should be permitted to wield such unchecked power again. If the House of Representatives follows the Senate’s lead and passes Senate Bill 1, voters will be empowered to restore this crucial balance of power.
Phase-out of Job-Killing PA Tax Begins
The phase-out of Pennsylvania’s sky-high Corporate Net Income tax got underway this month, part of our efforts to keep good jobs here and create new ones.
Republican lawmakers secured a cut in this job-killing tax as part of the 2022-23 state budget. Before this reduction to 8.99%, Pennsylvania’s CNI tax had been 9.99% for nearly three decades while other states had lower tax rates – some far lower – and many have been lower for almost as long.
When gradually reduced to 4.99% in 2031, Pennsylvania’s CNI rate will have gone from one of the highest in the nation to one of the lowest, making the commonwealth far more competitive with other states.
A 2009 report by an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City demonstrates that the burden of the corporate income tax is borne in large part by labor within the state in the form of lower wages. A 2016 paper published in the journal American Economic Review found employees shoulder about a third of the corporate tax burden.
Reducing this tax will be the difference between jobs coming to our local communities and jobs leaving. This will be a great benefit to Pennsylvania families.
Rebates for Property Taxes and Rent Available to Seniors, Pennsylvanians with Disabilities
Older adults and Pennsylvanians with disabilities can apply now for rebates on property taxes or rent paid in 2022.
The 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 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded. Spouses, personal representatives or estates may also file rebate claims on behalf of claimants who lived at least one day in the claim year and meet all other eligibility criteria.
The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975. You can find more eligibility and application information here. Eligible applicants can visit mypath.pa.gov to electronically submit their applications.
Local Organizations Can Apply Now for Conservation Grants
Counties, municipalities and municipal agencies, pre-qualified land trusts, nonprofits and other eligible organizations can apply now for state conservation, recreation, trail and related grants.
Administered by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Community Conservation Partnerships Program is funded with a variety of state and federal funding sources including Pennsylvania’s natural gas Impact Fee.
Applications will be accepted through April 5. Online tutorials are available to aid organizations in the application process.
If you do not wish to receive this email, click here to unsubscribe.