Nov. 16, 2018

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Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol

Fiscal Sanity and Property Tax Elimination Plans on Tap for 2019-20 Legislative Session
I know many of you have heard for years promises from lawmakers that they will eliminate the state’s onerous property tax. The American Dream has always been to own your own home – private property rights were foremost in the minds of the Founders, having come from a country where debtors’ prison sentences were commonplace.

We are about to begin a new legislative session with a new House majority more committed than ever to property tax elimination.

With that in mind, I am now putting the finishing touches on my own House bill to eliminate property taxes.

In addition, I will also be reintroducing my lean government bill and the auditor general enforcement bill once the new session starts on Dec. 1.

I will keep you posted.

Grim IFO Report Demonstrates Need to Implement My Financial Rescue Plan for Pennsylvania
This week, the state’s Independent Fiscal Office issued a report predicting that by 2021, because of higher human services costs, pension obligations and the mounting debacle of ObamaCare’s unfunded Medicaid expansion mandate, the state will face a $3 billion budget deficit annually.

As a military commander and financial professional, whose job it was to rescue businesses from bankruptcy and insolvency, I don’t make predictions casually. But I can assure voters and taxpayers that whether it is Gov. Tom Wolf or someone in the General Assembly, this news will result in proposed tax hikes insultingly disguised as “investments” while residents struggle to pay ever increasing school property taxes.

The IFO assessment is that Gov. Wolf’s fiscal policies the past four years have taxpayers looking at a budget deficit of nearly $900 million. If current policies continue, the IFO says the deficit could grow to $3 billion annually in 2022.

If a company is going bankrupt to the tune of $3 billion, no bank is going lend them $3 billion to get out of it. Yet, that is exactly what this administration and many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle will ask of our already struggling taxpayers.

Before I even took office as a freshman lawmaker in 2016, I had prepared a detailed legislative solution to Pennsylvania’s money problems, which can be read and downloaded here.
The IFO report can be found here.

The clichés are endless, but the sad thing is that they aren’t really clichés – you can’t spend your way out of debt, and sooner or later you do run out of other people’s money. The real solution is as time honored as those phrases – cut spending to pay your bills with the revenue you have.

My Child Protection Bill is Now Law
My legislation to increase protections available to some of our most vulnerable citizens by ensuring that their guardians comply with current provisions has been signed into law by the governor.

Under current law, guardians of incapacitated persons are required to file annual reports on the finances and the well-being of the wards for which they are responsible, and the courts are tasked with the enforcement and monitoring of the guardians filing these reports.

Unfortunately, current law does not provide a mechanism for this enforcement. While annual reports are filed with the Clerk of the Orphans’ Court, the court is often not aware of guardians who are delinquent in their filings. Also, many counties do not have an established procedure for reviewing the annual reports.

My bill, House Bill 1886, which is now Act 114 of 2018, will address this shortfall by requiring Clerks of the Orphans’ Court to transmit to the Court of Common Please at least once per quarter a list of guardians who are delinquent in filing required annual reports.

The new law also places the burden on developing a process to review the filed reports on to the courts. The courts will have flexibility to determine how such procedures are followed, allowing counties of different sizes, with different caseloads and resources to determine the best manner to review the reports.

We need to be vigilant in ensuring protections for those who depend on the proper operation of our court system to advocate on their behalf.

My Legislation to Protect Property While in Estate Becomes Law
I am pleased to announce that governor has signed into law my legislation to protect family assets as Act 113 of 2018.

Registers of wills are often required to mandate that personal representatives of estates post a bond as a condition of their appointments. The amount of the bond is related to the size of the estate. More often than not, personal representatives underestimate the amount of assets in an estate.

The register of wills receives a true indication of the size of an estate when an inventory is filed, or when the personal representative files an inheritance tax return. As a certified public accountant, I can attest that often, there are many months, and sometime years, left in the administration an estate after an initial inheritance tax return is filed.

Current law grants “the court,” not the register the power to increase the amount of a probate bond posted for the faithful administration of an estate.

This is the very reason I introduced House Bill 1885 (now Act 113). It grants the register of wills the power, but not the duty, to increase the amount of a probate bond when the register determines that a bond insufficiently protects the estate, and where estate administration is likely to proceed for some time.

I pressed this issue because I believe that this measure will help protect the heirs of certain decedents’ estates.

My Humane Officer Bill is Signed into Law
I am pleased to announce that the governor has signed my Humane Society police officer legislation into law as Act 77 of 2018.

I want to thank our state senators and Senate leadership for making sure this legislation got to the governor’s desk prior to the end of our legislative session. I also want to thank Gov. Tom Wolf for sharing my concern for animal welfare and our agriculture community.

I introduced the measure, House Bill 1917, in order to strengthen the training and oversight of Humane Society police officers. The bill would strengthen the current training and oversight requirements by:

• Increasing initial and annual training hours for humane society police officers.
• Mandating training of the proper procedure to file citations and warrants, including when and how to contact other law enforcement.
• Including training in farm operations and biosecurity, including at least one on-site visit to a working commercial farm operation.
• Requiring that a Humane Society police officer remain a resident of the Commonwealth to retain his or her appointment as an officer.
• Subjecting an officer to automatic revocation of his or her appointment in all counties if any one county revokes the appointment.
• Treating associations that employ Humane Society police officers as local agencies under the Right-to-Know Law.

No one can countenance cruelty to animals. But we must also be mindful to educate our Humane Society police officers about farms and rural communities so that they can focus their enforcement efforts against those who truly commit cruel acts.

                             Thanking Our Veterans

We have such a patriotic community here in Lebanon, and there was no shortage of paying tribute to our veterans with a variety of parades, ceremonies and dedications in the 101st District.

This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice which ended World War I, on the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month. President Woodrow Wilson declared a national day to commemorate the armistice a year later in 1919. That has since become Veterans Day.

The sacrifices these men and women make – all to protect our freedoms and our way of life – can never truly be repaid. We are forever in their debt, and we continue to be grateful for all they do.

I attended this outstanding performance by the Lebanon Community Concert Band at the patriot concert sponsored by the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce and posted it on my Facebook page.

Simply breathtaking! Thank you.

I also was honored to speak before the Patriot Committee of Cornwall Manor at its veterans program. Thanks to the committee and Jack Miller for the great hospitality!

Great time of fellowship and an opportunity to share many stories from so many distinguished veterans.

                             Guardian of Small Business

I am humbled to have received the highest honor of the state’s leading small-business association. The Guardian of Small Business Award is the most prestigious honor that NFIB National Federation of Independent Business bestows on legislators in recognition of their efforts to support small business issues.

A 100-percent score, which is what I received, indicates a state lawmaker had supported small businesses in Pennsylvania each time an important vote was taken during the 2017-2018 legislative session when it impacted small and independently owned companies.

You can learn more about the work NFIB does and the Guardian of Small Business Award here.

New Laws to Benefit Military and Veterans
To help families of active-duty military members and veterans, two laws were recently enacted by the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Act 119 of 2018 requires public school entities to provide support services and information to a student when a parent or guardian is deployed for active duty.

To help raise additional funds for veterans’ programs and services, Act 149 of 2018 allows applicants for a two-year vehicle registration to double their donation to the Veterans Trust Fund, when completed online.

These new laws are in addition to the Stolen Valor Law, Act 9 of 2017, which was also enacted this session. This law makes it a crime for someone to misrepresent military service or honors for the purpose of fraudulently attempting to obtain money, property or other benefits.

Registry Puts Veterans in Touch with Services
To help ensure veterans have access to the wide range of support services and programs available to them, the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs has compiled an online registry to better connect veterans with available resources.

Registration – which includes submitting basic information such as name, age, home address, email, etc. – takes only a few minutes, and can be done at

Through this registry, veterans can choose to have their information shared with their county director for veterans affairs and other relevant state agencies. They can also opt in to receive timely, informative emails regarding local, state and national news; program updates; community events; and employment opportunities available specifically for veterans.

Supporting Small Businesses
With small businesses as the economic engines of our communities, Pennsylvania consumers are encouraged to shop small on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 24.

According to the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center, there are nearly 1 million small businesses in Pennsylvania, which employ nearly half of the state’s workforce. Small firms make up 98.2 percent of the state’s employers.

Over the last legislative session, the House Republican Caucus has worked to enhance opportunities for small businesses and job creators in Pennsylvania by modernizing business laws, seeking to reduce burdensome and duplicative regulations, and fighting off harmful and unnecessary tax increases.

One of those measures, which is designed to help budding entrepreneurs, is the Pennsylvania Business One-Stop Shop. This website, which was based upon legislation initiated in the House, seeks to assist entrepreneurs and businesses at all stages of development. It was launched earlier in 2018.

House Majority Elects Leaders for New Term
With a strong majority going into the 2019-20 legislative session, the 110 members of the House Republican Caucus – including 91 returning legislators and 19 freshmen – elected their leadership team to begin Jan. 1. This is just the second time since 1924 that Republicans have maintained control of the House for more than four terms in a row.

Rep. Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) has again been nominated to serve as speaker of the House. He will face an official election to the position on swearing-in day on Jan. 1, 2019. Once official, this will be his third term in the oldest position in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

New to their respective leadership positions are House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster), Majority Whip Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin), Majority Policy Committee Chairman Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest) and Majority Caucus Secretary Michael Reese (R-Westmoreland).

Retaining their respective leadership positions are Appropriations Chairman Stan Saylor (R-York), Caucus Chairman Marcy Toepel (R-Montgomery) and Caucus Administrator Kurt Masser (R-Columbia/Montour/Northumberland).

Republicans hold a 110-93 majority in the state House, but two vacancies will exist on swearing-in day.

Happy Thanksgiving!
For nearly four centuries, Americans have come together in the spirit of thanksgiving. From the earliest traditions that began in Plymouth, Mass., to the first official national observance in 1863, families have gathered in November to celebrate bountiful harvests and all that has been given to them.

In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday on Nov. 22, state offices will be closed on Thursday, and my office(s) will also be closed on Friday, Nov. 23. PennDOT Driver License Centers will also be closed Nov. 22-23. If you are traveling, be sure to check for the latest traffic and weather information.

From my family to yours, may you all have a safe, healthy and happy Thanksgiving.

Hunters Can Share Their Harvest
To help families, individuals and seniors who are in need, the Hunters Sharing the Harvest (HSH) program has encouraged hunters from across the Commonwealth to share their deer harvest and provide thousands of pounds of venison.

The program partners with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Department of Agriculture and many other sportsmen and charitable organizations. Since 1991, HSH has distributed more than 1.2 million pounds of donated venison.

Hunters can donate all or part of a harvested deer by taking it to a participating processor, which will then distribute the ground venison to food banks and pantries.

In an average hunting season, the HSH program’s goal is to channel about 100,000 pounds of processed venison through the state’s 20 regional food banks, which then redistribute to more than 5,000 local provider charities such as food pantries, missions, homeless shelters and churches, as well as individual families.

To find a list of local processors or for more information, visit

Have You Taken the Broadband Speed Test?
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania and its research partners at Penn State University are continuing to invite Pennsylvania residents to help provide that much-needed information by taking the broadband speed test available here.

Your participation will help map broadband access in Pennsylvania, providing a valuable tool as lawmakers work to resolve this issue.

The center hopes that more than 1 million consumers will take the test. Researchers will continue to compile results through 2018, and the test will still be available in 2019 to further offer data to the federal government.

If you have previously taken the speed test, thank you! Your results will help researchers better pinpoint what areas of the state are still in need of accessible broadband service.

The lack of rural broadband access is a major problem in both rural and suburban Pennsylvania, impacting our economy, educational opportunities, health care access and more.
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