Jul. 12, 2019 / Email Archives

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Weekly Roundup
The latest news from the State Capitol
Latest Proposal to Eliminate School Property Taxes

The prospect of eliminating school property taxes has been dangled before Pennsylvanians for over 30 years; however, the nettlesome task of replacing the income from the tax has proved too challenging for policymakers to tackle. My colleague from Lebanon County, Rep. Frank Ryan, is getting ready to make the next foray into this contentious debate.

Previous attempts to eliminate property taxes included significant hikes in both sales and income taxes. As much as Pennsylvanians hate property taxes, they hate income and sales taxes as well. In addition, shifting the burden of funding schools entirely onto the backs of working families (the very demographic we are losing) in favor of retirees (the very demographic we are gaining) presented foreseeable problems for the future sustainability of school funding.

Ryan’s plan would eliminate all school property taxes and replace them with an 8% sales tax (up from the current 6%) and a 4.92% tax on retirement income (pensions, 401(k)s and annuities), excluding income from Social Security. There may be more to the proposal, the entirety of which has yet to be made public.

For now, I welcome any comments you may have on the proposal to eliminate property taxes and replace them with increased sales taxes and some form of income taxes on retirement income.
More Problems with Voter Machine Replacement Mandate

After reports became public that Pennsylvania’s voting machines were targets of Russian meddling, along with those of nearly every other state, Gov. Tom Wolf de-certified all voting machines in the Commonwealth, handing counties the $150 million unfunded mandate to purchase replacements. This happened even though no voting machine was compromised in the last presidential election.

The legislature responded by passing an election reform bill that would have provided $90 million in funding to help counties replace their voting machines. The legislation contained other election reforms intended to bring Pennsylvania’s elections in line with those of nearly all other states. The governor vetoed the bill and then announced that he would drive money out to counties through unilateral spending.

Leaders in both the House and Senate question the governor’s authority to take such action without legislative authorization.

Obviously, Gov. Wolf now wants the state to cover some of the expense brought about by his mandate. So why did he veto the very bill that would have provided the funds? Among the election reforms in the bill was the elimination of straight-party voting, an option only seven states still offer. Gov. Wolf claimed that, without straight-party voting, many low-income voters would become confused. It is true that low-income, mostly urban voters are the most likely to vote straight-party. They also reliably vote for the governor’s own party.

The governor’s veto is unfortunate. In addition to the funds for new voting machines, the election reforms could have opened the door to more minor party candidates and encouraged voters to cast their ballots for a person rather than a party.
Calling on the FCC to Protect Your Phone from Spoofers

Calls from telemarketers have long been an issue, but the situation becomes dangerous when scammers “spoof” calls. That’s when a call shows a different name or phone number than is actually associated with the caller. All too often it can result in recipients being tricked into sharing their personal information and scammed out of their hard-earned money.

Spoofing needs to be swiftly and aggressively addressed. Despite being illegal, these unwanted robocalls that appear to originate from local, often legitimate, numbers in order to deceive consumers are on the rise.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously supported a resolution urging Congress to grant additional authority to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to stop unwanted robocalls and spoofing, as well as to educate the public on how to report illegal calls. Spam calls are the most frequent complaint received by the FCC, and it’s time to do something about it.

While we implore the FCC to stop the harassment of Pennsylvanians through their own devices, residents can take action to limit another form of harassment – unwanted calls from telemarketers.

There are two Do Not Call Lists available: The National Do Not Call List and the Pennsylvania Do Not Call List. Register your cell phone and landline numbers with the state list by calling 888-777-3406 and the national list by calling 888-382-1222. Both phone numbers are toll free.
PennDOT’s Schedule for July 15
to 19
  • Surface treatment on Little Cove Road in Peters Township.
  • Surface treatment on Burnt Cabin Road in Fannett Township.
  • Surface treatment on Cowans Gap Road in Fannett Township.
  • Surface treatment on Pioneer Drive in St. Thomas Township.
  • Safety project on Marsh Road in Washington Township. The road will be closed.
  • Pothole patching on Interstate 81 in Greene and Guilford townships. Watch for lane closures.
  • Pipe replacement on Back Road in Fannett Township.
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Email: pschemel@pahousegop.com