Pennsylvania Senate Republican News Brief


“When the Commonwealth invests in these businesses, it is an investment that strengthens the economic fiber of our communities and, directly or indirectly, sustains the quality of life for us all.”

Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) announcing legislation to help small businesses by increasing the cap on the annual deduction for capital expenditures to $100,000 for state tax purposes.


Preview

Senate Convenes Monday at 1 p.m.

The Senate State Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster), will hold a public hearing on gift ban legislation. (Underway, N. Office Bldg. Room 1)

The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee, chaired by Sen. Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks), will hold a public hearing on electric retail market practices. (Tues., 9:30 a.m., Room 8E-A)

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), will hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 1215, the Clerk of Court/Prothonotary Transfer Act, sponsored by Sen. Don White (R-Indiana). (Tues. 10:30 a.m., N. Office Bldg. Room 1)

The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Brubaker (R-Lancaster), will hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 76, the Property Tax Elimination Act, sponsored by Sen. David Argall (R-Schuylkill). (Wed., 9:30 a.m., N. Office Bldg. Room 1)

Senate Committee Schedule

Hearings will be streamed live at PASenateGOP.com.

Review

Rafferty Announces Major DRPA Reform Legislation

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) took part in a news conference Thursday to announce bi-state legislation to significantly reform the Delaware River Port Authority.

Among the reforms are provisions to allow people to obtain public records from the agency via Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law or New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act, and to establish a Port Authority Transit Corporation (PATCO) Commuter Council to study, investigate, monitor and make recommendations pertaining to the maintenance and operation of PATCO’s facilities for the transportation of passengers, including those with disabilities.

Senator Rafferty: “DRPA spent nearly two decades and a half billion dollars carelessly wasting the resources of its users for purposes that in no way benefited DRPA’s bridges or the PATCO commuter system. This legislation will ensure that DRPA honors its core mission of providing safe and efficient travel as opposed to pet projects and perks.”

For more on the proposed reforms, please see Fast Facts, below.
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Baker Introduces Bill to Recruit and Reward Volunteer Firefighters

Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) introduced legislation to give municipalities the power to waive their local earned income tax for volunteer first responders.

Volunteers at nonprofit emergency medical service (EMS) agencies would also be eligible to receive the tax credit.

Senator Baker: “If every local government in Pennsylvania had to convert to a paid firefighting force, it would cost an estimated $6 billion. Giving firefighters a small break on their local taxes is a simple benefit that will compensate them in some small measure for their priceless life-saving work.”

For more on the legislation, please see In the Spotlight, below.

Hutchinson Offers Bill to Help Small Businesses

Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) announced plans to introduce legislation intended to help Pennsylvania’s small businesses expand and grow.

Senator Hutchinson’s bill would increase the cap on the annual deduction for capital expenditures to $100,000 for state tax purposes. Pennsylvania currently caps that deduction at $25,000 per year. The measure is part of a three-bill legislative package that will be introduced in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Other measures in the package would increase net operating loss deductions for small businesses and allow businesses to exchange assets without incurring a tax.

Senator Hutchinson: “This is not a major jump, especially when you take into account the potential costs facing the small business as it looks to modernize or grow. However, it may be a small measure of financial relief that will encourage a small business owner to move forward, to make that important investment that ultimately means the difference between prosperity and shuttering the shop.”
Watch

Vulakovich Introduces Bill for Local Police Use of Radar

Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) introduced legislation that would allow Pennsylvania’s municipal police departments to use radar as a means of speed enforcement.

In Pennsylvania, only the State Police are authorized to use radar. Senator Vulakovich, a former municipal police officer, noted that every other state permits their local police to use radar for monitoring traffic speed.

Senate Bill 1340 is supported by the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, the Pennsylvania Municipal League, the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, the Pennsylvania Association of Township Commissioners, the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors and the Pennsylvania State Mayors Association.

Senator Vulakovich : “We often talk about equipping our officers with the latest and best in technology; however, for some reason Pennsylvania has not yet provided its law enforcement officers with radar technology that has been around since World War II. It is well past time we provide our officers with this speed enforcement mechanism.”
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In the Spotlight

The idea for the volunteer firefighter legislation was bolstered by a joint hearing on firefighter and EMT retention and recruitment held last fall by the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee and the Senate Majority Policy Committee.

Extending an earned income tax credit was among a menu of solutions offered by experts as a good recruitment and retention tool.

Under the legislation, municipalities would have the power to set the amount of the tax credit and the guidelines of the program, including specifying the number of calls to which a volunteer must answer and the level of training they must have.

The bill is expected to be part of a larger package of incentives to fill the rapidly declining ranks of Pennsylvania volunteer firefighters and EMTs, which have dropped from 300,000 to 50,000 in 30 years. The decrease is blamed largely on the prevalence of two-income families, an over-emphasis on fire department fundraising, local leadership conflicts and the stagnant economy.

Senator Baker has formed a working group to advance other strategies for a comprehensive First Responder Relief package.

Fast Facts

Delaware River Port Authority Reform Legislation

  • Prohibits the DRPA from engaging in economic development activity.
  • Restricts DRPA board member, officer and employee perks.
  • Prohibits political activity using DRPA time or resources.
  • Prohibits DRPA officers and employees (at the director level and higher) from being employed by an entity that does business with DRPA for two years after the individual leaves DRPA service.
  • Requires biennial budget audits, biennial performance audits and a biennial review of compensation for all DRPA employees.
  • Prohibits DRPA management from receiving their salaries until audits are complete.
  • Prohibits officers and employees at the director level or higher to hold outside employment during their tenure at DRPA.
  • Requires board members to file financial interest statements and identify any potential conflicts of interest in writing in advance of board meetings.