February 22, 2019
Public Hearings Underway on Governor’s Budget Plan
One of the most important parts of the budget process is the series of budget hearings held over the course of three weeks with the various department and agency leaders. These hearings offer lawmakers a valuable opportunity to discuss the performance of state programs and learn more about how state agencies are managing taxpayer dollars.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I appreciate the chance to play an active role in these proceedings. During the first week of hearings, I focused on a number of issues that affect local communities, including:
I enjoyed hearing about the innovation happening across Ephrata Area School District, including the unlimited potential of “What Schools Could Be.”
Property Tax Rent Rebate Forms Available Now
Applications for the state’s Property Tax Rent Rebate program are available now at my district office in Lititz. The program provides rebates of up to $650 on property taxes or rent paid in 2018.
To be eligible, applicants must meet income requirements and be a Pennsylvania resident age 65 and older; a widow or widower age 50 or older; or a permanently disabled individual age 18 or older.
The program is available to homeowners with a household income of $35,000 or less and renters with a household income of $15,000 or less, excluding one-half of Social Security Income and Railroad Retirement Tier 1 benefits. Rebate amounts vary based on income.
I encourage you to contact me if you have questions about the program or need assistance in obtaining or completing an application. More information is available here.
Taxpayers Reminded to be Wary of Tax Season Scams
As millions of Pennsylvanians begin to file state and federal taxes, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is advising state residents to be aware of common schemes that criminals use to steal money and personal information.
Many scammers try to impersonate tax collectors over the phone and use high-pressure tactics to get money and financial information from taxpayers. Other schemes involve emails targeting tax professionals, payroll staff, human resources personnel and school administrators.
More information about how to avoid tax scams is available here.
I enjoyed visiting with my friend Sylvia Simms during her visit to Harrisburg. Sylvia is the founder of Parent Power, an advocacy group protecting the rights of parents and families in public education.
Keep Animals Inside During Severe Cold Weather
Severe weather events – including the bone-chilling cold of late January and the recent snowfall this week – serve as a reminder of the power of Mother Nature. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is reminding pet and livestock owners to ensure all animals have access to shelter during the winter.
State law prohibits dog owners from tethering their pet outdoors for more than 30 minutes when the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. More information about providing adequate shelter for animals during the winter is available here.
Save the Date: Coffee and Conversation Event in Stevens on March 14
Outreach to local communities is a critical part of serving as an elected official. I look forward to hosting a Coffee and Conversation event on March 14 from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. at the Clay Township Building, located at 870 Durlach Road in Stevens. I hope local residents can join me for light refreshments and an informal conversation about what is happening in the community and in Harrisburg.
My thanks goes out to everyone who attended my legislative breakfasts for municipal and school district officials the past two weeks. Your service is appreciated!
Reminder: Licenses Required for Dogs Three Months and Older
All dogs three months or older are required to be licensed each year. If you have not already renewed the license for your dog, you can do so by contacting your county treasurer or dog warden, or by calling the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement at 717-787-3062. Licenses are also available online at www.licenseyourdogpa.pa.gov.