2013-14 Legislation

Senate Bill 1136: Veterans Housing Assistance Program

This bill is part of the Senate Democratic Caucus “Salute to Pennsylvania Veterans” legislative package. Under this legislation, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) would establish the program in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA). The DMVA would implement a program to identify homeless veterans and veterans at imminent risk of becoming homeless. PHFA would establish a housing ombudsman to advocate for homeless veterans in the housing market, including lease negotiations and credit counseling issues. The DMVA may require a veteran to engage in activities such as counseling, health education, job training, or other self help programs as a condition of participation. Financial assistance in the form of a rental voucher will be provided to the veteran. The amount of the voucher will be for a maximum of $1,000 per month for 12 months to cover housing costs. A veteran will be able to file for an extension. With a $12,500,000 annual appropriation and $500,000 set aside for administrative costs, this program could help as many as 1,000 homeless or imminently homeless veterans annually.

Senate Bill 456:  Innovate in PA – Act 52 of 2013

Innovate in PA is a job-creation proposal which would provide for the structured auctioning of $225 million worth of insurance premium tax credits with auction proceeds to be distributed to a number of economic development programs via the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority (BFTDA), the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and the four regional biotechnology research centers (Life Sciences Greenhouses).

A modified version of the bill was passed and included in Act 52 of 2013, signed into law on July 9, 2013.

 

Senate Bill 457:  Right to Know – State-Related Universities

The bill would remove certain exceptions that State-Related Universities Penn State, Pittsburgh, Temple and Lincoln currently have under our Open Records statute as an effort to bring the same level of transparency that currently applies to our 14 state-owned Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) institutions, all of which receive state appropriations.

 

Senate Bill 458: Property Tax Relief

Designed to reduce local reliance on the real property tax and to find local solutions to the fiscal and service delivery crisis that is facing local governments, the bill would grant counties the option to increase their sales, use and occupancy tax by 1% to be shared with municipalities in the county.  Counties and municipalities may use no less than of 60% their share for dollar-for-dollar homestead and property tax reductions with no more than 40% going for general fund purposes.

 

Senate Bill 902:  Government and Public Finance Reform – Ethics Commission & Municipal Authorities

Introduced in the wake of two Senate committee hearings which looked into the Harrisburg debt crisis, Senate Bill 902 amends the Municipal Authorities Act in two ways.  First, the bill restricts the use of any proceeds from municipal borrowing under the Local Government Unit Debt Act to only that project for which the debt was incurred.  Secondly, the bill provides that any violation of the Municipal Authorities Act would also be a violation of the State’s ethics law, giving enforcement authority to the State Ethics Commission, local district attorneys and the Attorney General.

 

Senate Bill 882:  Closing Delaware Loophole/Lowering Corporate Net Income Tax – Act 52 of 2013

As an effort to create a friendly business climate as well as achieve greater tax fairness, this bill would gradually reduce the Corporate Net Income Tax over a five-year period from its current 9.99%, to 6.99%. The bill would also provide for a phased closing of the so called “Delaware Loophole” by implementing mandatory combined reporting.

A modified version of the bill was passed and included in Act 52 of 2013, signed into law on July 9, 2013.

 

Senate Bill 703:  Military time buyback for Scranton first-responders

This legislation would remove a three-year time limit within which members of the Scranton Police and Fire pension systems must begin working for the city in order to be eligible for purchasing credit for time spent in the armed forces.

 

Senate Bill 704:  Military time buyback for Scranton public employees

This legislation would remove a three-year time limit within which members of the Scranton employee pension system must begin working for the city in order to be eligible for purchasing credit for time spent in the armed forces.

 

Senate Bill 216:  Statewide Housing Trust Fund

As an effort to incent greater investment in adequate and affordable housing in Pennsylvania, this bill would grant counties the option of raising fees on “other writs” such as easements, declarations of plans or rights of way.  Deed and mortgage fees could not be increased. Once counties increase their currently-charged fees: 75% would be directed to a state fund to enable PHFA to issue a bond to pay for affordable housing projects in participating counties.  Those counties can keep 25% for affordable housing projects or deposit into already-established county-housing-trust funds.

 

Senate Bill 229: PA Works Package: Job Creation Tax Credit – Act 52 of 2013

Amends the Tax Reform Code to increase the amount of the Job Creation Tax Credit a company may claim from $1,000 to $2,000 per new job created; or from $2,500 to $4,000 per new job filled by an individual on extended unemployment.  The legislation also clarifies that multi-year tax credits are authorized.

A modified version of the bill was passed and included in Act 52 of 2013, signed into law on July 9, 2013.

 

Senate Bill 706: Mobile Home Tax Delinquency

The bill would amend Title 75 (Vehicles) to require sellers of mobile homes to obtain a tax status certification as a condition of the sale. This would prevent the sale or reselling of an abandoned, tax-delinquent mobile home; and possibly an eventual county tax sale unbeknownst to the new owner.

 

Senate Bill 705: District Attorneys Opt-Out of Prison Boards

The bill would address an existing, perceived conflict of interest as district attorneys must occasionally prosecute inmates, guards, or employees of a prison on whose board they are a member. As a result of this conflict, district attorneys are potentially liable for any incidents that may occur at the prison. This bill would allow counties of the 3rd, 4th and 5th class to opt out of the requirement of district attorney representation on the prison board, via resolution of the county commissioners. Counties of the 6th, 7th, and 8th class currently have this option.

 

 

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Gallery

February 27, 2017: Senator Blake poses questions to PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards during a Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearing. September 7, 2016: Senator Blake joined state Representative Mike Carroll, PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards and a host of other federal, state and local officials to officially cut the ribbon on the completion of $43 million in transportation infrastructure improvements at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport Interchange at Interstate 81. September 26, 2016: Senator Blake joined Governor Tom Wolf, Mayor Courtright and his colleagues in the state House of Representatives to announce a $2.5 million state investment into the West Scranton community. September 26, 2016: Senator Blake joined Governor Tom Wolf, Mayor Courtright and his colleagues in the state House of Representatives to announce a $2.5 million state investment into the West Scranton community.

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