Hello! Thank you for subscribing to my E-newsletter. I am honored to serve the 23rd Senate District and look forward to working with you toward building a better future for Pennsylvania!
This E-newsletter serves to keep you updated on what is happening throughout Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, Tioga and Union counties and what I am doing as your state senator in Harrisburg. I hope that you will find this E-newsletter helpful, and if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.
*Click here to find the latest information on coronavirus from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Update on State Fireworks Law
There is considerable misunderstanding about the status of Pennsylvania’s Fireworks Law.
Our former fireworks law (Act 65 of 1939) required PA residents to have a municipal permit to purchase, possess and use consumer fireworks. By a Senate amendment, the Tax Reform Code was amended in October 2017 to add a whole new article to replace the Fireworks Law and Act 65 has been repealed. The new law is Article XXIV in Act 2 of 1971. The new law does not require the municipal permits and so PA residents are now legally able to purchase and use the mid-grade (consumer) fireworks. There are no parameters in the state law regarding WHEN they can be used. The parameters regarding use of consumer fireworks in the state law are:
However, there is nothing in the new law prohibiting municipalities from controlling the use of consumer fireworks by noise, nuisance or other ordinances. Municipalities may enact ordinances as long as they are not in conflict with the state law, and several have done so. Municipal officials should contact their solicitors to discuss options available under current law.
The new law was challenged in Commonwealth Court. The Dec. 4. 2018 court decision bans the sale of consumer fireworks from temporary structures (tents).
The biggest complaint about the law is law enforcement must see the illegal act. Requiring a violation to be observed is not a new concept in the law—traffic citations must be seen.
In short, every complaint voiced over the last two weeks can be addressed under the current law.
Supporting Job-Creating Energy Tax Credit Program
The state Senate approved bipartisan legislation this week, 40-9, that could help create thousands of family-sustaining jobs, particularly in northeastern Pennsylvania, and provide a boost to Pennsylvania’s energy economy.
House Bill 732 would create the Local Resource Manufacturing Tax Credit Program to add an incentive for manufacturers to invest in Pennsylvania communities. The program would be available to facilities that use dry natural gas to produce fertilizer and other petrochemical products.
Pennsylvania is the second largest producer of natural gas in the United States. That fact alone makes Pennsylvania one of the largest producers in the world. While previous administrations have failed to promote our position as a world leader in the natural gas market, this bipartisan bill acknowledges that fact. House Bill 732 will create hundreds, if not thousands, of upstream and downstream jobs, and I commend my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for approving this bill. To read more, click here.
OPEN: Guidelines for $50 Million in Fire & EMS Grants
The guidelines for the COVID-19 Crisis Fire Company and EMS Grant Program have been released and fire companies and EMS agencies may now register to receive funds.
In April, Senate Bill 1122 was introduced to provide a one-time grant to fire companies and EMS agencies to help maintain operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 29th, the legislation was signed into law by the Governor.
I’m happy to see funding dedicated to our first responders who have been on the front lines since the COVID-19 epidemic began. The pandemic has forced many departments to pay for more protective equipment and other supplies. These costs, coupled with the inability to raise funds due to the stay-at-home orders, puts added financial strain on these organizations. To read more, click here.
Senate Passes New Tool to Combat Blight
Municipalities could have a new tool to transform blighted properties into thriving parts of the community under a bill approved by the Senate this week. The legislation would provide a tax exemption for up to 10 years for any improvements and new construction on blighted properties in deteriorated areas.
Bill Moves Forward to Provide Pricing Transparency for Prescription Drugs
Prescription drug costs are a serious concern for many Pennsylvanians. The Senate approved a bill this week that would provide pricing transparency in prescription drug costs and help protect small pharmacies.
The Consumer Prescription Drug Pricing and Freedom Disclosure Act would allow a pharmacy or pharmacist to provide information about the cost of a prescription drug to consumers, including the individual’s share of costs. The bill would also prohibit a pharmacy benefits manager from penalizing a pharmacy or pharmacist for disclosing this information to the individual or selling a more affordable alternative.
Applications Now Accepted for Beginning Farmer Tax Credits
Applications are now being accepted for a tax credit program intended to support Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry by helping new farmers get established.
The Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Program created by Senate Bill 478 (Act 65 of 2019), provides an incentive to landowners who lease or sell their land, buildings and equipment to beginning farmers. Landowners will receive a one-time personal income tax credit for the sale or a multi-year lease of property. The legislation requires all leases be enforced through written agreements and that the sale of property be for fair market value in order to qualify for the tax credit.