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
Pennsylvania Skill Game Regulation Measure Announced Wednesday
Last week, I joined Rep. Jeff Wheeland, Rep. Danilo Burgos, Ryan Sprankle, Owner, Sprankles Neighborhood Markets; Nicole Miele, who leads Pennsylvania Skill Charitable Giving; and Dave Ragan of Veterans Promise, for a press conference to announce legislation that will regulate skill games in the Commonwealth.
Legal skill games provide much-needed revenue for restaurants, bars, fraternal organizations and veterans groups. During the pandemic, they have been lifelines for small businesses and organizations, such as VFWs and American Legions, that say they would have shut down for good if not for skill game funds.
Celebrating Bradford County’s Newest Century Farm
[Last Thursday in Bradford County, I recognized the Bouse family, owners of Happy Mountain Bouse Farm in Towanda, the newest Century Farm in Pennsylvania.]
Many family members from the Happy Mountain Bouse Farm, Towanda, were in attendance Thursday as Rep. Pickett, Bradford County Commissioner John Sullivan and I honored the family on 100 years of farming. The Bouse Family exemplifies what makes Pennsylvania agriculture great. Their dedication has sustained their family’s heritage, as well as our own families and Pennsylvania’s economy. They have earned our appreciation!
Those pictured include L to R: Carol Ann Watkins, Commissioner John Sullivan, Sen. Yaw, Rose Bouse, Ryan Vnuk, Donald Webster, Joey Ackley, Rep. Pickett, Linda Ackley, Tom Bouse, and Brian Ackley.]
Reinforcing State Law for Second Amendment Rights
The Senate voted to reinforce Pennsylvanians’ Constitutional right to bear arms, while continuing to safely protect our communities by preventing municipalities from bypassing state law prohibiting them from regulating firearms and ensuring those legally allowed to own a gun can carry it openly or concealed, without needing a permit.
Senate Bill 448 allows for an individual or member organization to sue a county or municipality that implements a local firearms ordinance in violation of existing state law; allows for individuals adversely affected by local action to seek relief and damages; puts the burden on the municipality to defend its actions instead of placing the burden on the individual; and makes it clear the General Assembly is the only elected body that is responsible for passing legislation related to the right to bear arms.
The legislation seeks to maintain uniformity in gun laws across the state and level the playing field for gun owners by allowing recovery of legal fees and damages if the municipality is found in violation of the state’s preemption law.
Senate Bill 565 would decriminalize the carrying of guns without a license. Use of firearms, whether criminal or for self-defense, is still controlled by other Pennsylvania statutes that remain unchanged.
Both bills now head to the state House of Representatives for consideration.
Approving Tax Reform Measure for Small Business Employers
The Senate approved legislation to advance small business tax reform that would help move Pennsylvania out of a pandemic economy and create jobs for Pennsylvanians.
Senate Bill 347 would eliminate a disadvantage faced by Pennsylvania small businesses when competing with those in other states. Under federal tax law, a “like-kind” exchange under the Internal Revenue Code allows for tax deferral when property is exchanged for similar property. This long-standing federal provision allows employers to invest in the job-creating assets businesses need to remain competitive. Every state but Pennsylvania provides for a similar deferral on the state level.
The bill will now be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. It is part of a Small Business Tax Reform Package to help employers recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and mandated shutdowns. Small businesses create 65% of the jobs in the commonwealth.
The Senate previously passed Senate Bill 349 to bring state tax law governing expense deductions in line with federal law, eliminating the unequal treatment of small businesses in Pennsylvania. The increase in limits makes it easier for employers to buy equipment and to invest, which promotes job growth.
Helping PA’s Economy and Veterans
To support Pennsylvania’s economy and veterans, the Senate supported legislation that would establish a Veteran-owned Business Loan Guarantee Program and would clarify the Veterans Preference Law to include veterans who served honorably but were discharged with a disability before completing their initial obligation.
Senate Bill 830 would create a program providing loan guarantees to commercial lending institutions that make loans to veteran-owned businesses. The program would authorize the Commonwealth Financing Authority to guarantee up to 50% of the outstanding principal of the loan, limited to $250,000 for any one loan.
Senate Bill 849 would add an exemption for those with a disability discharge and would ensure that veterans with medical discharges receive the preference with seeking careers within the Commonwealth.
Both bills now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Financial Assistance Available Soon for Homeowners
Pennsylvania has been allocated $350 million through the federal Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) to help homeowners behind on their mortgage and other home-related expenses due to the pandemic. The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) will administer the program and is working to develop the Pennsylvania HAF program, which must be approved by the U.S. Treasury before it can become operational.
Pennsylvania’s program will include an online and mobile application portal. Applicants will be able to apply and submit required documentation through the web-based application or may be assisted by a third-party counseling agency.
The program is expected to be available in the coming months, but homeowners may sign up now to receive updates about the financial relief. Click here to be notified or for more information.
Visiting North Central Sight Services
[While visiting North Central Sight Services, I talked with Steven Floyd who provided me with some background on new vision products and tools for the blind or visually impaired].
Every year, North Central Sight Services, a not-for-profit agency based in Williamsport, screens more than 5,000 children for potential vision problems. Worldwide, around 1.4 million children under age 15 are blind. Yet approximately half of all childhood blindness can be avoided by treating diseases early and by correcting abnormalities at birth such as cataract and glaucoma.
The staff at NCSS are proud to provide blindness prevention education, vision screenings, services and employment to all individuals who are blind or visually impaired throughout our communities of Bradford, Centre, Clinton, Lycoming, Sullivan, and Tioga Counties. There are a variety of ways you can contribute to NCSS efforts including participating in fundraisers, purchasing products and services from North Central Sight Services, Inc., making a secure contribution online, and more.
Shop for Sight Fundraiser
Stop by the Rust and Shine Unique Shopps for the 2021 Shop for Sight!
Rust and Shine Unique Shopps
A portion of every sale will benefit North Central Sight Services.
Control Your Electricity Costs with PA Power Switch
As electric costs are on the rise and only projected to worsen throughout this winter, there has never been a better time to be proactive about controlling your electricity costs.
You can shop for your electricity and choose your supplier, regardless of your local utility, by researching your options on PAPowerSwitch.com.
Under state law, you have the option to switch to a competing supplier which can offer the lowest price or provide a specific service you want such as green or renewable energy. The electric utility that distributes your electricity will remain the same. You would simply be taking advantage of the power of competitive retail electric shopping to see if a better price is available with a supplier.
PAPowerSwitch.com offers comparison data regarding price, fixed-price contract terms, renewable content, deposit/cancellation fees and other consumer information.
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