In this update:
Voter ID: Time for PA to Catch Up with Other States, Nations
A proposed constitutional amendment passed by the Senate earlier this month to require ID verification at polling places remains in the House of Representatives. Its approval is needed to let voters have a say through a ballot question in the spring primary election.
Pennsylvania’s failure to enact this key component of election integrity has put it behind not only a vast majority of states and most developed countries, but behind many developing nations as well.
Every excuse used to block this rational election reform has been shown to be false. Requiring proof of identification before voting does not suppress turnout, and acceptable IDs are not difficult to obtain.
Nationally, the calls for voter ID come from Democrats and Republicans alike. Eighty percent of Americans favor voter ID as do 74% of Pennsylvanians. Now is the time to pass Senate Bill 1 and let the voters decide.
Restoring Checks and Balances in Pennsylvania Government
In addition to letting citizens decide whether voters should be required to show ID, Senate Bill 1 includes proposed constitutional amendments providing a two year window suspending the statute of limitations in sexual assault cases and allowing the people’s representatives in the General Assembly to overturn any government regulation that conflicts with the will of the people.
The regulatory reform amendment is an attempt to restore sorely needed checks and balances to government. The need for this change was made clear by the Wolf administration’s unilateral decisions during the pandemic, closing businesses and schools with no input from the people. Despite the clear design of our government with three co-equal parts, the executive branch elevated itself above the legislative and judicial branches in an obvious violation of the checks and balances afforded by the Pennsylvania Constitution.
No governor of any party should be permitted to wield such unchecked power again. If the House of Representatives follows the Senate’s lead and passes Senate Bill 1, voters will be empowered to restore this crucial balance of power.
National School Choice Week
We kicked off National School Choice Week with a press conference to ensure all students get the education that is best for their needs. I look forward to working on legislation to create a Lifeline Scholarship to help students in low performing schools get the best education possible.
Appointment to PA’s Children’s Trust Fund Board
I was recently appointed to the Pennsylvania Children’s Trust Fund Board (CTFB), with my term set to expire on January 25, 2026. The CTFB is composed of legislators appointed by the House and Senate, as well as citizens appointed by the Governor, and is supported by the Department of Human Services (DHS). The Children’s Trust Fund is dedicated to funding community-based programs to prevent child abuse and neglect through three-year grants. Specific emphasis for funding is placed on primary and secondary prevention programs, which focus on the prevention of abuse before it occurs for the first time by implementing evidence-based programs and promising practices. I hope to use my time on this board to help children all across the Commonwealth.
Phase-out of Job-Killing PA Tax Begins
The phase-out of Pennsylvania’s sky-high Corporate Net Income tax got underway this month, part of our efforts to keep good jobs here and create new ones.
Republican lawmakers secured a cut in this job-killing tax as part of the 2022-23 state budget. Before this reduction to 8.99%, Pennsylvania’s CNI tax had been 9.99% for nearly three decades while other states had lower tax rates – some far lower – and many have been lower for almost as long.
When gradually reduced to 4.99% in 2031, Pennsylvania’s CNI rate will have gone from one of the highest in the nation to one of the lowest, making the commonwealth far more competitive with other states.
A 2009 report by an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City demonstrates that the burden of the corporate income tax is borne in large part by labor within the state in the form of lower wages. A 2016 paper published in the journal American Economic Review found employees shoulder about a third of the corporate tax burden.
Reducing this tax will be the difference between jobs coming to our local communities and jobs leaving. This will be a great benefit to Pennsylvania families.
Rebates for Property Taxes and Rent Available to Seniors, Pennsylvanians with Disabilities
Older adults and Pennsylvanians with disabilities can apply now for rebates on property taxes or rent paid in 2022.
The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded. Spouses, personal representatives or estates may also file rebate claims on behalf of claimants who lived at least one day in the claim year and meet all other eligibility criteria.
The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975. You can find more eligibility and application information here. Eligible applicants can visit mypath.pa.gov to electronically submit their applications.
Lowering the Risk of Birth Defects
Rates of infant deaths due to birth defects have declined by 10% in the United States. However, even today, every 4½ minutes a baby is born with a major problem affecting parts of the body including the heart, brain or foot, causing lifelong health challenges.
The National Birth Defects Prevention Network offers women five tips for preventing birth defects:
Not all birth defects can be prevented. However, healthy choices and habits help lower the risk of having a baby born with these challenges.
Out and About in the 30th
While inclement weather kept me from going on a planned trip to Harrisburg, Nathan Akers from my staff was able to meet with Chris Hoffman, President of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, and Megan Keller and Rick Leese, also with the PA Farm Bureau. They spoke about agriculture issues important to the PA Farm Bureau and what legislation they hoped to see accomplished this session. Chris, Megan, and Rick are all constituents of mine, and I look forward to seeing them out and about in the 30th!
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