Senator Judy Ward E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • The New State Budget: Clearing Hurdles to Jobs and Opportunity
  • Deana’s Law Increases Penalties for Repeat DUIs
  • Funding Available for Projects that Promote PA Farm Products
  • FAFSA Overview Webinar
  • Accessing Local and County Crime and Crash Data
  • How to Conserve Energy and Manage Summer Power Bills
  • Celebrating Parks and Recreational Opportunities
  • Out and About in the 30th

The New State Budget: Clearing Hurdles to Jobs and Opportunity

The new 2022-23 state budget does not include any broad-based tax increases and is structured in a way to minimize the risk of tax increases in the years ahead.

In fact, the budget actually cuts the Corporate Net Income (CNI) tax rate, which is now the highest in the nation. The new budget cuts the rate from 9.99% to 8.99% and creates a phased reduction to 4.99%, or sixth lowest, by 2031.

Not only will a lower rate attract new business, it also makes the state more attractive for businesses that already operate here and need to expand.

The budget also eliminates 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 new spending plan also brings 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.

Additional funding is also included for several tax credit programs that foster economic development in Pennsylvania communities, including Research and Development ($5 million increase), Film Tax Production ($30 million increase), Entertainment Economic Enhancement ($16 million increase) and Waterfront Development ($3.5 million increase).

These changes will make Pennsylvania more competitive with surrounding states and send a strong message to employers that our Commonwealth is open for business.

Deana’s Law Increases Penalties for Repeat DUIs

The Senate recently passed legislation that is now law to increase penalties for multiple DUI offenders.

Act 59 of 2022, Deana’s Law, would require consecutive sentencing, instead of concurrent, for fourth DUIs and above. It would also increase penalties for drivers with multiple DUI convictions involving high blood alcohol content levels.

The law is named after Deana Eckman, 45, who was killed in a 2019 crash involving a six-time DUI offender.

Funding Available for Projects that Promote PA Farm Products

Nonprofits can apply now for grants for projects that promote Pennsylvania farm products and grow export markets.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture will award up to $303,000 in matching funds to nonprofits to reimburse up to 50% of costs for promotional and educational projects intended to increase consumer awareness and sales.

Eligible projects in 2022 can promote anything from wine to wool, hardwoods to honey, fruit, vegetables, herbs, meat, poultry or dairy — any agricultural product produced in PA.

Complete guidelines for the Pennsylvania Agricultural Product Promotion, Education and Export Promotion Matching Grant Program are in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Grant applications must be submitted online through the Department of Community and Economic Development Electronic Single Application. Applications are due by Aug. 5.

FAFSA Overview Webinar

PHEAA staff will be presenting a webinar – 2022-23 FAFSA Overview on July 21st at 6:00 PM.  This webinar is geared for first time applicants who plan to enroll in a community college, a business, trade, or technical school, a hospital school of nursing, a designated Pennsylvania Open Admissions institution (https://www.pheaa.org/grants/state-grant-program/state-grant-faq.shtml#paOpenAdminInstitutions), or a 2-year program that is not transferable to another institution.  If students in one of these categories have not yet completed the 2022-23 FAFSA, they still have time to complete and submit the 2022-23 FAFSA and PA State Grant application as the PA State Grant deadline for these first-time applicants is August 1, 2022.

Accessing Local and County Crime and Crash Data

When crimes and crashes are investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police, the statistical data is available online through the Community Access to Information Dashboard (CAID).

CAID allows the public and the media to access and search data collected from traffic enforcement and crashes for both commercial and noncommercial vehicles, including Incident maps. There’s also data concerning various crimes, with mapping for counties and municipalities.

The dashboard allows the user to choose what data is displayed. Searches can be refined with custom date ranges, locations and categories. Queries can be made in the dashboard with statistical information from as far back as 2019. The dashboard contains no information that could be used to identify the individuals involved.  

How to Conserve Energy and Manage Summer Power Bills

As hot weather settles in, the Public Utility Commission (PUC) offers tips on conserving energy and keeping summer power bills manageable.

  • Check your thermostat. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill.
  • Clean and replace air conditioner filters regularly and make sure air circulation paths are clear.
  • Turn off non-essential appliances and lights to reduce power use and unwanted heat.
  • Close off unused rooms and adjust air vents or thermostats to avoid unnecessary cooling expenses.
  • Seal cracks and openings to prevent warm air from leaking into your home.

You can find more tips here. For consumers struggling with paying utility bills, the PUC continues to encourage them to call their utilities to discuss the many different affordability options available.

Celebrating Parks and Recreational Opportunities

Parks and recreational opportunities are key components of healthy communities. I hope you get to enjoy the great outdoors this summer.

The new state budget includes $56 million in state funds to create a new State Parks and Forests Infrastructure Program and $100 million in federal funding for state parks and outdoor recreation.

Out and About in the 30th

I was honored to present a Certificate of Recognition to Janet Eldred, who is retiring after serving as Director of the Hollidaysburg Area Public Library for the past 18 years. During her tenure at the library, Janet worked tirelessly to secure funding and raise capital for the new library facility, working successfully with community stakeholders to complete the project on-time, under budget and mortgage free, resulting in a beautiful community asset that will serve the area for many years to come. Janet and her husband, Keith, have embarked on a personal project inspired by her dementia, aiming to raise $1 million for the library through the sale of books written and published by Keith while raising awareness that dementia patients like Janet can often keep working effectively if granted reasonable accommodation. Janet’s tireless dedication and commitment to the library and the community will have a lasting positive impact. Thank you to Janet for her years of service and best of luck to her on her well-deserved retirement!

This week the Catholic Daughters of the Americas Court 1755 hosted their annual summer picnic. I have been a member of this group for many years.

Blair County was the hosting county of the statewide Sheriff’s Convention. I stopped by to see my home district sheriff, Jim Ott at the Convention Center.

Congratulations to the Allegheny Ridge Corporation on their location change to Canal Basin Park in Hollidaysburg.

This week was the Martinsburg Annual Agricultural Parade. This small-town parade draws a huge crowd of people from all over the state! Riding with me is my intern, Julia Cacciotti.

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