Voters to Decide Property Tax Issue
This fall, voters will have the opportunity to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to allow local governments to exclude more of a property’s median assessed value for property tax reductions.
Currently, the state Constitution only permits local governments – counties, municipalities and school districts – to exclude up to 50 percent.
The referendum is made possible through House Bill 1285, which recently passed both chambers of the General Assembly this summer. It is identical to legislation, House Bill 147, which cleared both the House and Senate last session – a requirement to amend the Constitution.
Voters will be able to consider the constitutional amendment on the Nov. 7 ballot. Should the people of Pennsylvania vote in the affirmative on this question, the Constitution will be amended as the governor’s signature is not required for it to become law.
Saving Taxpayer Money on Health Care Costs
As a way to help save taxpayer money by reducing health care expenses, the House approved two measures addressing cost-drivers in the state’s Medical Assistance program.
House Bill 1354 would create the Office of Independent Medical Assistance Director, which would be required to post online the number of Medicaid enrollees, costs and a cost analysis to compare budget funds and forecasted expenses on a monthly basis. The office would also be tasked with improving health outcomes and working toward providing budget predictability. This would help ensure greater efficiency within the Medical Assistance program.
House Bill 1532 would allow the Commonwealth to better identify potential abuse of opioids among Medical Assistance enrollees by giving Medicaid organizations access to information in the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. The legislation would help save lives by allowing anyone prescribing or dispensing opioids to better recognize potential abusers and stem the tide of this epidemic.
Both bills are now with the state Senate.
A Few Seats Are Still Available For Our Nonprofit, Anti-Fraud and Theft Prevention Seminar
Have you been following local news stories regarding theft of funds at volunteer organizations? Do you have volunteers who manage the finances of your not-for-profit group? Then I have a program for you.
While 99.9 percent of our volunteers are beyond reproach, some are unscrupulous and have absconded with thousands of dollars raised by hard-working members. As a result, I have decided to offer an informational session to help your organization avert a financial catastrophe. The focus of the seminar would be on practical processes, procedures and internal controls for small organizations with few or no employees (PREDOMINANTLY VOLUNTEERS). Examples of local cases of financial mismanagement and specific controls where losses could have been prevented or at least minimalized will be discussed.
The presentation will be given by Dr. Fred Croop, CPA, dean of the College of Professional Studies and Social Sciences at Misericordia University. Dr. Croop has authored two publications addressing financial management and internal controls for volunteer organizations. Wyoming County District Attorney Jeff Mitchell will also be present to offer his perspective on financial mismanagement cases investigated through his office. The seminar will be held at the Wyoming County Emergency Management Building on Tuesday, July 25, from 6-8 p.m.
Please let me know if you are interested in attending this event. You can contact my Dallas district office at 570-675-6000, or my Tunkhannock district office at 570-836-4777.
Senior Expo Set for July 28
Our annual Senior Expo is set for Friday, July 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Tunkhannock Area High School. New interactive informational sessions begin at 10:30 a.m., including a healthy eating demonstration, chair yoga and Tai chi. Vendors include area health care professionals, veterans services and other state and local agencies. Health-related screenings will be offered and a prescription drug drop-box, provided by the Wyoming County District Attorney’s office, will be on site. Hope to see you there!
Outreach and Satellite Hours Offered Next Week
On Tuesday, July 25, a member of my staff will be available at Laceyville Borough Building, located at 342 Church St., Laceyville, from 3-5 p.m. to provide assistance with Property Tax/Rent Rebate forms, PennDOT paperwork, state-related issues and more.
Also on Tuesday, July 25, a representative from the University of Scranton Small Business Development Center will be at the Tunkhannock district office from 10 a.m. to noon. The University of Scranton Small Business Development Center provides educational programs and no-cost, confidential consulting services to entrepreneurs looking to start or grow a small business.
Helping Military Families through Hardship
For more than a decade, the Military Family Relief Assistance Program, which is partially funded through a state income tax check-off, has been helping active duty members of the armed forces and their families meet basic expenses when facing extreme financial hardships.
House Bill 984 would ensure that the check-off is permanent, rather than having to be extended. Currently, the check-off has been extended three times and is set to expire on Jan. 1, 2018.
To qualify for assistance, eligible members must have a direct and immediate financial need as a result of circumstances beyond their control. The amount of a grant is based on documented financial need up to a maximum of $3,500.
More information about the program is available here.
Free Cervical Screenings, Mammograms Available
Women who are uninsured or underinsured can receive free cervical cancer screenings and mammograms under the Pennsylvania HealthyWoman Program. The program is funded by the Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The program is open to women ages 40-64, who are Pennsylvania residents and have a gross household income below 250 percent of the federal poverty annual guideline, about $61,500 for a family of four.
If breast or cervical cancer is detected through the HealthyWoman Program, the individual may be eligible for free treatment through the Department of Human Services' Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Program.
For more information, click here or call 1-800-215-7494.
Around Our Community
The Blue Star Mothers NEPA Chapter received its official charter on July 18. I attended this important meeting of the organization and presented a House citation to chapter President Lori Bishop.
The Blue Star Mothers NEPA Chapter will henceforth be known as Chapter PA 14. Chapter PA 14 officially serves Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Wyoming, Luzerne and Lackawanna counties. Mothers from adjacent counties are welcome to participate in the monthly meetings held on each third Wednesday. For more information, call 570-430-9997 or email email@example.com.
It was my pleasure to once again attend the annual Dalton Fire Company Carnival held last weekend. Pictured with me are several volunteers who provide a great service to our community. Many of our nonprofit organizations look for volunteers. If interested, contact an organization near you.
Sen. John Yudichak, Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski and I joined Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Patrick McDonnell at an event announcing the formation of a Regional Stormwater Management Program for municipalities in the Wyoming Valley.
The event highlighted the creation of a new, collaborative effort among more than 30 municipalities in Northeast Pennsylvania to reduce stormwater runoff pollution. These efforts will improve water quality in local streams and in the Susquehanna River, as well as helping Pennsylvania clean up the Chesapeake Bay.
Eaton Township Celebrates Bicentennial
It was an honor to present a House citation to Eaton Township Supervisors Randy Ehrenzeller, Ken White and Paul Rowker recognizing the 200th anniversary of Eaton Township. Sen. Lisa Baker presented a citation from the Senate.
Sen. Lisa Baker and I are pictured with the Eaton Township Supervisors and the Eaton Township Pioneers John Greenley, Charlotte Hadsall and Mary Kukuchka at the Eatonville United Methodist Church.