In this Update:
Senate Finalizes 2023-24 State Budget
The Senate on Wednesday finalized the 2023-24 state budget by approving two major bipartisan budget implementation bills, which have now been enacted into law.
A large portion of the 2023-24 state budget was completed in August with enactment of the General Appropriations Act. However, several important components still required additional budget implementation language to be passed by both the Senate and House and signed by the governor.
House Bill 1300 (Fiscal Code amendments) and House Bill 301 (School Code amendments) make major investments in the future of Pennsylvania and achieve many of the principles and priorities identified by Senate Republicans as a focus in March.
House Bill 1300 includes several important and time-sensitive measures, including reauthorization of funding for county 911 systems and funding for an additional 100 Pennsylvania State Police troopers to help make our communities safer. House Bill 301 includes many provisions to expand education empowerment and access and increase school safety. Read more.
House Advances Rothman Bill to Simplify Government, Ensure Adequate Funding for Roads and Bridges
The House of Representatives voted this week to advance my bill to eliminate the burdensome Alternative Fuels Tax in favor of a simple yearly fee. The Senate first passed SB 656 in June. This week, the legislation passed the House Transportation Committee with a bipartisan vote of 22-3.
Currently, electric vehicle (EV) drivers are required to file cumbersome monthly reports and use those reports to pay a tax based on their electricity usage. Due to its complexity, most EV drivers do not complete the required report or pay the required tax. To make it easier for EV drivers to pay their fair share toward maintaining Pennsylvania’s roads and bridges, my legislation would allow drivers to pay a flat and predictable yearly fee when renewing their registration. In addition to simplifying the process, this legislation also ensures gas-powered vehicle drivers will not be left shouldering the burden of road and bridge repair funding.
The legislation now awaits a vote by the full House.
Bill to Safeguard Transit Operators Passes Senate
The Senate passed legislation to safeguard transit operators against assault.
Senate Bill 977 would make it a felony of the third degree to interfere with and cause bodily injury to an operator of any public transit vehicle. The offense would be steepened to a felony of the first degree if the intrusion causes serious bodily injury or death.
Senate Votes to Preserve Prescription Benefits for Seniors
Legislation to preserve senior citizens’ access to the state’s PACE and PACENET prescription drug benefit plans passed the Senate and is set for enactment.
Senate Bill 607 would continue a law set to expire this year through Dec. 31, 2025 that prevents Social Security cost-of-living increases from making seniors ineligible for PACE and PACENET.
Current income eligibility levels for PACE are set at less than $14,500 for a single person and less than $17,700 for a couple. PACENET, which covers those individuals with incomes exceeding PACE maximums, is open to individuals earning between $14,500 and $33,500 and couples with incomes between $17,700 and $41,500. The minimum age to participate in the programs is 65, and they are funded from proceeds of the Pennsylvania Lottery.
2024 Fishing Licenses, Permits for Sale Now
Fishing licenses, permits and vouchers for 2024 purchased now are valid immediately through Dec. 31, 2024. The price of an annual resident fishing license is $27.97. Multi-year options are also available in increments of three years, five years or 10 years.
They can be purchased through the HuntFishPA online portal on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website, via smartphone by using the FishBoatPA mobile app or by visiting a retail license issuing agent.
Vouchers that can be given as gifts and are redeemable by recipients are also available.
Don’t Get Scammed This Holiday Season
Sadly, just as the holiday season is often a charitable time, there are people hoping to take advantage by scamming others.
From email and text phishing to delivery stealing to credit card skimming and more, there are so many ways to fall prey. Learn more about the common scams criminals use.
Protect yourself and your family by setting up alerts with your credit card company so you know when purchases are made and avoid paying with a prepaid gift card, CashApp or Venmo to buy a gift online. Never use Alexa to find a customer support number and dial for you or click on a hyperlink in an email, social media ad or text message to make a purchase. Instead, go directly to the store’s website.
Celebrating Bill of Rights Day
Friday, Dec. 15, is Bill of Rights Day, where we recognize the founder’s enshrinement of our inalienable rights.
Bill of Rights Day was first observed on the document’s 150th anniversary when former President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a proclamation dedicating Dec. 15 as the day to recognize our God-given rights.
If you are not already subscribed to this newsletter please sign up here.