State Capitol Roundup

House Members Renew Attempts to Eliminate Property Taxes


Recognizing the need to help homeowners feel secure in their homes, lawmakers are once again sponsoring legislation to address high property taxes in Pennsylvania.  The Property Tax Independence Act (House Bill 1776) aims to replace school property tax funding with new state revenues.  The plan would replace lost school property tax revenue by raising the state’s personal income tax from 3.07 percent to 4 percent, closing loopholes in the state sales tax and raising the sales tax rate from 6 percent to 7 percent.  Another measure to reduce school property tax millage rates was voted out of the House Finance Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin), this week.  House Bill 2230 would allow counties to enact a 1 percent sales tax at the county level through voter referendum.  It also would give counties, municipalities and school districts the ability to levy either a personal income tax or earned income tax as a replacement for property taxes.  Every local government opting to levy a tax would have its property taxes frozen at the newly reduced level, with a minimum reduction of 30 percent to a maximum of complete property tax elimination.  House Bill 2230 now goes before the full House for consideration.


House Republicans Undertake Efforts

 to Boost Job Creation in Pennsylvania


In an effort to enhance job opportunities for Pennsylvanians, House Republicans have introduced a package of bills aimed at creating more family-sustaining jobs and improving the state’s business climate.  Some of the bills would: allow unemployed Pennsylvanians to apply to work for a participating business to garner critical on-the-job training while continuing to collect unemployment for a temporary period; provide regulatory flexibility for small businesses and improve state rulemaking by creating procedures to analyze the availability of more flexible regulatory approaches for small businesses; and continue lawsuit abuse reforms to end frivolous lawsuits and reduce the cost of doing business in Pennsylvania.  Another part of the package advanced out of the House Finance Committee this week.  Its primary aim is to close the so-called Delaware Loophole.  Other measures to address jobs that have already been signed into law include reforming the state’s Unemployment Compensation system, expanding the Keystone Opportunity Zones program to develop abandoned sites, and giving the state’s newest and fastest growing industry, drilling in the Marcellus Shale, the ability to safely expand in Pennsylvania.


House Votes on Bill to Reduce Size of the Legislature


House members sent to the Senate this week a measure to reduce the size of the Legislature.  The bill aims to increase efficiency, streamline government and increase effectiveness of the House by reducing the number of members from 203 to 153.  An amendment to the bill was approved to also reduce the size of the Senate from 50 to 38 members.  Changing the size of the legislature would require an amendment to the state constitution, which means the same bill must be debated and passed in two consecutive legislative sessions, and subsequently approved by referendum vote of the people of Pennsylvania.

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