|Town Hall Meeting Set for June 15
I will be holding a Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, June 15, at Whispering Pines, Penn Forest Fire Co. No. 1, Route 903, Jim Thorpe, at 5:30 p.m. Mark your calendars and make plans to attend this meeting during which we will discuss local and legislative issues.
House Passes Historic Pension Reform
In a major step forward in the effort to reform the state’s public pension systems, the House this week passed legislation that aims to slow the growth of pension liabilities, shift risk away from taxpayers and ensure the Commonwealth can meet its future pension obligations.
Senate Bill 1, which received bipartisan support, would establish three new public pension plans from which state employees and teachers hired in 2019 or later can choose. Each offers a defined contribution component, similar to a 401(k) commonly offered to workers in the private sector. The plans provide future employees with retirement security and portability while also protecting taxpayers.
Current employees will have the opportunity to opt in to a new plan or continue in their current plan, and retirees would not see any changes to their plans.
The governor is expected to sign the measure. For more information, click here.
Bill Expanding and Regulating Gaming Advances
|This week, the House passed House Bill 271, which would expand and regulating gaming in Pennsylvania. Watch the video to hear my thoughts about the bill.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Deadline Extended
The Property Tax/Rent Rebate program deadline for older adults and residents with disabilities to apply for rebates of rent and property taxes paid in 2016 has been extended from June 30 to Dec. 31, 2017.
Each year the department evaluates the program as the statutory June 30 application deadline approaches to determine if funds are available to extend the deadline. To date, funding has been available to allow all who qualify to receive a rebate. The Department of Revenue will begin mailing checks after July 1 for those already approved for a rebate.
Applicants may obtain Property Tax/Rent Rebate claim forms (PA-1000) and related information online at www.revenue.pa.gov or by calling, toll-free, 1-888-222-9190.
It costs nothing to apply for a rebate, and free application assistance is available in my district offices. Claimants who already applied for rebates can check the status of claims online at www.revenue.pa.gov or by calling, toll-free, 1-888-PATAXES.
Tax Amnesty Ends June 19
Taxpayers who owe state taxes only have a few more days to take advantage of the latest tax amnesty period. The program, which offers incentives to Pennsylvanians to settle their delinquent tax accounts, is expected to generate as much as $150 million in revenue for the Commonwealth. The program does not “forgive” taxes owed but instead waives penalties, collection and lien fees, and half of the interest owed.
All taxes owed to the Commonwealth administered by the Department of Revenue are eligible for the program. The delinquent taxes must have been owed as of Dec. 31, 2015. Any unpaid taxes, penalties and interest resulting from periods after Dec. 31, 2015, are not eligible for the program.
The amnesty period runs until June 19, 2017. More information is available at www.revenue.pa.gov. For a video explaining the program, click here.
REAL ID Explained
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extended Pennsylvania’s REAL ID enforcement grace period through July 10, 2017.
Under the extension, Pennsylvanians will be able to use their current driver license when entering federal facilities through July 10, 2017. Pennsylvania driver licenses will also be accepted for commercial air travel through Jan. 22, 2018.
I encourage those who have questions or concerns to contact my office for additional information regarding birth certificate applications and other state forms needed to obtain a REAL ID or passport.
The House passed and the governor signed Senate Bill 133 (Act 3 of 2017) on May 26, which repealed previous REAL ID nonparticipation legislation and allows the Commonwealth to provide REAL ID-compliant driver licenses and identification cards at the customer’s option, PennDOT submitted a longer-term extension request to DHS and is currently awaiting DHS response. DHS has confirmed that REAL ID extension decisions are pending final review, and federal agencies have been advised to continue accepting driver licenses and identification cards through the grace period.
Preliminary work on REAL ID has begun, and PennDOT estimates REAL ID-compliant driver licenses and identification cards will be available at the customer’s option in 2019. This will allow ample time for customers who want a REAL ID product to get one before the final DHS effective date of Oct. 1, 2020.