|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. This amendment would enable lawmakers to provide homeowners with total property tax elimination on their primary residence.
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.
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.
Federal Outreach Hours Set for Tuesday
A staff member from Sen. Pat Toomey’s office will be in our Lehighton District Office on Tuesday, July 25, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The office is located at 110 North Third St., Second Floor. The intent of these hours is to provide information for those with questions best addressed by the federal government. Please call us at 610-377-6363 to make an appointment.
In addition, outreach hours for Congressman Lou Barletta (R-Hazleton) will be offered in our Albrightsville district office on Tuesday, July 25, from 10 a.m. to noon. The office is located at 2681 State Route 903, Unit 3 in Albrightsville. Call Heffley’s Albrightsville office at 570-722-8700 to schedule an appointment.