Senator Scott Hutchinson E-Newsletter

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Harrisburg Happenings

A report on legislative actions from the Session Week of April 29, 2019


Dear Friend,

I am pleased to send you my Session Wrap Up e-newsletter. This e-newsletter features events and legislative activities from the Session Week of April 29, 2019.

If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website www.senatorscotthutchinson.com for more information about your state government. If you do not wish to receive these e-newsletters, please click the “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of the page.  If you would like to contact my office, please go to my website and click the “contact” button.  Please do not “reply” directly to this e-mail.

Sincerely,

Scott

Finance Committee Advances Farmer “Legacy” Tax Credit Measure

5/1/19 – Consideration of Senate Bill 478 and Senate Bill 568

The Senate Finance Committee, which I chair, approved a measure on Wednesday that will encourage existing farmers and landowners to help beginning farmers get started in the business.

Senate Bill 478, a measure sponsored by Senator Elder Vogel (R-47), would provide a personal income tax credit for landowners who lease or sell their land, buildings and equipment to beginning farmers. The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

Pennsylvania has traditionally offered tax credits as an incentive for any number of economic development initiatives and Senate Bill 478 fits right in that portfolio. This measure provides essential support for new farmers to help them overcome a major obstacle that prevents many from getting started in the business. This ‘seeding’ will help create new family farms and ensure that agriculture remains Pennsylvania’s top industry well into the future.

Importance of Agriculture

Under the bill, landowners would receive a one-time personal income tax credit for the sale of property or a multi-year tax credit for the lease of property. The legislation requires all leases be enforced through written agreements and that the sale of property be for fair market value in order to qualify for the tax credit. The bill is supported by the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and the National Young Farmer Coalition.

For every farmer under the age of 35 in Pennsylvania there are four farmers over the age of 65. Of the 7.7 million acres of farmland across Pennsylvania, 41 percent is managed by a farmer 55 years of age or older and 11 percent of that land is expected to transfer in the next five years.

Senate Bill 478 is one of seven bills in a “Farming First” legislative package sponsored by Senate Republicans. The “Farming First” package is designed to build on the longstanding efforts of Senate Republicans to support Pennsylvania’s farm families and maintain agriculture’s status as the state’s top industry. Pennsylvania’s 59,000 farm families manage more than 7.7 million acres of farmland. The agriculture industry generates more than $7.5 billion in cash receipts annually. More information about “Farming First” is available at www.pasenategop.com.

The Finance Committee also approved two additional bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 568, which I introduced, clarifies the Sales and Use Tax on financial institutions for canned and customized software and security equipment.

Senate Bill 613, a measure introduced by Senator Bob Mensch (R-24) amends the Administrative Code repealing provisions relating to employees with access to federal tax information and providing for criminal history background checks of employees and contractors with access to federal tax information.

Senate Passes Bill Providing for Schools’ Flexible Instructional Days

The Senate approved legislation on Tuesday that would give school districts the option to implement flexible instructional days in the event of an emergency school closure.

Senate Bill 440 allows any public school to use up to five flexible instructional days in special instances such as weather-related closures, building or infrastructure problems, or if threats are made against buildings.

A dozen school districts have already piloted flexible instructional days over the last several years and they have been a successful tool in providing instruction to students when unforeseen situations occur.

A flexible instructional day could be used to cover necessary coursework, including English, math, social studies and science. School districts have the option to use technology for the purposes of fulfilling the coursework.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Five additional bills were approved by the Senate and sent to the House this week.

Senate Bill 48 delays the impending mass decertification of current voting machines until an appropriate plan for the method by which it will be accomplished — and paid for — can be agreed to by the Governor and the General Assembly.

Senate Bill 110 amends the Home Rule Law.

Senate Bill 133 amends the State Constitution to allow gubernatorial candidates to select their own running mate.

Senate Bill 316 allows newly elected Second Class Township Supervisors to attend conferences, institutes, schools and conventions prior to officially taking office.

Senate Bill 317 amends the Second Class Township Code regarding mandatory annual budget requirements.

Committee Roundup

Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved eight bills on Monday.

Senate Bill 48 delays the impending mass decertification of current voting machines until an appropriate plan for the method by which it will be accomplished — and paid for — can be agreed to by the Governor and the General Assembly.

Senate Bill 89 updates the Public School Code to replace “vocational-technical schools” with “career and technical schools.”

Senate Bill 110 amends the Home Rule Law.

Senate Bill 146 makes online training more available to current and prospective first responders. 

Senate Bill 178 requires the electronic filing of campaign finance reports with the Department of State.

Senate Bill 316 allows newly elected Second Class Township Supervisors to attend conferences, institutes, schools and conventions prior to officially taking office.

Senate Bill 317 amends the Second Class Township Code regarding mandatory annual budget requirements.

Senate Bill 440 provides for flexible instruction days.

Agriculture & Rural Affairs

The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 583 ensures that agritourism activities are authorized on farms preserved under the state farmland preservation program.

Senate Bill 585 establishes the Pennsylvania Dairy Future Commission to review the current status of the dairy industry in the Commonwealth and make recommendations on how to support its future.

Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure

The Senate Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee approved six bills on Wednesday.

House Bill 318 prohibits telemarketing on legal holidays and provides robocall requirements.

Senate Bill 491 provides for the appointment of two Certified Pennsylvania Evaluators by the Governor to the State Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers.

Senate Bill 492 clarifies that revaluation company personnel who are directly responsible for the valuation of real property must be certified as a Certified Pennsylvania Evaluator.

Senate Bill 543 provides a rate increase for river pilots who navigate vessels on the Delaware River and its navigable tributaries.

Game & Fisheries

The Senate Game & Fisheries Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 485 provides for the sale of antlerless deer hunting licenses through the Game Commission’s automated licensing system.

House Bill 808 authorizes the Fish & Boat Commission to establish the fees for fishing and boating licenses and permits by regulatory action and expands the allowable use of funds from the sale of Lake Erie permits.

Judiciary

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved five bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 275 ensures that a strangulation conviction could be considered in sentencing for subsequent crimes and in custody proceedings.

House Bill 279 provides for civil immunity when there is damage to a motor vehicle when forceful entry is necessary to rescue a child.

Senate Bill 500 creates a County Adult Probation and Parole Advisory Committee.

Senate Bill 501 streamlines the process for placement in intermediate punishment, allows parole agents to quickly detain parolees for violations, and streamlines the process for paroling individuals who receive a short sentence to prison.

Senate Bill 502 amends the Crime Victims Act to better provide information and compensation to victims.

Local Government

The Senate Local Government Committee approved six bills on Tuesday.

House Bill 510 amends Title 53 (Municipalities Generally) regarding intergovernmental cooperation.

House Bill 511 amends the Second Class Township Code, providing for intergovernmental cooperation.

House Bill 512 amends Title 11 (Cities) providing for municipal authorities and cooperation with other political subdivisions.

Senate Bill 531 clarifies that local jurisdictions may not impose firearms and ammunition regulations and ordinances that are more restrictive than laws passed by the General Assembly.

House Bill 547 amends the First Class Township Code to allow townships to set their annual assessment of the property tax millage rate by resolution.

House Bill 548 amends the Borough Code and the Third Class City Code to allow boroughs and third class cities to assess their annual property tax millage rate by resolution.

Rules & Executive Nominations

The Senate Rules & Executive Nominations Committee approved Senate Resolution 31 on Tuesday. The measure adopts a temporary rule of the Senate relating solely to amendments to the General Appropriation Bill and other appropriation bills for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2019, including any amendments offered to or for supplemental appropriations for prior fiscal years.

Transportation

The Senate Transportation Committee approved three bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 45 waives Turnpike tolls for emergency vehicles when responding to an emergency situation or participating in the escort of: a fallen firefighter, ambulance service or rescue squad member, law enforcement officer, or armed service member killed in the line of duty.

Senate Bill 588 amends the Vehicle Code to permit milk haulers to travel on highways during a declaration of disaster emergency.

Senate Bill 593 designates a bridge on Interstate 79 over West 16th Street in Erie as the Thomas J. Kennedy, Jr., Memorial Bridge.

Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness

The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee approved Senate Bill 589 on Tuesday. The bill creates the Military Family Education Program – or “PA Family GI Bill” – that will enable Guard members to earn educational benefits for their spouse and/or children by committing to a second six-year enlistment.

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