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Welcome to "Mike's Memo," an update on what's happening in the 48th Legislative District, the State Capitol, and the progress of my legislative priorities. If you haven't done so already, please take a few moments to visit my website at www.senatorfolmer.com to learn more about issues that may affect you and your family.

Week of November 14, 2016

Medical Marijuana Laboratory Temporary Regulation Review and Patient Survey
The PA Department of Health posted a draft of temporary regulations for laboratories online for public comment. You can view the draft here, and submit your feedback here, until November 18. The Department is also collecting information from PA residents who are potentially eligible patients with serious medical conditions, or family members interested in becoming a caregiver for a patient. A short survey on patient needs is here (all information collected will be kept confidential).

Lebanon County Relay for Life 2016 Accomplishment
Relay for Life of Lebanon County, for the 2016 American Cancer Society (ACS) Relay season, raised $349,226 towards programs and resources for cancer patients. As a result of the participant’s fundraising efforts, the event ranked #2 (of 332) in income in the ACS East Central Division, which includes Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Bills Vetoed by the Governor
Senate Bill 286 Veto #5 of 2016Delaware River Port Authority changes;
Senate Bill 562 Veto #6 of 2016 – provides additional legislative oversight of the regulatory review process;
House Bill 245 Veto #7 of 2016 – clarifies Act 32 tax practitioner concerns (which contained portions of my Senate Bill 356, which was signed into law as Act 150 of 2016);
House Bill 1618 Veto #3 of 2016 – creates an Independent Office of Inspector General;
House Bill 1998 Veto #4 of 2016 – modernizes structure of the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

Column: Persistence Pays Off
President Calvin Coolidge once said: “nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.” I’m pleased one of my constituents demonstrated this in helping to draft changes that have now been signed into law.

Nearly five years ago, Fred Weaver of Weaver Accounting in Lebanon came to my office to share some problems with Act 32 of 2008, which provided for the consolidation of county tax collection of the local earned income tax.

As is often the case with bills enacted into law, there are sometimes unintended consequences and/or oversights that need to be addressed with subsequent legislation. As Fred shared with me, that was the case with Act 32 – especially as it related to agriculture taxpayers.

Fred convinced me changes were needed to make local tax filing more customer friendly. While largely technical, each is important to farmers filing their local earned income tax returns.

These changes included:

  • Making farmers’ estimated tax provisions parallel those used by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue
  • Changing the due date of returns falling on Saturdays, Sundays, or legal holidays
  • Adding safe harbor tax provisions (i.e., last year’s income, this year’s rates)
  • Dropping duplicative income provisions
  • Clarifying e-filing for quarterly tax returns

In 2012, I worked with Fred to draft a bill to make these changes, which was introduced as Senate Bill 1427. SB 1427 was referred to a Senate committee, but never considered.

In 2013, I reintroduced these proposed changes as Senate Bill 491. Fortunately, action was taken and Fred Weaver was instrumental during every step of the process as the bill was amended, moved from Committee, re-referred to another Committee, amended again, and unanimously passed by the full Senate a year after being introduced. Six months later, a House Committee added extensive but unrelated amendments very late in the legislative Session and the bill died.

Last year, I reintroduced SB 491 as previously passed by the Senate as Senate Bill 356. Again, with Fred’s help, SB 356 was amended, reported from Committee, re-referred to another Committee, and again unanimously passed by the full Senate.

In the House, SB 356 was linked to another local earned income tax bill (HB 245), which complemented our proposed changes and addressed other Act 32 issues. SB 356 was amended (with some of its proposed changes being incorporated into the House bill), reported from Committee, tabled, removed from the table, re-referred to another Committee, reported to the full House, twice tabled and twice removed from the table, SB 356 was overwhelming passed by the full House and returned to the Senate this October for concurrence in the House amendments.

On the very last day of the 2015–2016 legislative Session of the General Assembly, the Senate unanimously approved the amended bill and sent it to the Governor who signed it into law as Act 150 of 2016. However, HB 245 was vetoed.

It took nearly five years from Fred Weaver’s first visit to my office, numerous trips to Harrisburg by Fred for meetings on the bills, and many phone calls and emails with Fred to get some of these needed changes signed into law.

Thanks, Fred! We wouldn’t have made it this far without you! However, it appears more work will be needed and we’re looking forward to continuing the discussion with you.

Bills Signed into Law by the Governor
Senate Bill 356Act 150 – my bill to amend the Local Tax Enabling Act;
Senate Bill 385 – Act 151 – updates the Transit Revitalization Investment District Act;
Senate Bill 486 – Act 152 – allows counties to apply a fee on each deed and mortgage recorded to be used for a demolition program to help combat blight;
Senate Bill 613 – Act 153 – expands the Human Services Development Block Grant;
Senate Bill 881 – Act 154 – clarifies the definition of a “public utility”;
Senate Bill 984 – Act 164 – regulates Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft, operating in PA;
Senate Bill 1018 – Act 157 – updates the CPA Law;
Senate Bill 1062 – Act 158 – increased penalties for home invasion burglaries;
Senate Bill 1202 – Act 124 – requires “pain management” and “prescribing practices of opioids” to be included in continuing medical education credits;
Senate Bill 1235 – Act 160 – upgrades PA One Call;
Senate Bill 1265 – Act 161 – gives employers the option to pay employees via debit card;
Senate Bill 1282 – Act 162 – clarifies fees for condominiums, cooperatives and planned communities;
Senate Bill 1367 – Act 125 – requires all prescribers receive written consent from a minor’s guardian to prescribe opioids and discuss the risks of addiction;
Senate Bill 1368 – Act 126 – requires medical schools provide a “Safe Opioid Prescription Education” and requires the PA Department of Health to create non-opioid forms for patients;
House Bill 162 – Act 127 – allows adult adoptees in PA to access their original birth certificates;
House Bill 319 – Act 144 – amends the Unemployment Compensation Law providing for seasonal worker benefit eligibility;
House Bill 516 – Act 128 – licenses Naturopathic Doctors under the State Board of Medicine;
House Bill 850 – Act 129 – updates Pennsylvania’s Money Transmitters Act;
House Bill 1087 – Act 130 – provides the Governor veto power over actions of PA Commissioners on the Delaware River Port Authority Board;
House Bill 1118 – Act 131 – reestablishes the Pennsylvania Independent Counsel Statute;
House Bill 1403 – Act 132 – requires insurance companies compare policies with the Social Security Death Master File to ensure beneficiaries are made aware of unclaimed benefits;
House Bill 1437 – Act 133 – reduces the time for a purchaser to correct known code violations to better combat blight;
House Bill 1496 – Act 134 – gives judges the flexibility to impose greater penalties for felons who illegally possess firearms;
House Bill 1600 – Act 135 – provides a fee waiver for veteran and service-disabled veteran owned businesses (Pennsylvania Start Ups for Soldiers);
House Bill 1699 – Act 122 – prohibits emergency providers from prescribing long-acting opioid painkillers in ERs and places a limit on discharge prescriptions;
House Bill 1703 – Act 136 – updates age restrictions for all-terrain vehicles;
House Bill 1737 – Act 123 – enables waste-to-energy facilities to destroy pharmaceuticals;
House Bill 1864 – Act 137 – clarifies the Cosmetology Law for student clinical work in cosmetology schools;
House Bill 1907 – Act 138 – updates the truancy law;
House Bill 2025 – Act 165 – amends the vehicle code relating to temporary vehicle registration, and certification and sanctions for safety inspection stations and mechanics;
House Bill 2058 – Act 142 – allows paramedics conduct blood draws at police stations for alleged driving under the influence cases;
House Bill 2078 – Act 143 – alleviates financial and logistical barriers for members of the military and their spouses to receive educator certification in PA;
House Bill 2107 – Act 163 – prohibits the PA Department of General Services from contracting with an entity engaging in an economic boycott against Israel (language from my Senate Bill 316 was also inserted into this bill providing for more openness and transparency in the award of state sole-source/no-bid and emergency contracts);
House Bill 2148 – Act 145 – expands the Enforcement Officer Disability Benefits Law to cover other first responders;
House Bill 2241 – Act 146 – amends Title 40 (Insurance) for retroactive denials of reimbursements;
House Bill 2290 – Act 147 – allows the Navigation Commission for the Delaware River and its navigable tributaries to increase River Pilots license fees;
House Bill 2291 – Act 148 – provides a rate increase for River Pilots of the Delaware River and its navigable tributaries;
House Bill 2338 – Act 149 – ensures students at an accredited institution remain eligible for state financial assistance and benefits if the US Department of Education discontinues recognition of the accrediting agency.

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program Now Open
The PA Department of Human Services Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is now open through March 31, 2017. Eligibility is set at 150% of the federal poverty income guidelines. Individuals can apply by paper application at their local county assistance office, or through the COMPASS website: www.compass.state.pa.us. For more information, contact the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095.

Senior Community Center Grant Now Open
The PA Department of Aging announced a new grant opportunity for PA Senior Community Centers. The grants will be awarded for the 2016-17 Fiscal Year and are intended for enhancements to increase program participation, encourage sustainable and innovative programs, attract a new generation of older adults, and enable centers to provide a safe and healthy environment for participants. The grant applications are due no later than December 12 at 5:00 p.m. For more information, click here or e-mail SCCgrants@pa.gov.


Contact Information
Please feel free to contact me at any time on state-related issues that are of concern to you. I may be reached through my website or my Lebanon or Harrisburg offices.

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