In This Update:
Budget Hearings Delve Into Wolf’s Spending and Tax Plans
The Senate Appropriations Committee began the formal process of reviewing Governor Wolf’s budget proposal this week, including exploring how the governor’s massive new spending plans and record-breaking tax increases would impact Pennsylvania communities, families and small employers.
Some of the key points discussed during the hearings this week include:
Special Committee Set to Begin Bipartisan Election Review
A newly created Senate panel will begin a comprehensive review of the 2020 General Election with its first hearing on Monday, March 15, beginning at 10 a.m. The hearing is scheduled to review best practices of election integrity and security from other states.
The Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform is anticipated to produce a report that will be presented to the General Assembly with recommendations to improve the administration and safety of elections in Pennsylvania.
State residents are encouraged to submit comments through the online form.
Lawmakers Seek to Put the Brakes on New Bridge Tolling Plan
Following extensive feedback from constituents who have voiced concerns regarding the Wolf Administration plans to toll nine interstate bridges across the state, I have joined colleagues to announce the introduction of legislation to stop the proposed new tolls for motorists.
Senate Bill 382 would reform the Public-Private Transportation Partnership (P3) statute and void the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) Pathways Major Bridge P3 Initiative.
It is greatly troubling that Governor Wolf’s bridge tolling plan gives PennDOT the authority to further tax motorists and appropriate funds without legislative oversight. The legislation that we have introduced in the Senate is a way to stand up for the hardworking residents of our Commonwealth and come together to address the negative economic impacts of the pandemic, while forcing government to be accountable to taxpayers. We cannot ignore the fact that motorists are already feeling the pain of increased prices when filling their gas tanks, and that Pennsylvania already has a gas tax, which is dedicated to supporting our transportation infrastructure.
On November 12, 2020, the P3 Board, under PennDOT’s jurisdiction, supported a proposal to impose user fees or tolls on major bridges throughout the interstate system. This was the first time in the P3 Board’s history to consider a proposal with user fees.
The serious gaps in the P3 statute became clear when PennDOT finally announced the details of the proposal three months after the P3 Board meeting. The P3 statute requires a detailed analysis prior to the meeting.
Senate Bill 382 will accomplish the following:
Act 88 authorized the creation of the P3 Board to expedite transportation projects in Pennsylvania. There are various P3s benefiting the Commonwealth’s transportation system, such as the construction of compressed natural gas fueling stations at transit agencies and the rapid replacement of 558 state-owned bridges.
The Senate Transportation Committee held a hearing on January 25 to examine the loopholes of this P3 Initiative. The Committee expects to consider Senate Bill 382 this month.
Emergency Rental Assistance Applications Available Now
Renters struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic can apply now for financial assistance through a program authorized by the General Assembly last month. Applications and more information on the program are available from the Department of Human Services.
Funding for the program was released to counties by Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity on Tuesday.
Senate Returns to Session Next Week, Budget Hearings Continue
The Senate will return to session on Monday. You can follow all committee hearings, meetings, floor debates and votes live at www.PASenateGOP.com.
In addition, the Senate Appropriations Committee will continue its review of Governor Wolf’s budget with hearings featuring the Department of Education and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education on Thursday.
Discounted Fishing Licenses Available for Non-Resident Students
Non-resident students attending in-state universities now qualify for a discounted fishing license from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. The price of a license is $22.97, which is the same price as an annual license for state residents and $30 less than the cost of an annual non-resident license.
Licenses are available through the HuntFishPA online licensing system. The opening day of trout season is April 3.
If you do not wish to receive this email, click here to unsubscribe.