Oct. 25, 2019

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Supporting PA’s Volunteer Firefighters and EMS Workers
With the declining number of volunteer emergency responders reaching critical levels, this week we passed a package of bills to assist with recruiting and retention of volunteer fire and ambulance personnel across the state.

The bills also allow these emergency responders to better use existing funds as part of recommendations made by the SR6 Commission, a 39-member commission comprised of lawmakers and a variety of fire and emergency response stakeholders. Learn more here.     

Among the bills passed by the House this week were House Bill 1673 to allow volunteer fire relief money be used for retention of existing volunteer members and providing incentives for recruiting new volunteer firefighters; Senate Bill 146 to make online training more readily available to current and prospective first responders; and House Bill 1816 to increase the maximum loan limits available to volunteer fire companies and emergency medical services through the Volunteer Loan Assistance Program.

We also passed and sent to the Senate:

House Bill 1705 would give school districts the option of enacting a tax credit against the property tax liability of active volunteers of a fire or EMS company.
House Bill 1839 would give counties the option of providing a property tax credit to qualified active volunteers to be applied against an active volunteer’s property tax liability.
House Bill 1773 would create the Tuition Assistance for Active Volunteers Program for our first responders. An active member of a volunteer fire company or EMS agency who attends an approved institution of higher learning will be eligible to receive tuition assistance. The rrogram is modeled after the PA National Guard education assistance program.
House Bill 1786 would create the First Responder Loan Forgiveness Program for indebted college graduates who are active members of an emergency medical services agency, volunteer fire company, or volunteer rescue company. Up to $16,000 of the graduate’s loans would be forgiven after four years of service.
House Bill 1780 would exempt volunteer fire, rescue and ambulance companies from the Right-to-Know Law (RTK). Responding to RTK requests consume valuable time and resources. Any funding or assistance that is provided to our emergency services organizations through local or state government entities is naturally an open record under other various state and municipal codes that currently require reporting and documentation.    
House Bill 269 would provide an exemption from the Realty Transfer Tax (RTT) for the transfer of real estate from the surviving spouse or minor child of a first responder, within five years of the first responder’s death. 
House Bill 732 would provide an exemption from the RTT for the transfer of real estate to or by a volunteer emergency medical services company, volunteer fire company, or volunteer rescue company.                                     

Victims Bill of Rights Question on Ballot Nov. 5
Pennsylvanians will have the opportunity to vote on a proposed amendment to the state Constitution when they head to the polls on Nov. 5.

The question reads as follows: “Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to grant certain rights to crime victims, including to be treated with fairness, respect and dignity; considering their safety in bail proceedings; timely notice and opportunity to take part in public proceedings; reasonable protection from the accused; right to refuse discovery requests made by the accused; restitution and return of property; proceedings free from delay; and to be informed of these rights, so they can enforce them?”

The question is being placed on the ballot after lawmakers approved legislation known as “Marsy’s Law” in two consecutive legislative sessions.

Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California. She was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Just days later, her mother and brother were confronted by the accused murderer in a grocery store. They were unaware the defendant had been released on bail.

Hosting Diwali at the Capitol

It was my honor to co-host the Diwali celebration in the House as the Festival of Lights filled the Capitol with joy and chased away the darkness. I want to thank all my friends from our district who attended the observance and brightened our week. May you find fulfillment in your personal festivities.

Olympian Fight to end Puppy Mills

It was an honor to welcome three-time Olympic gold medalist Heather Mitts to the Capitol. The retired soccer star made the trip to voice her support for Victoria's Law, a bill ending puppy mills in PA. Great to have such a bright, passionate voice in this fight!

Start Saving for Your Child
Studies show that a baby with an education savings plan at birth is more likely to pursue and complete some form of education after high school. That’s why the state treasury is investing $100 for every baby born or adopted in 2019 to be used for the baby’s future higher education expenses.

New and expecting parents can pre-register today!

You can get more information here.

And don’t forget the PA529 program. The best way families can invest in their child’s success is to start saving now. The Pennsylvania 529 College and Career Savings Program can help families prepare to pay for higher education when their child is ready to go. Here’s the link
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