With Veterans Day tomorrow, I would like to say thank you to all who have served our country to ensure our freedoms as Americans. Tomorrow I will be participating in a ceremony to recognize York County's Veterans, sponsored by the York County Veterans Affairs Office.
On October 25th, I had the honor of welcoming Miss Carolyne Henry, Distinguished Young Woman of Pennsylvania, to the Senate. Carolyne is a senior at Dallastown High School. Listen to or watch Carolyne address the Senate:
Continue reading to find more updates on legislation recently passed by the Senate, October revenue figures, and other issues of interest.
Governor Tom Corbett has signed Senate Bill 295 into law as Act 96 of 2011. This is a piece of legislation I introduced as part of a 16-bill package sponsored by several Senators to increase the bid limit thresholds in various local government codes.
Currently when municipalities are planning to purchase items or enter into contracts over $10,000 they must go through an expensive competitive bidding process. The package of bills increases that figure to $18,500, and my legislation specifically amends the Housing Authorities Law to make the adjustment.
The previous two weeks of session have resulted in the passage of several bills that are of interest to many who have contacted my office. See below for a summary of some of the legislation.
SB 1 – School Choice; Approved by Senate, Referred to House Education Committee
Senate Bill 1 Encompasses three general components: Opportunity Scholarship Program Creation – A new program for students in low-achieving schools ranked in the bottom 5% in Pennsylvania beginning as early as next year; Charter and Cyber Charter School Reform – Addresses accountability, ethics and governance of charter school boards and requires greater disclosure of information from charter school foundations; Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program Expansion – This current program provides tax credits to businesses for their contributions to scholarship organizations benefiting eligible children and their families. The expansion brings the total tax credits available under EITC to $125 million by year three.
SB 1 passed with a vote of 27-22, and the legislation is now before the House Education Committee for consideration.
Click to watch Senator Piccola, the bill's sponsor, speak on the Senate floor regarding SB 1.
SB 314 – Texting While Driving; Approved by Senate; Signed into Law by Governor
On November 1st the Senate voted 45-4 in favor of Senate Bill 314, which makes texting while driving illegal. Specifically, it prohibits the use of a wireless communication device to send, read or write a text message while operating a moving vehicle. The legislation would make this a primary offense, meaning a driver could be stopped by police for the act of texting, and they could incur a fine of $50 for the violation.
Governor Corbett signed SB 314 into law on November 9th as Act 98 of 2011. It will take effect on March 8, 2012.
SB 444 – Small Games of Chance; Approved by Senate; Referred to House Gaming Oversight Committee
Senate Bill 444, legislation that increases prize limits for small games of chance was approved with a vote of 46-4 on November 1st and is now before the House Gaming Oversight Committee.
Among the changes are an increase from $500 to $1000 for individual prize limits and an increase from $5,000 to $25,000 for total prize winnings in a 7-day period.
SB 595 – Red Light Cameras; Approved by Senate; Referred to House Transportation Committee
York City is among the 17 third-class cities, along with Pittsburgh and Scranton, that would be authorized to enact ordinances to use red-light cameras. Senate Bill 595, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, was approved on October 25th with a vote of 35-14. This legislation would permit Pennsylvania cities with a population greater than 18,000 and a full-time police force to install red-light cameras, if approved by city council.
All funds generated by the program will go to the state's Motor License Fund and will be used by PennDOT for transportation safety projects. Half of the fines will be used for local projects in the cities that implement the systems; the other half will go to municipalities across the state. Additionally, total collections in a particular city are capped at 5% of that city's annual budget.
The bill is now before the House Transportation Committee for consideration.
Pennsylvania Secretary of Revenue Dan Meuser recently announced that during the month of October the state collected $1.8 billion in General Fund revenue. This is $67.1 million, or 3.6%, less than anticipated. Since July 1, the beginning of the Fiscal Year, General Fund collections total $7.7 billion, which is $282.1 million, or 3.6%, below estimate.
The Department of State has launched an online application process for both new and renewing notaries public. Your entire transaction will occur electronically – application, payment, and my endorsement as your Senator. Click here for more details.
You can now access all of Pennsylvania's laws online. They are divided into Consolidated Statutes and Unconsolidated Statutes, and there are many search options to find what you are looking for.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) has issued a reminder that hunters and trappers are required by law to visibly display their licenses on an outer garment. For answers to your licensing questions visit the PGC's Licensing and Permits webpage.
A Home Burglary Prevention Guide is now available to help you keep your family, home, and belongings safe and secure. One tip is to avoid leaving intact boxes from items such as new TV's curbside for trash collection. Instead, break down boxes and position them under other trash on the day of pick-up.
Be sure to check out the "Hot Topics" and "Announcements" boxes on my homepage to find information on other matters including the following:
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