Apr. 26, 2019

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Harrisburg Update

A quick look at what’s happening in Harrisburg
and the 125th Legislative District...

Taproom Tax Causes Concern

This week, the House Liquor Control Committee held a public hearing at Spoonwood Brewing Company in Pittsburgh to discuss a new “taproom tax” set to take effect July 1.

Of concerns to brewers is the recent state tax bulletin indicating that breweries which bypass wholesalers and sell beer directly to consumers in their tasting rooms and retail storefronts would be required to issue the 6% state sales tax at the point of sale. In general, brewery owners have argued the tax should be applied at the wholesale level instead.

Representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, Brewers of PA, the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, and the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association were present to testify before the committee.

Pennsylvania has an outstanding brewing history and our local breweries are an asset to the state’s economy. We need to be a support system, not a hinderance.

TransformPA Bills Advance in House

Recently, a package of bills aimed at transforming local governments in the Commonwealth earned overwhelming approval in the House Local Government Committee.

The package of bills includes:

House Bill 883 would require any money borrowed by a municipal authority for a specific project be used for that project only. None of the funds could be diverted into a slush fund or used for other purposes.
House Bill 320 would restrict the use by local governments of complex financial interest rate transactions known as “swaps.”
House Bill 884 would tighten the state Department of Community and Economic Development’s (DCED) oversight of municipal borrowing.
House Bill 885 would prohibit local governments from using alternative securities.

The bills go to the full House for consideration.

Deadline to Submit PHEAA Grants Ends Soon

Parents and students preparing to attend college this coming fall, please keep in mind that the deadline to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and to qualify for PA State Grants from the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Authority (PHEAA) is May 1.

Students attending community college, technical/trade schools or a hospital school of nursing have until Aug. 1 to apply. However, I strongly recommend you apply well in advance, so it doesn’t slip your mind.

For more information on PHEAA’s student grants program, click here.

Protecting Children and Animals in Hot Cars

As temperatures begin to rise outside, the heat in your vehicle can quickly reach levels that can be deadly for children and pets locked inside.

House Bill 279, which was passed by the House earlier this month, would provide civil immunity for any damage that may be done to a vehicle when forceful entry is necessary to rescue a child.

Last year, the Legislature enacted Act 104 of 2018, which provides civil immunity to law enforcement, animal control and humane officers and emergency responders who enter a car to save an animal that was left behind.

The civil protections in Act 104 do not extend to civilians attempting to break into a car to rescue an animal.

Controlling the Black Fly Population

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will soon begin work to control the black fly population with both aerial and backpack sprays on roughly 1,700 stream miles throughout Pennsylvania. One area of focus is the Schuylkill River, located in Schuylkill County.

This annual initiative by the DEP reduces the nuisance of black flies, making Pennsylvania’s natural resources more enjoyable for all.

Spraying activities will be performed both by helicopter and ground crews, the frequency of which is weather dependent. The DEP uses a naturally occurring and environmentally safe bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) for their sprays.

County and local emergency management officials are notified by the DEP prior to any spraying activity. Anyone concerned at the sight of a helicopter or ground personnel is encouraged to call their county emergency management office to verify that a black fly treatment is taking place on that day.

Safely Dispose of Unused Prescriptions This Saturday

Residents have an opportunity to remove opioids and other unused medicines from homes this Saturday, April 27, as part of the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

More than 18 tons of prescription drugs were disposed of across Pennsylvania in the Prescription Drug Take Back Day held last October. The initiative helps prevent unused medications ending up in the wrong hands.

Locations in our area to safely dispose of unused drugs are listed here.

You can also find permanent disposal boxes in your community by clicking here.

Share the Road

As the weather continues to warm up, more and more Pennsylvanians will ride their bicycles on the roads.

Both motorists and bicyclists can work together to ensure everyone shares the road and gets home safely.

Motorists and bicyclists have the right to use the roads in Pennsylvania and should work to maintain a 4-foot barrier between each other when passing.
Motorists are permitted to overtake a bicycle in a no-passing zone, provided they leave a 4-foot clearance.

You can learn more about Pennsylvania’s bicycle laws here.
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Office Locations
988 Route 61 South, East Main Street, Schuylkill Haven, PA 17972 | Phone (toll free) (855) 271-9384
Borough Building, 200 S. West St., Williamstown, PA| Phone (717) 647-7208
4B East Wing, Harrisburg, PA 17120-2147
Email: mtobash@pahousegop.com
TTY: 855-282-0614