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It’s been a rough few weeks for most of the Northeast United States and it’s not getting any warmer. So rough, in fact, that one town in New Hampshire has put out an arrest warrant for the world’s most famous groundhog. All kidding aside, this winter has been one of the coldest in recent memory. If you or a loved one need assistance heating your home, please contact your local county assistance office and ask about the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Click here for more information.
Purely Public Charities Special Committee
I am pleased to join with my colleague, Senator Scavello, in support of Senate Bill 446, to establish a special legislative committee to study and make recommendations to address the definition and treatment of “Purely Public Charities” in Pennsylvania. I’ve been contacted by many constituents who want to learn more about this subject.
Senator Scavello’s legislation would create the bipartisan Select Committee on Purely Public Charities. The committee will conduct statewide hearings and work with non-profits, elected officials, tax experts, public safety organizations and other stakeholders to determine whether additional legislation is needed and make recommendations relating to legislation or the treatment of purely public charities in Pennsylvania
The interests of our counties, municipalities and school districts, and the interests of taxpayers must be carefully balanced with the interests of charities which provide critical services to the public.
Due to a recent Supreme Court decision that held the legislature was prohibited by the Constitution of Pennsylvania from enacting changes to the purely public charities law, constitutional amendment, Senate Bill 4, was introduced. If Senate Bill 4 is passed, the voters will decide whether to allow the General Assembly to develop a statute that addresses this issue. This court decision has created uncertainty and the potential for increased litigation. If the voters do indeed approve this referendum then Senate Bill 446 becomes all the more important as the Legislature defines what constitutes a purely public charity.
If anyone would like more information or clarity on this issue please contact me.
Small Games of Chance Reporting Requirement Extended to July 1
The Small Games of Chance reporting requirement for clubs with proceeds of $20,000 or more that was previously set for February 1 has been extended to July 1.
The Department of Revenue posted the following information about the delay on its website:
“Access to the Small Games of Chance Club Licensee Annual Reporting System has been suspended until technical issues can be resolved. The Feb. 1, 2015 filing deadline for club licensees with proceeds of $20,000 or more in 2014 is being extended to July 1, 2015.
“The electronic reporting system will be unavailable until technical issues are corrected. The department anticipates the system will be available again by June 1, 2015, at which time clubs will be encouraged to review a publicly available database of completed reports to determine if their reports were successfully received.
“Clubs that do not have a completed report on file at that time will be required to complete a report by July 1, 2015.
“The department is notifying County Treasurers and the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement of the filing deadline extension so that clubs are not penalized for not having filed reports between now and July 1.
“The enhanced save functionality and further improvements are being pursued in response to requests from clubs for a reporting system that can be accessed periodically throughout a year to reduce the burden of annual reporting. Additional detail will be provided when access to the system is restored by June 1.
“The department apologizes for the inconvenience caused by these system complications and thanks club licensees for their patience and cooperation as the issues are resolved.”
For more information, click here.
Child Protection Laws Enacted
Recently, 23 pieces of legislation were enacted, changing how Pennsylvania responds to child abuse. These changes significantly impact the reporting, investigation, assessment, prosecution and judicial handling of child abuse and neglect cases.
The Department of Human Services created a website to serve as a hub of information related to these changes in state law, including a link for mandated reporters to report suspected child abuse, training for child abuse recognition, and information related to child abuse clearance requirements. Visit www.KeepKidsSafe.pa.gov for more information.
Dept. of Revenue Statement on Identity Theft & Fraudulent Claims
The Department of Revenue recently released a statement on the reported cases of fraudulent refund claims across the country. Due to an increase in suspicious filings in other states, the department is taking the following actions:
The department encourages taxpayers who used Internet-based tax filing programs last year to access their online accounts and determine whether returns they did not file are shown as filed under their Social Security numbers. For more information, click here.
Emergency Responders Receive Grants
Fifty-nine fire and EMS companies in the 47th Senatorial District were recently awarded state grants.
The grants, from a program administered by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Office of the State Fire Commissioner, may be used for construction or renovation of a unit’s station, the purchase or repair of equipment, training or debt reduction.
We owe a debt of gratitude to our firefighters and EMS crews. They provide a tremendous and invaluable service to our communities. With these grants, Pennsylvania can show its support for their work and help them buy new equipment or receive essential training.
PA Hunting Heritage License Plates Available
Hunters can now obtain a license plate for their vehicles honoring Pennsylvania's hunting heritage. You can buy Hunting Heritage patches, too. PennDOT will process applications for the Hunting Heritage plate, and the application is available at the Game Commission website. Click here to access the application.
Upcoming Lawrence County Women’s Conference
On Saturday, March 7th 2015 the United Way of Lawrence County is hosting a conference delivering top contacts and resources to women in a variety of areas of interest including breaking into politics, starting a business, family law, and more. The conference will be held at Westminster College, McKelvey Campus Center (Witherspoon Room) at 319 South Market St, New Wilmington, PA 16142. For more information and to register, click here.
Independent Fiscal Office 2014-15 Revenue Estimate - Mid-Year Update
VisitPA for Wintertime Fun
Whatever your heart’s desire, check out VisitPA for wintertime fun in-state. Picture dogsledding across the Laurel Highlands countryside and snowmobiling through the Allegheny National Forest. Imagine cross-country skiing the Endless Mountains of Northeastern PA and snow tubing in the Pocono Mountains.
For those days you prefer being indoors, find organized events and festivals celebrating food, wine, music, comedy, science, astronomy, history and much more. Indoors or outdoors, wintertime is fun time in PA.
Follow Me on Twitter!
I have a Twitter account to better connect with my constituents and provide daily updates on my voting record, whereabouts, state government, and local news affecting the 47 S.D. To access my Twitter page, click here.
Please contact me to provide input on any state-related matter, or to
receive help in dealing with a state agency.
Senate Box 203047