In this email edition:
Governor’s Tax Increases: Dead on Arrival
I have one question for Governor Wolf after hearing his proposal for one of the biggest tax and spending increases in Pennsylvania history: have our small businesses in Berks and Schuylkill County not suffered enough?
Under the Governor’s proposal, Pennsylvania’s personal income tax rate would increase by almost 50% as residents continue to struggle with the economic downturn caused by the pandemic and the long-term shutdown of our economy. One group that specifically would be dramatically affected by this tax increase is the one million small business owners that operate in our state.
How does the Governor think a small diner in Pine Grove or Port Clinton or Womelsdorf can afford a 50% tax increase? They’ve already been struggling for months! This proposal clearly shows how out of touch he is with Pennsylvania citizens.
As if one tax increase wasn’t enough, Governor Wolf also proposed a new tax on Marcellus Shale production. Here’s what my Democratic colleague, Representative Pam Snyder (D-Greene/Fayette/Washington), had to say about the Governor’s latest plan: “Targeting a single industry with another layer of taxes – our oil and gas industry that employs tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians – is a nonstarter…This is not just a tax on the oil and gas industry, it would be a tax on our pandemic recovery.” I agree 100 percent with Representative Snyder and the bipartisan opponents of this tax increase.
My prediction regarding the Governor’s proposed tax increases: Dead on arrival.
View my full remarks on Governor Wolf’s budget proposal.
Joint Hearing on Pennsylvania’s Troubled Vaccine Rollout
The Senate Aging & Youth Committee and the Senate Health & Human Services Committee held a joint hearing on the troubled implementation of the state vaccination plan this week. I asked Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam why Pennsylvania has been ranked among the worst states in the country for vaccine rollout thus far.
We need innovative, bipartisan solutions to get the vaccine widely distributed, especially to seniors and people with underlying conditions, as soon as possible.
Watch my full exchange with Acting Secretary Beam.
Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar Resigns
Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar – who last year was asked to resign by Senators Joe Scarnati and Jake Corman for making up her own rules for the 2020 elections that directly contradicted state election law – will resign following another serious mistake that will prevent Pennsylvanians from changing the constitution this year to allow survivors of decades-old sexual abuse to sue their perpetrators.
Lawmakers from both parties supported this constitutional amendment in 2019, and the bill was approved by an overwhelming majority of Republicans and Democrats. Now, due to Secretary Boockvar’s gross negligence, Pennsylvania voters won’t be able to decide whether to create a two-year window for survivors of child sexual abuse until 2023.
This mistake is extremely painful for the many victims who have already waited far too long for the justice they deserve.
Touring Miners Loft, A New Affordable Housing Complex for Seniors
Miners Loft Before
Miners Loft Today
On Thursday, I was joined by staff members from Congressman Dan Meuser and State Rep. Tim Twardzik as well as representatives from QSP Development at Miners Loft, a new affordable housing complex for seniors in Minersville.
This restoration project has turned a long-vacant garment factory on Lewis Street in Minersville into 30 affordably priced residential units for senior citizens. The complex will also have an adult daycare center and a LIFE Geisinger Health Services facility to provide residents with any extra assistance they may need, while still providing a level of independence that may not be found in a long-term care facility.
It was incredible to see the transformation that this complex has undergone. Miners Loft is truly a testament to what a community can accomplish through public-private partnerships.
Miner’s Loft Ribbon Cutting
Court Rules That Philadelphia Safe Injection Sites Are Illegal
Philadelphia’s city government recently began establishing “safe injection sites” where drug users could use illegal substances under supervision without legal consequences. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that allowing visitors to use controlled substances at these sites violates the law.
The court’s ruling reads, in part:
“The opioid crisis is a grave problem that calls for creative solutions. Safehouse wants to experiment with one. Its goal, saving lives, is laudable. But it is not our job to opine on whether its experiment is wise. The statute forbids opening and maintaining any place for visitors to come use drugs. Its words are not limited to crack houses. Congress has chosen one rational approach to reducing drug use and trafficking: a flat ban. We cannot rewrite the statute. Only Congress can.”
Online Options for Property Tax & Rent Rebates
PA Property Tax & Rent Rebate applicants can now file online, track the status of their claim and use direct deposit options via the new myPATH system at the PA Department of Revenue. Applicants can also still file by mail. The program provides rebates of up to $650 on rent or property taxes paid in the previous year by low-income seniors and individuals with disabilities. Rebates will be distributed beginning July 1.
My offices are available to assist with the filing process. To make an appointment, my Mahanoy City office can be contacted at 570-773-0891. My Pottsville office can be contacted at 570-621-3400. My Hamburg office can be contacted at 610-562-3411. My toll-free number is 877-327-4255. Inquiries can also be sent online at www.senatorargall.com or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
February Argall Report: Returning to Civil Discourse in Politics – Part 2
The February edition of the Argall Report focuses on a recent discussion hosted by Kutztown University students on civil discourse in politics and features me and my colleague Senator Judy Schwank (D-Berks).
Civil discourse is often missing at all levels of government – in Washington D.C., in Harrisburg, and even in our local town halls. If you want to get things done to deliver for your constituents, you need to listen to many different views that may not match your own. The students at Kutztown University did a great job putting on this discussion and have proven that bipartisanship is not dead.
This edition of the Argall Report features the second half of the discussion hosted by Kutztown University students which can be viewed here. Part one of the discussion was released as last month’s edition of the Argall Report but is available to viewed here.
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