In this update:
Are Schools Raising Property Taxes Unnecessarily?
This week, I chaired a public hearing of the the Senate Education Committee reviewing schools budgeting and general fund balances.
Every school district should have money in their reserves for emergencies, but this hearing was very valuable as we review legislation to protect local taxpayers from unfair school property tax increases.
I called this hearing after Auditor General Timothy DeFoor released a report in January questioning the practices used by twelve school districts that raised local property tax rates while holding millions of dollars in their reserves.
Schuylkill, Carbon, Luzerne County Projects Awarded State Grants
Over $8 million in state grants was awarded to 22 economic development and transportation projects in Schuylkill, Carbon, and Luzerne Counties this week.
These grants will help many in the 29th district. All three counties received funding to fix roads and bridges, including State Route 61 in West Mahanoy Township and High Street in Jim Thorpe.
Other important projects that were awarded funding include:
A project to renovate the second floor of the Hazleton YWCA building into an early education center.
An effort by dedicated volunteers in Shenandoah to build the North Schuylkill Center for Business, Education, and the Arts, which will serve as a community hub and business incubator. It’s a key piece of local efforts to breathe new life into downtown Shenandoah.
A project by Lansford Borough Council to restore the historic Lehigh New England Train Station. I was invited to tour the building and learn about their plans for its future earlier this year – I can’t wait to see what the final result of their efforts will be!
See the full list for Schuylkill, Carbon, and Luzerne Counties.
Thursday: Hazleton Office Open House and Ribbon Cutting
You’re invited – Rep. Dane Watro and I will be hosting an open house and ribbon cutting for our district offices in Hazleton on Thursday, March 23rd from 5-7 p.m. We’ll be discussing state issues and the many services our offices provide to constituents.
To RSVP, call 1-877-327-4255.
Eckley Miners’ Village Opens for the Season
Eckley Miners’ Village Museum has now reopened to the public. This Luzerne County historical site is the only remaining authentic 19th-century company mining town in Pennsylvania.
Just like neighboring White Haven, Jim Thorpe, Pottsville, and Tamaqua, Eckley showcases the history of our region. It’s one of the many attractions that continues to bring visitors to the area to appreciate the unique culture of the region that helped drive the Industrial Revolution.
I met with PA State Rep. Dane Watro, PA State Rep. Mike Cabell, and John Schwear and Rebecca Warren from the Eckley Miners’ Village Associates to discuss ways to bring additional visitors to this site. This was the first meeting for me with Dane and Mike in our new Hazleton offices – with many more to come.
Progress in Fighting Blight in Shenandoah and Minersville
Photo by Kaylee Lindenmuth / Shenandoah Sentinel
Shenandoah made progress on the fight against blight this week by declaring a 13-block area blighted. By taking this step, they’re starting the process of redeveloping this whole block. Park King Inc. is planning to turn the area into 36 residential units for seniors. This project was awarded a state grant late last year.
My staff also toured a blighted property on Sunbury Street at the west end of the Minersville. The property was a gas station years ago, but in recent years fell into the hands of a negligent property owner, and eventually became a homeless encampment. The visit included officials from DEP, who will work with the borough on site cleanup efforts going forward.
Lycoming Students Visit the Capitol
This week, nine students from Lycoming College studied Pennsylvania government and politics at the Capitol. We are pictured here with Lt. Governor Austin Davis and state Supreme Court Justice P. Kevin Brobson. Justice Brobson and I are proud Lycoming College grads from a “few” years ago!
March Argall Report: Letting the People Decide
The March edition of my local TV program features debate on Senate Bill 1, which proposed three separate and distinct amendments to the PA Constitution.
The sooner the citizens of Pennsylvania vote on these important issues, the better.
The first amendment would provide a two-year window for civil lawsuits for victims of childhood sexual abuse. The second amendment would provide for the General Assembly’s disapproval of a regulation which the Governor would be unable to veto. The third amendment asks if valid ID should be presented when voting in Pennsylvania.
Dusting Off my Tenor Saxophone
Watch the full video of my performance with the North Schuylkill High School Wind Ensemble last week.
Strengthening Guardianship Laws, Preventing Elder Abuse
The Senate Judiciary Committee held a joint public hearing with the Senate Aging and Youth Committee on strengthening guardianship laws and preventing elder abuse in Pennsylvania.
When an adult of any age is deemed incapacitated by a court, a professional or family guardian may be appointed to become responsible for making certain decisions on their behalf, including financial, medical and personal matters.
During the hearing, testimony was given by professionals in the elder and disability law fields to provide input on the flaws in Pennsylvania’s guardianship process. Guardianship issues discussed included the lengthy time to receive mandatory legal counsel and costs, necessary training of guardians, abuse, rights to counsel and more.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
What began as a religious holiday for the Irish is now celebrated on March 17 annually by people all across the world.
Saint Patrick, who lived in the fifth century, was credited with bringing Christianity to the people of Ireland.
“May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow and may trouble avoid you wherever you go.” – Irish blessing.
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