Jun. 14, 2019

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Legislative Update


 The latest news from the State Capitol

Committee Passes Bills to Help Seniors Reduce Property Taxes Through Volunteerism
The House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee, which I chair, passed legislation to encourage older Pennsylvanians to give back to their communities.

Our seniors have so much to offer our Commonwealth, especially in our schools, that we must create incentives to encourage them.

House Bill 974, sponsored by Rep. Mike Peifer (Pike/Wayne), would create the Senior Citizen Tax Reduction Incentive Act to allow townships, municipalities and boroughs to create programs that allow residents age 60 and older to receive property tax credit in exchange for volunteer service.

House Bill 1076, sponsored by Rep. Tim Hennessey (R-Chester/Montgomery), would allow school districts to establish the Senior Tax Reduction Incentive Volunteer Exchange Program (STRIVE) to allow seniors to volunteer in school districts in exchange for property tax relief.

Even as they struggle on fixed incomes, many seniors volunteer with our schools. This legislation helps us solve two problems. Seniors can help our students and trim their property tax bills.

My committee also passed House Bill 298, sponsored by Rep. Jared Solomon (D-Philadelphia), to establish the Older Adult Mentor Volunteer Program, which would create a certified list of retired volunteers for school districts who are willing to share their life-lessons, experience and hobbies with junior and high school students interested in enhancing their knowledge and skill sets.

All three bills now go before the full House for consideration.

Senate Committee Passes FGM Legislation
The Senate Judiciary Committee has passed my legislation to criminalize the act of female genital mutilation (FGM).

House Bill 315 would make it a crime to cut or allow someone to circumcise or excise the genitals of a female minor. Under the bill, FGM would be a felony of the first degree.

I want to thank my Senate colleagues for taking this strong stand for the right for women to be safe from this kind of abuse. They joined the House in stating clearly that while this is a common practice in some cultures, FGM is a crime of violence against women.

We Must Fight the Rise in Suicides
Since 1999, suicides rates have skyrocketed in Pennsylvania. The problem is so bad it’s gotten the attention of our political leaders, including Gov. Wolf. The governor has formed a task force to study the causes of this problem and potential solutions. Know that as chairman of the Aging and Older Adult Services Committee, I will help the task force any way I can. Watch my interview on the issue here.

Ensuring Sexual Harassment is not Hidden
Recognizing the rampant problem of sexual harassment in the workplace, the House approved legislation this week to help prevent these offenses – and the offenders – from being hidden and dealt with.

House Bill 849 would prohibit employers from requiring employees and prospective employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement related to sexual harassment as a condition of employment.

This would ensure workers who face sexual harassment in the workplace can exercise their voice to report such egregious offenses they may suffer at the hands of a co-worker or superior.

Employees and employers would still be able to voluntarily enter into such agreements.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Lowering Health Insurance Costs
Pennsylvanians who buy their health insurance on the federal exchange could see lower prices under legislation adopted by the House this week.

House Bill 3 would establish a state-based health insurance exchange and reinsurance program, an option offered by the Trump administration and supported by the Wolf administration as a means for helping make health care more affordable for Commonwealth citizens.

The proposal is also expected to save taxpayer money, as the cost of the state running its own exchange is expected to be about half the cost of fees currently being paid to the federal government to run it for us.

The bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

Gold Star Mothers Picnic

I had the honor of speaking at the Gold Star Mothers picnic this past weekend at the Blue Comet Motorcycle Club, where I met up with my friend Diane Soucy.

The name Gold Star Mothers derives from the custom of military families placing a service flag near their front windows featuring a star for each family member serving in the military. The living are designated with a Blue Star, while Gold Stars honor those who have died in service.

It is important that we perpetuate the memory of those whose lives were sacrificed during conflicts and support the men and women who served and were wounded or incapacitated during hostilities and their families. In this way we can inspire respect, patriotism and love of country in the communities in which we live.

Property Tax/Rent Rebate Application Deadline Extended
The deadline for older adults and Pennsylvania residents with disabilities to apply for rebates on rent and property taxes paid in 2018 has been extended from June 30 to Dec. 31, 2019. Call my office at 215-674-3755 with any questions or for help in filing your application.

The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded. The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for certain qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975.
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Office Locations
19 South York Rd., Hatboro, PA 19040 | Phone (215) 674-3755
110 Ryan Office Building, PO Box 202152, Harrisburg PA 17120-2152 | Phone (717) 787--6886
Email: tmurt@pahousegop.com
TTY: 855-282-0614