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Friday, February 6, 2015

Capitol Update State Representative Martin Causer

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Capitol Update
Friday, February 06, 2015 The latest news from the State Capitol

Tax Fairness Measures Reintroduced

Recognizing the strain that state-owned lands can place on local governments and taxpayers, I have reintroduced two bills aimed at ensuring rural areas like ours get fair compensation from the state.
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House Bill 344 would increase the state’s payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) on state-owned forest and game lands from $3.60 per acre to $6 per acre. The PILT is divided equally among the municipalities, school districts and counties in which the land is located and applies to lands under the control of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC).

House Bill 343 would call for 20 percent of total revenue collected from the sale of timber, oil and natural gas on most state-owned lands to be deposited into a restricted fund for disbursement to local governments across the Commonwealth, proportionally based on the number of acres of state land in each municipality, school district and county.

The bills will be referred to a legislative committee for further review.

FAFSA Completion Session Scheduled

Is your son or daughter headed off to college in the fall? If so, your first step in obtaining financial aid should be to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The FAFSA is used to determine eligibility for most forms of need and income-based financial assistance, including the Pennsylvania State Grant, the Federal Pell Grant, various scholarships, work-study programs and federal student loans. To help make the process a little easier, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is holding a free FAFSA completion event on Thursday, Feb. 19, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford in Room 158 of the Sports Complex. Pre-registration is preferred and may be made by calling 814-362-7550.

Judiciary Committee Moves Legislation to Stop Cyber Bullying

With the growth of email and social networking, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the ability to harass a child by repeatedly emailing or spreading disparaging comments has become all too prevalent. The House Judiciary Committee approved legislation this week to make cyber harassment of a child a criminally punishable offense.

According to the bill, cyber harassment, more commonly recognized as cyber bullying, is repeatedly using electronic communications to make statements or offer opinions about a child’s sexuality or sexual activity, physical characteristics and/or mental health that are intended to and would cause serious emotional distress to a child.

House Bill 229 would allow intervention by law enforcement and juvenile probation officers to initially review the case if it involves a juvenile offender. If appropriate, a juvenile offender could be placed in a diversionary program rather than formally adjudicated as a delinquent.

An adult who engages in such conduct would be prosecuted in court rather than be issued a summary citation, reflecting the seriousness of this form of child abuse.
The legislation will now go to the full House for further consideration.  

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