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Friday, October 27, 2017

Capitol Update By PA Rep. Martin Causer




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Capitol Update
Friday, October 27, 2017 The latest news from the State Capitol
                          
 
Bridge Dedication Ceremony to Honor Master Sgt. Thomas Maholic

Bradford Township native Thomas Maholic gave his life in service to our country more than a decade ago in Afghanistan. Please join me tomorrow (Saturday, Oct. 28) to pay tribute to this brave soldier by dedicating the bridge on Route 770 over the Tunungwant Creek in McKean County as the Master Sgt. Thomas Maholic Memorial Bridge.

The dedication ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. at the site of the bridge on Route 770 (Minard Run Road) near the intersection with Route 219. For safety reasons, Minard Run Road will be closed between the Route 219 intersection and High Street intersection from 10-11 a.m.
                
         
Outreach Hours Set for Nov. 2

To help ensure access to state government information and services, I will hold outreach office hours at the following locations on Thursday, Nov. 2:
  • Emporium Borough Office – 9-10 a.m.
  • Port Allegany Borough Office – 11 a.m. to noon.
Services available include assistance with any state-related issues or concerns, driver license and vehicle registration applications, and applications for various state programs, such as the senior citizen Property Tax/Rent Rebate and PACE/PACENET prescription drug assistance programs.

As always, you are welcome to stop by my offices in Bradford (78 Main St., first floor), Coudersport (107 S. Main St., Room 1) or Kane (55 Fraley St.) Monday through Friday, or visit my website at RepCauser.com or my Facebook page at Facebook.com/RepCauser for the latest news from state government.
                  
         
Meeting with Area Realtors

Thank you to the McKean County Association of Realtors for inviting me to a legislative luncheon last week with Realtors from all three counties of the 67th Legislative District. We had a good discussion about the state budget, as well as property taxes and the related referendum (see article below) coming up on the ballot for the Nov. 7 General Election.
                  
         
Final Pieces of Budget Package Headed to Governor

The House and Senate have sent the remaining pieces of the 2017-18 budget package to the governor’s desk.

Among the bills approved this week is one providing more than $2.7 million in funding to the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, a $200,000 increase over the prior year’s budget. This money helps offset tuition costs for in-state students. Bills to fund the other state-related universities, including Penn State, Lincoln, Temple and the veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania, were also approved.

Another measure fulfills our $5 million commitment to the Rural Regional College and ensures funding is distributed to our Community Education Councils.

Finally, the General Assembly also approved legislation providing a limited expansion of gaming options in the Commonwealth to generate revenue needed to complete funding for the current year’s budget.

All of the measures are on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature.
                  
         
Heating Assistance Program Opens Soon

Residents who are struggle with their home heating bills can apply for assistance from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) beginning Wednesday, Nov. 1.

LIHEAP is a federally funded program that helps individuals and families pay their heating bills through home heating energy assistance grants. It also provides crisis grants to help in the event of an emergency or if a resident is in danger of losing his or her heat due to broken equipment, lack of fuel or termination of utility service.

The income eligibility guidelines for LIHEAP are set at 150 percent of the federal poverty income level. For example, the income limit for an individual is $18,090; for a couple, the limit is $24,360; and for a family of four, it is $36,900.

Residents may apply for LIHEAP online or by contacting the County Assistance Office in their county of residence.                   
         
Property Tax Referendum on Nov. 7 Ballot

Voters will have an opportunity to vote on a state constitutional amendment that could impact property tax reform efforts. The question will appear on the Nov. 7 General Election ballot.

Currently, the state Constitution permits local governments – counties, municipalities and school districts – to exclude up to 50 percent of the median assessed home value from a homeowner’s tax bill. However, the referendum on the ballot will allow voters to decide if the maximum homestead exclusion could be increased to 100 percent of primary residences. For example, under the current homestead exclusion, if the median assessed home value in your school district is $100,000, up to $50,000 can be excluded from your tax bill if your school district elected the full 50 percent exclusion rate. If the value of your home is assessed at $150,000, your local property tax rate would only be applied to $100,000 of that value.

If the resolution amending the Constitution is approved, the homestead exclusion cap could be removed. However, the General Assembly would still have to pass a law to implement the change, and local governments would still be responsible for establishing exclusion amounts for homesteads within each district.

Read the public notice from the Pennsylvania Department of State here.

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