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Friday, February 15, 2019

Capitol Update by Rep. Martin Causer

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Capitol Update
Friday, February 15, 2019 The latest news from the State Capitol

Working Together to Support PA Ag

Pennsylvania agriculture is finally getting the additional attention it deserves as part of this year’s budget talks. This week, I stood with several farmers, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, Gov. Tom Wolf and fellow legislators at a press conference introducing a Pennsylvania Farm Bill.

The proposal aims to take a holistic approach to the challenges facing our state’s top industry and includes 17 separate initiatives designed to support business development and succession planning, create more processing capabilities, remove regulatory burdens, strengthen the ag workforce in current and future generations, establish rapid response capabilities to address threats such as spotted lanternfly, improve agriculture infrastructure, and increase market opportunities.

As chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, I also took the opportunity to advocate for funding existing programs that support the agriculture industry but were not funded in the governor’s most recent budget proposal.

I look forward to the opportunity to review the administration’s ideas more closely with the goal of working toward a fiscally responsible state budget that also includes needed investment in the agriculture industry. The House and Senate ag committees plan to hold a joint meeting on the proposals next month.

The event was held at Restful Acres, a dairy farm in Hershey operated by second-generation owners Frank and Virginia Graybill.

Need Help with Your Property Tax/Rent Rebate Forms?

Our series of Property Tax/Rent Rebate clinics at area senior centers continues next week on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at the following locations:
  • Eldred Senior Center, 169 Main St., Eldred – 9:30-11 a.m.
  • Smethport Senior Center, 119 W. Main St., Smethport – 1-2:30 p.m.
Income eligible senior citizens are invited to stop by the center, located at 100 S. Fraley St., from 1-3 p.m. for free assistance in filing for a rebate of up to $650 on rent or property taxes paid in 2018. Be sure to bring all necessary income, property tax or rental information required to process claims quickly and accurately.

The program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians who are 65 years or older, widows and widowers 50 years or older, and those 18 years or older with disabilities. Eligibility income limits are set at $15,000 for renters and $35,000 for homeowners, excluding 50 percent of Social Security, Supplemental Security Income and Railroad Retirement Tier 1 benefits. Also, applicants with veterans disability benefits and/or pensions do not need to declare that income.

Click here for additional information, including a schedule of other upcoming clinics.

Click here to download forms directly.

Assistance is also available at any of my local offices in Bradford (78 Main St., first floor, phone 814-362-4400); Coudersport (107 S. Main St., Room 1, phone 814-274-9769); or Kane (55 Fraley St., phone 814-837-0880).

Budget Hearings Focus on Accountability in Tax Dollar Spending

The House Appropriations Committee held its first series of 2019-20 state budget hearings this week. The hearings are designed to give members the opportunity to question state officials about their funding requests and ensure state government is accountable for how it spends taxpayer dollars. Members will also focus on ensuring the budget supports policies that improve the state’s economic climate and support the creation of private sector jobs.

This week’s slate of hearings included appearances by the Independent Fiscal Office, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and the departments of Revenue, Aging, and Conservation and Natural Resources.

The next week of hearings, beginning Monday, Feb. 25, will feature the departments of Corrections, General Services, Health, Drug and Alcohol Programs, and Transportation, along with the Liquor Control Board and the Gaming Control Board.

The full schedule is available here. The site also includes video of the archived hearings once available.

Take Steps to Avoid Scams This Tax Season

As tax season begins, it is important to protect yourself and your family from scams and phishing schemes designed to steal your money or personal financial information.

One common scam to keep an eye out for involves phony “Final Demand for Payment” notices threatening the seizure of a taxpayer’s property if the recipient of the notice fails to make immediate payment. Pennsylvanians should also beware of phishing schemes that use fraudulent email messages, deceptive software or malicious files that are designed to steal sensitive information, such as passwords, usernames or personal financial information.

To avoid these scams, individuals should not provide any personal information until they are sure they are speaking to a legitimate representative. They also should keep an eye out for vague communications and never click on suspicious links or attachments.

Also, if you are asked to pay off debt with reloadable debit cards, gift cards or money wiring services, these are scams. No government agencies use these methods for payment.

If you think you are a victim of identity theft or discover a fraudulent Pennsylvania personal income tax return was filed using your identity, contact the Department of Revenue’s Fraud Detection and Analysis Unit at 717-772-9297 or

PennDOT Offices Closed for Presidents Day

In observance of Presidents Day, all PennDOT driver license and photo centers, including the full-service center in Harrisburg, will be closed Saturday, Feb. 16, through Monday, Feb. 18. Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website,

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