Senator Laughlin E-Newsletter

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In this update:

  • Voter ID: Time for PA to Catch Up with Other States, Nations
  • Restoring Checks and Balances in Pennsylvania Government
  • Phase-out of Job-Killing PA Tax Begins
  • Legislative Survey: Reducing the Size of the PA House of Representatives
  • This Week’s Hot Jobs in Erie County
  • 2022 Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs Junior Fair Person of the Year: Erie County’s Sydney Elder
  • Public Hearing on Energy Access and Affordability
  • Boilermakers Tour
  • Rebates for Property Taxes and Rent Available to Seniors, Pennsylvanians with Disabilities
  • Local Organizations Can Apply Now for Conservation Grants
  • Lowering the Risk of Birth Defects

Voter ID: Time for PA to Catch Up with Other States, Nations

A proposed constitutional amendment passed by the Senate earlier this month to require ID verification at polling places remains in the House of Representatives. Its approval is needed to let voters have a say through a ballot question in the spring primary election.

Pennsylvania’s failure to enact this key component of election integrity has put it behind not only a vast majority of states and most developed countries, but behind many developing nations as well.

Every excuse used to block this rational election reform has been shown to be false. Requiring proof of identification before voting does not suppress turnout, and acceptable IDs are not difficult to obtain.

Nationally, the calls for voter ID come from Democrats and Republicans alike. Eighty percent of Americans favor voter ID as do 74% of Pennsylvanians. Now is the time to pass Senate Bill 1 and let the voters decide.

Restoring Checks and Balances in Pennsylvania Government

In addition to letting citizens decide whether voters should be required to show ID, Senate Bill 1 includes a proposed constitutional amendment allowing the people’s representatives in the General Assembly to overturn any government regulation that conflicts with the will of the people.

The need for this change was made clear by the Wolf administration’s unilateral decisions during the pandemic, closing businesses and schools with no input from the people. Despite the clear design of our government with three co-equal parts, the executive branch elevated itself above the legislative and judicial branches in an obvious violation of the checks and balances afforded by the Pennsylvania Constitution.

No governor of any party should be permitted to wield such unchecked power again. If the House of Representatives follows the Senate’s lead and passes Senate Bill 1, voters will be empowered to restore this crucial balance of power.

Phase-out of Job-Killing PA Tax Begins

The phase-out of Pennsylvania’s sky-high Corporate Net Income tax got underway this month, part of our efforts to keep good jobs here and create new ones.

Republican lawmakers secured a cut in this job-killing tax as part of the 2022-23 state budget. Before this reduction to 8.99%, Pennsylvania’s CNI tax had been 9.99% for nearly three decades while other states had lower tax rates – some far lower – and many have been lower for almost as long.

When gradually reduced to 4.99% in 2031, Pennsylvania’s CNI rate will have gone from one of the highest in the nation to one of the lowest, making the commonwealth far more competitive with other states.

A 2009 report by an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City demonstrates that the burden of the corporate income tax is borne in large part by labor within the state in the form of lower wages. A 2016 paper published in the journal American Economic Review found employees shoulder about a third of the corporate tax burden.

Reducing this tax will be the difference between jobs coming to our local communities and jobs leaving. This will be a great benefit to Pennsylvania families.

Legislative Survey: Reducing the Size of the PA House of Representatives

Please take my legislative survey and help me better understand where my constituents stand on important state-related issues.

Currently, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has 203 members. Would you favor reducing the size to 150 members, increasing the size of the House districts by approximately a third, and bringing the ratio of lawmakers in Pennsylvania more in line with other states?

Click here to answer the survey: https://www.senatorlaughlin.com/survey-2.

This Week’s Hot Jobs in Erie County

Check out Erie County 𝐇𝐨𝐭 𝐉𝐨𝐛 listings at PA CareerLink.

For more information on the postings below, type in the job number at: https://www.pacareerlink.pa.gov/jponline/.

2022 Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs Junior Fair Person of the Year: Erie County’s Sydney Elder

Erie County’s Sydney Elder was chosen as the recipient of the 2022 Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs (PSACF) Junior Fair Person of the Year and presented the award on Saturday, Jan. 21 at the PA Fairs and Showmen Convention in Hershey, PA.

Sydney is a volunteer and co-coordinator of the Fair Queen Program, and this is the first time a junior volunteer from the Erie County Fair at Wattsburg has been chosen for this award. Sydney was also chosen as one of six recipients to receive the Msgr. John W. Mignot Memorial Scholarship sponsored by the PSACF. 

A first-year pharmacy student at LECOM school of Pharmacy in Erie, Sydney is pursuing her Pharm.D and Master of Science in Medical Education. She will graduate this May from Mercyhurst University with a Batchelor of Science degree in biology.

Public Hearing on Energy Access and Affordability

1/20/23 - Policy

I am very pleased and encouraged by the first Senate Majority Policy Committee Hearing I held as chairman last week.

Policy hearings are all about listening, learning and exchanging dialog with the leaders, organizations and constituents who are experts in their field. The continual education on policy issues from the authorities who know specific sectors best is how I plan to use the Senate Majority Policy Committee to work for the betterment of the people in our great Commonwealth, regardless of their political party.

Boilermakers Tour

The gracious hosts of our Majority Policy Committee meeting, the Boilermakers Local 154, were also gracious enough to take me on a tour of their welding training facility located adjacent to their union hall. They do a wonderful job with their apprenticeship program of providing the industry with workers that are qualified in all phases of the trade. The program consists of an intensive 6,000-hour apprenticeship that is combined with classroom, self-study courses and on-the-job training at this state-of-the-art facility.

Not only do I appreciate their hospitality, but I thank them for taking the time to show me the inner workings of this tremendous program.

Rebates for Property Taxes and Rent Available to Seniors, Pennsylvanians with Disabilities

Older adults and Pennsylvanians with disabilities can apply now for rebates on property taxes or rent paid in 2022.

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. Spouses, personal representatives or estates may also file rebate claims on behalf of claimants who lived at least one day in the claim year and meet all other eligibility criteria.

The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975. You can find more eligibility and application information here. Eligible applicants can visit mypath.pa.gov to electronically submit their applications.

Local Organizations Can Apply Now for Conservation Grants

Counties, municipalities and municipal agencies, pre-qualified land trusts, nonprofits and other eligible organizations can apply now for state conservation, recreation, trail and related grants.

Administered by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Community Conservation Partnerships Program is funded with a variety of state and federal funding sources including Pennsylvania’s natural gas Impact Fee.

Applications will be accepted through April 5. Online tutorials are available to aid organizations in the application process.

Lowering the Risk of Birth Defects

Rates of infant deaths due to birth defects have declined by 10% in the United States. However, even today, every 4½ minutes a baby is born with a major problem affecting parts of the body including the heart, brain or foot, causing lifelong health challenges.

The National Birth Defects Prevention Network offers women five tips for preventing birth defects:

  1. If possible, take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day at least one month prior to conception.
  2. Plan a visit with your health care provider to support a healthy pregnancy.
  3. Reduce your risk of infections.
  4. Care for your body and mind before and during pregnancy to set you and your baby up for success.
  5. Avoid harmful substances during pregnancy, such as alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

Not all birth defects can be prevented. However, healthy choices and habits help lower the risk of having a baby born with these challenges.

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