Senator Laughlin E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Four Chaplains Ceremony
  • New ERIE BANK Community Banking Office and Financial Education Center
  • Senate Passes Measure Supporting a More Secure Southern Border
  • CRIZ Program Improvements Bill Reported from Committee
  • Grant Seminar
  • Edinboro Office
  • Massive Spending Increase in Shapiro’s Budget Creates Concern
  • Senate Hearing on Office of Administration Data Loss
  • 2023 Accomplishments: Cutting Red Tape
  • Property Tax Relief is Available for Homeowners
  • Protecting Against Hypothermia and Frostbite

Four Chaplains Ceremony

I am grateful for the profound experience of attending the Four Chaplains Ceremony at the Pennsylvania Soldier’s and Sailor’s Home last Friday. Honoring the legacy of these courageous men who selflessly gave their lives to save others is a humbling reminder of the power of unity and sacrifice. Their bravery continues to inspire generations.

New ERIE BANK Community Banking Office and Financial Education Center

Stakeholders pose for a photo at the groundbreaking ceremony for a new ErieBank location on the northwest corner of East 1th and Parade streets in Erie on Wednesday. The bank will feature an education center in an area formerly devoid of banking institutions. Greg Wohlford/Erie Times-News

Congratulations to ERIEBANK on breaking ground for their new Community Banking Office and Financial Education Center. A fantastic addition to the ongoing East Side Renaissance Revitalization effort!

Senate Passes Measure Supporting a More Secure Southern Border

As the unprecedented rise in illegal immigration strains the resources of states throughout the nation, the Senate approved a measure calling for action to address the border crisis and support the rights of states to protect their citizens.

Senate Resolution 234 voices support for the actions of Texas to secure the border amid federal inaction by the Biden administration. It also encourages Gov. Josh Shapiro to join dozens of other governors from across the country who have announced their support. The Biden administration continues to fight the lawful exercise of the constitutional authority to defend a state and its citizens.

According to the U.S. Center for Immigration Services, the country’s illegal immigrant population grew to 12.8 million by October 2023. It rose 2.6 million since January 2021, when President Joe Biden took office and used executive orders to move financial resources away from the border, suspend deportations and end the successful “Remain in Mexico” policy.

CRIZ Program Improvements Bill Reported from Committee

This past week the state Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee reported to the full Senate my legislation seeking to update the current requirements and tax eligibility for the City Revitalization and Improvement Zone (CRIZ) program.

The CRIZ program has been used to successfully redevelop old, abandoned properties while creating jobs and generating millions in local revenue for several Pennsylvania municipalities. Senate Bill 1014 will make needed improvements to the program that will build on that success.

A CRIZ is an area of up to 130 acres, comprised of parcels designated by a contracting authority, which provides economic development and job creation opportunities within a political subdivision. State and local taxes collected within the CRIZ are used to repay debt service to stimulate economic development projects within the CRIZ.

SB1014 seeks to add requirements of the CRIZ authority board members, include insurance premiums tax as an eligible tax under the program and clarify current procedures for transferring parcels in and out of a zone.

I have long seen the value of the CRIZ program and been an ardent advocate of a CRIZ designation in the City of Erie. State tax dollars resulting from local economic development expansion would be directly returned to the community for reinvestment, helping to revitalize that community, restoring it to being a great place to live and work. The program has proven successful for cities like Lancaster, Bethlehem and Tamaqua, and it would be just as effective in Erie and elsewhere, particularly with the program changes contained within SB1014.

Grant Seminar

Thank you to everyone who attended my grant workshop at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center. It was a pleasure hosting this event to educate and assist municipal leaders in applying for grant funding. Representatives from the City of Erie, 16 Townships, and 8 Boroughs were in attendance. A special shout-out to all our speakers and staff who contributed to making this event possible!

Edinboro Office

A member of my staff will be available Thursday, February 15th, at the Edinboro Borough Building from 11:00 A.M. – 3:00 P.M. to help with any state-related issues.

Massive Spending Increase in Shapiro’s Budget Creates Concern

This week, Gov. Josh Shapiro shared his proposed 2024-25 state budget, which includes an excessive $3.2 billion increase – a jump of 7.1% – in state spending.

In addition to making it extremely difficult to balance future budgets, the governor’s spending plan would completely eliminate the state’s current and future budgetary reserves in the next five years. Unrealistic spending and revenue projections mean the governor’s budget plan will likely require deep spending cuts and painful broad-based tax increases on Pennsylvanians much sooner.

Shapiro’s budget approach, which would likely result in higher inflation when families are already struggling, runs in opposition to the cautious and responsible budgets Senate Republicans have fought to enact. In the next several months, Senate Republicans will examine Shapiro’s budget proposal and search for greater efficiencies. The Senate Appropriations Committee will begin its series of budget hearings to study the budget proposal on Feb. 20.

Senate Hearing on Office of Administration Data Loss

This week, the Senate Communications and Technology Committee and Senate State Government Committee held a public hearing on the recent Shapiro Office of Administration (OA) server data loss.

According to the OA, human error from an employee performing server maintenance on Jan. 3 resulted in data loss affecting several agencies. Additional information requested at the hearing will be reviewed once received by the committees. Video of the hearing can be found here.   

2023 Accomplishments: Cutting Red Tape

As 2024 kicks off, Senate Republicans will continue our work to cut red tape and improve the experience citizens have when they interact with their government and the agencies intended to help them.

Already this session, we have passed a bill that would improve government efficiency by authorizing the Pennsylvania Treasury Department to return unclaimed property without requiring the owners to search for it. Another legislative measure would ensure Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program and Medical Assistance benefits are not spent on the deceased.

For the Pennsylvanians who must apply for a permit, license or certification, another bill would require state agencies to create an accessible website to explain why a permit application was rejected and enable permit applicants to check their application status. It would also deem a permit, license or certification approved if the agency reviewing the application misses its deadline – giving Pennsylvanians far more predictability than they currently have. This change would also help to attract more business to the state and boost our economy by addressing unreasonable permit delays.

Property Tax Relief is Available for Homeowners

Most homes and farms are eligible for property tax reduction under the Homestead Tax Exemption program.

Under a homestead or farmstead property tax exclusion, the assessed value of each homestead or farmstead is reduced by the same amount before the property tax is computed.

To receive school property tax relief for tax years beginning July 1 or Jan. 1, an application for homestead or farmstead exclusions must be filed by the preceding March 1. School districts are required to notify homeowners by Dec. 31 of each year if their property is not approved for the homestead or farmstead exclusion or if their approval is due to expire. Learn more and find an application.

Protecting Against Hypothermia and Frostbite

While this winter has been relatively mild so far, colder weather could set in at any time. Brushing up on the signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite can help you keep yourself and others safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers detailed information about warning signs and prevention.

Signs of hypothermia include shivering, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and confusion. In severe cases, hypothermia can lead to death. If someone is experiencing hypothermia, give them warm water and replace any wet clothing with dry layers. Seek medical attention if their body temperature is below 95 degrees.

Frostbite is an injury that can permanently damage the body and typically impacts the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers and toes. Symptoms include painful, unusually firm or waxy skin. If impacted, warm the affected area but do not apply pressure. Stay a safe distance from heat sources and know when to get medical care.


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