Senator Laughlin E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • America250PA Liberty Tree Planting
  • Legislation to Help Property Owners Deal With Squatters Advances
  • YMCA of Greater Erie Annual Meeting
  • Unclaimed Property Event
  • New Distracted Driving Law Bans Use of Handheld Devices
  • Respecting Taxpayers Remains a Top Priority in State Budget Negotiations
  • Senate Approves Bills to Reverse Nursing Home Worker Shortage
  • Legislation Giving Disabled Veterans Financial Relief Receives Senate Support
  • Senate Acts to Modernize Rules for Electronic Commerce
  • Celebrating the Contributions of PA Dairy Farmers

America250PA Liberty Tree Planting

Last Friday, I was honored to attend and speak at the Liberty Tree planting event at Presque Isle, organized by America250PA and the Pennsylvania Freemasons.

This event was part of a larger initiative to commemorate the 250th anniversary of our nation’s founding in 2026 by planting Liberty Trees in Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. The Liberty Tree Project aims to honor the original Liberty Tree in Boston, where the Sons of Liberty once gathered.

These trees symbolize American freedom and resilience, and seeing this legacy continued here in Erie was inspiring. During the event, we celebrated not only the planting of the tree but also the community spirit and dedication to preserving our history for future generations.

I am proud to represent a community that values its past while looking forward to a bright future. Thank you to America250PA and the Pennsylvania Freemasons for their commitment to this meaningful project and for bringing us all together today.

Legislation to Help Property Owners Deal With Squatters Advances

This past week, the Senate Judiciary Committee reported to the full Senate my legislation, Senate Bill 1236, aimed at codifying Pennsylvania case law to establish more certainty for landlords, law enforcement and homeowners who encounter squatters.

The growing and pressing issue of squatters unlawfully taking over residential homes is a problem that is becoming increasingly prevalent in our communities. Homeowners, who have invested their hard-earned money and emotions into their properties, often find themselves entangled in a lengthy, complicated and costly process to remove these unauthorized occupants. This situation not only causes financial strain but also significant emotional distress.

Given the inconsistencies and lack of clarity in how different states address squatter concerns, Pennsylvania must establish clear and uniform guidelines for our state. SB 1236 would clarify the legal status of squatters in Pennsylvania and streamline the process of removing them from residential properties.

By codifying existing Pennsylvania case law, my bill will provide more certainty and clarity for homeowners, landlords and law enforcement officials when dealing with trespassers. This legislation is not just about removing trespassers; it is about restoring peace of mind to our citizens and ensuring their property rights are respected and upheld.

YMCA of Greater Erie Annual Meeting

A member of my staff attended the YMCA of Greater Erie Annual Meeting. Congratulations to the YMCA on a successful year! They are doing some great work across our community!

Unclaimed Property Event

In conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Treasury, I will host an unclaimed property event on Thursday, June 13, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Erie County Public Library, 160 East Front Street, Erie, PA. Come to the event to meet with a Treasury Department employee who can conduct comprehensive searches for you, your family and your business.

Unclaimed property can include dormant bank accounts, abandoned stocks, uncashed checks, saving bonds and other tangible assets such as collectible coins, sports cards, jewelry, military medals and antiques.

New Distracted Driving Law Bans Use of Handheld Devices

A new law prohibits the use of handheld cellular and other devices while operating a vehicle on a Pennsylvania highway or traffic way. Drivers may still use their phone if they are using hands-free technology, such as a docking station, Bluetooth or speaker technology.

For the first year, only warnings will be issued for violations. After that, there will be a $50 fine.

Distracted driving fatalities in Pennsylvania surged to a decade high in 2022, claiming 80 lives. The AAA Traffic Safety Culture Index found that the majority of drivers believe distracted driving has outpaced all other traffic-related issues as a growing safety concern. All of Pennsylvania’s border states and 28 others have enacted hands-free laws.

Respecting Taxpayers Remains a Top Priority in State Budget Negotiations

In Pennsylvania, the state budget is to be completed by June 30 of each year. As we work to reach consensus, Senate Republicans are continuing to fight for a budget that respects taxpayers and makes the best use of the state’s resources.

In February, Gov. Josh Shapiro proposed a massive $3.2 billion increase in state spending. Last month, Senate Republicans unveiled an alternative approach that would reduce taxes by approximately $3 billion annually. Instead of growing government bureaucracy and picking winners and losers, our plan would allow Pennsylvanians to decide how their money should be spent. These historic tax cuts would provide relief to every Pennsylvanian who earns a paycheck by reducing the personal income tax rate from 3.07% to 2.8%, and every person paying an electric bill by eliminating the Gross Receipts Tax on energy.

Learn more about the process of enacting the 2024-25 state budget and watch the Senate in session here.

Senate Approves Bills to Reverse Nursing Home Worker Shortage

With the number of older Pennsylvanians rising and nursing homes struggling to find qualified workers, the Senate passed two bills this week to reverse the worker shortage. Both bills now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Bill 1102 would increase the number of nursing home workers by streamlining the training and certification process and removing barriers that prevent people from entering the health care workforce in Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 1104 would further increase the nursing home workforce by enabling high school juniors and seniors to earn up to two elective credits for working or volunteering at a nursing home, personal care home or assisted living facility. Schools would establish program guidelines and procedures to allow students to earn one elective credit for each 250 hours of paid or volunteer work at a qualifying facility.

Legislation Giving Disabled Veterans Financial Relief Receives Senate Support

To provide financial relief to more disabled veterans, the Senate passed Senate Bill 194 to exclude U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Attendance benefits as income when calculating eligibility for Pennsylvania’s 100% Disabled Veterans’ Property Tax Exemption.

Federal Aid and Attendance benefits provide monthly payments to disabled veterans who are housebound or need help with daily activities. Without the exclusion of this federal benefit, some disabled veterans are prevented from qualifying for property tax reductions.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Acts to Modernize Rules for Electronic Commerce

The Senate passed legislation to modernize the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), updating rules that govern digital asset transactions to ensure security, consistency and confidence. It now advances to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The UCC has provided consistency for commercial law and interstate commerce since 1954, when Pennsylvania led the initiative to adopt it. Since then, it has been adopted by all states and gives Americans legal confidence when transacting business across state lines. The last major revisions to the UCC took effect in 2001. In the two decades since, electronic property, or digital assets, have become much more prevalent in commercial transactions.

Senate Bill 1084 would bring the law into the 21st century by establishing guidelines to cover digital asset transactions involving virtual currencies, non-fungible tokens, electronic accounts and other forms of electronic commerce. It would also make other needed technical updates to the UCC.

Celebrating the Contributions of PA Dairy Farmers

Agriculture is Pennsylvania’s top industry, and dairy products play a significant role by generating $11.8 billion in economic revenue and supporting 47,000 jobs statewide. Of the nearly 5,000 dairy farms in the state, 99% are family-owned with many being handed down generation after generation.

Our dairy farmers work tirelessly each day to provide families everywhere with nutrient-rich foods. Dairy products contain nine essential nutrients that help to manage weight and reduce the risk of high blood pressure, osteoporosis and certain cancers. The nutrient powerhouse also helps build and repair muscle tissue and maintain healthy skin.

Celebrate National Dairy Month by raising a glass of milk or enjoying some delicious ice cream. Pennsylvania has an Ice Cream Trail that boasts great creameries all across the state.


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