Budget Update: Governor Signs Bills into Law Last week, Governor Wolf signed the tax reform code bill to fund the 2017-18 state budget. Act 43 of 2017 (formerly HB 542) into law. Provisions important to townships: • Authorizes Pennsylvania residents at least 18 years of age to purchase consumer fireworks from fireworks sellers within Pennsylvania. These sales will not require a municipal permit. • Twelve percent tax on sales of consumer fireworks with 1/6 of these revenues, up to $2 million per year, being used as follows: 75 percent for Volunteer Fire and Emergency Medical Service Grants under the existing program and 25 percent for online training for developing, delivering, and sustaining training programs for volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania. • Use of display fireworks, which are used by professional pyrotechnicians, would require a municipal permit for each display.
Governor Wolf also signed the fiscal code, Act 44 of 2017 (formerly HB 674) into law. Provisions important to townships: • Restricts oil and gas development in the South Newark Basin. • Makes $15 million available for sewer and water projects from the Commonwealth Financing Authority for grants between $30,000 to $500,000. An additional $10 million from the Building Pennsylvania Program is to go for these grants as well. Projects may be larger than $500,000. • Authorizes municipal authorities to replace or remediate private water and sewer laterals if the authority determines that doing so will benefit the public health or the water or sewer system. • Authorizes the local match for multimodal transportation funds to be waived by the Secretary of Transportation for good cause if the applicant for assistance is a municipality. Also states that the Commonwealth Financing Authority may not require a municipality to provide a local match. These provisions only apply until December 31, 2018.
Governor Signs Gaming Expansion Legislation into Law Last week, Wolf also signed Act 42 of 2017(formerly HB 271), comprehensive gaming expansion, to finish funding the 2017-18 state budget into law. Provisions important to townships: • Restores the local share assessment paid by existing casinos which the courts struck down last session. • Legalizes i-gaming, authorizes the creation of 10 satellite casinos (Category 4), permits video gaming terminals at truck stops and airports, and authorizes fantasy sports betting. • Grants municipalities the authority to prohibit a Category 4 licensed facility from locating within their municipality. To do so, the governing body of a municipality must pass a resolution indicating its desire to a prohibit category 4 casinos within the municipality.
Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act: Information from Attorney General’s Office The Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (HICPA) establishes a mandatory registration program for contractors who offer or perform home improvements in Pennsylvania. The statute also: • Establishes minimum insurance requirements • Requires contractors to provide their registration number in their ads and contracts • Prohibits unfair business practices • Creates a criminal penalty for home improvement fraud
NEWS FROM CLINT OWLETT
Anti-Fraud Measure Signed into Law
Legislation to reform the local tax collection system to reduce instances of fraud was signed into law this week. Act 38 of 2017 prohibits checks made payable to a tax collector’s name only. Under the new law, checks should be made payable to the name of the tax collector along with the office, title or position; or be made out just to the office, title or position and then be deposited into a separate bank account used only for tax money. Previously, the Local Tax Collection Law did not specify how taxes are to be paid, so it was left to individual tax collectors to determine how they want checks made out for the payment of taxes and to what account the tax money was to be deposited. Changing how accounts are set up and how checks are written will give municipalities and taxpayers an added layer of protection by ensuring their tax dollars go where they are intended. Act 38 goes into effect Jan. 1, 2018.
Use Caution: Deer on the Move
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is reminding motorists to slow down and stay alert for deer on the roadways. The end of daylight saving time results in more traffic between dawn and dusk, and the chances of vehicle accidents with deer increase significantly. In fact, Pennsylvania ranks third nationally in State Farm’s annual report on the likelihood drivers in each state will collide with a deer or other large animal. According to the report, Pennsylvania drivers have a 1-in-63 chance of experiencing a collision with a deer or other large animal – a 6.3 percent increase from 2016. Drivers can reduce their chances of collisions with deer by staying alert and better understanding deer behavior. Be especially alert in “Deer Crossing” areas, and remember deer tend to travel in family groups, so if you see one deer, more are likely coming.
Honoring Our Veterans
For more than 240 years, men and women in uniform have been called to serve our country by protecting our freedom and defending our democracy. Please take time to remember and thank the thousands of men and women who have served our country in the U.S. Armed Forces and who continue to make a positive difference in our communities. Veterans Day, originally known as Armistice Day, first marked the one-year anniversary of the end of World War I, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month and sought to honor the veterans of the World War – the only world war to have occurred at that time. Armistice Day was declared a national holiday in 1938 to acknowledge world peace, and then renamed Veterans Day in 1954 to celebrate the contributions of veterans of all wars.