In this Update:
Senate Votes to Block Wolf Administration’s Overreaching Charter School Regulations
The Senate voted to block Gov. Tom Wolf’s overreaching charter school regulations after his administration misused the regulatory process to avoid brokering an agreement with lawmakers.
The vote on House Concurrent Regulatory Review Resolution 1 comes after the administration didn’t adequately address concerns raised during the public comment process and instead committed to final regulations that run contrary to the intent of existing charter school law.
The Department of Education’s proposed list of wide-ranging policy changes through the regulatory process could, in effect, jeopardize the educational futures of thousands of low-income, minority and special education students through burdensome, unfunded mandates.
Many of these regulations serve as backdoor attempts to implement some of the administration’s own policy preferences, including enrollment caps, onerous application standards and one-size-fits-all health benefit requirements that will shutter operations for many smaller charters. This is egregious considering the vulnerable students these schools primarily serve.
There is bipartisan interest in making reforms to our current charter laws. Frustration over the process does not justify circumventing the legislature. It has always been my belief that changing law is under the purview of the legislature, not the regulatory process. You can watch my remarks on the resolution and its importance here.
Senator Martin introduces Legislation to Help Counties with Collection of Household Hazardous Waste
Recently I, along with Senators Santasiero and Cappelletti, introduced legislation to help counties with the collection of household hazardous waste. Senate Bill 1220 would increase the limit on matching funds that each county may receive without an increase to the overall cost of the program.
Under Act 190 of 1996, counties currently receive a state funding match of up to $100,000 to help with the cost of collecting household hazardous waste. Despite this proposed 150% cap increase to $250,000 there would be no need to increase the funding allocated by Act 190, given recent annual expenditures by counties on this program.
You can learn more about the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority Household Hazardous Waste Program by visiting their website.
Senator Martin Recognizes the Pennsylvania State University Wrestling NCAA Champions
Last week I introduced a resolution, along with Senators Dush and Corman, congratulating several members of the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) wrestling team on their achievements and for their individual victories during the 2022 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championship.
The resolution also acknowledged the team’s ninth Division 1 Team Championship in the past twelve years (eleven years if the canceled 2020 Championship due to the COVID-19 pandemic is not counted) as well as the achievements of head coach, Cael Sanderson and his amazing coaching staff.
You can watch my remarks on the resolution and read the text of it here.
Senate Acts to Help Local Police Departments Find and Keep Officers
The Senate approved legislation expanding pension benefits for law enforcement officers who want to buy back service. The legislation now advances to the House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 669 gives municipal and regional police officers the option to buy back up to five years of previous part-time or full-time service at another department.
The change could serve as a recruitment tool for police departments. Senate hearings on rising crime in Pennsylvania uncovered a crisis facing local police departments in recruiting and retaining officers.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program Application Deadline Extended to Dec. 31
The deadline for older and disabled Pennsylvanians to apply for rebates on rent and property taxes paid in 2021 has been extended from June 30 to Dec. 31, 2022.
The Property Tax/Rent 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. You can apply online at mypath.pa.gov.
Under state law, the annual deadline for the program is set as June 30. However, the law requires the Department of Revenue to evaluate the program to determine if funds are available to extend the deadline. To date, funding has been available to allow all who qualify, meaning the deadline can be extended to Dec. 31 for the current year.
College Aid Webinars in June and July
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is holding free webinars covering the two most requested topics during this time of year as families look to achieve an affordable postsecondary education.
Deep Dive into Covering the Gap
This one-hour webinar answers questions that might arise after students receive their first semester bill, such as additional costs to plan for and available loan programs.
Borrowing for Education: Which Loan is Right for Me?
This one-hour webinar covers available loan programs and advantages and disadvantages of each.
You can find more information on these sessions and register here.
Look Out for Texting Scams about Unclaimed Property
The Pennsylvania Treasury Department is warning Pennsylvanians that scammers are using text messages to target potential unclaimed property claimants.
About one in 10 Pennsylvanians is owed some of the more than $4 billion in unclaimed property held by the department, making the subject ripe for exploiting by scammers.
The Treasury Department never reaches out to people about any program, including unclaimed property, via unsolicited text messages. You can search the online database at patreasury.gov/unclaimed-property to see if you have property waiting and start the claim process.
Celebrating Fathers and Fatherhood
To all dads, I hope you enjoy your special day on Sunday, as we celebrate all the unique joys and talents you bring to a family.
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