In this Update:
Regan Police Pension Buyback Bill Advances from Committee
The Senate Law & Justice Committee, which I chair, unanimously advanced legislation I am sponsoring that provides for a municipal police pension buyback. Senate Bill 669 requires most municipalities and regional police departments to amend their ordinance or resolution establishing a police pension fund to provide vested full-time officers the option to purchase up to five years of pension service credit for prior part-time or full-time police service provided at another department.
The Committee also unanimously supported Senate Bill 1212. This legislation, sponsored by Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill, would allow restaurants, bars, taverns, breweries and hotels with outdoor seating to have music within specific sound levels during certain hours. This bill levels the playing field for these licensees, seeing as wineries have been provided this allowance for several years. The Governor picked winners and losers amongst businesses during COVID, and we should not be allowing the same to happen with liquor licensees wanting to host outdoor music.
Regan Joins Fellow Motorcyclists at ABATE Rally
On Monday, I had the opportunity to speak at a rally hosted by the Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education (ABATE) of PA on the Capitol steps. Although my riding days are likely behind me, it was a pleasure to join my fellow riders in their advocacy efforts, especially as more bikes are hitting the road during the warmer months.
I highlighted several pieces of legislation important to motorcyclists, including legislation I am sponsoring – both Senate Bill 925 to eliminate the automatic assumption that speed is a cause of an accident and Senate Bill 1045, which would allow off-highway motorcycles to register and have access to ATV trails in our state parks and forests. Additionally, I called attention to legislation being sponsored by colleagues in both the Senate and the House that would provide Lemon Law coverage to motorcycles, which I have been a proponent of.
And a reminder to all drivers, please be alert of motorcycles on your daily travels, so riders may get home safe to their families.
Regan Speaks at Capitol on Importance of School Choice
On Wednesday, I spoke at an event in the Capitol Rotunda hosted by Teach PA, an advocacy group for Jewish day schools in Pennsylvania. My remarks focused on the importance of school choice so that students can pursue a quality education in an environment best suited to their needs. Our public school system is not for everyone, and the system of having a zip code determine a child’s education and future is patently unfair.
Fifty five percent of students in Jewish day schools receive scholarships through our state Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs. I have been a proponent of school choice for years now, which is why I am the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 527 to establish an automatic escalator for the EITC and OSTC programs. This would ensure an increase in available tax credits as demand continues to rise for the programs – from students, their parents, and businesses willing to support young people in their pursuit of a quality education and a bright future.
Regan Welcomes Red Land Students to Capitol
Red Land High School students in Mr. Jevon Ford’s government class visited the Capitol on Monday. They had the opportunity to tour the building, and Rep. Dawn Keefer and I spent time with them discussing legislative issues and how a bill becomes a law.
Declining Revenue Projections Highlight the Risk of Gov. Wolf’s Budget Plan
The state Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) released its initial revenue estimate for 2022-23 and warns that tax revenue is likely to fall in the coming fiscal year. The IFO’s projection for General Fund revenue next year is $42.26 billion – about an 11.5% drop from 2021-22.
The new numbers further highlight the risk of Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed state budget and emphasize what Senate Republicans have been saying all along: the governor’s bloated spending plan is unrealistic and unsustainable. His plan to increase spending by more than $4.5 billion next year would come at the expense of Pennsylvania’s long-term financial security.
The new figures from the IFO build on previous analysis that shows the potential for Gov. Wolf’s $45.7 billion budget to create multi-billion-dollar deficits for years to come.
As the June 30 deadline for enacting a state budget approaches, Senate Republicans will work to draft a more responsible plan that protects taxpayers already struggling with staggering inflation and an uncertain financial future.
Bill Establishing Pennsylvania Chief Nursing Officer Approved by Senate
Legislation establishing the position of Pennsylvania Chief Nursing Officer was approved by the Senate, recognizing the crucial role that registered nurses play in the delivery of health care.
Senate Bill 848 would establish the Office of Chief Nursing Officer, modeled after the role and confirmation process of the Physician General. The duties of the Pennsylvania Chief Nursing Officer would include:
Senate Bill 848 will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Acts to Improve Access to Property Tax and Rent Rebates
The Senate acted to close a loophole that made many senior citizens ineligible for the state Property Tax/Rent Rebate program. The bill moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The problem arose when senior citizens transferred retirement funds into other retirement accounts, which would show up as available income on an application and make the individual ineligible for help lowering their property taxes.
Senate Bill 230 would allow retirees to transfer those retirement account investments between accounts within 60 days without counting toward income when applying for property tax or rent relief. If those funds are not invested into another qualified retirement plan within 60 days, the funds will be considered income.
PUC Offers Tips for Dealing with June Electric Rate Hikes
With costs for electric generation increasing on June 1 for many utility customers, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) is reminding consumers they have options to manage anticipated higher bills.
According to the PUC, the best response for those struggling to pay energy bills is to call utilities and ask about assistance programs, manage energy use and shop for competitive electric generation suppliers. You can find more from the PUC about consumer options here.
The rate increase will occur even before Gov. Tom Wolf’s carbon tax kicks in, which could nearly quadruple new electricity costs for consumers. The carbon tax is part of Pennsylvania’s entry into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which was enacted by the governor without legislative approval.
Further Extension of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program to June 17
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has been extended a second time to June 17, allowing additional households to apply for help.
LIHEAP is a federally funded program administered by the state that provides assistance for home heating bills. Assistance is available for renters and homeowners.
Memorial Day: Our Duty to Remember
I hope you have a great Memorial Day Weekend with friends and family and take some time to remember the profound sacrifice of those who died fighting for our nation.