In this Update:
Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Regan Municipal Police Pension Buyback Bill
The Senate voted almost unanimously this week to pass legislation I am sponsoring that provides municipal police officers the ability to purchase previous police service towards their pension.
Senate Bill 669 would permit a full-time, vested police officer to buy back up to five years of prior full- or part-time police service that was performed at another police department. This bill is essential to ensuring that our brave men and women in blue do not lose credit for time that they served, especially when starting their career in a part-time position. Currently, police officers can purchase military service for the same purposes, and this legislation is based on that framework.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Regan Bill to Aid Retired Troopers Advances from Senate Committee
The Senate Law & Justice Committee, which I chair, advanced a bill I am sponsoring to help many of our retired State Police Troopers.
Senate Bill 1251 provides a Cost of Living Adjustment for retired Pennsylvania State Troopers, who have not seen such an adjustment in their pension payments since 2002. With inflation at an all-time high and the average cumulative price increase 50% higher than it was 20 years ago, now is the time to act to help so many of our retired Troopers who are living at or below the poverty line.
This legislation provides a three-tiered monthly annuity increase based on retirement date for troopers who retired prior to June 30, 2010. This tiered system will provide the greatest assistance to those older retirees who are most in need, while still providing an increase to younger retirees. SB 1251 is an important step to providing for those who risked their lives every day to protect our Commonwealth.
The Committee also advanced Sente Bill 1193, which establishes the Law Enforcement Recovery Grant Program.
SB 1251 is before the full Senate for consideration, and SB 1193 was referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee for review.
Regan Visits Olivia’s House in York
It was an honor to join the incredible team at Olivia’s House in York after assisting them to obtain a grant in honor of Sam Grimm, who passed away in 2019 after a battle with cancer. Sam’s family was on hand to share their personal experience of how Olivia’s House helped them after Sam’s passing.
Olivia’s House is a grief and loss center for children and provides resources as well as education for helping to heal those children and their families who suffer grief and loss. This organization provides such a tremendous support system for our community, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to help them to sustain their mission.
Regan Attends Event at Medard’s House in New Cumberland
I was privileged to join our friends at Medard’s House in New Cumberland, including Saundra Colello, Founder and Executive Director, for their open house this week after having been able to assist them in getting a grant so that Saundra and her staff of volunteers can continue to enrich the lives of kids who need it most.
Medard’s House is an amazing organization built by so many people with kind and gracious hearts. They provide an after-school program for students in the New Cumberland area and serve as a place to mentor, feed, and support at-risk youth. Medard’s House is the ultimate story of finding good from tragedy, and I know they will continue to do great things for our community.
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.
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.
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
As a father of four, I look forward to spending time with my children this weekend and reflecting on the fond memories I have of my own father, who was such a great role model for me. To all dads, I hope you enjoy your special day on Sunday.