Senator Stefano E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Stefano to Hold Senior Expo in Somerset
  • The New State Budget: Clearing Hurdles to Jobs and Opportunity
  • Deana’s Law Increases Penalties for Repeat DUIs
  • Stefano’s Bill Improving Access to Life-Saving Care Signed into Law
  • Funding Available for Projects that Promote PA Farm Products
  • Accessing Local and County Crime and Crash Data
  • Stefano Bill Supporting Disabled Veterans Signed into Law
  • How to Conserve Energy and Manage Summer Power Bills
  • Celebrating Parks and Recreational Opportunities

Stefano to Hold Senior Expo in Somerset

The New State Budget: Clearing Hurdles to Jobs and Opportunity

The new 2022-23 state budget does not include any broad-based tax increases and is structured in a way to minimize the risk of tax increases in the years ahead.

In fact, the budget actually cuts the Corporate Net Income (CNI) tax rate, which is now the highest in the nation. The new budget cuts the rate from 9.99% to 8.99% and creates a phased reduction to 4.99%, or sixth lowest, by 2031.

Not only will a lower rate attract new business, it also makes the state more attractive for businesses that already operate here and need to expand.

The budget also eliminates a disadvantage faced by Pennsylvania small businesses when competing with those in other states. Under federal tax law, a “like-kind” exchange under the Internal Revenue Code allows for tax deferral when property is exchanged for similar property. This long-standing federal provision allows employers to invest in the job-creating assets businesses need to remain competitive. Every state but Pennsylvania provides for a similar deferral on the state level.

The new spending plan also brings state tax law governing expense deductions in line with federal law, eliminating the unequal treatment of small businesses in Pennsylvania. The increase in limits makes it easier for employers to buy equipment and to invest, which promotes job growth.

Additional funding is also included for several tax credit programs that foster economic development in Pennsylvania communities, including Research and Development ($5 million increase), Film Tax Production ($30 million increase), Entertainment Economic Enhancement ($16 million increase) and Waterfront Development ($3.5 million increase).

These changes will make Pennsylvania more competitive with surrounding states and send a strong message to employers that our Commonwealth is open for business.

Deana’s Law Increases Penalties for Repeat DUIs

The Senate recently passed legislation that is now law to increase penalties for multiple DUI offenders.

Act 59 of 2022, Deana’s Law, would require consecutive sentencing, instead of concurrent, for fourth DUIs and above. It would also increase penalties for drivers with multiple DUI convictions involving high blood alcohol content levels.

The law is named after Deana Eckman, 45, who was killed in a 2019 crash involving a six-time DUI offender.

Stefano’s Bill Improving Access to Life-Saving Care Signed into Law

Legislation I sponsored to improve Pennsylvanians’ access to critical, life-saving care was signed into law. Senate Bill 861, now Act 45 of 2022, facilitates the day-to-day movement of emergency medical services (EMS) personnel across state lines in the performance of their duties.

Because of Act 45, Pennsylvania is the 22nd state to join the EMS Compact, which is a legal agreement between states that allows EMS providers to practice in multiple states without having to carry multiple licenses.

Despite the efforts made legislatively and by EMS providers, the Commonwealth still struggles to recruit and retain enough EMS personnel to appropriately care for Pennsylvanians during their time of need. Joining the Compact enables us to use qualified EMS providers from other states when people need more care than Pennsylvania’s EMS providers can offer.

Under the EMS Compact, EMS personnel need to be licensed in good standing in a home state as an emergency medical technician (EMT), advanced EMT, a paramedic or a level between EMT and paramedic; be at least 18 years of age; and practice under the supervision of a physician.

Qualified EMS personnel in Compact states have a “Privilege-to-Practice” in other Compact states on a short-term, intermittent basis.

The compact protects the public, increases access to patient care, reduces the administrative burden for EMA personnel and states, and enhances the EMS system in the United States.

Funding Available for Projects that Promote PA Farm Products

Nonprofits can apply now for grants for projects that promote Pennsylvania farm products and grow export markets.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture will award up to $303,000 in matching funds to nonprofits to reimburse up to 50% of costs for promotional and educational projects intended to increase consumer awareness and sales.

Eligible projects in 2022 can promote anything from wine to wool, hardwoods to honey, fruit, vegetables, herbs, meat, poultry or dairy — any agricultural product produced in PA.

Complete guidelines for the Pennsylvania Agricultural Product Promotion, Education and Export Promotion Matching Grant Program are in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Grant applications must be submitted online through the Department of Community and Economic Development Electronic Single Application. Applications are due by Aug. 5.

Accessing Local and County Crime and Crash Data

When crimes and crashes are investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police, the statistical data is available online through the Community Access to Information Dashboard (CAID).

CAID allows the public and the media to access and search data collected from traffic enforcement and crashes for both commercial and noncommercial vehicles, including Incident maps. There’s also data concerning various crimes, with mapping for counties and municipalities.

The dashboard allows the user to choose what data is displayed. Searches can be refined with custom date ranges, locations and categories. Queries can be made in the dashboard with statistical information from as far back as 2019. The dashboard contains no information that could be used to identify the individuals involved.  

Stefano Bill Supporting Disabled Veterans Signed into Law

Legislation I sponsored to clarify the Veterans Preference Law to include veterans who served honorably but were discharged with a disability before completing their initial obligation was signed into law.

Senate Bill 849, now Act 44 of 2022, adds an exemption for the veterans the Department of Defense processes with a disability discharge and ensures they receive the preference when seeking careers within the Commonwealth.

Previously, Veterans Preference was only granted to service members who completed their first term of service with the designation of “other than a dishonorable discharge.”

It was wrong that a veteran who served honorably but was discharged with a disability before completing his or her initial obligation wasn’t eligible for Veterans Preference – despite doing everything requested that they were physically capable of doing. I am glad I was able to help disabled veterans receive the career preference they earned.

The law will be effective in 60 days.

How to Conserve Energy and Manage Summer Power Bills

As hot weather settles in, the Public Utility Commission (PUC) offers tips on conserving energy and keeping summer power bills manageable.

  • Check your thermostat. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill.
  • Clean and replace air conditioner filters regularly and make sure air circulation paths are clear.
  • Turn off non-essential appliances and lights to reduce power use and unwanted heat.
  • Close off unused rooms and adjust air vents or thermostats to avoid unnecessary cooling expenses.
  • Seal cracks and openings to prevent warm air from leaking into your home.

You can find more tips here. For consumers struggling with paying utility bills, the PUC continues to encourage them to call their utilities to discuss the many different affordability options available.

Celebrating Parks and Recreational Opportunities

Parks and recreational opportunities are key components of healthy communities. I hope you get to enjoy the great outdoors this summer.

The new state budget includes $56 million in state funds to create a new State Parks and Forests Infrastructure Program and $100 million in federal funding for state parks and outdoor recreation.

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