Jun. 09, 2017

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Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol
Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program Voucher Distribution Begins in Lehigh County
During the next several weeks, voucher distribution for the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program will be held at a variety of locations throughout Lehigh County for county residents. The program provides eligible seniors with four $5 checks to use at any participating farmers market to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. Participants must be 60 or older by Dec. 31 of this year and have income below 185 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. For those who are unable to visit a distribution location, proxy forms are available in my district office. Nearby dates and locations are Tuesday, June 13, from 9:30-11:30 a.m., at the Cedarview Senior Center, 4230 Dorney Park Road, Allentown; Wednesday, June 21, from 9:30-11:30 a.m., at the Fullerton Village Apartments, 1029 Sixth St., Whitehall; Tuesday, June 27, from 9:30-11:30 a.m., at the George Dilliard Building, 425 Kuntz St., Slatington; and Tuesday, June 27, from noon to 1 p.m. at the Mountainview Manor Apartments, 550 Main St., Slatington. The vouchers also can be picked up every Wednesday beginning July 12 through September, as supplies are available, from 9-11 a.m. at the Lehigh County Government Center, 17 S. Seventh St., Allentown. 
House OKs Pension Changes for New Employees
In a major step forward in the effort to reform the state’s public pension systems, the House this week passed legislation that aims to slow the growth of pension liabilities, shift risk away from taxpayers and ensure the Commonwealth can meet its future pension obligations. Senate Bill 1, which received bipartisan support, would establish three new public pension plans from which state employees and teachers hired in 2019 or later can choose. Each offers a defined contribution component, similar to a 401(k) commonly offered to workers in the private sector. The plans provide future employees with retirement security and portability while also protecting taxpayers. Current employees will have the opportunity to opt in to a new plan or continue in their current plan, and retirees would not see any changes to their plans. The governor is expected to sign the measure. For more information, click here
Bill to Base Budget Decisions on Performance Passes House
To help ensure tax dollars are used to their maximum benefit, the House passed legislation, which would require performance-based budgeting. This type of budgeting uses performance matrices to determine whether each state department has met its goals and objectives, and bases future budget allocations on what was accomplished with the dollars given. Budget requests would include itemized expenditures for all activities required by state and federal statutes at minimum and current levels. This is another effort by the House to stand up for taxpayers and reinvent the way state government operates. House Bill 410 now goes to the Senate for review.
Improving a Health, Human Service Helpline
To help residents better access both private and public human services, House Bill 211 passed the House this week to improve Pennsylvania’s 2-1-1 system. The 2-1-1 system is a free, confidential, 24-hour information and referral service provided by the United Way that connects Pennsylvanians in need with health and human service assistance available through government programs, along with private and nonprofit organizations in their communities. The new public-private grant program established under House Bill 211 would help expand the service, develop mobile applications and ensure efficiency and quality standards across the state, all while reducing the taxpayer costs needed ensure its success. House Bill 211 now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Tax Amnesty Ends June 19
Taxpayers who owe state taxes only have a few more days to take advantage of the latest tax amnesty period. The program, which offers incentives to Pennsylvanians to settle their delinquent tax accounts, is expected to generate as much as $150 million in revenue for the Commonwealth. The program does not “forgive” taxes owed but instead waives penalties, collection and lien fees, and half of the interest owed. All taxes owed to the Commonwealth administered by the Department of Revenue are eligible for the program. The delinquent taxes must have been owed as of Dec. 31, 2015. Any unpaid taxes, penalties and interest resulting from periods after Dec. 31, 2015, are not eligible for the program. The amnesty period runs until June 19, 2017. More information is available at revenue.pa.gov. For a video explaining the program, click here.
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Office Locations
2030 Center Street, Northampton, PA 18067 | Phone: 610-502-2701
Slatington Borough Hall, 125 S. Walnut Street, First Floor, Slatington, PA 18080 | Phone: 610-760-9805
402A Irvis Office, PO Box 202183. Harrisburg, PA 17120-2183 | (717) 772-5398
Email Address: ZMako@pahousegop.com