What You Need To Know About The Bill To Privatize State Liquor Sales

Legislation to end Pennsylvania’s 82-year monopoly on liquor sales is due for a vote Thursday in the state House.

The plan would dramatically change the way alcohol is sold in Pennsylvania.

House Bill 466, sponsored by Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, is similar to a proposal that cleared the House in 2013. It would close the 600-plus state stores and replace them with 1,200 private licenses.

“In a year when we are faced with a potential $2 billion budget deficit, I personally think it is important to consider avenues for revenue other than taxes,” Turzai said in a memo to colleagues seeking support.

It was estimated last session that the proposal would generate about $1 billion up front, with continued revenue from existing liquor and sale taxes.

Read more:

http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-bill-to-privatize/article_a18654d0-bb6b-11e4-bc93-6bbbd42717b0.html

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Pennsylvania Senate Approves Distressed Cities Bill

HARRISBURG — Scranton residents could see their taxes rise under legislation approved unanimously Wednesday by the Senate.

The measure would require that Scranton levy a tax on residents equal to or more than its 0.75 percent commuter earned income tax.

This stipulation is included in a late amendment added to the bill by the sponsor, Sen. John Eichelberger, R-30, Hollidaysburg. The goal here is to treat all Act 47 municipalities — including those like Scranton that have distressed municipal pension plans subject to Act 205 — the same, said Sen. John Blake, D-22, Archbald.

Ten other municipalities levy a pension-related earned income tax, but they levy it on both commuters and resident workers, he added.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/senate-approves-distressed-cities-bill-1.1759951

With House Passage, All Are Aboard State Transportation Bill

Pennsylvania state map county outlines

Pennsylvania state map county outlines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Billions in new taxes and spending for roads, bridges and mass transit in Pennsylvania comfortably cleared a final legislative hurdle Thursday with a bipartisan vote to send a long-stalled bill to the governor.

The state House voted 113-85 to tax gasoline and raise motorist fees over five years to generate at least $2.3 billion in annual additional funding.

Gov. Tom Corbett said in brief remarks at an appearance with a few dozen legislators that he perceived an urgent need to address transportation infrastructure after taking office three years ago.

He said passage of the vote showed leadership and mentioned concerns about public safety several times.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=519891

Gergely Chief Of Staff Testified Before ‘Operation Pork Chop’ Grand Jury In Mon Valley Gambling Case

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The chief of staff for Pennsylvania state Rep. Marc Gergely, D-White Oak, testified in June before an investigating grand jury looking into the suspected Mon Valley gambling operation of Ronald “Porky” Melocchi.

Thomas Maglicco appeared June 17, his attorney, Douglas Sughrue, said this morning.

Mr. Sughrue declined to provide details of his client’s testimony.

“I’m not gonna get into those specifics,” Mr. Sughrue said.  “It was brief.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-south/gergely-chief-of-staff-testified-before-operation-pork-chop-grand-jury-in-mon-valley-gambling-case-702605/#ixzz2eQJ414Ac

PennDOT Lists Berks County Projects Transportation Bill Could Fund

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PennDOT says it could make Route 222 four lanes from Reading to Allentown and catch up on road and bridge repairs all over Berks County if it can get its hands on more money.

The agency released its long-awaited Decade of Investment list Friday, detailing on an interactive website what extra projects it could get done if the state Legislature passes one of the transportation funding boosts that have been proposed.

The site allows people to compare what roadwork could be done if funds stay the same with what could be done with the $1.8 billion per year increase Gov. Tom Corbett proposed in February or the $2.5 billion per year increase the state Senate passed this month.

“There’s not much that’s going to happen if we’re faced with the current funding,” PennDOT spokesman Ronald J. Young Jr. said, adding, “We’d just be treading water, so to speak.”

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=486658

State Budget Action Takes Center Stage This Week In The House, But Will It Get Done On Time?

The House today is expected to begin debate on a $28.3 billion state spending plan for next year.

It is the House Republicans’ 2013-14 budget proposal, one of three that has been put on the table along with ones from Gov. Tom Corbett and Senate Democrats.

None of the three plans call for any increases in in broad-based taxes, such as the sales tax or personal income taxes.

Much of today’s debate is likely to  focus on amendments that reflect the House Democrats’ priorities that would raise the proposed total spending level to $28.7 billion.  The additional money they want to spend would be directed to K-12 and higher education and social services.

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/06/state_budget_action_takes_cent.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Hispanic Growth Brings New State House Seat To Allentown

English: City of Allentown from east side

English: City of Allentown from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Residents in parts of the greater Lehigh Valley are going to need a new score card to keep track of who their state lawmakers are.

The state Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld new legislative boundaries for the House and Senate as more geographically compact — and less politically gerrymandered — than a previous plan the justices rejected last year.

The new map goes into effect in the 2014 election.  It includes a House seat and Senate seat that are moving to the region from Allegheny County because of population declines there.

In the House, the 22nd District is moving to Allentown to reflect the city’s rising Hispanic population in its downtown and south side.  That newly created Allentown seat pushes Republican Justin Simmons, who has represented those city neighborhoods since 2010, into Emmaus, Upper Milford Township and Montgomery County.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-pa-supreme-court-lawmaker-district-maps-20130508,0,4974852.story

Pottstown, Phoenixville Split By Court-Approved Re-Districting Plan

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Both Pottstown and Phoenixville will be split into two different legislative districts under the legislative re-districting approved Wednesday by the state Supreme Court.

The new districts will take effect in the 2014 election cycle and shift legislative lines for the state House and Senate seats throughout Southeast Pennsylvania and may change who is representing you in Harrisburg.

In Pottstown, the plan unanimously approved by the court, puts the first, second and part of the seventh wards of Pottstown into the 26th District, currently represented by longtime Chester County Republican Tim Hennessey.

The third, fourth, fifth, sixth and other half of the seventh wards will continue to be represented by the 146th District, a seat currently held by freshman Democrat Mark Painter according to the plan.

Read m0re:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130508/NEWS01/130509321/pottstown-phoenixville-split-by-court-approved-redistricting-plan#full_story

Liquor Privatization Faces Slower Senate

HARRISBURG – The confetti has been swept up and the empty champagne bottles cleared away.

The hubbub of news releases, tweets and Facebook postings trumpeting the pros and cons of Pennsylvania’s latest liquor privatization bill has culminated in its passage by the House.

In a nearly straight party-line vote last week, the Republican majority handed Gov. Tom Corbett a victory that he and his allies fought hard for, even though the bill differs radically from his original plan to auction off the 600 state liquor stores.

The compromise plan is designed to phase out the state-run stores county by county, as private operators – beer distributors only for the first year – and others buy at least 1,200 liquor and wine licenses.  It also would allow grocery stores to sell wine.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=463312

Harrisburg Moving Closer To State Financial Takeover

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 185 – 9 in favor of a bill that will allow a state-appointed receiver to take control of Harrisburg’s finances.

It is also very liked this bill will overwhelmingly pass in the PA State Senate!

Harrisburg is a financially distressed community under ACT 47.  City Council has refused to comply with recommendations made by the Act 47 team and the mayor’s proposal was also vetoed.

PA State Senator Jeff Piccola is leading the charge for a state takeover.  Harrisburg is hundreds of millions of dollars in debt from a failed incinerator retrofit.

Governor Corbett is expected to sign the bill when it reaches his desk.

New Blight Legislation In Pennsylvania! A Tool For Communities Like Pottstown

This news is too awesome for words.  If you read my blog, you know that blight is something I post about along with brownfield reclamation.  These issues are pivotal to places like Pottstown and their redevelopment.  We need to attract middle class taxpaying homeowners and business/industry to reestablish the tax base.  Getting rid of run-down properties is certainly one way to do that!  Nobody wants to live in or locate a business in a blighted neighborhood.

The Neighborhood Blight Reclamation and Revitalization Act, Senate Bill 900, unanimously passed in the PA Senate and is under review by the House Urban Affairs Committee.

This bill is aimed at slumlords and their neglected properties.  If passed, the bill gives municipalities the ability to place liens against the property owners TOTAL ASSETS, not just the property in question.  It also gives municipalities the power of extradition against out-of-state slumlords to face charges here in PA!  Property owners can be denied permit applications if they are behind on taxes, municipal charges (i.e. sewer/water) or have code violations.  County Commissioners would be given the power to establish a “housing court” that would only deal with housing related offenses!

WOW!

Of course, there are those opposed because of the total asset seizure provision.  IMHO good landlords do not have anything to worry about.  They take care of their properties, pay their bills and are an asset to the community.  For those who do not play by the rules it is about time there are some real consequences!

If you feel passionate about this bill becoming law, contact your Pennsylvania State Representative and urge him or her to vote yes on this important bill when it comes before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.