In this Update:
Senator Martin Hosts Senate Education Hearing on Wolf’s Proposed Charter School Regulations
Earlier this week I hosted a hearing of the Senate Education Committee to discuss charter school regulations proposed by the Governor. The proposed changes impact charter school applications, admission policies, boards of trustees, information on management companies, liability coverage, fiscal and auditing standards, funding and academic accountability.
Over the last few years, in the world of growing executive orders and regulations, there is concern about the proper role of the legislature and the proper role of the executive branch. It is my belief that these changes should be a part of the legislative process and not conducted through bureaucratic regulatory procedures as the Governor is attempting.
The hearing in its entirety can he viewed along with written testimony on the Senate Education Committee website.
Op Ed: Illogical Mandates and Flawed Policies Lead to Bad Health Outcomes for Kids
A couple of weeks ago the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story about beds being in short supply at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP); however, fewer than a dozen patients within the 585-bed facility are there because they have the COVID-19 virus.
CHOP is filled with patients because of the policies imposed by certain elected officials. The health care facility is dealing with a surge of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which CHOP’s chief medical officer Ron Keren told the Inquirer is due to “immunity debt.” As a result of children being cooped up for the better part of two years, with most not in school classrooms or being with other kids outside of school, they have become very vulnerable to these viruses.
You can read more of my thoughts on this topic by viewing my op ed which was published by the Philadelphia Inquirer this past week.
Calling for the Protection of Banking Privacy
State Treasurer Stacy Garrity joined a coalition of 23 state treasurers, auditors and financial officers calling on President Joe Biden and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to dismiss proposals that would require private banks and credit unions to report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) account flows valued at more than $600.
This proposal, which is part of the Biden Administration’s $3.5 trillion American Families Plan revenue proposal, would allow for the unnecessary monitoring of private banking activity of more than 100 million Americans. It would be one of the largest infringements of data privacy in our nation’s history and cause exceptional administrative burdens for our community banks and credit unions.
The Pennsylvania Bankers Association, the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers, and the CrossState Credit Union Association all oppose this proposal.
Senate Passes Bill to Allow for First-time Homebuyers Savings Accounts
This week, the Senate passed a bill to allow individuals to open a first-time homebuyer savings account with a financial institution.
Senate Bill 157 would allow individuals to open an account of up to $150,000 with a financial institution of their choice for the sole purpose of purchasing a first home. Funds from a first-time homebuyer savings account may only be used to pay or reimburse the eligible costs for the purchase of a single-family home in Pennsylvania.
Since 2009, the number of first-time homebuyers has significantly decreased. According to the National Association of Realtors, the share of first-time homebuyers in the national home sale market has fallen from 45% to just more than 32%.
Individuals taking advantage of a first-time homebuyers savings account will be able to deduct up to $5,000 on their individual taxes, or up to $10,000 for a joint account. The tax deduction can be for no longer than 10 years and may not exceed $50,000 within a ten-year period. Unused funds would be counted against an individual’s taxable income.
The bill passed to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Addressing Teacher Shortage by Improving Certification Process
The Senate unanimously passed a bill in response to the teacher shortage that would simplify the process for out-of-state teachers to obtain certification in Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 224 would allow an out-of-state candidate who has completed any state-approved educator preparation program (including field placement/student teaching) from an accredited institution of higher education to be eligible for a comparable in-state instructional certification.
The bill would also require the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to recognize and accept out-of-state candidates’ qualifying scores on equivalent content tests toward PDE’s testing and certification requirements. It would also grant Pennsylvania certification to any candidate who holds a valid certificate issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards – the most respected professional certification available in K-12 education.
According to PDE, the number of newly issued in-state instructional teaching certificates has dropped by 66% since 2010.
Senate Bill 224 now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Ways to Reduce Your Energy Usage and Costs
Since October is National Energy Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to become more energy efficient. In addition to the environmental benefits, it will also benefit your wallet.
Click here for ways you can reduce your energy usage and associated costs.
Another way to save on energy costs is by switching your electric supplier. In Pennsylvania, you can choose the company that generates your home or business’s electricity. This means you can choose a supplier that offers the lowest price or provides a specific service you want, such as renewable energy.
Click here to shop for your electric supplier at PA Power Switch, the official electric shopping website of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
Tips for Crime Prevention Month
October is Crime Prevention Month, a good time to recognize that avoiding being a victim involves informed citizens in addition to efforts of local law enforcement.
Here are some crime prevention tips from the National Crime Prevention Council.
If you have a question about the information in this e-newsletter or other state related matters that you would like a response to, please click HERE to submit your inquiry through my website. This will help to ensure that we are able to respond to your question in a timely fashion due to the high volume of emails and the ever growing amount of computer generated spam mail we receive daily.