Senator Pennycuick E-Newsletter

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Dear Friends,

This week, the state Senate passed legislation to cut income taxes and the tax on energy bills. Our plan invests $3 billion into all Pennsylvanians, by lowering our utility bills and adding more money to people’s paychecks – not by massive expansion of government programs. Given the state’s current financial position, I believe the most responsible thing we can do today is to give this money back to the hard-working families and small businesses I represent in Berks and Montgomery counties.

Sincerely,

In this Update:

  • Reducing the Tax Burden on Pennsylvanians
  • Providing Military Benefits to Korean Americans Who Served in Vietnam
  • National Women’s Health Month
  • Meeting with Pottstown Teacher Naimah Rhodes
  • FREE Replacement License Plate Event
  • Senate Acts to Meet PA’s Power Needs 
  • Bill to Improve Safety, Combat Illegal Street Racing Passes Senate
  • Senate Approves Bill to Get Pennsylvanians Off UC and Back to Work
  • PA Turnpike NE Extension Construction Update: Spring 2024
  • Grants Available to Capitalize on Tourism
  • Beware of Ticks and Lyme Disease

Reducing the Tax Burden on Pennsylvanians

Working families, job creators and energy consumers in Pennsylvania would see their taxes reduced by approximately $3 billion a year under a bill approved by the Senate.

Senate Bill 269 would reduce the Personal Income Tax (PIT) rate from 3.07% to 2.8%, putting more money in the wallets of every Pennsylvanian who earns a paycheck. The bill would also eliminate the Gross Receipts Tax on energy, effective Jan. 1, 2025, providing critical relief from high energy costs.

The bipartisan legislation would represent the largest tax cut for working families in Pennsylvania history, saving taxpayers more than $13 billion over the next five years.

Cutting income taxes and the tax on energy bills is a much better option than the governor’s plan for new government spending. Let Pennsylvania families keep more of the money they earned, and they will decide what to spend it on, fueling local economies.

Read the full release here.

Providing Military Benefits to Korean Americans Who Served in Vietnam

I’m proud to have championed legislation that passed the full Senate this week to give Korean Americans who served in the Vietnam War with the Korean Armed Forces the same state veterans benefits as their U.S. counterparts.

Senate Bill 973 grants the same rights, benefits, and privileges of United States military veterans to any Pennsylvania resident who is a naturalized U.S. citizen and who served in the Vietnam War with the Korean Armed Forces. There are more than 3,000 naturalized Korean American citizens who served in the Vietnam War as a part of the Korean Armed Forces.

As a U.S. Army combat veteran, I understand the enormous sacrifice made by Korean Americans during the Vietnam War. They are deserving of our thanks and our benefits as soldiers, sailors and airmen serving this great nation. Hundreds of these vital American allies, who fought with tremendous valor and honor alongside U.S. forces, now call Pennsylvania home. They have made their lives and homes in this country and are entitled to as much respect as their U.S. military counterparts.

Read more here.

National Women’s Health Month

May is National Women’s Health Month, a crucial time to focus on preventive care. Act 1 of 2023, a piece of legislation I introduced alongside Senators Kim Ward and Senator Devlin Robinson, aims to make mammograms more accessible. By reducing out-of-pocket costs, this act empowers more women to prioritize this vital screening.

Act 1 covers individuals whose insurance is state-regulated, including plans purchased through the Pennie marketplace or employer-provided insurance. The law takes effect for many plans between 2024 and 2025. All state-regulated plans must be in place before the end of 2025.

Read more here.

Meeting with Pottstown Teacher Naimah Rhodes

Great meeting with Naimah Rhodes this week! Naimah is an Early Childhood Education & Career and Technical Education Teacher at Pottstown High School and a proud member of Teach Plus, a teacher-leader organization in PA. Teach Plus empowers educators like Naimah to take leadership on key issues in education that impact equity, opportunity, and student success.

FREE Replacement License Plate Event

Attention Drivers! We are one week away from my FREE License Plate Replacement Event on May 15, 2024 at Topton Borough from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Is your license plate:

  • Faded or peeling paint?
  • Cracked or damaged material?
  • Reduced reflectivity?

An unreadable plate can be a safety hazard and lead to citations. This event provides a convenient opportunity to replace your plate at no cost. Register NOW!

Senate Acts to Meet PA’s Power Needs

Acting to establish a sweeping, new energy framework for Pennsylvania, the Senate approved legislation this week creating the Independent Energy Office (IEO) and Pennsylvania’s Opportunity with Energy Reliability (POWER) Board. The bill moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Under Senate Bill 832, the IEO will provide data-driven analysis and ensure lawmakers have the reliable information necessary to review and implement current energy strategies as well as be on the forefront of new innovative technologies. The POWER Board will be a public clearinghouse for energy development in Pennsylvania and allow residents to see public accountability on decisions that impact energy prices in Pennsylvania.

The federal government has passed legislation to provide funding for states to grow solar, wind, hydro and nuclear capacities. Pennsylvania must apply for these funds and provide a framework to distribute funding throughout the state. The General Assembly has not yet established this framework, and statutory authority is needed.

Bill to Improve Safety, Combat Illegal Street Racing Passes Senate

To address how the erratic driving of illegal street racers endangers the safety of other motorists and pedestrians, the Senate passed legislation that would increase street racing fines for first offenses to $500 and all additional infractions to $2,000. Senate Bill 998 also calls for impoundment orders for vehicles used in the offense and would hold event organizers accountable using fines, suspension of driving privileges, classification as habitual offenders, impoundment of vehicles and imprisonment.

Additionally, the bill would impose penalties for drifting on highways or trafficways and for organizing street racing or drifting events. Drifting is a driving technique that involves steering a car to make a controlled skid sideways through a turn.

Senate Bill 998 is part of the Senate Republican effort to improve community safety across Pennsylvania. It now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Approves Bill to Get Pennsylvanians Off UC and Back to Work

Unemployed Pennsylvanians who engage in job dodging by sabotaging their own efforts to get hired would jeopardize their Unemployment Compensation benefits under a bill approved by the Senate.

Job dodging is the process used by some Unemployment Compensation recipients to avoid obtaining a job and to continue to collect benefits. Job dodgers may skip a job interview or refuse employment or a referral for employment to continue receiving Unemployment Compensation benefits.

Senate Bill 1109 is intended to prevent Unemployment Compensation recipients who apply for a job from unreasonably discouraging their own hiring. It would require the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to create or update forms enabling employers to report Unemployment Compensation claimants who discourage their own hiring through job dodging. The bill moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

PA Turnpike NE Extension Construction Update: Spring 2024

Construction continues this spring on all major aspects of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s project to reconstruct and widen Interstate 476 (Northeast Extension) between Mileposts A38 and A44 in Montgomery and Bucks counties.

This spring, deck construction continues on the outer sections of the bridge carrying the Turnpike over the Ridge Valley Creek. Over the winter, the outer sections of the bridge over the Unami Creek were completed. The outer sections of the bridges over Kumry Road, Schmoutz Road, and Molasses Creek were completed last year. Construction of the center portion of the bridges will begin during the project’s next phase in late 2024.

Paving operations continue generally progressing from north to south on the outer travel lanes of the Northeast Extension between the bridges as the Turnpike’s contractor continues to excavate the remaining rocky terrain on both sides of the roadway at the southern end of the project area to accommodate widening in each direction.

Excavation, grading, and ground stabilization for 16 sediment basins continue across the project area. These basins are being constructed to a temporary condition for the next stage of the project and will be completed when the center portion of the roadway is reconstructed.

The current stage of construction is expected to finish in mid-to-late 2024. Work will then get underway to reconstruct the existing lanes and median and build the center section of the five new bridges.

Turnpike (I-476) Northeast Extension construction during this stage of the project is expected to take place Monday through Friday between 7:00 AM and 5:00 PM through August 2024. No long-term lane restrictions are expected during this stage, but occasional nighttime lane closures and traffic paces will be required.

Motorists are advised to slow down to posted work-zone speed limits. The Turnpike is employing Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement Cameras across the work area to enhance worker safety. Violators of the reduced Work Zone speed limits may be ticketed through the mail.

The current contract is a continuation of the reconstruction and widening that was completed in 2021 between mileposts A 31, just north of the Lansdale Exit, and A 38, near the Clump Road overpass in Franconia Township. The Extension was widened and improved between the Mid-County Interchange and the Lansdale Interchange under an earlier contract that was completed in 2017.

Grants Available to Capitalize on Tourism

To draw sporting events and the associated tourism to Pennsylvania, grants are available to municipalities, local authorities, nonprofit organizations and legal entities that meet specific criteria. Learn more and apply by June 30 using the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Electronic Single Application.

The Sports Marketing and Tourism Program was created to attract high-quality, amateur and professional sporting and e-sports events to Pennsylvania. Hosting a major event increases sales to small and large businesses in the area, which boosts the local economy.

The last round of grants benefited Philadelphia Soccer for the 2026 World Cup in Philadelphia, the United States Golf Association for the 2025 United States Men’s Open in Oakmont and the 2024 United States Women’s Open in Lancaster.

Beware of Ticks and Lyme Disease

Pennsylvania leads the nation with the number of Lyme disease cases. While we are lucky to have access to the many outdoor recreational opportunities in the commonwealth, they come with the risks of tickborne diseases.

National Lyme Disease Awareness Month is an opportunity to learn how to protect your family and pets against Lyme. Use insect repellent when spending time outdoors, treat your clothing and gear with permethrin and conduct a tick check when you come inside.

There are three stages of Lyme disease with distinct signs and symptoms occurring in each stage, including a bullseye rash, headaches, nerve pain, heart palpitations and fever. If you discover a tick, safely remove it, put it in a plastic bag and mail it to the Pennsylvania Tick Research Lab for free testing. Within three business days, you will know if the tick carried Lyme disease and other diseases – valuable information for you and your health care provider.

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