Jun. 30, 2019

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The latest news from PA State Representative Rosemary Brown

District of Character
The “District of Character” is an initiative I created to enhance character development and promote daily reminders for residents of the 189th District about how we can create a stronger community without policy changes. No one is perfect, but we can always work to improve our character daily.
June word of the month is “Ethics.”

“The discipline dealing with what is good, bad and with moral duty and obligation; a set of moral principles; a theory or system of moral values.”         

2019 State Budget Process Proven Successful and Showcased Many Legislative Accomplishments

This past week proved eventful and successful with the House passing the state budget by Thursday afternoon, which was sent to the governor's desk for his signature.                       

The budget will spend roughly $34 billion, which is $149 million less than the governor’s original February proposal, and includes no new taxes or fees on Pennsylvania taxpayers.

We as legislators are focused on the future of our Commonwealth and standing up for taxpayers. As part of this year’s budget, we were able to invest over $250 million into our Rainy Day Fund with the help of an improving economy and our dedication to being fiscally responsible. This large investment will help protect taxpayers from future tax increases while also keeping Pennsylvania financially secure in case of an economic downturn.

Additionally, our strong economy has contributed to an 8% increase in Sales and Use Tax collections, a 5% increase in Personal Income Tax collections, and a 22% increase in Corporate Net Income tax collections, thus allowing us to further invest in progress with state priorities.

You can view my full comments on the state budget here.
Other key highlights of the 2019-20 state budget are as followed:

• $432 million increase for the PreK-12 education with a $160 million increase for basic education, a $50 million increase for special education, a $10 million increase for career and technical education, a $25 million increase for Pre-K Counts and $60 million for school security. The increase for special education is important to property taxes because it is one of the exceptions school districts can apply for to raise taxes beyond the rate of inflation. By increasing funding, we are meeting a strong need of the school districts.

• $97 million increase from the General Fund to the Pennsylvania State Police, while continuing to decrease state police funding from the Motor License Fund. An additional $9.7 million has been allocated in the budget for three new cadet classes.

Additionally, in the midst of voting on the budget, the House unanimously passed my legislation, House Bill 49, which would require public schools to allow students, in grades 9-12, to apply up to one credit earned for successfully completing a personal finance course to satisfy their social studies, family and consumer science, mathematics or business education credit requirement for graduation.

My budget reform legislation, House Bill 923, also was amended into the budget’s administrative code, House Bill 1461, passed by both chambers, and presented to the governor’s desk for his approval.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program Application Deadline Extended to End of Year

As a reminder, the deadline for older adults and Pennsylvania residents with disabilities to apply for rebates on rent and property taxes paid in 2018 has been extended from June 30 to Dec. 31, 2019!

If you need any assistance with your Property Tax/Rent Rebate form or need to obtain one, please contact my office at 570-420-8301.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program Scam

The Department of Revenue is warning Pennsylvania seniors and people with disabilities of a scam involving the popular Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program.

The scam consists of unsolicited telephone calls from a person claiming to work for the Department of Revenue. The caller starts the call by saying the recipient's application for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program has been approved. The caller then asks if the recipient would like the rebate directly deposited into a bank account, which prompts a request from the caller for the recipient's banking information.

The Department of Revenue DOES NOT make unsolicited calls requesting banking information and warns consumers to always be extremely cautious when they receive unsolicited phone calls.

For more about this scam and how to protect yourself, click here.

Here is the Scoop on the House’s Budget Reform Bill Package

Recently, Reps. Eric Nelson and Jim Struzzi and I participated in a roundtable radio discussion to talk about our individual budget reform bills that were passed by the House last week.

I remain committed to respecting taxpayers' dollars!

You can listen to the full podcast here.                       
Information on Fourth of July Impaired Driving Campaign

The fourth of July Impaired Driving Campaign is underway until July 7. Traffic Safety Coordinator, Tracy Fox from the Highway Safety Network has some safety reminders for this initiative.

With the “official” start of summer, this initiative will concentrate on Boating Under the Influence as well as Driving Under the Influence. There will be DUI checkpoints and DUI roving details across Pennsylvania during this time. An increased number of Water Conservation Officers from the Fish & Boat Commission will also be out on waterways and at recreational boating checkpoints.

Driving or boating impaired can come in several different forms such as alcohol, prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, illegal drugs and/or medical marijuana. Yes, you can be arrested for driving under the influence while using medical marijuana. The fact that you carry a medical marijuana card does not exclude you from being arrested for being incapable of safe driving.

DUI penalties have increased since the beginning of the year with stiffer penalties such as higher fines, more jail time, mandated use of an Ignition Interlock, etc. Be responsible if you are going to be out celebrating. Use the SaferRide App, designate a driver or use ride shares such as Uber or Lyft. Don’t become a statistic and don’t make someone else a statistic because you decided to drive impaired. Remember, the fourth of July is for celebrating freedom, so don’t lose yours by driving or boating impaired.

Questions or comments can be emailed to tfox@hsnetwork.org.
Fish for Free on Independence Day

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is hosting the second of its two annual Fish for Free Days on Independence Day, Thursday, July 4.

This is a great opportunity to try your hand at fishing in any of Pennsylvania’s waterways, even if you don’t have a license.

Both residents and non-residents are eligible. Just make sure you follow all other fishing regulations.

For your convenience, there are even opportunities to borrow equipment from certain sites at state parks and other locations. You can find those locations by clicking here

Independence Day Reminders

A few important reminders as you plan to celebrate our nation’s independence next week!

If you are traveling, check out 511pa.com. Free and available 24 hours a day, the site provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 950 traffic cameras. 511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.

PennDOT will also close its driver license service centers on Thursday, July 4. Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services, including all forms, publications and driver training manuals, online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, dmv.pa.gov.

Have a safe and happy July Fourth!

New Tap House Opens its Doors in East Stroudsburg

Last week, I enjoyed the beautiful weather and a delicious, quick bite at the new Derailed Tap House located on Crystal Street in East Stroudsburg! It is always a pleasure to announce a wonderful new business in Monroe County.

Congratulations to Marc Jackett and Robert O’Hara, co-owners of Derailed Tap House. Both owners have established businesses in Monroe County including the Beer House Café, on Crystal Street; Little Caesar’s Pizza, on South Courtland Street; and Cluck U Chicken. Thank you both for your hard work and investments in our county!

Pictured above from left: Robert O’Hara, me and Marc Jackett.
Just a reminder: If you are encountering an issue with state government, please feel free to contact my district office. We are here to help you with the following services:      
 - Driver’s license and vehicle registration applications and renewals. 
 - Assistance with PennDOT paperwork (lost cards, changes, corrections, special registration plates, vanity plates, and temporary placards for disabled persons).                         
 - PACE and PACENET applications for seniors.                         
 - State Motor Vehicle and Driver Licensing Work.
 - Voter registration forms and absentee ballot applications.                         
 - State tax forms.                         
 - Student aid applications.                         
 - Free state maps, state park information, and PA Vacation Guides.                         
 - Copies of legislation and tours of the State Capitol.                         
 - Referrals to agencies to resolve state-related matters. 
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Office Locations
143 Seven Bridge Road, East Stroudsburg, PA 18301 | Phone: (570) 420-8301
210 Ryan Office Building, PO Box 202189, Harrisburg, PA 17120-2189 | Phone: (717) 260-6171
Email: rbrown@pahousegop.com
TTY: 855-282-0614