View in browser
Follow Sen. Argall on Twitter for Senate happenings –
For photos from Sen. Argall, follow him on Instagram
In this email update:
Recognizing our friends and neighbors
As a reminder, I am asking that residents in the 29th Senate district in Berks and Schuylkill Counties nominate their friends and neighbors who have made a positive impact on their communities.
When submitting your nominations, please provide the following information:
Each week in my e-newsletter, I will feature an individual who has been nominated for their public service.
I look forward to reading about your friends and neighbors who are improving our local communities every day!
Property tax strategy meeting in Lancaster
At the request of Senators Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) and Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster), the Senate Majority Policy Committee, which I chair, continued its series of bipartisan, statewide public hearings and workshops regarding our existing school property tax system.
During this meeting held at Pequea Valley High School in Lancaster, some of the alternative solutions to our existing school property tax system that were discussed included:
Local residents were also able to ask us questions about these initiatives as well as the potential impacts these proposals would have on homeowners now and in the future.
Based on the high volume of correspondence and input we receive from local residents not only in Berks and Schuylkill Counties, but across the state, it is clear that our current system is a huge burden on Pennsylvania’s homeowners.
In 2015, Professors Terry Madonna and Michael Young described our current system best when they said: “Pennsylvania’s property tax, like property taxes in many other states, is a fossilized artifact from the 19th century that faltered badly in the 20th century and failed spectacularly into the 21st century.”
A special thank you to everyone who participated in this engaging and informative discussion.
Despite the setback to this issue when the Lt. Governor broke a tie-breaking vote to defeat SB 76 in 2015, we continue to seek ways to move this difficult issue forward.
You can watch the discussion here.
Read more about the meeting here.
Our next bipartisan workshop on this subject will be held in the Lehigh Valley on September 20, hosted by Senator Lisa Boscola, the Chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee.
Touring the Susquehanna Steam Electric Station
Last Thursday, Senator John Gordner (R-Snyder/Northumberland/Montour/Columbia/Luzerne), Representatives Dave Millard (R-Columbia), Tom Mehaffie (R-Dauphin) and Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna) and I toured the Susquehanna Steam Electric Station in Berwick.
The tour, which was led by Talen Energy, provided us with a good opportunity to learn more about nuclear energy and its importance not only in Pennsylvania, but across the nation.
Susquehanna Steam Electric Station contains two boiling water reactors with a combined capacity of 2,600 megawatts, making it one of the largest nuclear power plants in the country. Each reactor generates enough electricity to power approximately one million homes.
Nuclear energy is part of the mix of traditional and renewable fuel sources that is needed to generate affordable and reliable power that will ensure our nation’s continued economic growth.
Tamaqua’s coal mine reclamation efforts
Pennsylvania is home to the only domestic source of anthracite coal, and Schuylkill County contains many of these anthracite mines in northeastern Pennsylvania. My grandfather Miller and my great grandfathers Argall and Howells worked in those mines for decades, as did many of their fathers and their brothers.
The anthracite coal industry plays a significant role in boosting our economy and creating more family-sustaining jobs. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s report on coal production, coal production in Pennsylvania is up 20.4 percent. Read more from the report here.
Last week, DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell visited Tamaqua to discuss the borough’s coal mine reclamation efforts just a few blocks from the home where I grew up with my parents and my younger brother in the 1960s and 70s.
By tackling these former coal mines in Tamaqua, we hope to better control water and air pollution and improve the health and safety of residents in the community.
Once these sites are cleaned up, it will make way for more economic development and the creation of more jobs in the future for local people. How’s that for a win-win-win solution?
Pictured: Micah Gursky (center), Tamaqua Borough Council, Kim Snyder (left), Environmental Program Manager with DEP’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation and John Stefanko (right), Deputy Secretary, Office of Active and Abandoned Mine Operations.
Pictured: DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell (left of me) with representatives of Tamaqua Borough Council, DCED, PennDOT, federal Office of Surfacing Mining, Congressman Cartwright’s office and the property owner, Lehigh Anthracite.
House State Government Committee reviews Lieutenant Governor’s spending habits
On Wednesday, members of the House State Government Committee held a panel discussion to review the Lieutenant Governor’s use of taxpayer dollars.
The committee was specifically reviewing the Lieutenant Governor’s spending on items such as groceries, beverages, events and newspaper subscriptions since coming into office in 2015.
It was reported that the Lieutenant Governor and his staff spent around $37,000 on groceries, $3,000 on beverages and $5,500 on newspaper subscriptions.
During this discussion and review, questions were asked whether these types of expenses were necessary or simply excessive.
PennLive also put together a database containing the Lieutenant Governor’s expenses from the time he entered office in 2015 until April of this year. In total, it was reported that his office incurred expenses over $250,000 during the course of that time period.
You can read more about the Lieutenant Governor’s expenses from PennLive here.
Shenandoah Heritage Day and Parade of Nations
This past weekend, I attended the annual Shenandoah Heritage Day and Parade of Nations celebration.
This event celebrates the rich history of Shenandoah, as well as the cultural and ethnic diversity of the community’s residents who represent several nations around the world.
At this celebration, there were many festivities – including the popular parade, vendors, games and entertainment for everyone to enjoy.
I presented a citation from the Pennsylvania Senate recognizing this year’s honorary grand marshal, retired local Republican Herald journalist, John E. Usalis.
You can read more about the event here.
Labor Day fishing opportunities in PA
This Labor Day, September 4, the PA Fish and Boat Commission is offering two special fishing opportunities for adults and children.
The first offer is a $1 license for adult residents and non-residents. This license is good to use only for Labor Day.
The second offer is for the Mentored Youth Panfish Day, which provides youth anglers who have a free mentored youth permit or have purchased a voluntary youth license, with the opportunity to fish on 19 Panfish Enhancement Lakes throughout Pennsylvania – which includes the Blue Marsh Reservoir in Berks County.
These offers provide citizens and their families with the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors and fish.
You can read more about these opportunities here.
Stop credit and debit card skimmers
Four Pennsylvania agencies are working together to capture illegal credit and debit card skimmers at gas stations and ATMs and eliminate this type of high tech fraud, according to the Department of Banking and Securities,PA State Police, the PA Department of Agriculture, and the Office of Attorney General.
These agencies suggest purchasers adopt six consumer protection tips against skimming:
Those victimized by card skimming will find the Scam Alert Card provides a list of resources and necessary contacts with phone numbers to report the crime to the appropriate authorities.