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Fall Referendum Would Expand Homestead Exclusion
On November 7, Pennsylvania voters will be asked to consider a proposed constitutional amendment that would expand the current homestead exclusion.
Currently, the Pennsylvania Constitution allows local taxing authorities to exclude from taxation up to 50 percent of the median assessed value of homestead property. If approved by the voters, the amendment would increase the allowable exclusion to 100 percent, which would allow for the elimination of school property taxes on owner-occupied residential properties.
In order for a constitutional amendment to be enacted, it must be passed in two consecutive legislative sessions and approved by a voter referendum. In the 2015-2016 Legislative Session, the proposed language was contained in House Bill 147, which passed the Senate 45-2 and the House 200-0. During the current session, House Bill 1285, containing the proposed change, passed the Senate 46-2 and the House 190-0.
The question that will appear on the ballot states:
State Police Announces 2016 DUI Arrest Totals
The Pennsylvania State Police recently announced that troopers made 19,518 arrests for driving under the influence (DUI) in 2016. The total includes arrests for both driving under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence of drugs and reflects a 3.8 percent increase from the total number of DUI arrests in 2015.
Additionally, PSP investigated 4,520 DUI-related crashes in 2016.
State troopers certified as drug recognition experts (DREs) conducted 1,016 drug influence evaluations in 2016. DREs receive specialized classroom and field training to identify the physiological signs of impairment caused by a wide range of controlled substances.
A complete list of DUI arrest totals, DUI crash investigations, and DRE drug influence evaluations broken down by troop is available here. The statistics cover only those arrests and crashes investigated by state police and do not include statistics from other law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania.
Applications for First Responder Grants Accepted Until October 20
Applications will be accepted for the Fire Company and Emergency Medical Service Grant Program through Friday, Oct. 20. The program provides grants for volunteer and career fire, emergency medical services and rescue companies. Grants may be used for construction or renovation of a unit’s station, the purchase or repair of equipment, training or debt reduction.
The maximum grant is $15,000 for fire companies and $10,000 for volunteer ambulance services. Career ambulance companies can apply for the grants, so long as they are designated as a municipality’s primary EMS provider.
Deadline for Persian Gulf Veteran’s Bonus Approaching
Eligible veterans who served on active duty in the Persian Gulf Theater of Operations from Aug. 2, 1990 to Aug. 31, 1991 have less than one year to collect a special one-time payment to honor their service and sacrifice. Applications for the Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans Bonus are due by Aug. 31, 2018.
The bonus program, administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, pays $75 per month for qualifying, active-duty service members, up to a $525 maximum. More information is available here.
State Unemployment Rate Down to 4.9 Percent in August
Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was down one-tenth of a percentage point from July to 4.9 percent in August under figures recently released by the Department of Labor & Industry.
Pennsylvania’s rate remained above that of the United States, which rose one-tenth of a percentage point in August to 4.4 percent. Over the year, the Pennsylvania rate declined by six-tenths of a percentage point while the national rate was down by one-half of a percentage point.
Pennsylvania’s civilian labor force was down 30,000 over the month to 6,428,000. Resident employment and unemployment both declined over the month, but since last August employment was up by 18,000 while unemployment shrank by 40,000.
Fewer Motorists Killed, Injured Over Labor Day Holiday Weekend
Fewer people were killed or injured in traffic crashes investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) over the 2017 Labor Day holiday weekend (September 1-4) as compared to the same holiday period last year.
Four people were killed and 216 others were injured in 794 crashes investigated by PSP during that time. In 2016, 11 people lost their lives and 223 others were injured over the same four-day period. State police cited 769 individuals for not wearing seat belts over the weekend and issued citations to 125 motorists for not securing children in safety seats.
Troopers also issued 12,640 speeding citations and arrested 552 operators for driving under the influence. Of the 794 crashes investigated by PSP, 90 of were alcohol related. Alcohol was a factor in one of the four fatal crashes.
The statistics cover only those crashes investigated by state police and do not include statistics on incidents to which other law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania responded. Crash and enforcement data by troop is available here.