|Tax Deadline and Holiday Office Hours Information
As the income tax deadline of April 18 approaches, my offices have a complete assortment of state and federal income tax forms. As an added convenience, the Uniontown District Office, located at 65 West Main Street, will be opened for extended hours, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., on April 10, 11, and 12.
Also, please note the district offices will be closed in observance of the Easter holiday on April 13, 14, and 17. This closure affects all offices including the Ohiopyle satellite office at 15 Sherman Street.
No-Tax-Increase Budget Moves Ahead in House
This week, the House approved a $31.52 billion budget proposal that does not increase taxes or borrowing but does invest in education, public safety, human services and infrastructure.
House Bill 218 reflects a collective need to reinvent the way Pennsylvania budgets and governs, by moving ahead to streamline programs and services; eliminate duplicative state functions; reduce bureaucracy; and create an endowment fund that will generate money to pay future costs.
The budget will be balanced using several options, including expanded gaming and liquor privatization proposals, which have previously passed the House.
To view my comments following the floor vote, click here.
Additional details about the proposal are available here.
Concealed Carry Seminar Coming Saturday, April 22
I would like to invite you to my first Concealed Carry Seminar on Saturday, April 22, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Farmington Volunteer Fire Department, 119 Elliotsville Road in Farmington. This is an opportunity to learn the facts about Pennsylvania’s concealed carry laws and the Castle Doctrine.
Our main speaker will be Kim Stolfer, president of Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Against Crime.
Also speaking at the event will be Attorney Ed Bilik, Esq., and representatives from the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department, Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania Game Commission
Seating is limited and advance registration is required. If you would like to attend, please register online at RepDowling.com, or call my district office at (724) 438-6100.
Committee Endorses Liquor Bills to Encourage Choice, Convenience
This week, the House Liquor Control Committee passed two bills designed to further dismantle the state-owned wine and spirits system.
House Bill 991 would allow for the creation of privately owned retail stores to sell bottles of wine and spirits in an effort to provide greater convenience and choice for consumers.
Another proposal, House Bill 438, would allow spirits to be sold in the same retail locations as wine. This would specifically apply to grocery and convenience stores with restaurant seating.
The measures are not only designed to improve consumer choice and convenience but also to help the state generate much-needed revenue.
Both bills now move to the full House for a final vote.
House OKs Bill to Get Tougher on Criminals
To ensure criminals are appropriately sentenced, the House passed House Bill 741 to address constitutional issues with Pennsylvania’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws cited by the state Supreme Court in 2015.
House Bill 741 would allow for mandatory minimum sentences for drug traffickers, trafficking drugs to minors and for selling drugs in drug-free school zones. Other crimes affected include offenses committed with firearms, on public transportation, against the elderly or infants, or while impersonating a law enforcement officer.
Mandatory sentences have proven to be a necessary tool to ensure that people committing serious drug and gun crimes are held accountable for their actions.
The bill now goes to the state Senate.
If You Owe Back Taxes, Amnesty Program Can Help
Pennsylvanians who owe state tax will soon have the option to pay those back taxes through a new tax amnesty program.
The program, which offers incentives to Pennsylvanians to settle their delinquent tax accounts, is expected to generate as much as $150 million in revenue for the Commonwealth. The program does not “forgive” taxes owed but instead waives penalties, collection and lien fees, and half of the interest owed.
All taxes owed to the Commonwealth administered by the Department of Revenue are eligible for the program. The delinquent taxes must have been owed as of Dec. 31, 2015. Any unpaid taxes, penalties and interest resulting from periods after Dec. 31, 2015, are not eligible for the program.
The amnesty period runs from April 21 to June 19, 2017. More information is available at revenue.pa.gov.
My Audio Podcast
I am recording audio Legislative Report podcasts on a periodic basis. You can listen to them by clicking on the Audio Podcast link above the headline in this email, and all future ones.
All podcasts are on my website as well at RepDowling.com. Just click on the audio section in the left column.