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Robert Tommy Tomlinson
Senate Bill Stripping Public Pensions for Felonies Set for Enactment
Legislation that would strip taxpayer-funded pensions from public officials and employees who commit job-related felonies is on its way to the Governor’s desk for consideration after receiving final approval in the Senate.
This is an important reform to state government that will make certain that those who have violated the public trust cannot skirt the consequences of their action, Taxpayer money should be protected in these cases. It is my hope the Governor signs this into law.
Senate Bill 113 was initially approved by the Senate on February 4, and was returned to the chamber for consideration after the House of Representatives made a technical amendment. It now goes to the governor for enactment.
The Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act currently requires a public employee to forfeit his or her pension only for certain crimes listed in the act. In practice, this law allows lawmakers and other public employees charged with a forfeiture crime to plead guilty to a different non-forfeiture crime in order to avoid pension forfeiture.
Senate Bill 113 would require pension forfeiture if a public employee or public official is convicted, pleads guilty, or pleads no contest to any felony offense related to his or her employment.
The legislation also ensures that criminal convictions involving public officials are reported to state pension boards. Current law does not require the employee, courts, or state agencies to send copies of court records upon conviction. Instead, pension boards learn of pension forfeiture cases through agency websites and newspaper articles. Under Senate Bill 113, courts would now be required to notify state pension systems of all pension forfeiture cases.
Springtime Kicks Off Moving Season – Beware of Scam Movers
If you are planning to move this spring, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission< offers tips to locate a legitimate moving company for your belongings.
Review any previous complaints filed utilizing the company name, utility code or carrier ID. New complaints against interstate carriers can be filed online or by calling 1-800-692-7380. Consumer complaints against an intrastate mover can be filed online with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or by calling 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238).
Student Driven Charter Funding Reform
Last week I introduced a package of education funding bills to provide fair, common sense approaches that do not penalize, but right size education funding in a way that supports all public students no matter where they attend school. This package looks at how both school districts and charter schools are funded and seeks to provide equity between them. Many school districts, including Bensalem have seen their charter school costs quadruple. This has forced them to cut their own programs to pay the additional charter costs. The school districts like Bensalem are good stewards of their resources, but continuing to follow this practice is a financial failure for students and our community. It is time to consider student driven educational funding reform that is addressed in this package.
New License Plates Raise Awareness of Distracted Driving, Honor Military Veterans
Seven new PA specialty license plates authorized by the General Assembly are now available.
Proceeds from a “Distracted Driving” plate will fund education campaigns on the dangers of distracted driving. “Honoring Women Veterans” plate sales will support programs for women veterans in Pennsylvania. Five other new military plates are available as well.
Details and purchase information here.
Help Available for Problem Gambling
March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month in Pennsylvania, and is a good time to share information about the issue and where to get help.
Signs of a problem gambler include being preoccupied with, and secretive about, gambling. Help is available 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-GAMBLER. You can find more warning signs and resources here.
The “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams to Avoid
Groups posing as charitable organizations and using a tax deduction as bait, and unscrupulous tax preparers overstating deductions are part of the “Dirty Dozen” tax scams to look out for this tax season.
The IRS reminds taxpayers that they are responsible for the information on their tax return no matter who prepares it. Here are more tax season scams to look out for.
2019 Trout Stocking Schedule Available Now
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission recently announced its 2019 trout stocking schedule for all Pennsylvania waterways. The commission plans to stock approximately 3.2 million trout throughout Pennsylvania this year, and their statewide network of cooperative nurseries are expected to stock an additional 1 million.
The trout stocking schedule varies from year to year based on a number of environmental and maintenance issues. The most up-to-date stocking information is available at www.fishandboat.com.
For more information, go to www.GoneFishingPA.com.
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