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Boscola Bulletin

New Legislative Session and Priorities

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Senator Boscola joins her mother Anna Stofko, Husband Ed and exchange student, Andy.

The 203rd Legislative Session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly kicked off on New Year’s Day as Senate and House members who won election in November were sworn into office.  I was honored to have family and friends join me as I was sworn in to once again serve the residents of the 18th Senatorial District.  Swearing-In Day is always a day to celebrate and look forward to the upcoming session, which begins in earnest later this month.  It is an especially joyous day for the newly elected members, which for this session are 7 new Senators and 42 new House members.  I look forward to meeting the new members and working with my fellow Senators on both sides of the aisle to tackle the issues that face our Commonwealth, most importantly the state budget where I am hopeful that we will pass a package that will focus on educating our children, creating and maintaining family sustaining jobs and making our communities better places to live, work and raise families.

As part of the new session, there are a number of priorities that will be my focus.  In fact, I have already circulated co-sponsorship memos to my fellow Senators in an effort to build bi-partisan support for these initiatives.

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Senator Lisa Boscola stands with Sens. Tim Kearney
and Steve Santarsiero

Property Tax Reform − The local school property tax system is broken. Year after year school districts raise property taxes and put greater burdens on senior citizens and working families.  We must enact a fair system to fund our public schools.  I am a co-sponsor on the Property Tax Independence Act and am introducing other bills to address the burden of property taxes including allowing the deduction of property taxes paid on state taxes. I will also be introducing a proposal to eliminate school property taxes on homesteads and farmsteads by June 30, 2020 and have a commission appointed to determine the best way to adequately fund our public schools.

Expediting the implementation of the new fair funding formula for public education − In the 18th District, this proposal is as important as finding a better way to fund our education system.  A new funding formula that enjoyed bipartisan and unanimous support by the Basic Education Funding Commission was implemented in 2014-15.  However, not all money is allocated through the new formula.  Currently, 8 out of the 9 school districts in my Senatorial district are underfunded, and 9 out of 9 are underfunded in the area of special education by about $41 million.  As a result, these underfunded school districts either make cuts to needed education programs and/or increase local property taxes to make up the difference.   My proposal seeks to expedite the allocation of basic education and special education money through the 2014-15 funding formula to get state tax money to the school districts that need it most.  We simply can’t continue to knowingly underfund our school districts in this Commonwealth. 

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Watch Ceremony

Redistricting Reform − I have long been the prime sponsor of legislation in the Senate to create an independent commission to redraw legislative districts for members of PA’s Congressional Delegation and members of the General Assembly. Last session, Senate Bill 22, passed the Senate, but failed to be considered in the House.  I will be jointly sponsoring a redistricting reform bill with Senator Folmer to pick-up where we left off last session.  There was much in that bill that citizen advocacy groups like Fair District supported and I am optimistic that there is both a will and a way to fix our system before the 2020 redistricting effort begins.  I have introduced several other bills seeking to improve our redistricting system because it should be a bedrock principle of democracy that citizens choose their legislators, not legislators choosing their voters.

Election Reform − I will once again be introducing a number of bills meant to increase voter participation in our electoral process. My proposals include allowing Independents to vote in primaries, establishing a Statement of Voter’s Rights, No Excuse Absentee Ballots, Election Day Registration, Voter Registration Eligibility Notification for Younger Pennsylvanians, and Allowing time off for employees to vote.  States across the country have implemented similar proposals without jeopardizing the integrity of elections but boosting voter participation and Pennsylvania must follow suit.

New Year marks new era in PA House of Representatives

By Holly Harrar | January 1, 2019 | 69 WFMZ

HARRISBURG, Pa. - This New Year marks a new era in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. The 203rd Session of the House organized as 42 members were sworn in along with seven senators since elections in November. WFMZ's Holly Harrar was live in Harrisburg with more on the day's events. Read more at the WFMZ »

Sen. Boscola

 

Direct Ballot Initiative and Referendum − Too often issues that have widespread support are stopped from being acted upon in Harrisburg due to the power held in the hands of a few politicians.  Pennsylvania should amend our Constitution to put more power in the hands of our citizens. 

Currently, 29 states have some form ballot initiative process, and of that number 21 states provide for direct statutory initiatives. Proponents of this process point to the advantages of direct democracy. They claim that elected representatives can, at times, become consumed with their power and take actions that represent their own self-interest and not the interest of the people. Initiatives can be used to make the will of the people law on issues that elected officials are unwilling to address. My proposal requires that statutes could not be proposed unless a submitted petition is signed by registered electors equal to a number of not less than 5% of the votes cast for Governor, in not less than 45 counties.  While not a simple process, it is my belief that this process ensures issues of great importance and broad support will be those put before the voters.

To view these co-sponsorship memos and all the co-sponsorship memos I have circulated already please click the link below.  You can bookmark for the link future reference to see all my legislative initiatives that I introduce during the 2019-20 legislative session.

There is much work to be done in our State Capitol and I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work.  Thank you for your interest in your state government.

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Offices of State Senator Lisa M. Boscola

www.senatorboscola.com

BETHLEHEM OFFICE
One East Broad Street
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Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 868-8667
Fax: (610) 861-2184
Toll-free: 1-877-535-1818
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Easton, PA 18042
(610) 250-5627
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Harrisburg, PA 17120-3018
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Senate of PA:
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New Year marks new era in PA House of Representatives Pennsylvania Senate Sworn In on New Years Day