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State Rep Justin Simmons Report



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The Weekly Roundup
Friday, October 27, 2017  The latest news from the State Capitol

Property Tax Question on Nov. 7 Ballot

Voters will have an opportunity to vote on a property tax reform measure in next month’s election.

Currently, the state Constitution permits local governments – counties, municipalities and school districts – to exclude up to 50 percent of the median assessed home value from a homeowner’s tax bill. However, the ballot referendum will allow voters to decide if the maximum homestead exclusion could be increased to 100 percent of primary residences.

For example, under the current homestead exclusion, if the average home value in your school district is $100,000, up to $50,000 can be excluded from your tax bill if your school district elected the full 50 percent exclusion rate. If the value of your home is assessed at $150,000, your local property tax rate would only be applied to $100,000 of that value.

If the resolution amending the Constitution is approved, the General Assembly would still have to pass a law to implement the change, and local governments would still be responsible for establishing exclusion amounts for homesteads within each district.

Heating Assistance Program
Opens Nov. 1

Residents who are struggling with their home heating bills can apply for assistance from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) beginning Wednesday, Nov. 1.

LIHEAP is a federally funded program that provides grants to help individuals and families pay their heating bills. It also provides crisis grants to help in the event of an emergency or if a resident is in danger of losing his or her heat due to broken equipment, lack of fuel or termination of utility service.

The income limit to be eligible for the program is $18,090 for an individual; for a couple, the limit is $24,360; and for a family of four, it is $36,900.

Residents may apply for LIHEAP online or by contacting the County Assistance Office in their county of residence. Learn more here.

Remove Those Stickers!

Pennsylvania drivers should remove expired registration stickers from their license plates to avoid being pulled over by out-of-state police officers.

PennDOT stopped issuing the stickers at the end of last year and has alerted police from other states and Canada. However, there are a few cases of out-of-state police officers pulling over Pennsylvania drivers who still have the outdated stickers on their plates.

Pennsylvania State Police advise residents who are pulled over to politely explain the change to the officer and show him or her registration paperwork, which should be in vehicles at all times.

Another Extension Granted to Comply with REAL ID

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has extended the compliance deadline for when Pennsylvania residents must use a REAL ID or other acceptable forms of enhanced identification.

Under this extension, Pennsylvania residents can use their existing driver licenses through Oct. 10, 2018. This will apply to both federal facilities and domestic airline travel.

PennDOT has begun work on the implementation of REAL ID and estimates that REAL ID-compliant driver licenses and identification cards will be available, as an option for residents, in March 2019. It is expected that Pennsylvania will continue to apply for extensions until the state has met complete compliance.

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