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New Bill Will Fix Small Games Law

'We can’t put any more burden on already over-extended volunteers and we have to recognize the importance of local volunteer organizations to both the fabric and the economy of our communities," Sen. Tim Solobay says in his most recent edition

The small games of chance law that went into effect last year made it impossible for some small organizations to comply with its cumbersome reporting requirements, a complication that threatened the existence of some important community assets.

We can’t put any more burden on already over-extended volunteers and we have to recognize the importance of local volunteer organizations to both the fabric and the economy of our communities.

Last week, I introduced a bill that will make needed changes to the law.

Earlier this year, the Corbett administration agreed—after some colleagues and I wrote a letter—to suspend the reporting requirements of Act 2 of 2012.  We had heard from community leaders across Pennsylvania who warned that the bill’s strict requirements could cause them to close their doors.

The new bill, Senate Bill 390, would allow organizations to keep a greater share of their revenues from small games for their own operations. It would also exempt smaller organizations from the onerous new reporting and background-check requirements if they generate less than $150,000 a year from games of chance.

As a former fire chief who still serves my department, I have decades of experience with the on-going struggle to recruit volunteers and continue community service. Many organizations that conduct games of chance are facing serious financial pressures and rely on a dwindling pool of volunteers. The reporting requirements created a huge burden for them.  

SB 390 would make a number of other common-sense changes to the law, such as legitimizing a number of games that most organizations thought were legal for years, such as monthly drawings, Chinese Auctions, coin auctions, and “A Night at the Races.” Non-members would also be permitted to conduct games of chance with authorization of an organization’s officers.

Another significant provision of the legislation delegates small games of chance oversight to local law enforcement rather than state Liquor Control Enforcement officers, who have drawn complaints of overzealous action over minimal infractions.

For more on Senate Bill 390, click here.

Budget Process Begins; Much Work Remains

The budget proposed by Governor Corbett this week will certainly see dramatic changes before passage by the General Assembly.

It’s hard to believe that after a year and a half of delay, the proposed transportation plan is only half of what the administration’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission recommended. 

It would pretty much guarantee that wear and tear on roads would be more than we could keep up with. Making a more aggressive investment in transportation infrastructure would create thousands of construction jobs and make Pennsylvania a more attractive state for businesses.

The idea of tying education funding to a liquor-license auction is bad public policy that has little support on either side of the aisle in either chamber.  Making it the centerpiece of the budget and the chief source of money for schools is only adding delay to the process.

More than a million people in Pennsylvania have no health insurance and depend on the emergency room as the family doctor. The federal government is offering to pay nearly all of the cost to insure these people at a time when Pennsylvania hospitals spend $800 million a year on uncompensated care. It makes no sense that we ignore that offer and continue to let health problems bankrupt working families and community hospitals.

While it’s good that this budget includes no structural tax increases for families, it leaves giant corporate tax loopholes wide open and ignores opportunities to reform, reinvest and revive our economy.

Free Document Shredding Returns

Now that we’re approaching income-tax season again, it’s time to remind residents to closely look at how many sensitive personal documents they have stored at home.

Throwing out these documents could bring the risk of someone stealing personal information, but keeping them piling up at home isn’t much safer.

That’s why I’m teaming up again with a local business and the Borough of Canonsburg to help you get rid of the backlog.

DocSolutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of Community Action Southwest, will provide free document shredding in the borough parking lot, 68 East Pike Street, Canonsburg, on April 25. Residents can bring their unneeded papers from 9 a.m. until noon. The event is for individuals only, and not businesses. DocSolutions is a respected Washington County service provider in records management, including document destruction.

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