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State Should Put Small Games Deadline on Hold

Sen. Tim Solobay talks about the state's small games of chance law, his recent holiday bus tour and more in his weekly On Point column.

I sent a letter last week, along with 12 of my colleagues, asking the Corbett administration to delay the reporting requirements of Pennsylvania’s new Small Games of Chance law to give the Legislature more time to address concerns raised with the law.

While Act 2 requires annual reporting from small games licensees, the law contains no filing deadline. The Department of Revenue, however, has set a Feb. 1 deadline. 
           
Since passage of the new law, a number of unexpected issues have come up. Organizations continue to have difficulty understanding what’s required of them, while facing a deadline of less than 50 days to meet the burdensome new reporting requirements.

In our letter to Gov. Corbett, we asked him to consider what these groups, who do so much for the community and save taxpayers millions of dollars, are going through in order to keep up with the law. We requested that he delay the upcoming reporting deadline to give the General Assembly an opportunity to address the issues raised and make whatever legislative fixes are necessary.

“These organizations are presided over by individuals who are simply volunteering their time to better their local communities,” we wrote.   “The reporting requirements within Act 2 and the proposed deadline have placed a serious strain on these volunteers and in turn we fear that this may have a negative impact on the critical services these organizations provide to the communities we represent.”

Click here to see the full text of the letter.

Another Successful Holiday Bus Tour

We had another successful holiday bus trip this past week. Held annually, the popular event gives local residents the opportunity to see our state capitol dressed up for the holidays and visit some of the popular sites in the Harrisburg region.

Folks from the district took a guided tour of the Capitol building, where they heard about its architectural and artistic highlights and learned about its history. They also got a unique look at the governor’s mansion during the holiday season before topping off the day with a visit to Hershey’s Chocolate World.

From what I hear, however, the best part of the trip was the bus ride, where attendees listened to music, played games, won door prizes, and had a grand old time getting to know each other.
           
I am thrilled that so many friends and neighbors were able to come to Harrisburg and I’m already looking forward to continuing the tradition next year.

A Look Back at the 2011-2012 Session

As the year winds to a close, it’s probably a good time to look back on my first official session in the Senate. 

For those of you who don’t study the inner workings of the Capitol, sessions run for two years, coinciding with the terms of members of the House of Representatives.  

Any bill introduced during a session must be passed into law during that session or it expires and must start the process over in the next session. Thousands of bills are introduced each session and only a few dozen make it all the way through. Some bills are very close or even identical to each other, and one is chosen by leaders to run.

For me, it doesn’t matter whether it was my bill or somebody else’s similar bill that gets signed by the governor, and it doesn’t matter which party introduces it. If it’s a good idea, it’s a good idea.

Here are five initiatives that I worked on, and were passed, in one form or another:

Public Utilities Infrastructure – Failing pipelines, including some more than a century old, have resulted in several recent tragedies. A new law will encourage replacement of aging utility infrastructure in Pennsylvania while protecting consumers from costly rate hikes.

Hazmat Directors - My legislation (SB1010) expanding the definition of an emergency vehicle to include county hazmat directors, was added to another Senate Bill which was signed into law. The designation will allow hazmat directors to respond more quickly to emergencies.

Military Spouses - Since 1990, active-duty soldiers have been able to put their post-secondary education on hold while on active duty.  Educational institutions are required to refund tuition or fees for soldiers called to duty, or to credit the tuition and fees to them when they return. Senate Bill 707 extends that right to their spouses.

Gas Pump Safety – My bill (SB706) required new protections at self-service gasoline pumps, updating the requirements for emergency shut-off controls to National Fire Protection Association Standards. An identical bill (HB 728) was signed into law as Act 144.

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