House Finance Committee Removes HB 1776 from the table!
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HB 1776 is on the move again
27 June 2012
After being tabled in the House Finance Committee (see the original story on this page below the break) and being declared dead by many in the news media, HB 1776, the Property Tax Independence Act, was removed from the House Finance Committee table on June 27 and is once again moving through the legislative process. This is EXCELLENT news.
There were two votes, one to remove the bill from the table and the second to refer HB 1776 to the House Appropriations Committee for a thorough fiscal analysis. Both votes received UNANIMOUS approval from all members of the Finance Committee who were present; one member was absent and did not vote. The votes as posted on the Web are here (remove from table) and here (vote to refer).
This action was made possible through the leadership of Finance Committee Chairman Kerry Benninghoff, who worked with Representative Jim Cox to make this occur.
In light of this development we are asking everyone to participate in an immediate and very important Action Item. All of you were very helpful in urging members of the Finance Committee to take further action on HB 1776 and many of you were quite firm with your requests. In fairness I am now asking you to take a few minutes to send a note of thanks to each of the Finance Committee members for their vote to move HB 1776 forward. It is important for the Representatives to not only know that we will oppose them when they oppose us but also that we will be their allies when they are willing to help us achieve our goals. Again, please take a few minutes to kindly thank them for their help. Contact information for each member is below.
Majority (R) members:
Benninghoff, Kerry A. (Majority Chair) - firstname.lastname@example.org
Aument, Ryan P. - email@example.com
Bear, John C. - firstname.lastname@example.org
Boyd, Scott W. - email@example.com
Cox, Jim - firstname.lastname@example.org
Denlinger, Gordon - email@example.com
Dunbar, G. - firstname.lastname@example.org
Evankovich, Eli - email@example.com
Gabler, Matt - firstname.lastname@example.org
Harris, C. A. - email@example.com
Keller, Fred - firstname.lastname@example.org
Milne, Duane - email@example.com
Peifer, Michael - firstname.lastname@example.org
Rapp, Kathy L. - email@example.com
Scavello, Mario M. - firstname.lastname@example.org
Minority (D) Members:
Mundy, Phyllis (Minority Chair) - email@example.com
Boyle, Kevin J. - firstname.lastname@example.org
Bradford, Matthew D. - email@example.com
Briggs, Tim - firstname.lastname@example.org
Davidson, Margo L. - email@example.com
Dean, Madeleine - firstname.lastname@example.org
Fabrizio, Florindo J. - email@example.com
Kavulich, Sid M. - firstname.lastname@example.org
Mirabito, Rick - email@example.com
Smith, Matthew - firstname.lastname@example.org
Report on the original motion to table:
House Finance Committee tables HB 1776!
12 June 2012
On June 11, 2012, the House Finance Committee tabled House Bill 1776, the Property Tax Independence Act, preventing future action on the legislation pending another meeting and vote. This is just another delaying tactic designed to reduce the possibility of passage for HB 1776.
Although the meeting was streamed live on the web it still has not been posted on the Pennsylvania GOP video archive site. That’s a shame, because it would have been instructional for you to have seen the disgraceful performance of Representative Eli Evankovich (R – Armstrong, Westmoreland) as he did everything possible to trash HB 1776 before making the motion to table the bill.
After two Finance Committee hearings on HB 1776 at which a parade of special interests defended their selfish agendas without regard for Pennsylvania homeowners and a later slew of letters from more of these entities urging the committee table HB 1776, these self-serving groups won the day as the lawmakers apparently caved in to their demands.
While the future of HB 1776 is uncertain at this time, there have been comments from Representatives that another hearing may possibly be held during July and will include a vote to release the bill to the House floor for consideration. Details will follow as we receive them. Please remember that the legislation still can be acted upon in the Senate as SB 1400.
The Finance Committee to vote to table the bill is below, followed by a press release from HB 1776’s prime sponsor, Representative Jim Cox.
Here’s the voting record for the motion to table HB 1776 in Monday’s House Finance Committee meeting. A “Yes” vote was to table HB 1776; a “No” vote opposed tabling the bill. Please note that there were more votes against tabling the bill from Democrats (6) than from Republicans (5), a truly bipartisan show of support for HB 1776.
Majority (R) Members
Benninghoff, Kerry A. - Yes
Aument, Ryan P. - No
Bear, John C. - No
Boyd, Scott W. - No
Cox, Jim - No
Denlinger, Gordon - Yes
Dunbar, G. - Yes
Evankovich, Eli - Yes
Gabler, Matt – Non-voting
Harris, C. A. - No
Keller, Fred - Yes
Milne, Duane - Yes
Peifer, Michael - Yes
Rapp, Kathy L. - Yes
Scavello, Mario M. - Yes
Minority (D) Members
Mundy, Phyllis - No
Boyle, Kevin J. - Yes
Bradford, Matthew D. - No
Briggs, Tim - Yes
Davidson, Margo L. - Yes
Dean, Madeleine - Yes
Fabrizio, Florindo J. - No
Kavulich, Sid M. - No
Mirabito, Rick - No
Smith, Matthew- No
The vote as posted on the Web is here.
June 11, 2012, press release about the Finance Committee meeting from State Representative Jim Cox.
House Finance Committee Postpones Vote on Property Tax Independence Act
Evankovich stalls property tax replacement
HARRISBURG – While the House Finance Committee today met with the intent to vote on the Property Tax Independence Act (House Bill 1776), sponsored by Rep. Jim Cox (R-129), that action was derailed when Rep. Eli Evankovich (R-54) moved to table the bill. A majority of the committee members supported Evankovich, which means the committee vote to send the bill to the full House for consideration will be delayed.
“This proves that property tax independence is not a partisan issue,” Cox said. “A majority of Democrats on the committee voted with us to move the bill forward. Unfortunately, we had some Republicans who voted to stall our efforts. Perhaps those lawmakers need to hear from their property taxpayers.”
By a 13-11 vote, the committee approved the motion offered by Evankovich, who is close to House Republican leaders. The motion does not kill the bill.
Some members voiced concerns about Cox’s legislation, which would replace the current school district property tax with an enhanced state income tax and an expanded and increased state sales tax. They argued the bill should be amended before being approved. However, none of these members offered an amendment at today’s House Finance Committee meeting.
“I wonder about the sincerity of members who said they’d vote for the bill if it was changed, but chose not to offer any amendments,” Cox said. “In my experience in Harrisburg, that is often a tactic used to avoid an important issue.”
Other members argued that the vote should be delayed until the bill was in pristine condition for the committee’s consideration. However, Cox rightly pointed out that the committee did not hold other major pieces of legislation to the same standard. House Bill 1950, which placed a fee on Marcellus Shale, was significantly amended after being approved by the House Finance Committee but before being signed into law. Likewise, House Bill 2150, which would close a tax loophole and provide millions of dollars in tax breaks for corporations, was also amended after the House Finance Committee considered it.
“The committee seems to hold a bill that would benefit homeowners to a higher standard than it did bills that would benefit environmentalists or corporations,” Cox said. “I think constituents are left to draw the conclusion that there appears to be two different yardsticks used to measure bills before the House Finance Committee.
“Pennsylvania homeowners now have a list of lawmakers who need to be persuaded to support the Property Tax Independence Act,” Cox said about those who voted to table the bill. “I would hope the constituents of these representatives would reach out to the members and encourage them to support the bill in the future.”
Democratic Chairwoman Phyllis Mundy (D-120) joined Cox and nine other members in voting against the motion to table the bill. Mundy has repeatedly said in committee hearings that property taxes are “the most regressive tax levied” on taxpayers.
House Finance Committee members who joined Cox in voting against the motion to table the bill include: Rep. Ryan Aument (R-41), Rep. John Bear (R-97), Rep. Scott Boyd (R-43), Rep. Matt Bradford (D-70), Rep. Flo Fabrizio (D-2), Rep. Adam Harris (R-82), Rep. Sid Kavulich (D-144), Rep. Rick Mirabito (D-83), Rep. Matt Smith (D-42) and Mundy.
“With this vote, these 10 state representatives joined me in supporting homeowners and opposing the special interests,” Cox said. “It is nice to see that there are some patriots serving in Harrisburg who are willing to stand up for what is right. My hope is that their numbers will continue to increase in the future.”
State Representative Jim Cox
129th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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