Taxing the Man Behind the Tree
The Legislature finished our 2014 spring/summer voting session on July 2, 2014…or did we?

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives normally divides our two-year term into four main voting sessions of two summer/spring sessions and two fall/winter sessions. The time in between the voting sessions is utilized as district work sessions.

During the summer district work session, I meet with constituents in my district office, offer legislative door to door visits for those constituents who would like me to visit them at their home, and attend community events to listen to the concerns of those whom I serve in the state Legislature. I also have a legislative booth at the Butler Farm Show every summer.

My appointment as Majority Chairman of the House State Government Committee still necessitates that I spend some time at the state Capitol for legislative business and committee meetings, even during our district work sessions.

After completion of the state budget this year, the Speaker of the House notified us that we should plan on returning for an unprecedented vote in August before the fall/winter voting session begins. The catalyst for the call back to the state Capitol is to vote on a bill that will allow Philadelphia to raise the cigarette tax by $2.00 a pack. We considered the bill on July 2, with the majority of House Republicans voting against the legislation. This bill also contains a higher hotel tax for certain counties.

The bill ultimately passed with a majority of Democrats supporting the enabling tax hike legislation, joined by a minority of Republicans. The Senate then returned to Harrisburg on July 8 to vote on the House amended Fiscal Code bill, which was needed as a final budget implementation bill. The Senate also amended the Philly cigarette tax bill. The amendment contained a provision requested by the Butler County Republican Commissioners to allow them to increase our hotel taxes here in Butler County.

I sent an email to all Republican members of the House, including our elected leadership team, expressing that it is unacceptable to call us back to vote on a tax hike bill that was opposed by the majority of us, who are House Republicans, and who ultimately have the control of scheduling the legislation that we consider through our Majority Leader. Some legislators believe in the philosophy of, “don’t tax you, don’t tax me tax, tax that man behind the tree.”

I voted against this tax hike legislation because I believe that our government already takes too much from all taxpayers. As we prepared to send this memo, the Speaker of the House canceled the voting session days that had been scheduled next week to consider this bill. I will continue the fight to protect hardworking taxpayers!
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