112 Irvis Office Building P.O.

Box 202046 Harrisburg, PA 17120-2046 (717) 783-6437

Capitol Office:

3855 Millers Run Road P.O. Box 285 Cecil, PA 15321 (724) 746-3677 1425 Burgettstown Plaza Burgettstown, PA 15021 (724) 947-4422 2403 Jefferson Ave., Suite C Washington, PA 15301 (724) 222-4192 www.pahouse.com/White



Canton Township:

46th Legislative District


Winter 2012
Dear friend, Thank you for taking the time to look through my annual newsletter which contains important updates from the state Capitol in Harrisburg, as well as details about the several key projects and events that are taking place at home, right here in southwestern Pennsylvania. As you may have heard in the news, the state Legislative Reapportionment Commission recently redrew all of the legislative districts across the Commonwealth, a process done every 10 years to reflect population shifts illustrated by the U.S. Census. For example, many House districts in southwestern Pennsylvania lost population over the previous 10 years, so the district boundaries need to shift in order to ensure that each state legislator is representing approximately 65,000 residents. However, the new legislative districts are still being finalized at the time of this writing due to the state Supreme Court’s decision to force the Reapportionment Commission to make additional changes to the proposed map. Despite the confusion, I have had the pleasure of representing you for the previous five years and am hoping to continue doing so when the new maps are approved. As state representative for the 46th Legislative District, I take great pride in helping all of my constituents and being an active member of our shared community. Please let me know how my office can be of service to you, or if you’d like me to speak to your group or organization about any state issue that may be impacting you or our region. And don’t forget to visit my website, www. pahouse.com/white, where you can take a short survey about state government and let me know what you think. After all, that’s why I’m here – to serve and represent you. Sincerely,

Rep. White speaks at a 9/11 ceremony in Eldersville.

Push to reform municipal authorities
I have introduced a package of bills that would provide increased oversight and accountability for the more than 2,600 municipal authorities operating across the Commonwealth. The bills are: H.B. 219 – would permit the auditor general to conduct performance audits of municipal authorities in the Commonwealth. H.B. 220 – would require municipal authorities to apply for federal and state funding of projects in excess of $1 million, if those projects are eligible for public funding. The legislation would also require authorities to provide public notice of any application for public funding for projects costing more than $1 million. H.B. 221 – would assist property owners by requiring authorities to offer an installment payment plan, at a fixed interest rate, when tapping fees or other similar fees are in excess of $1,000. H.B. 222 – would prevent municipal authority board members from being compensated for disproportionate work-related expenses beyond their stipend and reasonable travel costs.

Visit my website: www.pahouse.com/White. You can sign up for my weekly email blasts and also take a short survey about state government.

stay informed!

Jesse White, State Representative 46th Legislative District

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Property tax Reassessment Update
Many Pennsylvanians recently woke up and suddenly realized our property tax reassessment system is a disaster. Unfortunately, the realization did not come with a full understanding of the problem, its origins or how we should fix it. The first major issue we need to tackle is closing the loophole in the law to prevent a reassessment from becoming a massive backdoor tax increase. How can a reassessment raise everyone’s taxes? It’s simple. When a county reassesses your property, they change the dollar value of a “mill,” which is multiplied by the millage rate set by a taxing entity like a school board, to determine how much you pay in taxes. Under the law, the taxing body is supposed to lower the millage rate back down to offset the increase of the value of a mill; if they don’t, everyone’s taxes will skyrocket. It’s called a windfall tax increase, and it’s basic math. Supporters of the current system claim state law prevents windfall tax increases, but those laws have virtually no teeth. If a school district uses a reassessment to raise your taxes, the only remedy available is to sue. Even if you win, the damage has already been done, and the only way the school district could pay everyone back is to raise your taxes – again! It’s a black hole – once you get sucked in under the current system, you can’t get out. Many school districts are quick to claim they would never do such a thing, but their promises don’t pass the smell test. If reassessment is designed to be revenue-neutral, meaning school districts shouldn’t get more tax dollars as a result, then why are school districts spending tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars in legal fees to force reassessments through? That’s the one question no one can answer, which means the answer is probably something they don’t want the public to hear. I have written legislation to strengthen the anti-windfall provisions of reassessment law, but it’s been tough to get people focused on the importance of this specific problem. Until the anti-windfall issue is addressed, we need a statewide moratorium on all court-ordered reassessments (like my House Bill 166) to prevent the process from being used as a weapon to raise taxes by school boards too cowardly to face the voters and lawyers looking to drive up their billable hours. To paraphrase political strategist James Carville, “it’s the loophole, stupid.” Also, keep in mind that “property reassessment reform” and “property tax reform” are not the same. Fundamental property tax reform requires a constitutional amendment and under the law takes at least five years, even if we had an alternative to property taxes everyone agreed on. The immediate and very real problem is the avalanche of lawsuits forcing reassessments under a flawed system. Talking about long-term property tax relief as a solution to the reassessment problem is like talking about wanting a car that runs on gummy bears while stranded miles from a gas station; it’s an interesting discussion, but doesn’t solve the immediate problem. Unfortunately, there has been an epidemic of people who would rather criticize everything than try to understand the problem. Let me put it this way; as the Titanic headed for that iceberg, they needed people to help steer the ship, not stand around and say, “You know you’re about to hit that iceberg, right?” Some of my colleagues in the legislature, Democrat and Republican, have been working on reassessment reform for several years now; the problem has been getting people to understand why it was necessary. For example, a group of legislators and other statewide stakeholders have met on a regular basis for months and will be introducing a comprehensive package of legislation to address some of the critical problems with reassessment law. But when I mention these efforts, the overwhelming response is a litany of reasons why nothing positive will happen. The flood of pessimism is shortsighted, selfdefeatist and counterproductive to any real solutions. With the recent and totally justifiable uproar in Allegheny and Washington counties, the public and the media have finally realized how serious the situation is for taxpayers; hopefully we can rise above the usual instinct to complain about the iceberg we’re about to hit and actually work together to avoid the impact entirely.

Reassessment task Force
Two task forces that were created under legislation adopted by the House that I authored along with Rep. Brandon Neuman, D-Washington, have begun to meet and collect data. My task force, created under H.R. 343, is charged with developing a set of uniform standards for county reassessment contracting; developing standards for disclosing the county’s system of property valuation and assessment; developing a self-evaluation tool for counties to determine when a reassessment is warranted; and recommending a standard to be used for a statewide mandatory reassessment timeframe. Neuman’s task force, created under H.R. 344, is charged with developing new procedures for collection and verification of reassessment data to ensure it is representative of the county’s property inventory. The task forces will continue to meet regularly and are expected to hold regional public hearings in early 2012 to solicit additional testimony and facts in conjunction with the release of the final reassessment report.
Rep. White hosts a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing in Washington to investigate the issue of court-ordered reassessments of property values and his bill, H.B. 166. Those testifying included Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi.

the details of h.B. 166
The bill would protect homeowners from drastic increases in property taxes by imposing a temporary moratorium on countywide property tax reassessments until inequities in the current system are fixed. Currently, counties can assess property values at varying time frames, which can cause individual property values to rise dramatically between assessments and lead to disparate assessments on similar properties.

Rep. White speaks to a group of municipal officials at a Marcellus Municipal Co-op meeting.

Why i Voted NO on the Marcellus shale Bill
On Feb. 13, Governor Corbett signed House Bill 1950, the long-anticipated law designed to deal with Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania. I voted “NO” on this legislation and strongly argued against its passage during floor debate in the House of Representatives. Here are just a few of the reasons why: 1. It’s a Tax I have always said the proper approach was to pass a true impact fee to address real local impacts of natural gas drilling. An impact fee would stay primarily in the areas where the industry was operating. House Bill 1950, despite whatever fancy name you want to give it, is actually a tax. The revenue is variable based on production, and the money is being sent all over the state, and to some other places it probably shouldn’t be going. 2. It’s Filled with Energy Industry Giveaways This bill is loaded with giveaways to the natural gas industry. There’s money for “Housing Affordability Programs,” which means we will be paying for temporary housing for out-of-state workers no longer staying in local hotels. There are subsidies for natural gas vehicle programs that the industry apparently couldn’t afford to do without a government handout. And there is a massive direct cash giveaway intended to go to the Shell Oil Corporation, which had a profit of over $20 billion in 2010. If you were upset about the potential funding of the Arlen Specter Library,

you have to be losing your mind over a deal to subsidize a major foreign oil company with your tax dollars. 3. No local Control The language in House Bill 1950 is plain and simple. It says that all local ordinances are superseded and replaced by statewide standards for important issues like setbacks, noise and lighting control, fencing around impoundments and location of compressor stations. These statewide standards are horrifically weak, and the law prohibits local governments from making them stronger or doing anything that in any way impedes the development of oil and gas operations, which could mean almost anything. House Bill 1950 takes control from your elected officials and gives it to the Public Utility Commission, a group of people appointed by Governor Corbett and not elected by anyone. 4. It Wasn’t a Compromise The only compromise could have been between lobbyists for the energy industry and the people who agreed with them already, because this 174page bill was drafted in secret and almost immediately put up for a vote. 5. Inadequate Protection for leaseholders House Bill 1950 is not a good bill for natural gas leaseholders. Despite claims that the tax cannot be passed onto leaseholders, I’m not convinced

that some companies won’t try to do just that. Additionally, most people who signed leases did so under the assumption that they had certain protections under the law, but now the law has been changed from underneath them. When a company wants to put an impoundment or compressor station where it’s best for their profit margin, there will be virtually no way to stop them. 6. Doesn’t Help PA Jobs House Bill 1950 does nothing to promote job creation for Pennsylvania workers; in fact, it seems to be designed to allow the continued practice of an out-of-state workforce. There are no funds set aside for worker training, no tax credits for hiring Pennsylvania workers, and no requirements for ensuring workers on the drill sites are drug tested or even United States citizens. For all the reasons stated above and many more, I voted NO on House Bill 1950. I believe it to be a bad bill that fails to address crucial needs for our region at the expense of the energy industry. Pennsylvania had a chance to prove that we can have the economic benefits of natural gas drilling while demonstrating a commitment to protecting our communities and encouraging local job creation, but House Bill 1950 is unfortunate proof that we failed spectacularly.

Rep. White’s legislation
H.B. 37 – Would deem mineral rights legally abandoned after a period of 10 years of non-use. It would give surface owners the right to claim interest of minerals under their property after the period of abandonment. H.B. 166 – Would provide a one-year moratorium on all court-ordered property reassessments in the Commonwealth. H.Bs. 219, 220, 221, 222 – A package of municipal authority reform bills that would allow the auditor general to conduct performance audits of municipal authorities, provide payment plan options to residents for infrastructure projects, and mandate municipal authorities to seek federal and state funding opportunities for projects over $1 million. H.B. 1291 – Would require no-bid contracts to be approved by a combination of two of the following: president-pro tempore of the Senate, speaker of the House, or the state treasurer to bring accountability to the awarding of state contracts. H.B. 1765 – Would provide a tax credit of up to $300 to Pennsylvanians who adopt pets from an animal shelter. H.B. 2178 – Would ensure that iron and other manufactured goods used in taxpayer-funded infrastructure projects and procured by government agencies are made in American factories.

sportsman’s Update

sunday hunting still under consideration
Legislation to remove Pennsylvania’s ban on Sunday hunting is still being considered. Legislation has been introduced, but nothing has passed the House or Senate yet. Under current law, only the legislature has the authority to say whether Sunday hunting is permitted or not. Legislative proposals being considered could simply give the Game Commission the power to make Sunday hunting decisions, or it could specifically authorize Sunday hunting throughout the year or on certain Sundays during the year. What do you think? I encourage you visit my website at www.pahouse.com/White and fill out my brief survey.

Trout Stocking Guides are now available. Download a guide
from my website or contact me to obtain a hard copy.

Pennsylvania’s Castle Doctrine law was updated last year to ensure your right to protect and defend yourself and your family. I voted for the new law that expands a person’s right to use deadly force in self-defense against attackers anywhere he or she has a legal right to be. Previous law prohibited law-abiding citizens from defending themselves with a weapon inside or outside of their homes if they could safely retreat. The law specifies that a person using deadly force cannot be engaged in criminal activity and must legally possess the weapon.

Castle Doctrine

Jesse White
46th legislative District
112 Irvis Office Building P.O. Box 202046 Harrisburg, PA 17120-2046

State Representative


Upcoming events
Health & Safety Fair – March 15, 2012 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Washington Crown Center 1500 W. Chestnut Street, Washington, PA 15301 Pet Expo –
Coming Summer 2012 Details available soon!

Made in the UsA
My House Bill 2178 is designed to put Americans back to work. Our state’s procurement policies should specifically state that the USA-made products of those companies and workers who abide by our environmental laws and regulations and workplace safety be rewarded with a reasonable preference in government contracting. State taxpayer dollars should not be used to support companies who have moved their operations, investment dollars and jobs to foreign countries, or to reward foreign producers that disregard environmental standards and worker safety.

Animal Adoption tax Credit Proposed
House Bill 1765 would help recently rescued dogs, like this pair of Springer Spaniels who became the official mascots of my legislation while looking for a home, by offering a $300 tax credit to Pennsylvanians who adopt pets from an animal shelter. Dakota and Montana were left behind when their owners were forced to move. Unfortunately, too many pets are meeting a similar fate all across the state, and shelters are simply overwhelmed by the growing numbers of animals they’re taking in. Anything we can do to encourage adoptions from wonderful rescue organizations like Pet Search, an all-volunteer nonprofit animal rescue and placement service in southwestern Pennsylvania, will ensure our furry friends get the care and love they need and deserve. For more information on how you can adopt abandoned pets like Dakota and Montana through Pet Search, visit www.petsearchpa.org or call (724) 228-7335.

Despite a few raindrops, Rep. White helps unveil a new sign designating the Southpointe exit of I-79 as the “Purple Heart Interchange” through legislation he sponsored. Rep. White and U.S. Senator Bob Casey take a tour of AccuTrex in Southpointe.

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