Friday, February 27, 2009

State Capitol Roundup for Feb. 27

Here's this week's State Capitol Roundup courtesy of state Rep. Bob Mensch, R-147th District:

Gaming Reform Initiative Unveiled

Citing the need to refocus the activities of the Gaming Control Board and reduce partisan issues, House Republican Leader Sam Smith this week called for a change to the state's gaming law that would phase-out legislative appointments to the board. In the future, House Republicans plan to introduce a package of bills to fix, clarify and focus the state's Gaming Law and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Since passage of the 2004 law expanding the state's gaming industry, the licensing process has been mired in controversy, having approved licenses in instances where background checks were purposefully altered and where an owner owed more than $11 million in personal gambling debt.

Halt in Development of High School Graduation Tests Sought

Several House Republican lawmakers are now urging Pennsylvania Education Secretary Gerald Zahorchak to halt any further action on the development of a new system of graduation requirements. Last year, plans to establish a new test as a prerequisite for graduation were met with resistance in the General Assembly, largely due to the high price tag of developing a new test. Additionally, another standardized test would unfairly burden students, who need the time to accomplish their studies and plan for their continued educations or lives after high school. Many lawmakers are not opposed to the idea of graduation requirements, but would rather see further refinement of the existing competency tests.

Lawmaker Envisions Inheritance-Tax-Free Pennsylvania

State Rep. Will Tallman (R-Adams/York) has introduced legislation that would eliminate Pennsylvania's inheritance tax, which is imposed on the transfer of goods to an heir when an individual passes on. Pennsylvania is one of only nine states that collect such a tax. It is calculated as a percentage of the value of the assets transferred, while the percentage is determined based upon the relationship of the heir to the decedent and his or her date of death. Attempts to repeal the tax have been undertaken in the past, but have been unsuccessful in recent years due to the lack of bi-partisan support. For the latest legislative news, visit

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