Here's this week's State Capitol Roundup courtesy of Rep. Bob Mensch (R-147):
House Republicans Urge Introduction of Funding Bill
As the state faces a $3 billion deficit, House Democrats and Gov. Ed Rendell appear to be setting the stage for massive tax increases to pay for their $29 billion budget proposal. In discussing the state budget at an event in Pittsburgh earlier this week, House Appropriations Chairman Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia) said "Rendell is going to have to raise taxes." Despite these comments, neither the House Democrats nor the governor has introduced a funding bill for their budget proposal. The Democrat-led House Appropriations Committee held two days of public hearings this week on the Senate-passed budget, which funds essential state services and spends only money we have. Both Democrats and the Rendell Administration have expressed great opposition to the Senate-passed budget. For more budget news, visit PAHouseGOP.com
Solar Panel Grants Now Available
The PA Sunshine Solar Program opened this week, providing homeowners and small businesses in Pennsylvania with grants for up to 35 percent of the cost of solar electric and hot water improvements. In combination with federal tax credits for the use of solar energy products, consumers have the opportunity to reduce system costs by 45 percent. The PA Sunshine Solar Program was enacted last year as part of the $650 million Alternative Energy Funding Act. Funding will be dispersed in the form of reimbursement grants for residential and small business projects. Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to approved applicants. For more information, visit RepMensch.com and click on "Solar Rebates."
Bill to Allow Direct Reimbursement for Ambulance Services Advances
Republican-sponsored legislation to help volunteer ambulance companies better recover fees for their services recently won the support of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee. House Bill 867, sponsored by Rep. Bernie O'Neill (R-Bucks), changes the reimbursement structure between ambulance corps and insurance companies so that the insurance company can pay the ambulance service directly instead of going through patients. If enacted, volunteer ambulance units that benefit from the direct payment could not be denied from joining a health care network. In addition, the bill allows payments to be made directly to the ambulance company via a release signature from the patient in situations where ambulance companies are not part of a health care network. House Bill 867 now goes to the full House for consideration.