Home Heartland Square Pennsylvania Quick hits: Pennsylvania news in brief for Tuesday, Oct. 29

Quick hits: Pennsylvania news in brief for Tuesday, Oct. 29

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Bills would require bidders to register at tax sales

The Senate and House Urban Affairs and Housing Committees are holding a joint hearing on two bills on Wednesday designed to keep negligent property owners from purchasing property at tax sales.

Senate Bill 775, sponsored by Sen. David Argall, and House Bill 1559, sponsored by Rep. Doyle Heffley, would require bidders to register at tax sales with their name, address and telephone number. Bidders would also have to list all of their corporate officers and sign an affidavit saying they have no past due tax or utility bills in Pennsylvania.

Argall said in his memo that the goal of the bill is to prevent someone from buying multiple properties using corporate names that make it difficult for municipalities to know who to contact if the owner becomes negligent.

Law requiring electronic prescribing of controlled substances now in effect

A law requiring health care professionals to prescribe controlled substances electronically is now in effect.

Act 96 was passed by the General Assembly last year and signed by Gov. Tom Wolf. The bill was in response to the growing opioid crisis in the commonwealth and across the U.S.

Health care providers who fail to file electronic prescriptions for controlled substances will be fined $100 for the first 10 offenses and $250 for all other offenses up to a maximum of $5,000 a year. The law does make some exceptions for providers who give their patients the prescribed dosage in person and for computer failures where the health care provider cannot issue an electronic prescription.

Pension plan funds increase, auditor general says

The pension funds for firefighters, police officers and other municipal workers increased by $30 million over last year, according to Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

DePasquale said he released $328.2 million to 1,497 municipalities and regional departments, up from $299.1 million last year.

“This money is essential to help preserve the pension plans of people who dedicate their careers to public service,” DePasquale said. “Without this state aid, local taxpayers would have to make up the difference to honor the commitments made to police, firefighters and other municipal workers.”

The money is raised through a 2 percent tax on fire and casualty insurance policies sold by out-of-state companies to Pennsylvania residents.

PUC will hold hearing on rate increase for Valley Energy

Consumers will have a chance to comment on a proposed gas rate hike from Valley Energy.

The Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will hold a “Smart Hearing” at 1 p.m. Nov. 4. The proposed rate hike will affect about 7,000 of Valley Energy’s customers in Sayre and nearby communities in Bradford County.

According to the PUC, Valley Energy seeks a natural gas distribution revenue increase of $834,546 per year, a 16.6 percent hike.

Consumers can log onto the PUC website and watch the commission’s hearing. Testimony can be taken by telephone during the hearing.

Steve Haas and Benjamin Myers, administrative law judges for the PUC, will oversee the hearing. A decision on the rate increase will be made by the commission in March of next year.