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State/County - Bensalem Township

Bill Allowing Intermediate Units to Own Facilities for Instructional Use Passes House

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A bipartisan bill to allow intermediate units (IU) to own facilities for instructional use passed the House Tuesday.

The measure (H.B. 1526), introduced by state Reps. Joe Ciresi (D-Montgomery and Kristin Marcell (R-Bucks) passed in a 168 to 34 vote-with all Lower Bucks state Rep’s voting yes on the measure. 

IUs are regional educational service agencies created by the legislature in 1970. IUs provide high-quality programs to K-12 public school districts and non-public/private schools. Intermediate units also serve as liaisons between school districts and the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Pennsylvania’s 29 intermediate units provide special education, professional development, and technical assistance services to school districts, charter schools and private schools. Every year, more than 175,000 students and 50,000 educators receive services and training from IUs, meeting a variety of needs for students and school districts.

Currently, IUs are only permitted to own office space and warehouse facilities, a limitation that prohibits them from owning facilities used for instructional space; a limitation that does not apply to school districts, area career and technical schools, or charter schools. Many IUs operate classrooms and other instructional spaces as providers of important special education, pre-school programs and other educational services. All these instructional facilities must be leased, burdening IUs with rental costs that sometimes greatly exceed what it would cost the IU to purchase and own the facility themselves.

“As a former school board member, I know that leasing office and warehouse space both inflates costs for IUs and creates inadequate learning conditions by preventing IUs from providing facilities that are tailored for the needs of the students they serve,” Ciresi said. “This legislation would ensure that the money would be far better used in providing our children with a top-notch education.”

“I am pleased to see this bipartisan legislation that would allow IUs across the Commonwealth to own instructional facilities — just as area career and technical schools and charter schools do — moving forward,” said Marcell. “It is a fiscally responsible step that will strengthen our educational infrastructure and support the dedicated professionals who work tirelessly to educate our children.”

Both Ciresi and Marcell served on school boards prior to serving in the PA House. Ciresi was a member of the Spring-Ford Area school board for 12 years, which included three years as president and three years as vice-president. Marcell was a member of the Council Rock school board from 2018-23, which included one year as vice-president.

The legislation  now moves to the Senate for consideration.

 

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Human Interest - Bensalem Township

Bucks Co Appoints New CEO of Library System

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Bucks County has a new library system director.

The Bucks County Free Library (BCFL) Board of Directors appointed Dana Barber as the library system’s new chief executive officer at their June 17, 2024 board meeting.

She assumed the role beginning on July 15.

Barber has served as director of the Margaret R Grundy Memorial Library in Bristol Borough for the past 10 years, with a focus on creating strategic partnerships to enhance library services.

She received the 2023 Certificate of Merit from the Pennsylvania Library Association in recognition of her leadership skills.

“I’m looking forward to working with the dedicated team at BCFL to continue to enhance library services and foster meaningful relationships with patrons and partners,” Barber said.

Barber is excited by the new opportunity to share her vision for public library services as leader of the county system.

“Our libraries are vibrant community hubs providing access to high-quality information, essential support and education, and equitable spaces. They truly are for everyone!” she said.

Outgoing Chief Executive Officer, Martina Kominiarek, has served as the library’s CEO for more than 20 years.

“With Dana at the helm, I’m confident we’ll continue to thrive and innovate, serving our communities in even more dynamic and impactful ways,” she said.

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Human Interest - Bensalem Township

Rep Davis: We’re Addressing Constituent Complaints on Proposed Aqua Rate Increase

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State Rep Tina Davis said recently we have heard your concerns regarding the proposed AQUA rate increase and I have signed on to a letter to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission opposing AQUA’s request.

“Aqua made the request to the PUC, citing the need to improve the system’s infrastructure. While I agree that improvements are needed, customers’ bills currently include distribution system improvement charges, indicating that funds are already being allocated for the infrastructure updates.”

Also, the net income of Essential Utilities, AQUA’s parent company, grew 7% in 2023, therefore, it is apparent that the company is profitable and financially stable, Davis said

What can you do about this? Here is the link where you can file your concerns with the PUC regarding this proposal.

The PUC will also schedule public hearings on the proposed rate hike. Please follow my Facebook and X pages as we will update when the dates of the hearings are announced. she said.

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Human Interest - Bensalem Township

Prokopiak Measure to Increase Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program Becomes Law as Part of State Budget Package

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State Rep. Jim Prokopiak’s bill that will help Pennsylvania’s economy by expanding the state Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program was included in a Fiscal Code bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Josh Shapiro on July 11.

Prokopiak initially proposed expanding the Historic Preservation Tax Credit from $5 million to $20 million, starting in 2025 as H.B. 2358. The language of the legislation was added into the Fiscal Code bill, which is part of the state budget package. 

 “Investing in preserving our historic structures does two things,” Prokopiak said. “It not only helps to better tell the story of our commonwealth’s history, but it also is an economic driver as it helps turn these structures into income-producing properties.”

 Every $1 million invested into an historic rehabilitation project generates 6.4 direct jobs and 5.6 indirect jobs in Pennsylvania, which outperforms every other industry, according to Prokopiak.

 Of the 37 states that have a similar tax credit, Pennsylvania had the fourth-lowest cap of $5 million. The increased investment is necessary, as the need for funding is greater than the cap, Prokopiak said. For the 2022-23 fiscal year, 31 projects requesting a total of $12.7 million in tax credits were forwarded to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission for approval of the projects’ rehabilitation plan. With the annual program cap set at $5 million, 22 of those projects were ultimately awarded credits, using 100% of the total amount available.

 Prokopiak represents the 140th Legislative District comprising Falls, Morrisville, Tullytown and part of Middletown in Bucks County.

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