Downsizing the Legislature
The Weekly Roundup
 The latest news from the State Capitol
Downsizing the Legislature

In an effort to make the Pennsylvania House of Representatives more efficient, the House State Government Committee this week approved House Bill 153, a proposal to shrink the House from its current membership of 203 to 151.

Proponents of the bill, which I am co-sponsoring, believe it would not only save tax dollars, but it would also lead to even greater efficiencies, as technology allows legislators to better serve their districts. Opponents are concerned about the loss of representation in more rural areas.

Since the proposal seeks to amend the state Constitution, identical versions must pass both chambers in two consecutive sessions before going before the voters. The measure already passed both the House and Senate last term, and it now goes before the full House in the coming weeks. If the legislation is approved again in both chambers, it will go before voters as a ballot question.
Report Those Potholes!

PennDOT tells us that extreme fluctuations in temperatures, coupled with an active snow season, is causing an early outbreak of potholes.

You can report potholes and other roadway concerns on state roads by calling 1-800-FIX-ROAD or visiting and clicking on “Submit Roadway Feedback.”

Be sure to be as specific as possible about pothole locations. For state routes, report the county, municipality, street name and route number, or the state route (SR) number that can be found on small black and white signs posted along state roadways. Also provide a description of any familiar landmarks that will help PennDOT locate the problem area.
PennDOT Accepting Applications for Student Summer Work Program

PennDOT is currently accepting applications from college students interested in working on a summer maintenance crew or in a variety of other positions. All candidates – both new hires and re-hires – must apply online here. You can find the application link in the “Open Jobs” section. Candidates should also notify my office about their application submission by Friday, Feb. 16.
Beware of Tax Identity Thieves

Tax season is here and you need to know that tax refund fraud is the largest and fastest-growing form of identity theft, according to the Federal Trade Commission. To help bring greater awareness to the crime, House Resolution 646 recognizes Jan. 29 through Feb. 2 as Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week in Pennsylvania.

Tax identity theft occurs when someone steals a person’s personal information to file current fraudulent tax returns in someone else’s name to receive a tax refund.

Taxpayers in their 20s are at the highest risk; however, anyone at any age can be targeted. The best way to safeguard a person’s identity is to properly dispose of any documents that contain personal and identifying information by shredding bank and credit card statements, as well as old tax returns. In addition, individuals should use firewall and anti-virus software on devices, create strong passwords on websites, and refrain from opening emails from unknown senders.

If you receive a letter from the IRS saying more than one tax return was filed in your name, or IRS records show you have wages from an employer you don’t know, then you may be the victim of tax identity theft. Also, if you suspect a letter, email or telephone call about your tax records is a scam, call the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue at 717-787-8201 or the IRS at 800-829-1040.
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