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Oped: Persistence pays off

State Sen. Mike Folmer
48th Senatorial District

President Calvin Coolidge once said: “nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.”  I’m pleased one of my constituents demonstrated this in helping to draft changes that have now been signed into law.

State Sen. Mike Folmer sat for an interview in 2014, at The York Dispatch offices. He represents the 48th Senate District.

Nearly five years ago, Fred Weaver of Weaver Accounting in Lebanon came to my office to share some problems with Act 32 of 2008, which provided for the consolidation of county tax collection of the local earned income tax.

As is often the case with bills enacted into law, there are sometimes unintended consequences and/or oversights that need to be addressed with subsequent legislation.  As Fred shared with me, that was the case with Act 32 — especially as it related to agriculture taxpayers.

Fred convinced me changes were needed to make local tax filing more customer friendly.  While largely technical, each is important to farmers filing their local earned income tax returns.

These changes included:

  • Making farmers’ estimated tax provisions parallel those used by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue
  • Changing the due date of returns falling on Saturdays, Sundays, or legal holidays
  • Adding safe harbor tax provisions (i.e., last year’s income, this year’s rates)
  • Dropping duplicate income provisions
  • Clarifying e-filing for quarterly tax returns

In 2012, I worked with Fred to draft a bill to make these changes, which was introduced as Senate Bill 1427.  SB 1427 was referred to a Senate committee, but never considered.

In 2013, I reintroduced these proposed changes as Senate Bill 491.  Fortunately, action was taken and Fred Weaver was instrumental during every step of the process as the bill was amended, moved from Committee, re-referred to another Committee, amended again, and unanimously passed by the full Senate a year after being introduced.  Six months later, a House Committee added extensive but unrelated amendments very late in the legislative Session and the bill died.

Last year, I reintroduced SB 491 as previously passed by the Senate as Senate Bill 356.  Again, with Fred’s help, SB 356 was amended, reported from committee, re-referred to another committee, and again unanimously passed by the full Senate.

In the House, SB 356 was linked to another local earned income tax bill (HB 245), which complemented our proposed changes and addressed other Act 32 issues.  SB 356 was amended (with some of its proposed changes being incorporated into the House bill), reported from committee, tabled, removed from the table, re-referred to another Committee, reported to the full House, twice tabled and twice removed from the table, SB 356 was overwhelming passed by the full House and returned to the Senate this October for concurrence in the House amendments.

On the very last day of the 2015-16 legislative session of the General Assembly, the Senate unanimously approved the amended bill and sent it to the Governor who signed it into law as Act 150 of 2016.  However, HB 245 was vetoed.

It took nearly five years from Fred Weaver’s first visit to my office, numerous trips to Harrisburg by Fred for meetings on the bills, and many phone calls and emails to get some of these needed changes signed into law.

Thanks, Fred.  We wouldn’t have made it this far without you. However, it appears more work will be needed and we’re looking forward to continuing the discussion with you.

— State Sen. Mike Folmer is a Republican representing the 48th District, which includes parts of York County.