Lawmakers listen

May 11, 2015 -- Leaders of the Pennsylvania State Land Tax Fairness Coalition returned home May 6 with some encouraging news. They reported that they were well-received and were assured by some of the key leaders in Harrisburg that their mission has support. Whether that will translate into action remains to be seen.

Commissioners Paul Heimel (left, Potter County) and Pete Smeltz (Clinton County) held a series of meetings with 21 Senators and House members to seek their support of increases in the payments to school districts, townships and counties that have large expanses of tax-exempt state land. They were joined for some of the meetings by Clinton County Commissioner Jeff Snyder.

Coalition leaders said they accomplished what they set out to do – inform the lawmakers of the severity of the problem and earn some support. They used maps, pie charts, statistical analysis and compelling arguments to support the passage of House Bill 343 and 344. Some legislators believe the language of each bill may be inserted into other legislation that is crafted in the coming weeks, as the General Assembly deals with controversial issues connected to the 2015-16 state budget and tax reform measures.