HARRISBURG – Rep. Jerry Knowles (R-Berks/Carbon/Schuylkill) today announced that his legislation to eliminate a liquor licensee surcharge to national veterans’ organizations and volunteer fire companies was signed by Gov. Tom Wolf and is now law.
House Bill 1048, now Act 29 of 2020, would amend Act 39 of 2016 that requires a $700 renewal surcharge for all licenses that are renewed or validated on an annual basis.
“It is my hope that this legislation will assist these organizations to continue to be viable assets to our community,” said Knowles. “Prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic, our first responders are working 24/7 to keep us safe and healthy. We owe it to them to do everything in our power to grow their ranks in order to ensure responders will always be there to answer the call. Our veterans’ organizations also do so much to support our communities. We should not be requiring these organizations to pay this $700 license fee.”
“Rep. Knowles’ bill is a big help to the volunteer fire companies who have canteens,” said Bob Leshko, fire chief and treasurer, McAdoo Fire Company. “The coronavirus pandemic has caused a financial loss for our department. Removing this surcharge will allow us to use that money to protect the public, rather than forcing us to fall deeper in debt.”
Knowles is also the prime sponsor of House Bill 1189, which unanimously passed the House in April and is awaiting consideration by the Senate. The bill would address issues with recruitment, retention and training of volunteer fire and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel.
“My bills are part of the House of Representatives’ commitment to supporting first responders and veterans of our communities, said Knowles. “We are working to complete work on more than a dozen measures designed to boost volunteerism, offer more flexibility in funding and assure better access to training.”
The lawmaker stressed that state fire officials estimate that volunteer firefighters save Pennsylvania communities about $10 billion annually. “These people save lives and help people. We must continue to address staffing and funding challenges facing these vital public safety organizations,” he said.
Representative Jerry Knowles
Pennsylvania House of Representatives