HARRISBURG – State Rep. Jerry Knowles (R-Berks/Carbon/Schuylkill) as chairman of the House Local Government Committee today in Harrisburg convened a meeting where he and his colleagues on the committee approved several bills to save taxpayers money and streamline local governments in Pennsylvania.
“These bills are about enabling taxpayers to keep more of the money they earn by empowering local governments to operate without unnecessary burdens,” Knowles said.
One bill approved by the committee – House Bill 2148 – would specifically protect local governments and school boards against the potential costs associated with a newspaper’s failure to publish certain legal notices.
State law requires local governments and school districts to publish in a newspaper certain legal notices before they can act on specific proposals. There was a recent incident in Lancaster County involving a newspaper that was hacked and failed to publish the required legal notices, leaving the county legally unable to take the necessary actions on those proposals. Some of the proposals – such as loan approvals or modifications and land transfers – can become costly for taxpayers if they are delayed.
House Bill 2148
would allow local governments and school districts to publish the legal notices on their websites in addition to in the newspaper. If the newspaper fails to print the notice, but it is posted on the local government’s or school board’s website, they would be permitted to take action as if the notice was published in the newspaper.
“This bill would enable local governments and school boards to take advantage of a backup plan in an effort to protect taxpayers against unnecessary costs,” Knowles said.
Another measure approved by the committee – House Bill 1592
– would clarify that certain large documents, such as local comprehensive plans or land-use ordinances, may be transferred electronically to local governments. Current law neither authorizes nor prohibits the electronic transfer of these documents, leaving local governments unclear as to whether it is permitted.
“The committee approved a proposal to allow local governments to electronically transfer huge documents instead of having to print them out, which wastes time and paper,” Knowles said. “This bill would save taxpayers money by enabling local governments to become more efficient by taking advantage of modern technology.”
The committee also approved a measure – House Bill 2143
– that would enable Lancaster County to maintain its current county prison board. Following the latest U.S. Census, Lancaster County is preparing to transition from one classification of Pennsylvania county to another. The bill would enable the county commissioners to vote to maintain the existing board.
“This bill would save taxpayers money by enabling the current county prison board in Lancaster County to continue instead of requiring a costly reorganization,” Knowles said. “This is a case where we can help a county save taxpayers money by removing a potential bureaucratic burden from its shoulders.”
The final bill approved Wednesday by the committee – Senate Bill 673
– would enable a township to appoint a partnership, limited partnership, association or professional corporation as the township manager. Current state law only allows townships to hire an individual to serve as the township manager.
“Local governments are continuously changing, and that applies to the position of township managers as well,” Knowles said. “Township managers used to exclusively be one individual who was known and recognized in the community. We are now seeing townships use more innovative approaches to filling this position in a way that can better serve residents and taxpayers. This bill would enable townships in Pennsylvania to take advantage of these new, innovative arrangements.”
The four bills approved today by the House Local Government Committee now head to the full House of Representatives for consideration.
Representative Jerry Knowles
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Dan Massing