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State Rep: Legislation would address hiccup for Sept. 11 ride

State Rep. Joe Hamm, R-Hepburn Township, visited the Muncy Township Supervisors’ meeting to meet with residents and offer an update on what’s going on in Harrisburg through the first few months of his tenure representing parts of Lycoming County — and to also address an issue that occurred before he took office, the rescinded motorcycle ride in memory of the September 11 attacks.

Hamm criticized PennDOT, saying the state agency will come down on

municipalities to make arbitrary changes within a limited time frame, but delay for years on-end to fix problems on state-owned roads.

One instance of this, according to Hamm, was the annual 9-11 memorial ride in the Muncy area during 2020. PennDOT found a regulation on their books that required each municipality the memorial ride travelled through to approve and carry insurance and also hold harmless PennDOT during the event.

Because the host municipalities failed to accomplish this, the memorial ride could not continue last year. So, Hamm said the general assembly is trying to fast-track a bill to override these requirements by May.

“This is big government trying to control policy,” Hamm said.

Hamm began his presentation by explaining how he believes the state’s currently proposed budget would impact Pennsylvanians. He circled around to the 46-percent increase in the income tax rate “as directed by Gov. Wolf,” which, according to Hamm, was dead on arrival.

The state income tax rate is 3.07 percent, which Wolf has advocated increasing to 4.49 percent.

According to Hamm, single adults earning more than $49,000, married couples with no children who have a combined income of more than $60,000, and married couples with children who have a combined income of more than $80,000 would see an increase of 46 percent in the size of their income tax bill.

Furthermore, additional taxes would be leveraged over municipalities without a police force that instead rely on the Pennsylvania State Police for protection.

Hamm transitioned toward discussing the Second Amendment by stating he preferred the Pennsylvania constitution’s defense of possession of firearms compared to the United States’ Constitution.

The state’s constitution, which Hamm said was ratified before the nation’s, says that the right to bear arms shall not be questioned — differing from the nation’s language, which identifies that the right to bear arms shall merely not be infringed.

Hamm referenced House Bill 357, which was most recently referred to the judiciary, that would back up his sentiments on the Second Amendment.

“A Federal law, rule, regulation or order created or taking effect after Dec. 31, 2016, shall be unenforceable within the borders of this Commonwealth if the law, rule, regulation or order attempts to register, restrict or ban the ownership or purchase of a firearm, magazine of a firearm, firearm accessory or ammunition,” the bill reads.

Hamm also alluded to the introduction of a constitutional carry bill that would see Pennsylvanians who are legally allowed to own firearms be able to carry them concealed without registering for a permit through the sheriff’s office.

Hamm also discussed House Bill 290, a bill designed to allow organizations to conduct games of chance online. Hamm said the bill would primarily support local volunteer fire departments, who may use such a platform for fundraising purposes.

However, Hamm accused Democrats of receiving lobbyist support from casinos who feel fire departments cut into the online gambling industry.

One statewide referendum and three amendments to Pennsylvania’s constitution will appear on the ballot during the May primaries, and Hamm encouraged his constituents to support all four.

The referendum, if passed, would allow municipal fire departments or companies with paid personnel and emergency medical services companies to be eligible for loans. According to the Department of State, this would allow these agencies to maintain and replace aging equipment and facilities to improve these organizations’ function to the areas they serve.

The first amendment would allow the state’s general assembly the ability to extend or terminate a disaster emergency declaration without the governor’s approval.

The second amendment would force disaster emergency declarations to expire after 21 days unless the general assembly extends it, and the governor would not be able to declare a disaster emergency unless the general assembly passes a resolution concurrent with it.

The third amendment will add a new section that guarantees equality of rights under the law regardless of an individual’s race or ethnicity.

Hamm said his visit to Muncy Township is the twelfth of a 40-municipality trip to connect with constituents. He spoke with several attendees for several minutes after the township meeting concluded.

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