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Property tax circuit breaker proposed by Freeman

(Jul 31, 2018)

HARRISBURG, July 31 – Homeowners would be protected from property tax overload under legislation (H.B. 2577) introduced by state Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton. Read more

 

Hellertown transportation project awarded state grant

(Jul 12, 2018)

HELLERTOWN, July 12 – State Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton, said Hellertown Borough has received $67,982 in state grant funding from PennDOT’s Green Light-Go Program for a transportation project to improve safety and enhance mobility. Read more

 

Lehigh Canal project gains Historic Preservation Grant

(Jun 13, 2018)

HARRISBURG, June 13 – The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor was awarded a $25,000 Keystone Historic Preservation Grant, according to state Rep. Bob Freeman. Read more

 

PHEAA Reminds Students of Approaching 2018-19 PA State Grant Application Deadline

(Apr 25, 2018)

The 2018-19 PA State Grant application filing deadline is Tuesday, May 1. This deadline applies to all renewal applicants and first-time applicants who plan to enroll in colleges, universities, or a college transfer program at 2-year public or private colleges (except community colleges and designated Pennsylvania Open Admission institutions). Additionally, unlike a student loan, a grant is gift aid which does not have to be repaid. To apply for a PA State Grant, applicants must first complete the 2018-19 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Applicants can access this form online by clicking here or here . In addition to completing the FAFSA, first-time applicants must also submit a completed PA State Grant Form. First-time applicants who submit the FAFSA online will be automatically redirected to the SGF by following the onscreen prompts on the confirmation page. First-time applicants who have already submitted their FAFSA but have not completed the SGF will receive an email directing them to PHEAA’s secure Account Access site for completion. Both applications are free to submit. First-time applicants who plan to enroll in a community college, business, trade, or technical school, a hospital school of nursing, a designated Pennsylvania Open Admission institution, or a non-transferable 2-year degree program at a community, 2-year or 4-year college have until Aug. 1, 2018 to complete their PA State Grant application. Students and families are Read more

 

Rep Freeman bill would help communities with high percentage of tax-exempt properties

(Apr 20, 2018)

State Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton, has reintroduced legislation H.B. 2271 ) that would provide funding to municipalities with high levels of tax-exempt property, such as major universities, non-profit medical facilities, government offices or state forests and game lands. "Municipalities with a significant amount of tax-exempt property, including several in the Lehigh Valley, have difficulty providing the essential services expected from local government because of the effect tax-exempt properties have on the real estate tax base of the community," Freeman said. "By providing annual funding to these municipalities, we can enable them to fix and maintain infrastructure and to provide the essential services that ensure the health and safety of their citizens." The bill would establish the Tax Exempt Property Municipal Assistance Fund to help municipalities with 15 percent or more of tax-exempt property within their borders. It would be funded by the state's 18 percent Liquor Tax, known as the Johnstown Flood Tax. The tax generated approximately $270 million in the 2009-10 fiscal year. "The tax did its job a long time ago, and that was to rebuild Johnstown after it was devastated by a flood," Freeman said. "It's time to target that money to municipalities that are falling further into financial distress simply because they have significant amounts of tax-exempt properties within their boundaries. This legislation can Read more

 

Rep. Freeman bill would promote redevelopment of abandoned factory buildings

(Apr 19, 2018)

State Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Northampton, has reintroduced legislation (H.B. 2269) that would establish tax incentives to promote redevelopment and reuse of vacant factory or mill buildings in municipalities in Pennsylvania. "Adaptive reuse or using a building for the purpose other than which it was originally intended, is a way to reuse buildings that have stood in our communities for decades. Repurposing an old factory or mill for retail, office or arts space, or transforming them into dwellings, encourages economic development and improves the quality of life of a community," Freeman said. "Some of these buildings have withstood the test of time for more than 100 years. They might be vacant, but they are still standing. My bill would provide an incentive to breathe new life into these buildings – many of which are part of a community heritage and identity." Freeman’s bill would establish three types of tax incentive programs: A 25 percent tax credit for the rehabilitation and reconstruction costs incurred by the owner; A business tax credit equal to the salaries and wages paid to full-time employees, up to a maximum of $5,000 per employee; and An interest income tax credit of 10 percent on the interest from loans for the expenditures within the building. The limit would be up to $10,000 per taxable year. The loan holder also would be eligible for a 100 percent tax credit, up to $20,000 per taxable year, on interest Read more

 

State grant for transportation project awarded in Hellertown

(Feb 26, 2018)

State Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton, said Hellertown Borough has received $126,173 in state grant funding for a transportation project to improve safety and mobility and reduce congestion. Freeman said Main Street pedestrian countdown indicators will be installed in Hellertown. “This funding will allow Hellertown Borough to maintain and improve traffic in the community to keep the road safe for pedestrians and drivers,” Freeman said. The state funding comes from revenue generated from automated red light enforcement violations in Philadelphia. Under the state law that established the program, projects that improve safety, enhance mobility and reduce congestion can be considered for funding. The grants are administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Maintenance and Operations. Freeman said projects were chosen on criteria that included project benefits and effectiveness, cost, local and regional impact and cost sharing. Read more

 

Your Report from Rep. Robert Freeman: Winter 2017-2018

(Feb 01, 2018)

Be sure to check out my latest newsletter. Read more

 

Freeman announces $1.5 million in state grants for Easton and Freemansburg

(Dec 22, 2017)

State Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton, is pleased to announce that two projects in his legislative district have been awarded Redevelopment Assistance Capitol Program grants totaling $1.5 million. Freeman said the two projects are as follows: $1 million for the North Fourth Street Parking Deck. $500,000 for Freemansburg Borough Municipal Complex improvements. “The state’s sizable investment shows that the projects are headed in the right direction,” Freeman said. ‘The projects are significant investments in Easton and Freemansburg.” “The parking garage project is seen by the city as important to address the increased number of people coming to downtown Easton for its many tourist attractions, restaurants, and community venues such as the Centre Square Farmers Market and the indoor Easton Public Market,” he said. “The funding for the Freemansburg Borough Hall is needed to upgrade and improve borough facilities in a community with a limited tax base. The improvements envisioned will enhance the operation of Freemansburg's borough government and emergency services operations,” he said. The RACP grant program is administered by the governor’s Office of the Budget to foster economic, cultural, civic and historical projects with significant potential for improving economic growth with new jobs. Read more

 

Freeman bill would require auditor general to examine legislature's expenses

(Dec 21, 2017)

State Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Northampton, is urging the legislature to take up legislation he has introduced ( H.B. 1257 ) which would require the Pennsylvania auditor general to audit the financial affairs of the General Assembly and its legislative service agencies. “In light of recent revelations regarding settlements being paid out, my legislation is very timely,” Freeman said. “I think it is in the best interest of the people of Pennsylvania that we have greater transparency and more accountability as to how the legislature spends taxpayers’ money.” As it now stands, the General Assembly is audited by a certified public accountant hired by the Legislative Audit Advisory Commission. Freeman said that under his bill, the auditor general would be required to perform annual audits of the legislature’s finances and would be permitted to perform special audits if deemed necessary as well. Copies of the audits would be provided to the president pro tempore of the Senate, minority leader of the Senate, speaker of the House and minority leader of the House. “We continually talk of the need for greater financial transparency in government, so this is a chance for us to open the books and reveal just how taxpayers’ money is being spent by the legislature,” Freeman said. Freeman said the completed copies of the audits would then be available to the public. Freeman introduced H.B. 1257 in April and has introduced it in Read more

 

2018 Capitol Scenes Calendar

(Dec 18, 2017)

Please download and enjoy this free 2018 calendar featuring seasonal photos of our beautiful state Capitol. Read more

 

Rep. Freeman: $278,000 to Northampton County for community revitalization

(Dec 13, 2017)

State Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton, announced that the city of Easton and Hellertown Borough has received a total of $278,000 in state funding through the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Freeman said the Community Conservation Partnerships Program allows the public and private sector to work together to make neighborhoods and business areas economically strong. The grant awards are as follows: The city of Easton - $100,000 for rehabilitation and further development of Centre Square Park. Work will include renovation of a pedestrian plaza and pedestrian walk ways; installation of lighting; ADA access; landscaping, and other related site improvements. Hellertown Borough - $178,000 Rehabilitation of Dimmick Park. Work will include installation of play equipment with required safety surfacing; construction of storm water management measures; ADA access, landscaping, and other related site improvements. "These grants mean a great deal to communities for projects without placing the additional cost onto local taxpayers," Freeman said. The program is administered by DCNR. The Community Conservation Partnerships Program is designed to help local governments and recreation and conservation organizations with funding to help with projects related to parks, conservation and recreation Read more

 

Rep. Freeman reintroduces bill to make health insurance more affordable with state-offered health insurance for individuals and businesses

(Dec 13, 2017)

State Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Northampton, has introduced legislation that would make health insurance more affordable for Pennsylvanians by permitting the State Workers’ Insurance Fund to sell health insurance. The State Workers' Insurance Fund within the Department of Labor and Industry was established by law many years ago to provide a workers' compensation program for Pennsylvania businesses that could not access workers' comp insurance in the private sector. It is only permitted to sell workers' compensation insurance. Freeman's bill would expand its offerings to include health insurance. "By allowing SWIF to offer health insurance, it would make a quality insurance product available to Pennsylvanians at a lower cost than current rates because of its lower administrative overhead, and it would create more competition within the health insurance market," Freeman said. "In addition, by making this available in the market, it would serve as a yardstick by which to measure the fairness of rates charged by private health insurance companies. "Health insurance rates are increasing considerably. I believe that this proposal will effectively bring health care policies back to an affordable range for the average Pennsylvanian. It would offer a less costly alternative to the current private health plans offered today," he said. Freeman said this new ability would not be an extra cost to taxpayers; the Read more

 

Rep. Freeman announces $155,000 state grant for Dimmick Park in Hellertown

(Nov 14, 2017)

State Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton, today announced $155,000 in state funding has been awarded for a project in his legislative district. Hellertown was awarded the grant to rehabilitate the heavily used play area in Dimmick Park. The borough intends to expand the playground area to accommodate new fencing, playground surface and gate. The sidewalk and handicapped access to the playground will also be improved and the play area expanded. “The park is heavily used by adults and children on a daily basis and is a vital component of the community so this funding will be put to good use for upgrades,” Freeman said. “The play area is in the corner of Dimmick Park which is near the ball fields and is used heavily by families on athletic game days as well as throughout the week.” The state funding was approved by the Commonwealth Financing Authority, an independent agent created by the legislature to administer a variety of the state’s economic stimulus initiatives. The funding was made available through the local share account established in the state gaming law. Read more

 

Rep. Freeman bill to extend participation in Main Street program sent to full House

(Jun 30, 2017)

Members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Local Government Committee unanimously approved legislation ( H.B. 1450 ) sponsored by state Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton, that would allow communities to extend their participation in the Main Street program an additional five years, for up to 10 years. Currently, a community is limited to only five years in the program. The legislation now goes to the full House for consideration. Freeman said the state Department of Community and Economic Development could grant a period of up to an additional five years for administrative costs associated with employing a Main Street manager, if it determines that it would be beneficial to the community in reaching its revitalization goals. “The time period of only five years is often too short for Main Street programs to thrive and succeed in their objectives,” Freeman said. “Under my bill communities would be given up to an additional five years for a total of 10 years. My bill would provide Main Street communities with more time and, in turn, be able to fully implement a revitalization and enhancement strategy for downtown commercial areas. “Too often a community’s Main Street initiative just gets started with implementing its revitalization plan when the funding ends, undermining the ability to realize the plan’s objectives,” Freeman said. “My legislation would give the department the Read more

 

Freeman: We Need a Severance Tax Now

(Jun 23, 2017)

Pa. state Rep. Bob Freeman joined the CLEAR Coalition and labor leaders from the Lehigh Valley for a rally calling for a severance tax on natural gas extraction to help balance this year's budget and provide a future source of revenue for the Commonwealth. Read more

 

Freeman introduces bill to allow longer participation in Main Street program

(May 24, 2017)

State Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton, has introduced legislation (H.B. 1450) that would allow communities to extend their participation in the Main Street Program an additional five years, for up to 10 years in Pennsylvania. Currently, a community is limited to only five years in the program. Freeman said the state Department of Community and Economic Development would grant a period of up to an additional five years for administrative costs associated with the hiring of a Main Street manager, if it determines that it would be beneficial to the community in reaching its revitalization goals. “I feel the time period of only five years is often too short for Main Street programs to thrive and succeed in their objectives,” Freeman said. “Under my bill communities would be given an additional five years for a total of 10 years. My bill would provide Main Street communities with more time and, in turn, be able to fully implement a revitalization and enhancement strategy for downtown commercial areas.” The Main Street Act was created to provide grants for commercial downtown revitalization efforts, including infrastructure improvements, marketing and promoting the established commercial downtown within the Main Street area and façade grants, all under the direction of a Main Street manager. Currently, grants for a maximum of five years may be made to support and implement the efforts. Freeman said the legislation Read more

 

Freeman introduces bill to establish tutoring program in Pennsylvania schools

(May 24, 2017)

State Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton, has introduced legislation designed to institute a tutoring program where 11 th - and 12 th -grade students could tutor elementary school-aged children for academic credit. Freeman said his legislation (H.B. 1449) would require the state Board of Education to establish an in-house tutoring program in Pennsylvania school districts, which would allow students in 11 th and 12 th grades to tutor pupils in grades one to six and receive academic credit for their tutoring. “The benefits of high school students tutoring elementary students is abundant,” Freeman said. “Tutoring can increase good study habits, improve academic performance, boost self-esteem and can put students in charge of their own learning process and pass that knowledge onto the children. The students being tutored get the extra attention they need to improve their academic performance and are typically more receptive to learning from a high school student they look up to.” Freeman said school districts would be able to implement the program at little or no cost to taxpayers and it would foster a sense of community and pride in students. “Tutoring is the most cost effective way to enhance academic performance for both the student being tutored and the student who serves as tutor,” Freeman said. The legislation is expected to be referred to the House Education Read more

 

Freeman proposal would have state auditor general examine the legislature’s expenses

(Apr 20, 2017)

State Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Northampton, has introduced two bills that would require the state’s auditor general to annually audit the General Assembly’s expenses and its legislative services agencies. Freeman said the legislation is being introduced as both a bill and an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution to address any concerns regarding the constitutionality of having an executive branch office audit the legislature’s finances. The Northampton County legislator said completed copies of the audits would then be available to the public. “We need to have greater transparency and more accountability as to how the legislature spends taxpayers’ money,” Freeman said. "An outside, unbiased auditor, such as the state’s auditor general, should be reviewing our expenses and issuing a report instead of a company that we pay to perform an internal audit on ourselves.” As it now stands, the General Assembly is audited by a certified public accountant hired by the Legislative Audit Advisory Commission. Freeman said the auditor general recently held a news conference offering his department’s services to leaders of the Senate and House to help increase openness. “We continually talk of financial transparency, so this is a chance for us to open the books and reveal just how taxpayers’ money is being spent by the legislature,” Freeman said. After the audits, Freeman’s bills would Read more

 

Freeman announces $3.4 million Pennvest investment for Easton Suburban Water Authority

(Apr 19, 2017)

HARRISBURG, April 19 – State Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton, announced today a $3.4 million investment through the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority. The over $3 million low-interest loan would allow the Easton Suburban Water Authority, which serves parts of Northampton County, to replace approximately 1.6 miles of distribution piping, and install control valves, hydrants and service laterals. "The Easton Suburban Water Authority's existing distribution facilities serve a population of 96,000 and are in need of upgrading. It’s no longer able to supply reliable water pressure during peak demand or meet recommended fire flows," Freeman said. While consistent with land use and farmland preservation efforts, this project would provide a number of major advantages. Our area would benefit from the prevention of further deterioration within its water supply and protection against health hazards. It would also improve documented low flows for drinking water and fire flow uses. Pennvest provides low-interest loans for the design, engineering and construction of publicly and privately owned drinking water distribution and treatment facilities, storm water conveyance and wastewater treatment and collection systems. Read more

 

Property tax circuit breaker proposed by Freeman
Jul 31, 2018

Hellertown transportation project awarded state grant
Jul 12, 2018

Lehigh Canal project gains Historic Preservation Grant
Jun 13, 2018

PHEAA Reminds Students of Approaching 2018-19 PA State Grant Application Deadline
Apr 25, 2018

Rep Freeman bill would help communities with high percentage of tax-exempt properties
Apr 20, 2018

Rep. Freeman bill would promote redevelopment of abandoned factory buildings
Apr 19, 2018

State grant for transportation project awarded in Hellertown
Feb 26, 2018

Your Report from Rep. Robert Freeman: Winter 2017-2018
Feb 01, 2018

Freeman announces $1.5 million in state grants for Easton and Freemansburg
Dec 22, 2017

Freeman bill would require auditor general to examine legislature's expenses
Dec 21, 2017

2018 Capitol Scenes Calendar
Dec 18, 2017

Rep. Freeman: $278,000 to Northampton County for community revitalization
Dec 13, 2017

Rep. Freeman reintroduces bill to make health insurance more affordable with state-offered health insurance for individuals and businesses
Dec 13, 2017

Rep. Freeman announces $155,000 state grant for Dimmick Park in Hellertown
Nov 14, 2017

Rep. Freeman bill to extend participation in Main Street program sent to full House
Jun 30, 2017

Freeman: We Need a Severance Tax Now
Jun 23, 2017

Freeman introduces bill to allow longer participation in Main Street program
May 24, 2017

Freeman introduces bill to establish tutoring program in Pennsylvania schools
May 24, 2017

Freeman proposal would have state auditor general examine the legislature’s expenses
Apr 20, 2017

Freeman announces $3.4 million Pennvest investment for Easton Suburban Water Authority
Apr 19, 2017