Mullins announces House passage of bills supporting emergency responders
HARRISBURG, Oct. 29 – State Rep. Kyle Mullins, D-Lackawanna, announced the state House of Representatives approved a package of bills, which he co-sponsored, that would help both volunteer and paid emergency companies attract and retain more members.
“These companies, which keep us, our homes and communities safe, have been facing a serious decline in membership,” Mullins said. “My colleagues and I are working hard to solve this crisis, while supporting these dedicated and hardworking people who put their life on the line when they answer a call.”
The bills, which would expand support for emergency provider companies and reward first responders for their service, include:
- Fire Company and Emergency Medical Services Grant Program (H.B. 1834) – would expand the eligible uses of grants through the program to include recruitment and retention initiatives.
- Property Tax Relief for Volunteers (H.B. 1839, H.B. 1705) – would allow property tax credits of up to 100% for active members of volunteer fire companies and non-profit ambulance companies whose names are on their primary residence’s property tax bills – up to full property tax relief, depending on local ordinances and school districts.
- Tuition Assistance and Student Loan Forgiveness for Volunteers (H.B. 1773, H.B. 1786) – would create programs for tuition assistance and student loan forgiveness for active members of volunteer fire companies and non-profit ambulance companies.
- Expanding Firefighter’s Relief Funds (H.B. 1673) – would make it easier for fire companies to use these dollars the best way they see fit in their communities, including investing in training, recruiting new members and recognizing those who’ve served a long time.
- Ending Realty Transfer Taxes (H.B. 732, H.B. 269) – would permit property owned by companies or by active volunteers who have fallen in the line of duty to be transferred to a spouse or child without paying a Realty Transfer Tax.
- Creating Online Training (S.B. 146) – would develop free, certified, online training programs for firefighters to help volunteers meet training requirements more conveniently and by taking less time out of their schedules.
- Increasing Loan Assistance Program Loan Limits (H.B. 1816) - would increase the dollar amounts of the volunteer fire and EMS program that has been so successful in helping companies get vital safety equipment.
- Ending the Liquor License Surcharge (H.B. 1048) – would eliminate the $700 annual application surcharge to renew a liquor license for volunteer fire companies and national veterans’ organizations.
Mullins urged the state Senate to act quickly on these measures and send them to Gov. Tom Wolf for his signature.