In 60 seconds, about 13 hours of committee debate and marathon public discussion ended with a whimper when lawmakers tabled Property Tax Independence Act on Monday.
The House Finance Committee voted 13 to 11 to table House Bill 1776, or the Property Tax Independence Act. Sponsored by Rep. Jim Cox, R-Berks, the bill would eliminate a school district’s ability to levy a property tax, replacing that funding with an increase in sales tax and personal income tax throughout the commonwealth.
The vote to table means that Cox will have to get the committee to vote again, this time for further discussion. Until then, it’s in legislative limbo, and it appears certain that the bill will not pass before the end of the current budget session.
A number of committee members expressed support for the bill, but worried about the logistical and financial implications as written.
Rep. Eli Evankovich, R-Armstrong, made the motion to table the bill, after indicating he was concerned about “passing a concept out of a committee” with a bill that still posed questions.
Cox said other bills with similar breadth of impact are never passed as written when they leave committee. No legislation, he said, is perfect, and House Bill 1776 is no different.
“The bigger issues we’ve tackled — Marcellus Shale, the Delaware loophole, bills that are just huge in their impact — they came out of committee and what ended up going over to the Senate was vastly different,” Cox said following the vote. Cox was joined by four other Republicans in voting against tabling.