Upcoming Senate Democratic Policy Committee Hearing of Interest

The Senate Democratic Policy Committee will hold a hearing on Rape Culture Epidemic in Phoenixville, PA on Friday, September 20th, 2019 at 11:00 am.


The Committee chair, Senator Lisa Boscola (D, Northampton) scheduled the hearing at the request of Senators Katie Muth (D, Montgomery) and Tim Kearney (D, Delaware). The hearing will feature testimony from a panel including survivors, stakeholders, lawmakers, and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.


The agenda for the hearing is attached for your review.


Agenda Rape Culture Epidemic 9-20-19

School property tax reduction or elimination plan being cobbled together by lawmakers

State Sen.. David G. Argall heads a committee that is looking at ways to replace using property taxes to fund school districts. So far, the group has only agreed that something must be done. (KEVIN MINGORA / THE MORNING CALL)

A group of state lawmakers seeking to eliminate or reduce school property taxes is “slowly moving toward consensus” and, with 8 hours of meetings behind it, will meet at least two more times, its leading member said Tuesday.

State Sen. David Argall, a Schuylkill County Republican, said the goal was to then meet a third and final time with the state House and Senate party leaders who appointed the informal group in early July.

“We have explored, I think, all of the options,” Argall said. “Now, the task remaining is to identify that bill or those bills that can get to the governor’s desk that he will sign and, most importantly, will have 102 votes in the House and 26 votes in the Senate.”

The much-disliked tax is based on the assessed value of properties and produces about $15 billion a year to fund school districts. Lawmakers have tried for years to come up with tax-shift plans to cut or eliminate property taxes.

House and Senate leaders of both parties appointed the “working group” in July to come up with a legislative plan by the time lawmakers return to Harrisburg later this month.

One group member, Sen. Lisa Boscola, a Northampton County Democrat, said discussions have run the gamut from total elimination of the tax to reduction to the granting of rebates.

The concept of taxing retirement income to help eliminate property taxes ― put forth recently in a proposal by state Rep. Frank Ryan, a Lebanon County Republican ― causes “a lot of angst among a lot of members,” Boscola said. But, she said, nothing has been ruled out.

Boscola said that while the group is not yet close to having a final plan, there is universal agreement that something needs to be done.

Argall has introduced legislation to get rid of property taxes in each of the last three legislative sessions. The last vote came in 2015, when a 24-24 tie in the Senate was broken by a negative vote by then-Lt. Gov. Mike Stack.

One appointed group member, Republican state Sen. Mike Folmer of Lebanon County, said Tuesday that family issues and involvement with another legislative issue forced him to drop out of the group.

But Folmer, who has been involved with the issue for years, said he would only support complete elimination of the tax.

Book “Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers,” Second Edition, Now Available Nationwide

Attorney at Work announces the newly updated and expanded second edition of “Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers,” by Gina Rubel, attorney and award-winning legal communicator and CEO of Furia Rubel Communications, Inc. Written for lawyers and legal marketers, Rubel’s popular no-nonsense guide delivers hands-on advice on all critical aspects of public relations—from the dos and don’ts of media relations to controlling the message to harnessing the power of the internet and social media.

The comprehensive book focuses on strategic PR for business development and has been expanded to include new chapters on crisis communications and legal marketing ethics.

Joan Feldman, Co-Publisher of AttorneyatWork.com, said, “Gina expertly weaves integrated marketing and business development into public relations strategies and tactics for lawyers. A former litigator with nearly 20 years of experience in law firm communications, Gina educates both young and seasoned lawyers and legal marketers on ways to seamlessly incorporate public relations into their firm growth and reputation management strategies.”

Rubel said, “This new edition is long overdue. The first edition of ‘Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers’ was published in 2007, before any of us had any idea how things like social media and data privacy would change the legal marketing landscape. Then, in 2018, the American Bar Association changed the relevant Model Rules. At that point, we knew it was time for the second edition.”

“Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers, Second Edition,” is available for purchase through Attorney at Work.

CSSH Fundraiser Dinner


The Coalition to Shelter and Support the Homeless  is hosting  – Raise the Roof for Homelessness dinner and fundraiser on October 12th at the Doylestown Country Club. This event supports the a great local charity whose mission is to provide Code Blue shelter and outreach to unsheltered adults in Central Bucks. Enjoy dinner, open bar, music, live and silent auctions, and great raffle baskets. Your generosity will have a positive impact on those who need it most in our community.  Let’s see our legal community turn out for this ‘party with a purpose”!  Get your tickets now at



Jennifer Courtney approved as a Bucks County Parenting Coordinator

Jennifer Courtney announces her approval as a Parenting Coordinator by the Bucks County Family Court after having completed all requisite training under Pennsylvania’s new rule which went into effect on March 1, 2019. Under the rule, a Judge can appoint a Parenting Coordinator, or the parties can agree upon one. As a Parenting Coordinator, Jennifer can address certain custody disputes quickly, effectively and economically. The custody issues are limited and are not major parenting decisions, however, they are issues upon which the parents cannot agree that do need resolution. Parenting Coordination offers an alternative to address issues such as attendance at time-sensitive special events like birthday parties or sports banquets, temporary variations of extracurricular activities, transition issues between households, etc. as oppose to filing a petition. Jennifer is excited about the ability to offer this new service to families and assist in custody conflict resolution. In addition to the training, Jennifer has 25 years of experience as a family law attorney to rely upon in resolving these custody disputes.

Mock Trial Attorney Advisor Needed

Council Rock South is looking for an attorney-advisor for one of their mock trial teams for the up-coming year.  This is one of two teams at the school, and the team is very well established with a solid faculty advisor (Tina Jones) and strong student interest.  It’s a great group of hardworking kids, several of whom are returning from a team that advanced to the second round last year.  I had planned to help them again this year, but I am an Army reservist and I am being deployed overseas for 8 months so I can’t help with the team this year.  If you are at all interested or have any questions, please feel free to email Tina (at tjones@crsd.org) or me (at jpavlovcak@hotmail.com).


Jon Pavlovcak

A snapshot of sexual offenders in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG—Under Pennsylvania’s Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), 8,133 people were sentenced as sexual offenders between 2014 to 2018, and were charged with 36,764 offenses. Of those sexual offenders who were sentenced, 50% were between the ages of 19-35, and 39% were charged with child pornography.


Hill Wallack LLP Partner Francis J. Sullivan Presented at NBI Seminar in Philadelphia, PA

Hill Wallack LLP Partner Francis J. Sullivan was among a group of panelists for a seminar sponsored by NBI (National Business Institute) on August 21, 2019. The program was held at the Courtyard by Marriott Philadelphia City Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa. The seminar was entitled “The Mini MBA for Attorneys”. Mr. Sullivan presented on Ethical Considerations and discussed the ethical standards and civil liability; the role of the attorney as advisor in LLC formation; conflicts of interest; and confidentiality.

About Francis J. Sullivan

Francis J. Sullivan is a partner in the law firm of Hill Wallack LLP. He is partner-in-charge of the Business & Commercial and Trusts & Estates practice groups. Mr. Sullivan concentrates his practice in the representation of corporate entities and partnerships, buying and selling businesses and real estate, tax and regulatory issues, as well as obtaining and structuring financing to further his clients’ business needs, growth and development. He frequently advises clients on the planning, organizing, restructuring and governance of new and existing business entities, including the documenting of the relationship between and among the business entity and its owners. Mr. Sullivan also negotiates, structures and drafts operating, partnership and shareholder agreements, agreements for retirement and buy-outs of partners and corporate owners, as well as generational succession planning. He also is involved in commercial litigation on behalf of his business clients.

Penglase & Benson is pleased to announce that Amir Stark Esq. has been appointed to serve as Solicitor for A Woman’s Place

Amir Stark is an Associate in the firm’s family law practice group. Mr. Stark focuses his practice on high conflict domestic relations litigation including: divorce, custody, child support, spousal support, alimony, equitable distribution, annulment, dependency, termination of parental rights, adoption, name change, protection from abuse and other related matters. Mr. Stark has also been recognized for his outstanding generosity and dedication in the pro bono community for representing victims of domestic abuse in Bucks County PFA Court.

Representative Frank Ryan School Property Tax Elimination Act Press Conference

Representative Frank Ryan (R-Lebanon) held a press conference in the Capitol Rotunda to unveil his plan for School Property Tax Elimination, House Bill 13.

Representative Ryan began the press conference by emphasizing that school property tax is Pennsylvania’s biggest issue. He described his plan, House Bill 13, which replaces school property tax with expanded and new taxes in order to spread around the funding of Pennsylvania’s education system and reduce the burden on homeowners.

The plan includes:

  • 1.85% increase to the Personal Income Tax (PIT), paid directly to the school district. Overall, PIT would rise from 3.07% to 4.92%.
  • 2.0% increase to the Sales and Use Tax (SUT) raising it to 8.0% statewide on existing taxable items and added a 2.0% SUT to food and clothing, items not currently taxed.
  • Retirement income would be taxed at 4.92% with 1.85% to the school district and 3.07% to the state.
    • Representative Ryan clarified that the tax is on retirement income and not on principle.
  • Social Security would not be taxed.

Representative Ryan explained that he had worked with over 200 interested groups in drafting the legislation and understands that seniors are concerned with the new tax on retirement.  He was joined by Jim Rodkey of the Pennsylvania Property Rights Association, Al Ciardi, a partner of Philadelphia-based Ciardi, Ciardi & Austin specializing in bankruptcy, and Blake Ringenberg, a counselor specializing in the psychological impact of home-loss on children.

Jim Rodkey described the current system of school property tax in Pennsylvania as morally reprehensible and unfair. He warned that the burden to fund schools will continue to rise exponentially and that solving the property tax issue can no longer be “kicked down the road.” Further, he explained that the burden is not accurately reflected, as over 64% of properties in the Commonwealth are over-assessed. Rodkey closed by explaining that a home does not create revenue and does not pay the property tax. Instead, homeowners are already using their earnings and retirement to pay the property tax and the full elimination proposed by House Bill 13 is the only solution that will fix the onerous and unfair system of school property taxes.

Al Ciardi and Blake Ringenberg both stated the importance of homeownership to both financial and mental wellbeing. The risk of losing a home due to the tax burden, Ciardi said, can ruin a family’s financial security. Further, Ringenberg explained that the lack of homeownership due to burdensome taxes extends adolescence as young people are unable to attain homeownership.

Representative Ryan took several questions from the media:

Representative, what happens to debt that school districts might retain?

Representative Ryan: The School Property Tax Elimination Act takes into account school debt. Should a school continue to struggle, it will be placed into a receivership with the Department of Education as we currently have in the Harrisburg School District.

Do school groups support the proposal?

Representative Ryan: The Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials has come out in opposition to the proposal. Other groups remain neutral as they want to see language for the proposal.

Representative Ryan closed with remarks in regard to schools losing their funding from the proposal should they attempt to levy a new property tax. He anticipated that if this were to occur, a school would need to be placed into receivership with the Department of Education and ultimately be forced to merge with another school. He emphasized this attempt is to make school funding equitable so that citizens see real relief from the property tax burden.