House reps want to study local fee for State Police services

Pictured is House Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, speaking at a news conference as Gov. Josh Shapiro, right, looks on.

Too many Pennsylvania residents receive State Police protection without paying enough for it, according to two state House members.

Rep. Tim Brennan, D-Doylestown, and Rep. Michael Sturla, D-Lancaster, are circulating a co-sponsorship memorandum for legislation that will study a fee on municipalities that don’t have their own police force.

“Most Pennsylvanians pay local taxes to support local police services while also paying state taxes to support the Pennsylvania State Police,” Brennan and Sturla wrote in their co-sponsorship memorandum. “However, many municipalities depend on the PA State Police as the only source for police services, burdening state resources without contributing any additional amounts for the services they receive.”

Gov. Josh Shapiro has wanted to move State Police funding away from the state’s gas tax and into the state’s general fund, but no decisions have been made yet on that proposal. Sturla and Brennan say townships and boroughs not paying their fair share have diverted money from the state’s transportation infrastructure while forcing the state to rely on the Motor License Fund to pay for enough state troopers to be stationed across the state.

The lawmakers want more information from the Joint State Government Commission about the impact local municipal police coverage has on state taxpayers and the State Police as well as the possible benefits to the state if a fee was imposed on municipalities that opt not to have a local police force.

Pictured is House Rep. Tim Brennan, D-Doylestown, speaking in the state House of Representatives earlier this session.

“As the legislature seeks solutions to require all Pennsylvanians to support the PA State Police more proportionally to the services they demand and to disincentivize municipalities from defunding their local police departments, we would benefit from updated information on the issues presented by local law enforcement obligations being placed on the State Police,” Sturla and Brennan wrote.

The bill has yet to be introduced. The idea isn’t necessarily new for Sturla, who pushed a fee in the 2017-18 legislative session. At the time, Sturla said it was estimated the per capita cost of providing police services was $234. Studies at the time showed 9.4 million state residents were paying police protection for 3.3 million people who lived in places where the State Police provided the lone police protection.

Sturla had a phased-in fee that would have generated more than $300 million by the time it was fully implemented over 10 years. Most Warren County townships and boroughs would have to pay such a fee if such legislation was passed.


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