Legislative issues discussed during Farm Bureau tour

ST. MARYS – During Friday's Elk County Farm Bureau tour, numerous legislative issues were discussed ranging from state to national matters.State Representative Matt Gabler (R-Elk/Clearfield) emphasized the importance of organizations like the Farm Bureau, which provides subject matter experts in each industry, in order to keep legislators informed of different developments taking place. He said as a direct result of last year's tour, held at Dave's Saw Shop in St. Marys, he was informed about the logging industry being excluded from the sales tax exemption status which is accorded to the agriculture and manufacturing industries. He then drafted a bill to add timber and logging into the tax code exemption-- when the tax law was written, the exclusion applied only to limited sawmills, but not those actually collecting the timber and bringing it to market."The whole concept of having sales tax exclusion is why would we pay sales tax on raw material going into manufacturing, that is then manufactured, and tax is applied to the final product," Gabler explained.He added this tries to avoid double taxation.Gabler explained currently legislators are focused on getting spending in line with revenues which, has made it difficult to introduce legislation regarding other matters in the House.Among the issues being perused at the state level are amendments to the vehicle code; fairness in farm equipment dealership agreements; and legislative amendments to the state's game and wildlife code.Senate Bill 390, currently in the House Transportation Committee, would amend the Pa. Vehicle Code and includes: increasing the maximum width of farm equipment from 14.6 feet for daytime use and 8 feet for nighttime use to 16 feet for use on roads; expanding the maximum allowable distance for farm equipment exempt from registration; allowing farm equipment to be utilized for other purposes other than on the owner's farm; expanding the allowable distance for Type C registered equipment to be operated between farms or between farms and local agribusiness centers up to 50 miles; automatically exempting trailers and semitrailers towed by farm equipment and by farm vehicles from registration requirements when used within a prescribed distance of a farm; and expanding the allowable distance for multipurpose agricultural vehicles to be operated on roads between farms up to five miles. "It's a full-time job educating legislators from urban/suburban areas that their food doesn't start at the grocery store, that this stuff has to happen. We all understand how the world works and to bring that sensibility to the rest of the world," Gabler said, referring to the passing this bill.Pick up a copy of the Monday, Aug. 20, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.