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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: January 13, 2023 09:20 AM
From: Representative Brad Roae
To: All House members
Subject: EMS Option for Hotel Tax
I will soon be introducing legislation to amend the hotel tax (Act 18 of 2016) to give counties the option of continuing to use the funding to promote tourism or adding an option that counties can use the money to help fund the EMS system in their county.
EMS is in a crisis in Pennsylvania.  If you call 911, the local ambulance service in your area may or may not come.  Each year there are fewer paramedics, fewer EMTs, fewer career ambulance services, fewer volunteer ambulance services, fewer ambulances in service available for calls, etc.  Even with the higher Medical Assistance reimbursement that went into effect in 2013, the payments do not cover the actual costs and are significantly lower than what would be received if the patient was covered by medical insurance such as UPMC or Highmark.  Diesel fuel has about doubled in price in the past three years and ambulance services get zero reimbursement from the state for the first 20 miles of an ambulance call.  You read that correctly.  If the total run is 21 miles, the ambulance service only gets paid for 1 mile if the patient is on Medical Assistance.  The price of gloves, drugs, airway management supplies, bandages, etc. have increased at even higher rates than the overall inflation rate.  The costs to buy, supply and staff one ambulance is about $800,000 a year for it to be in service 24 hours a day with a paid crew on duty. 
Tourism is not in a crisis and tourism promotion is not in a crisis.  Most people just do a Google search when looking for hotel rooms or looking for information on fairs, festivals, concerts, museums, hunting, fishing, boating, professional sporting events, etc.  The need for a physical county hotel tax funded tourism office that is usually open banker hours Monday through Friday is not needed in some counties.  There are usually many more tourists on weekends when the tourism offices are typically closed so people cannot get printed booklets and brochures on tourism.  Virtually all tourism centered businesses have their own websites and social media pages so the need for a county tourism website and printed tourism books and brochures is not as important as in years past.  The internet is available 24/7 to get information and that is where most people go. 
Counties would be able to continue to use 100% of their hotel tax revenue for tourism, if that is a high priority.  They could split the money in any percentage between tourism and EMS if they are both priorities, or they could devote the entire amount to EMS.  If a county took no action, by default, all the money would continue to fund tourism like it is now.  By ordinance, a county could fund EMS with some or all the money.

I would greatly appreciate your cosponsorship of this legislation. 

Introduced as HB67