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Pennsylvania

New Pennsylvania laws for 2018 expand gambling, allow golf carts on roads

| Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, 3:51 p.m.
Pastor Mark Patz, of Sloan Hill Church in Mossgrove, travels down Sloan Hill Road on his golf cart picking up roadside trash Monday, Sept. 15, 2014.
Louis B. Ruediger | Trib Total Media
Pastor Mark Patz, of Sloan Hill Church in Mossgrove, travels down Sloan Hill Road on his golf cart picking up roadside trash Monday, Sept. 15, 2014.
Palmer Jackson sits in a golf cart on hole 6 at the Westmoreland County Amateur Golf Tournament at Hannastown Golf Club in Greensburg on July 23, 2017.
Kyle Hodges
Palmer Jackson sits in a golf cart on hole 6 at the Westmoreland County Amateur Golf Tournament at Hannastown Golf Club in Greensburg on July 23, 2017.

Driving a golf cart on Pennsylvania roads, gambling online and keeping your tax collector from skimming off your tax payments will all get a little easier under new legislation that takes effect this month.

House Bill 271 greatly expands gambling in the state, especially by allowing online casino gaming and gambling online through the Pennsylvania Lottery.

Licensed casinos can pay the state a $10 million fee to operate poker, table games and slots over the internet and mobile apps. The Pennsylvania Lottery will be allowed to offer online games, including taking its existing games online, though it can't provide casino-style games.

The bill, which took effect Monday, allows existing casinos to establish up to 10 “mini casinos” or satellites around the state, though many municipalities have responded by passing laws barring their towns from hosting one.

Another new law that took effect Jan. 1, House Bill 16, changes where taxpayers can send their payments.

No longer can taxes be paid to an individual like a tax collector; instead those tax collectors have to establish special bank accounts solely to accept tax payments in the name of an office, title, position or the municipality they are collecting for. Tax notices will have to include the new information on how to write up one's payments.

Rep. Ryan E. Mackenzie wrote that the bill was created to discourage fraud by tax collectors depositing tax money into their personal accounts, as a Somerset woman allegedly did with more than $65,000 intended for the area school district in 2014, or a Beaver County constable allegedly did with $1 million for the Ambridge Area School District from 2007 to 2015.

Senate Bill 785 allows certain low-speed utility vehicles, like those used for maintaining golf courses, resorts and college campuses, to be driven up to 1 mile on public roads even if they aren't registered with the state like a regular motor vehicle. Fire, police and EMS all-terrain vehicles can go up to two miles on a public highway and can use lights and sirens.

Golf carts, which previously weren't defined in the state's Vehicle Code, will be allowed to cross public highways even if not involved in a game of golf. Golf carts can be driven by anyone over the age of 12, but drivers under 16 can't cross a highway unless supervised by someone over 18.

The golf cart and utility vehicle law takes effect Jan. 29.

House Bill 165 also takes effect Jan. 29 and establishes two new honors the governor can award to civilians, veterans, the Pennsylvania Guard, National Guard or active-duty service members: the Pennsylvania Achievement Medal and the Pennsylvania Veterans Service Award.

Many other new laws won't take effect until Feb. 20 — the result of lawmakers passing a flurry of bills as their session drew to a close in December, which would then take effect 60 days from when Gov. Tom Wolf signed them, Wolf's press secretary J.J. Abbott said.

Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6660, msantoni@tribweb.com or via Twitter @msantoni.

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