A Pennsylvania legislative committee endorsed on Wednesday a constitutional amendment, backed by the state's nonprofit hospitals, that would restrict the ability of municipal governments to challenge charities' tax exemptions, says the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
The proposal to broaden the state's definition of a public charity is a response to last year's Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling revoking the tax exemption for a summer camp run by a Jewish charity. The decision was widely viewed as opening the door for local governments to challenge nonprofit groups' tax breaks.
The amendment aims to give state legislators "the sole authority to establish criteria for a tax exemption, thereby providing a clear avenue to protecting our charities which serve the interests of our communities," said Sen. Mike Brubaker, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which approved the measure by a 9-2 vote.
The amendment, which now goes to the full Senate, is opposed by municipal leaders and other local officials. Chelsa Wagner, controller of Allegheny County, said the change would have "a negative impact on every taxpayer and local government" in the state.