Senate Republican News Brief

“Medicaid is an enormous part of our state budget, and the cost to taxpayers will only continue to grow in the future. As we continue to grapple with a multi-billion dollar deficit, we should be exploring every way to potentially save tax dollars. It is extremely disappointing that Governor Wolf chose to ignore the potential benefits of a program that has already proven to be successful in other states.”

 – Sen. Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) on Governor Wolf’s veto of amendments to the Human Services Code, which would have created a pilot program that would make use of new technology to incorporate evidence-based medicine into care decisions for Medicaid recipients. 

PREVIEW 

 

The Senate continues work on finalizing a state budget revenue package. Legislation that could be considered by the Senate this week includes:

Senate Bill 251 – authorizes the use of RADAR and LIDAR by local law enforcement. Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny)

Senate Bill 542 – permits pharmacists to dispense emergency prescription refills for up to 30 days, with several restrictions. Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh)

Senate Bill 676 – amends the Workers’ Compensation Act to provide for reforms and to address underfunding of the Uninsured Employers Guarantee Fund. Sen. John Gordner (R-Columbia)

Senate Bill 827 – gives people the power to plan for the management and disposition of their digital assets in the same way they can make plans for their tangible property, by providing instructions in a will, trust or power of attorney. Sen. Tom Killion (R-Delaware)

Senate Resolution 168 – directs the Joint State Government Commission to perform a detailed study of the potential impact of removing Cambria County from the emissions testing requirement. Sen. Wayne Langerholc (R-Cambria)

Committee Hearings Streamed at PASenateGOP.com

Tuesday, October 24 9:30 a.m. Senate Majority Caucus Room
Senate Aging and Youth Committee, Sen. Michele Brooks (R-Mercer) Chair, and Health and Human Services Committee, Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) Chair
Lyme Disease Task Force Report

Tuesday, October 24 9:30 a.m. East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-B
Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, Sen. Don White (R-Indiana) Chair
Senate Bill 637 (Drug Pricing)

Tuesday, October 24 10 a.m. East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-A
Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) Chair
Senate Bill 800 (Updates to the Covered Device Recycling Act)

Tuesday, October 24 10 a.m. North Office Building, Hearing Room 1
Senate State Government Committee, Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) Chair
Senate 595 (Electronic Notarization of Documents)

Wednesday, October 25 9 a.m. North Office Building, Hearing Room 1
Senate Communications and Technology Committee, Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) Chair
Senate Bill 914 (Creation of Office of Information Technology)

Wednesday, October 25 9:30 a.m. House Majority Caucus Room
Rural Pennsylvania Legislative Briefing
Challenges of Addiction in Rural Pennsylvania

Wednesday, October 25 10 a.m. East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-B
Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) Chair
Nomination of Peter Barsz and Daniel Guydish to the State Tax Equalization Board

Wednesday, October 25 1:30 p.m. North Office Building, Hearing Room 1
The Senate Education Committee, Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair) Chair, Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) Chair, Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver) Chair
Potential Impact of the Failure to Fund the State-Related Universities

Senate Committee Schedule 

Review 

Senate Approves Yaw Bills Limiting Opioid Prescriptions, Updating Prescription Monitoring 

Legislation limiting the amount of opioids that individuals may be prescribed won bipartisan approval Wednesday in the Senate.

Sponsored by Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Senate Bill 472 addresses the increasing risk of individuals becoming addicted to opioids and heroin after being prescribed painkillers, and is one of several bills introduced by Senator Yaw aimed at curbing the drug epidemic that has killed, on average, more than 13 people per day in Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 728 would amend the Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescriptions Program Act to exempt Schedule V epilepsy drugs currently included in the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program querying requirement. The bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. More

Senate Acts to Make PHEAA Grants for Distance Education Permanent

The Senate on Tuesday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) that would permanently allow for distance education to be included in the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) State Grant Program.

In 2013, the General Assembly approved legislation creating a five-year pilot program permitting students who take the majority of their courses online to apply for PHEAA grants.  Senate Bill 53 would make the pilot program permanent. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. More

Senate Passes Legislation to Improve Disabled Parking Access

The Senate unanimously approved legislation Tuesday sponsored by Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) and Sen. Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) to improve accessibility and strengthen enforcement measures of parking spaces for persons with disabilities.

Under Senate Bill 888, violators who illegally park in parking spaces or block access aisles designated for persons with disabilities will be subject to towing, charged with a summary offense and susceptible to increased fines.

A key provision in this legislation creates parking regulations for access aisles. In order to accommodate vehicles equipped with ramps, wheelchair lifts and other devices, parking spaces that are designated for persons with disabilities include access aisles, generally marked with diagonal lines adjoining the space. These parking spaces and access aisles are necessary to improve mobility for persons with disabilities to access medical appointments, shopping centers and other locations. Senate Bill 888 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

More

Senate Panel Approves Bartolotta Bill to Improve Access to Mental Health Treatment

Legislation that would help reduce hospital emergency room overcrowding and connect patients who require mental health services to the care they need was approved Tuesday by the Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne).

Senate Bill 179, sponsored by Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington), would help improve communication between hospital emergency rooms and psychiatric units by creating a registry to identify psychiatric treatment facilities that have available beds for patients. The measure would help streamline the process for securing psychiatric beds for those patients entering hospitals, with the goal of reducing the amount of staff time spent searching for available beds. More

Panel Approves Stefano Bill Enabling Military & Overseas Voters to File Ballots Online

The Senate State Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), on Wednesday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Pat Stefano (R-Fayette) aimed at protecting voter integrity and make voting easier for members of the military and overseas residents.

Senate Bill 563 would require Pennsylvania to develop a secure online system for military and overseas residents to return their absentee ballots electronically. The federal Military and Overseas Voters Empowerment Act (MOVE) of 2009 requires states to provide blank absentee ballots to military and overseas voters in at least one electronic format. The measure now goes to the full Senate for consideration. More

Committee Approves Langerholc Resolution Seeking Review of Cambria County Emissions Testing

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, chaired by Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution sponsored by Sen. Wayne Langerholc (R-Cambria) seeking a comprehensive review of the potential impact of removing Cambria County from vehicle emissions testing requirements.

Cambria County is one of 25 Pennsylvania counties where vehicles are currently required to undergo emissions testing as part of annual safety inspections.

Senate Resolution 168, which now goes to the full Senate for approval, directs the Joint State Government Commission to perform a detailed study of the potential impact of removing Cambria County from the emissions testing requirement. More

Eichelberger Calls for Limited Constitutional Convention to Reform State Government

Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair) was joined by Sen. Pat Stefano (R-Fayette) and Sen. Don White (R-Indiana) for a news conference Tuesday to introduce companion legislation calling for a limited constitutional convention.

Senate Bill 867, sponsored by Senator Eichelberger would allow the public to vote in an upcoming election on whether or not there should be a constitutional convention limited to very specific topics.  Those topics include proposed changes to the terms and size of the General Assembly; spending without an enacted budget; the office of the Lieutenant Governor; and the judiciary. More

Committee Roundup 

Agriculture & Rural Affairs 

The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver), and the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee held an informational meeting Wednesday on the problems caused by the Spotted Lanternfly in parts of Pennsylvania. Video 

Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), approved four bills on Oct. 16.

Senate Bill 53 would permanently allow for distance education inclusion in the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency State Grant Program.

House Bill 165 creates the Pennsylvania Achievement Medal and the Pennsylvania Veterans Service Award and adds those two new decorations to the list of existing medals, badges, and awards that are authorized and presented by the Governor in the name of the Commonwealth.

Senate Bill 676 addresses ongoing funding deficiencies in the Workers’ Compensation Uninsured Employers Guarantee Fund.

House Bill 790 establishes the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act to provide for the regulation of noxious weeds and controlled plants and repeals the Noxious Weed Control Law.

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Infrastructure, Environment and Government Operations 

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Infrastructure, Environment and Government Operations, chaired by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery), held a public hearing Tuesday on municipal coverage by the Pennsylvania State Police. Watch

Banking & Insurance 

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, chaired by Sen. Don White (R-Indiana), approved three bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 877 amends the Insurance Department Act to allow producers and insurers to spend as much as $100 in marketing insurance to a client or prospective client.

Senate Bill 878 amends the Insurance Company Law to allow producers and insurers to spend as much as $100 in marketing insurance to a client or prospective client.

House Bill 1388 changes the expiration date of CHIP from December 31, 2017 to December 31, 2019 and prohibits the use of funds for sex change procedures.

Consumer Affairs & Professional Licensure 

The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee, chaired by Sen. Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks), approved three bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 384 removes the current exemption for Philadelphia from the Assessors Certification Act of 1992. 

Senate Bill 892 amends the Chiropractic Practice Act to provide clarity on the topic of clinical training.

House Bill 1019 establishes procedures for the sale and purchase of a cemetery and reasonable access guidelines.

Environmental Resources & Energy

The Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee approved two measures on Tuesday.

Senate Resolution 168 directs the Joint State Government Commission to establish an advisory committee to analyze the potential impact of removing Cambria County from the emissions testing program. 

Senate Bill 799 would improve water quality and help Pennsylvania meet federal pollution reduction mandates in the Chesapeake Bay watershed at a reduced cost to taxpayers.

Finance

The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango), approved House Bill 984 on Tuesday. The bill extends the income tax donation check-off box for the Military Family Relief Program until January 1, 2023.

The committee also held a public hearing on fees being charged to manage the state’s two public pension funds: Public School Employees’ Retirement System and the State Employees’ Retirement System. Watch

Health & Human Services 

The Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), approved three bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 179 creates a statewide voluntary reporting system to identify available psychiatric beds.

Senate Bill 439 requires carbon monoxide detectors in child care facilities if the facility uses a fossil fuel-burning heater or appliance or has an attached garage.

Senate Bill 674 implements automatic scheduling changes for controlled substances.

Local Government

The Senate Local Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York), held a public hearing Tuesday on beverage tax imposed in the City of Philadelphia. The hearing is being held at the request of Senator Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia/Delaware). Hearing Video & Testimony

State Government 

The Senate State Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), approved five bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 99 sets regulations for containers or bins placed in outdoor locations by organizations to collect donated clothing or other items for charitable purposes.

Senate Bill 563 requires the Department of State to develop a secure online system for military and overseas voters to electronically return absentee ballots.

Senate Bill 817 extends a lease.

Senate Bill 900 transfers a property title.

Senate Bill 921 conveys a property.

The committee also considered the nomination of Greg Fajt to serve on the Pennsylvania Board of Claims. Video

Urban Affairs & Housing 

The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee, chaired Sen. Tom McGarrigle (R-Delaware), approved two bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 851 amends the Real Estate Tax Sale Law to clarify ownership of properties that are in the delinquent tax sale process.

Senate Bill 919 allows a tenant of a housing authority unit, who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence, to be relocated to another unit.

Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness

The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, chaired by Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny), approved three measures on Tuesday.

Senate Resolution 5 establishes a Women’s Veterans’ Health Care task force to address the needs of Pennsylvania’s growing female veteran population.

Senate Bill 798 allows the appointment of a one-star or two-star military officer to the Military Enhancement Commission.

House Bill 1231 establishes a veterans’ registry, within the Department of Veterans Affairs, to provide veterans with information regarding state benefits, programs, and services.

Senate Republican News Brief

“Properly run recovery houses can turn lives around, but unregulated, unscrupulous recovery houses are wasting not only taxpayer dollars, but lives. Individuals and entire communities suffer when an opportunity for recovery is sacrificed for a quick profit. Passing Senate Bill 446 says we are not going to tolerate that.”

Sen. Tom McGarrigle (R-Delaware) on Senate passage of his legislation to establish quality standards for addiction recovery houses in Pennsylvania.


Preview

Senate Session Today at 1 p.m.

Negotiations to finalize a 2017-18 state budget continue. Senate Republicans remain committed to meeting Friday’s deadline for a general appropriations bill. 

Legislation that could be considered by the Senate this week includes: 

Senate Bill 183 – establishes the Plumbing Contractors Licensure Act. Sen. Tom McGarrigle (R-Delaware)

Senate Bill 431 – increases fines and the penalties for littering. Sen. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe)

Senate Bill 736 – authorizes parking authorities in cities of the second class A and third class to enforce and administer parking ordinances and resolutions. Sen. Scott Martin (R-Lancaster)

Senate Bill 383 – authorizes school districts to establish a policy allowing certain school employees to carry firearms on school property to enhance security. Sen. Don White (R-Indiana)

Senate Bill 458 – strengthens penalties for illegal household goods movers operating in Pennsylvania. Sen. David Argall (R-Schuylkill)

Senate Bill 461 — modernizes and strengthens the use of DNA technology to better fight violent crime in Pennsylvania. Sen. Tom Killion (R-Delaware)

Senate Bill 529 – provides for the automatic sealing of criminal records for minor offenses. Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York)

Senate Bill 616 – requires funeral directors, pre-need or cemetery companies to provide information regarding the availability of VA burial benefits. Sen. Chuck McIlhinney (R-Bucks)

Senate Bill 629 – amend Pennsylvania law on fraudulent transfers. Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Allegheny)   

Senate Bill 630 – reforms the insurance licensure requirements for Pennsylvania travel agents by reducing unnecessary burdens on these small businesses and offering greater protection to Pennsylvania residents through new training and consumer disclosures. Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Allegheny)

Senate Bill 662 establishes a second degree felony for the delivery or distribution of an illicit drug that results in “serious bodily injury” to the user. Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington)

Senate Bill 677 – establishes the Pennsylvania ABLE Tax Exemption Act providing for the taxation or exemption from taxation of amounts and events relating to the Pennsylvania ABLE Savings Program. Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne)

Senate Bill 690 – establishes a statutory mechanism for the initial apportionment of any home rule or optional plan municipality without a mayor that will be dividing into wards either partially or totally. Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair)

Senate Bill 691 – establishes uniform residential qualifications of office for persons seeking election to, or appointment to fill a vacancy in, a municipal elected office where recent service in the military might interfere with the person’s ability to satisfy the relevant residency requirements. Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango)

Senate Bill 590 (Stefano) – increases the maximum service charge a payee can collect on bad checks.

Senate Committee Schedule

Review

Senate Approves McGarrigle Bill to Set Standards for PA Addiction Recovery Houses 

The Senate on Wednesday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Tom McGarrigle (R-Delaware) to establish quality standards for addiction recovery houses in Pennsylvania. 

Senate Bill 446 calls for the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to establish standards and criteria for the administration and operation of recovery houses, sometimes referred to as “sober” or transitional houses. 

The purpose of such facilities is to provide support for those suffering from addiction after they leave inpatient treatment or correctional facilities. Recent news articles have brought to light cases of facility operators fueling addictions, exploiting residents and employing counselors who use drugs. More 

Animal Protection Bill Sent to Governor 

A comprehensive bill increasing penalties for abusing an animal received final legislative approval on Tuesday and was sent to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law. 

House Bill 1238, which was unanimously approved by the Senate on Tuesday, strengthens existing animal abuse laws and makes it easier to prosecute a person who knowingly mistreats, abuses or neglects an animal. The bill categorizes animal cruelty based on the egregiousness of the offense. 

The rewrite of Pennsylvania’s animal abuse laws is based in part on a bill introduced by Sen. Richard Alloway (R-Franklin) in the Senate last year in response to the story of Libre, a Boston terrier puppy who was rescued from a Lancaster County farm after suffering from weeks of severe neglect. More 

Stefano Bill to Increase School Hiring Transparency Passed by Senate 

The Senate on June 19 approved a measure to increase transparency in the process of hiring of school officials and ensure that taxpayers have access to employment contract information.  

Senate Bill 592, sponsored by Sen. Pat Stefano (R-Fayette), gives taxpayers an opportunity to examine the terms of employment contracts that the local school board extends to key district employees. 

Under the bill, when a school board extends an offer of employment to a district superintendent, assistant district superintendent, associate superintendent, or any principal, it must first post the terms of employment on the school district’s public website at least two weeks prior to it being approved. The posting must provide the details of the final offer, including salary and the length of the employment contract. More 

Senate Approves Baker Bill to Increase Public Safety by Expanding PA One Call 

The Senate unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) that would ensure greater public safety by extending and expanding provisions of the PA One Call Law. 

Also known as 811, the communications system helps prevent damage to underground utilities and avoid tragedies by requiring companies and people to “Call Before You Dig.” That information is then used to determine if there are any lines at-risk in the area, so they can be marked prior to excavation. 

Chief among the changes proposed in Senate Bill 242 is assigning enforcement powers from the state Department of Labor to the Public Utility Commission. More

Senate Confirms Revenue Secretary 

The Senate confirmed the nomination of Dan Hassell to serve as Secretary of the Department of Revenue on June 19. Hassell had served as Acting Revenue Secretary since the April 21 retirement of Revenue Secretary Eileen McNulty. He has served in several posts in the Revenue Department over his career and had previously served as Revenue Secretary in 2010. 

Lawmakers Unveil Legislation Creating Trust Fund for Youth Impacted by Prison System 

A bipartisan group of state senators including Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) and Sen. Richard Alloway (R-Franklin) joined Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel on Wednesday to unveil legislation establishing a public charitable trust to help children impacted by the prison system and reverse the direction of youth who are on a path leading to incarceration in Pennsylvania. 

The legislation would create the “First Chance Trust Fund,” which would be used to create scholarships and provide grants to programs that benefit children of incarcerated loved ones and children facing challenges. 

The trust fund would be administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency and would be funded by private, tax-deductible donations and a 1 percent surcharge on vendors that have a contract with the Department of Corrections exceeding $5 million. Other Pennsylvania agencies would also have the option to include a similar provision in their contracts. It would not require the use of taxpayer dollars. More 

Bills Sent to the Governor for Enactment 

Senate Bill 8 reforms state law regarding the seizure and forfeiture of property.

House Bill 168 makes it a crime for anyone to fraudulently present themselves as a soldier or a veteran of any branch of the armed forces, or to be the recipient of a service medal or other military decoration.

House Bill 217 amends the Crimes Code concerning endangering the welfare of children.  

Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House 

Senate Bill 144 amends Act 537 (Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act) to allow the use of “alternative systems” for planning purposes.

Senate Bill 178 updates and modernizes the state History Code.

Senate Bill 180 updates and revises state law relating to organ and tissue donations.

Senate Bill 242 transfers enforcement authority for the Pennsylvania One Call System from the Department of Labor and Industry to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Senate Bill 446 provides for the regulation and certification of addiction recovery houses.

Senate Bill 553 provides for chemical testing and other measures related to driving after imbibing alcohol or using drugs.

Senate Bill 639 amends the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) Act to allow municipalities or municipal authorities to include private lateral rehabilitation or replacement in PENNVEST funding applications under certain conditions.

Senate Bill 656 would allow municipalities and municipal authorities to make public funds available to repair or replace contaminated private water lines when they pose a threat to the public health or safety.

Senate Bill 741 extends or removes sunset provisions related to funding for the courts and indigent legal services.

Committee Round-Up 

Appropriations 

The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), approved 10 bills on June 19.

Senate Bill 180 updates and revises state law relating to organ and tissue donations.

House Bill 217 amends the Crimes Code concerning endangering the welfare of children.

Senate Bill 326 is Fiscal Year 2017-18 funding for Penn State University.

Senate Bill 327 is Fiscal Year 2017-18 funding for the University of Pittsburgh.

Senate Bill 328 is Fiscal Year 2017-18 funding for Temple University.

Senate Bill 329 is Fiscal Year 2017-18 funding for Lincoln University.

Senate Bill 446 provides for the regulation and certification of addiction recovery houses.

Senate Bill 662 establishes a second degree felony for the delivery or distribution of an illicit drug that results in “serious bodily injury” to the user.

Senate Bill 741 addresses sunset provisions related to funding for the courts and indigent legal services.

House Bill 1238 updates and clarifies the existing animal abuse statute and increases the penalties for abusing any animal. 

The committee approved five bills on Tuesday. 

Senate Bill 211 enhances the PA 2-1-1 system.

Senate Bill 242 transfers enforcement authority for the Pennsylvania One Call System from the Department of Labor & Industry to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Senate Bill 529 provides those with low-level, nonviolent criminal records a mechanism to have their record sealed from public view.

Senate Bill 639 allows municipalities or municipal authorities to include private water lines in Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) funding applications under certain conditions.

Senate Bill 656 allows municipalities and municipal authorities to make public funds available to repair or replace contaminated private water lines when they pose a threat to the public health or safety. 

On Wednesday, the committee approved Senate Bill 677, which allows contributions into a PA ABLE account to be deducted annually from taxable income up to a maximum of the annual federal gift tax exclusion (currently $14,000) per beneficiary. It also provides that any distributions from or changes to a PA ABLE account that are not subject to federal income tax will not be subject to Pennsylvania state income tax. 

Agriculture & Rural Affairs

The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver), approved two bills on Tuesday.

House Bill 187 provides for wind power generation systems on preserved farmland.

House Bill 790 establishes the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act to provide for the regulation of noxious weeds and controlled plants and repeals the Noxious Weed Control Law. 

Community, Economic and Recreational Development

The Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee, chaired by Sen. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe), held a hearing Tuesday on Partnerships for Regional Economic Performance (PREP) programs and partners, specifically the funding and delivery of these programs, as well as the economic impact to the Commonwealth. Hearing Video & Written Testimony 

Education

The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair), approved two bills on June 19.

House Bill 178 requires the chief administrator of each school building to conduct a security drill, other than a fire drill or natural disaster drill, to practice procedures to respond to an emergency situation that may include an act of terrorism, armed intruder situation or other violent threat.

Senate Bill 756 eliminates the Keystone Exams as a high school graduation requirement. 

Environmental Resources & Energy

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, chaired by Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), approved four bills on June 19.

House Bill 290 amends the Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Act to address a vacancy on the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Board.

Senate Bill 334 allows municipalities and municipal authorities to make public funds available to repair or replace broken laterals on private property when the leaks pose a threat to the public health or safety.

Senate Bill 639 amends the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) Act to allow municipalities or municipal authorities to include private lateral rehabilitation or replacement in PENNVEST funding applications under certain conditions.

Senate Bill 692 adjusts the cap on the fee that a municipality may charge for a sewage enforcement officer’s inspection of a site. 

Finance

The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango), approved two bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 760 establishes a tax exemption for equipment purchased by data centers and their tenants.

Senate Bill 770 exempts help desk and other tech support services from the sales and use tax.  

Health & Human Services

The Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), approved four bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 6 is designed to eradicate waste, fraud, and abuse within the Commonwealth’s Public Welfare Code. 

House Bill 45 would allow eligible patients to request and use investigational drugs, biological products and medical devices not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as long as the patient has a terminal illness and passes other requirements.

House Bill 424 would allow physician assistants to sign a death certificate for a patient under their care.

Senate Bill 655 requires mandatory implementation of opioid prescribing guidelines developed by the Safe and Effective Prescribing Practices Task Force. 

Labor & Industry 

The Senate Labor and Industry Committee, chaired by Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), held a public hearing Wednesday to receive input on Senate Bill 429, regarding apprenticeship ratios. The bill aims to increase accessibility of training and hiring for thousands of industries by codifying access to a ratio of one supervisory journeyman for each apprentice. Hearing Video & Agenda

Local Government Committee

The Senate Local Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York), approved Senate Bill 656 on June 19. The bill would allow municipalities and municipal authorities to make public funds available to repair or replace contaminated private water lines when they pose a threat to the public health or safety.

On Friday, the committee held a public hearing in Philadelphia to gather testimony on the recently enacted Philadelphia Soda Tax.

Rules & Executive Nominations

The Rules & Executive Nominations Committee approved Senate Resolution 146 on June 19. The Resolution sets a temporary Senate rule for consideration of the Fiscal Year 2017-18 budget. The Resolution was adopted by the full Senate on Tuesday. 

State Government

The Senate State Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), approved three bills on Monday.

Senate Bill 622 requires all state agencies to display a general contact phone number on the home page of their internet websites.

Senate Bill 774 revises provisions on the practice and procedure of Commonwealth agencies, establishes the Office of Administrative Hearings, and revises provisions on judicial review of Commonwealth agency actions.

Senate Bill 775 establishes the Pennsylvania Museum Preservation Fund. 

Transportation

The Senate Transportation Committee, chaired by Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery), approved six bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 56  would require window tinting be included as part of the vehicle safety inspection process  and subjects businesses to the Unfair Trade Practices law if they fail to inform a purchaser that window tinting will cause a motor vehicle to be out of compliance with the Vehicle Code.

Senate Bill 785 would allow golf carts use on public highway crossovers for recreational purposes as well as golf carts and low-speed utility vehicle use for incidental travel on public highways for maintenance purposes.

Senate Bill 786 prohibits novice drivers (16 and 17 years old) from using cell phones while driving.

House Bill 1219 renames a bridge in Cherryhill Township, Indiana County, as the Sgt. Robert Eugene Goodlin Memorial Bridge.

House Bill 1288 adds optometrists to the list of medical providers who may certify an application for a disability placard or registration plate.

House Bill 1431 designates a portion of Routes 54, 901 and 2023 in Northumberland County and Schuylkill County as the Honorable Robert E. Belfanti, Jr., Memorial Highway. 

The committee also recommended to the full Senate approval of the nomination of John Wozniak as Commissioner of the PA Turnpike Commission. You can view the proceedings here.

Senate Republican News Brief

“The Inspector General is one of the first lines of defense in preventing our tax dollars from being wasted and abused. Ensuring this office can continue to operate without any undue influence is the best way to make certain our tax dollars are used wisely and that state government is operated in an appropriate manner.”

Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) on legislation passed by the Senate to give the Office of Inspector General greater authority and independence to investigate and eliminate waste, fraud and abuse of tax dollars.


Preview

Senate Session Today at 1 p.m.

Legislation that could be considered by the Senate this week includes:

Senate Bill 144 – allows the use of alternative on-lot sewage systems for planning purposes throughout the Commonwealth. Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming)

Senate Bill 178 – updates and modernizes the state History Code. Sen. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe) and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson)

Senate Bill 332 – protects children from second-hand smoke in vehicles. Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming)

Senate Bill 458 – strengthens penalties for illegal household goods movers operating in Pennsylvania. Sen. David Argall (R-Schuylkill)

Senate Bill 461 — modernizes and strengthens the use of DNA technology to better fight violent crime in Pennsylvania. Sen. Tom Killion (R-Delaware)

Senate Bill 553 – amends Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in licensing of drivers, further providing for surrender of license, for period of disqualification, revocation or suspension of operating privilege, for driving while operating privilege is suspended or revoked, and more. Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery)

Senate Bill 592 – requires a school board extending an offer of employment to a superintendent, assistant district superintendent, associate superintendent, or any principal to first post the terms of employment on the school district’s public website. Sen. Pat Stefano (R-Fayette)

Senate Bill 595 – authorizes the electronic notarization of documents where the signer appears before the notary by means of audio-video communication. Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon)

Senate Bill 690 – establishes a statutory mechanism for the initial apportionment of any home rule or optional plan municipality without a mayor that will be dividing into wards either partially or totally. Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair)

Senate Bill 691 – establishes uniform residential qualifications of office for persons seeking election to, or appointment to fill a vacancy in, a municipal elected office where recent service in the military might interfere with the person’s ability to satisfy the relevant residency requirements. Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango)

Senate Bill 9 – requires proof of citizenship to receive public benefits such as Medicaid, welfare and unemployment compensation. Sen. Pat Stefano (R-Fayette)

Senate Bill 113 – allows family members to have access and visitation rights with regard to a family member who is incapacitated and under court appointed guardianship. Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair)

Senate Bill 242 – extends the sunset provision of the Underground Utility Protection Law to December 31, 2024 and moves oversight of the One Call System to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne)

Senate Bill 180 — updates and revises state law to boost organ and tissue donations. Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery)

Senate Bill 446 — establishes quality standards for addiction recovery houses in Pennsylvania. Sen. Tom McGarrigle (R-Delaware)

Senate Bill 741 – extends or eliminates existing sunset provisions relating to funding for the courts and indigent legal services. Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery)

House Bill 271 – expands PA gaming, including online Lottery sales.

Committee Hearings Streamed Live at PASenateGOP.com:

Tuesday 10 a.m. N. Office Building, Hearing Room 1
The Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee, Sen. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe) Chair
Partnerships for Regional Economic Performance (PREP) Programs and Partners

Wednesday 9 a.m. N. Office Building, Hearing Room 1
Senate Labor and Industry Committee, Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), Chair
Senate Bill 429 Apprenticeship Ratios

Full Senate Committee Schedule

Review

Senate Passes Measure to Promote Independence of Inspector General

The Office of Inspector General would have greater authority and independence to investigate and eliminate waste, fraud and abuse of tax dollars under legislation approved by the Senate on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 527, sponsored by Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster), would establish the Office of Inspector General in statute. The office currently operates under Executive Order and could be eliminated at any time. The bill would provide the office its own appropriation in the state budget and broaden the office’s authority to bring criminal charges, issue subpoenas and investigate and eliminate fraud in human services programs.

Similar legislation was approved by the General Assembly last year, but Governor Wolf vetoed the measure. Senate Bill 527 would allow the governor to appoint an Inspector General who meets certain qualifications, including a prohibition on serving in any elected office. The bill also allows the Governor to remove the Inspector General for cause, a provision that is consistent with the Executive Order that created the position in 1987.

Senate Bill 527 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. More

Senate Approves Bill Requiring Legislative Approval of Costly Regulations

Legislation sponsored by Sen. John DiSanto (R-Dauphin) to prohibit costly government regulations from being imposed without approval by the General Assembly and Governor was approved by the Senate on Tuesday.

Under Senate Bill 561, no regulation with an economic impact or cost to the Commonwealth, to its political subdivisions, and to the private sector exceeding $1 million could be imposed without approval of the General Assembly and Governor. This change would help protect businesses, non-profits, educational institutions and individuals from costly, burdensome regulations.

Currently, the regulatory review process requires the General Assembly to pass a concurrent resolution disapproving a regulation. However, the Governor must sign the disapproval resolution to bar his own agencies from enacting the regulation, a highly unlikely scenario. Senate Bill 561 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. More

Committee Approves Senator Laughlin’s Consumer Protection Measure

The Senate Labor and Industry Committee, chaired by Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), approved a measure Tuesday introduced by Sen. Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) that will better protect consumers from unreasonably excessive building inspection fees and unnecessary construction costs.

Under the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code (UCC), municipalities can handle inspections with their own employees, enter into a joint agreement with other municipalities, or hire a third-party agency to administer their inspection program. This system, Senator Laughlin said, gives companies a virtual monopoly that allows them to charge excessive fees or demand unneeded work that ultimately end up being passed on to consumers.

Senate Bill 663 amends the UCC act to eliminate the monopoly by requiring municipalities to contract with at least three third-party agencies to handle building inspections. More      

Senate Committee Approves Animal Cruelty Prevention Bill

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), took action Tuesday to protect animals throughout Pennsylvania against abuse and neglect.

House Bill 1238, the Animal Abuse Statute Overhaul, would make it easier to prosecute a person who knowingly mistreats, abuses or neglects an animal. It also adds a new classification for offenders who cause the death or serious bodily injury of an animal. Violators could be found guilty of a third-degree felony.

Libre’s Law was introduced in 2016 by Sen. Richard Alloway (R-Franklin) in honor of a 4-month-old Boston terrier who was rescued last year from a Lancaster County farm after suffering from weeks of severe neglect. The Senate approved Senator Alloway’s version of the bill in April. More

Other Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House 

Senate Bill 303 addresses Project 70 restrictions on lands owned by the Borough of Topton.

Senate Bill 496 provides additional sentencing provisions for trespassing at gaming establishments.

Senate Bill 646 amends Act 101 of 1988, the Municipal Waste Planning Recycling and Waste Reduction Act.

Bills Sent to Governor

The Senate gave final legislative approval to three House Bills and sent the measures to the Governor’s desk for his signature and enactment into law.

House Bill 93 designates a portion of State Route 93 in Columbia County as the Stuart Tank Memorial Highway.

House Bill 267 adds the new offense of theft of secondary metal. Secondary metal is defined as wire, pipe or cable commonly used by communications, gas, water, wastewater, and electrical utilities and railroads and mass transit or commuter rail agencies, copper, aluminum or other metal, or a combination of metals valuable for recycling or reuse as raw material.

House Bill 1071 prohibits political subdivisions from imposing a recyclable plastic bag ban or levying a fee, surcharge or tax on plastic bags.

Committee Round-Up 

Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee met on Monday and Tuesday to approve 14 bills.

House Bill 16 amends the Local Tax Collection Law to prohibit tax payments to an account in an individual’s name and requires the creation of a separate account to be used solely for tax purposes.

Senate Bill 168 provides for public notice of collective bargaining agreements prior to approval.

Senate Bill 178 updates and modernizes the state History Code.

Senate Bill 461 would modernize and strengthen the use of DNA technology to better fight violent crime in Pennsylvania.            

Senate Bill 527 creates an independent Office of Inspector General.

Senate Bill 680 provides for expenses of the State Employees’ Retirement Board for Fiscal Year 2017-18.

Senate Bill 681 provides for expenses of the Public School Employees’ Retirement Board for Fiscal Year 2017-18.

Senate Bill 682 provides Fiscal Year 2017-18 funding to the Department of State for use by the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs.

Senate Bill 683 provides Fiscal Year 2017-18 funding to the Department of Labor & Industry and the Department of Community & Economic Development to provide for the expenses of administering the Workers’ Compensation Act.

Senate Bill 684 provides Fiscal Year 2017-18 funding for the Public Utility Commission.

Senate Bill 685 provides Fiscal Year 2017-18 funding for the Office of Consumer Advocate in the Office of Attorney General.

Senate Bill 686 provides Fiscal Year 2017-18 funding for the Office of Small Business Advocate in the Department of Community & Economic Development.

Senate Bill 687 makes appropriations from restricted revenue accounts within the State Gaming Fund and from the State Gaming Fund to the Attorney General, the Department of Revenue, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for Fiscal Year 2017-18.

Senate Bill 688 makes appropriations from the Philadelphia Taxicab & Limousine Regulatory Fund and the Philadelphia Taxicab Medallion Fund to the Philadelphia Parking Authority for Fiscal Year 2017-18.

Senate Bill 697 is the Capital Budget for Fiscal Year 2017-18.

House Bill 1071 prohibits political subdivisions from imposing a recyclable plastic bag ban or levying a fee, surcharge or tax on plastic bags.

Banking & Insurance

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee approved five bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 471 provides an expedited foreclosure process for vacant or abandoned properties.

Senate Bill 590 increases the service charge for bad checks.

Senate Bill 629 updates the Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act.

Senate Bill 751 provides for regulation and licensure of mortgage servicers.
House Bill 1039 authorizes and regulates savings promotion raffles.

Community, Economic & Recreational Development

On Tuesday, the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee held a public hearing on the state of Pennsylvania tourism and its impact on the economy. Hearing Video & Written Testimony

Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure

The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 472 limits the prescription for a controlled substance containing an opioid to seven days.

Senate Bill 542 permits pharmacists to dispense emergency prescription refills for up to 30 days pursuant to certain restrictions.

Senate Bill 616 requires funeral directors, pre-need or cemetery companies to provide information regarding the availability of VA burial benefits.

Finance

The Senate Finance Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.

House Bill 144 excludes certain fundraising activities from triggering the requirement for registration and reporting to the Department of State.

House Bill 411 amends the state Bingo Law to remove the restrictions on the number of days a licensed association may conduct bingo games and increases the limit on prizes that may be awarded.

Game & Fisheries

The Senate Game and Fisheries Committee and the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee held a public hearing Tuesday on Chronic Wasting Disease. CWD affects the brain and nervous system of infected deer, elk and moose, eventually resulting in death. CWD has been detected in three locations in Pennsylvania: a captive deer farm in Adams County, free-ranging deer in Blair and Bedford counties, and a captive deer farm in Jefferson County. Hearing Video & Written Testimony

Health & Human Services

The Health and Human Services Committee approved eight bills on Tuesday.

House Bill 17 amends the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Control Act to specify that a parent or guardian is authorized to provide consent for treatment of their minor child.

Senate Bill 31 invests $1 million in a program that awards grants for research into spinal cord injuries.

House Bill 118 encourages health care facilities to convert beds to provide medically supervised detoxification.

House Bill 126 allows entities such as summer camps, colleges and universities, restaurants, amusement parks, sport facilities, daycares and other facilities to have non-patient specific epinephrine auto-injectors.

Senate Bill 211 enhances the PA 2-1-1 system.

House Bill 239 establishes a Rare Disease Advisory Council in the Department of Health.

Senate Bill 533 creates an Emergency Addiction Treatment Program under the Department of Drug & Alcohol Programs. 

Senate Bill 728 exempts Schedule V epilepsy drugs currently included in the state’s prescription drug monitoring program requirements.

On Wednesday, the committee held a joint public hearing with the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee on Hospital and Healthsystem Preparedness in Pennsylvania. Hearing Video & Written Testimony

Judiciary

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved four bills on Tuesday.

House Bill 168 makes it a crime for anyone to fraudulently present themselves as a soldier or a veteran of any branch of the armed forces, or to be the recipient of a service medal or other military decoration.

Senate Bill 180 updates and revises state law relating to organ and tissue donations.

House Bill 217 amends the Crimes Code concerning endangering the welfare of children.

House Bill 1238 updates and clarifies the existing animal abuse statute and increases the penalties for abusing any animal.

Labor & Industry

The Senate Labor and Industry Committee approved Senate Bill 663 on Tuesday. The bill requires a municipality to contract with at least three third party agencies and amends the Uniform Construction Code Act to eliminate the current “monopoly.”

Local Government

The Senate Local Government Committee approved six bills Tuesday.

Senate Bill 252 allows the Pittsburgh Parking Authority to enter into transactions with private developers through the allocation of a percentage of parking spaces for private projects.

Senate Bill 653 consolidates the collection of local, non-real estate taxes at the county regional level.

Senate Bill 736 authorizes the parking authorities in Second Class A and Third Class Cities to adjudicate disputed parking violation notices or citations issued through enforcement.

House Bill 422 updates eligibility provisions for First Class Township offices, aligns the procedure used to fill vacancies with other municipal codes, and provides for the filling of vacancies that result from a resignation.

House Bill 423 establishes a procedure for filling vacancies created as the result of a resignation of an elected Second Class Township official. 

House Bill 1269 extends from 15 years to 20 years the timeframe for a municipal sewer authority serving five or more municipalities to complete infrastructure and facility projects funded by a sewer tapping fee.

State Government

The Senate State Government Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.

House Bill 599 creates the Results First Project and provides for data collection and analysis by the Independent Fiscal Office.

Senate Bill 610 designates quartz as the official State Mineral.

Senate Bill 658 designates the Eastern hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) as the State Amphibian. 

Transportation

The Senate Transportation Committee approved five bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 145 requires passengers in a vehicle to render aid to anyone injured in an accident.

House Bill 188 increases the income limit for retired persons to qualify for a vehicle registration fee exemption from $19,200 to $23,500.

House Bill 283 renames several highways and bridges.

Senate Bill 753 limits liability for emergency service responders who move a vehicle off of the roadway from an accident scene.

House Bill 952 is a bridge renaming bill.

Senate Republican News Brief

“The fundamental problem facing the Commonwealth with its current pension plans is that its collective risk profile is way too high. This pension proposal will allow the state to more effectively mitigate potential debt, provide a competitive benefit for our employees and build a solid platform for the Commonwealth’s future fiscal health by providing the largest risk transfer in the country.”

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) on Senate passage of sweeping pension reform legislation.


Preview

Senate Session Today at 1 p.m.

Legislation that could be considered by the Senate this week includes:

Senate Bill 332 – protects children from second-hand smoke in vehicles. Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming)

Senate Bill 496 – authorizes evaluations for gambling disorders for those who are convicted of criminal trespass at a gaming facility after self-excluding from such facilities. Sen. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe)

Senate Bill 561 – requires the General Assembly and the Governor to approve all regulations with an economic impact or cost to the Commonwealth, political subdivisions and the private sector exceeding $1 million. Sen. John DiSanto (R-Dauphin)

Senate Bill 630 – reforms the insurance licensure requirements for Pennsylvania travel agents by reducing unnecessary burdens and offering greater protection to Pennsylvania residents. Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Allegheny)

Senate Bill 9 – requires proof of citizenship to receive public benefits such as Medicaid, welfare and unemployment compensation. Sen. Pat Stefano (R-Fayette)

Senate Bill 53 – permanently allows for distance education inclusion in the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency State Grant Program. Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery)

Senate Bill 242 – extends the sunset provision of the Underground Utility Protection Law to December 31, 2024 and moves oversight of the One Call System to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne)

Senate Bill 430 – provides a Realty Transfer Tax exemption for nationally recognized veterans’ organizations. Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery)

Senate Bill 431 (Scavello) – increases fines and penalties for littering. Sen. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe)

Senate Bill 461 — modernizes and strengthens the use of DNA technology to better fight violent crime in Pennsylvania. Sen. Tom Killion (R-Delaware)

Senate Bill 527 – creates an independent Office of State Inspector General. Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) 

Committee Hearings Streamed Live at PASenateGOP.com:

Tuesday 9 a.m. N. Office Building, Hearing Room 1
The Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee, Sen. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe) Chair
Tourism in Pennsylvania

Tuesday 9 a.m. East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-B
Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee, chaired by Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) Chair
Review of Act 101 of 1988 (Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act)

Tuesday 11 a.m. East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-A
Joint Hearing – Senate Game and Fisheries Committee, Sen. Pat Stefano (R-Fayette) Chair
Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee, Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver) Chair
Chronic Wasting Disease

Wednesday 9 a.m. N. Office Building, Hearing Room 1
Joint Hearing – Health and Human Services Committee, Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) Chair
Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) Chair
PA Hospital and Healthsystem Preparedness

Full Senate Committee Schedule

Review

Senate Approves Sweeping Pension Reform

The Senate approved legislation June 5 to reform Pennsylvania’s public pension plans for state and public school employees.

Senate Bill 1 offers all new public-sector employees three retirement planning options – a defined contribution plan similar to the 401(k) system offered by most employers in the private sector, or one of two hybrid plans that combine a 401(k)-style system with a variation of the current defined benefit plan. Pension benefits already earned by current employees and retirees would not be affected.

Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre), includes a shared risk and shared gain provision further protecting taxpayers. If investment returns fail to meet projections over a long enough period of time, employees in the defined contribution plans could pay slightly higher contribution rates. However, if investments perform better than projections, employees would pay a lower rate for their benefits.

The measure is projected to save more than $5 billion and shield taxpayers from $20 billion or more in additional liabilities if state investments fail to meet projections. In addition, the bill creates a new Pension Management and Asset Investment Review Commission to study ways to reduce investment costs with the goal of saving an additional $3 billion.  

Senate Bill 1 will be signed by the Governor today. More 

Senate Approves Langerholc Bill to Promote Use of Natural Gas-Burning Vehicles 

A bill introduced by Sen. Wayne Langerholc (R-Cambria) to promote the use of cleaner-burning natural gas in larger vehicles was unanimously approved by the Senate on Tuesday. 

Senate Bill 589 increases the maximum allowable weight for motor carrier vehicles that are powered by natural gas from 80,000 pounds to 82,000 pounds, to accommodate the heavier equipment needed for natural-gas burning vehicles. Senate Bill 589 now goes to the House for its consideration. 

Senator Langerholc: “This legislation is a win-win for Pennsylvania. It encourages the use of natural gas to power our larger trucks and updates our laws to ensure that federal transportation funds continue to flow to our Commonwealth, which is the hub of interstate commerce for the entire East Coast.” More

Other Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House 

Senate Bill 353 is a Chester County land conveyance bill. 

Senate Bill 434 reduces the allotted period of time needed to acquire a title of a blighted or abandoned property through adverse possession under various situations and circumstances. 

Senate Bill 497 eliminates the “waste” designation for steel slag when it is sold as a commodity and is not a discarded material. 

Senate Bill 624 amends the Bituminous Mine Subsidence and Land Conservation Act, providing for planned subsidence and for retroactivity.

More Options for Career and Technical Education Students 

The Senate approved a measure on Tuesday that provides career and technical education (CTE) students with additional options to meet state graduation requirements.

House Bill 202, which amends state law regarding Keystone Exams and alternative testing for CTE students, now goes to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law. House Bill 202 would allow CTE students to show career readiness through measures such as industry-based competency certifications.

Committee Round-Up 

Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), met June 4 and approved Senate Bill 1, legislation to alter public pensions for state workers and school employees.  

On June 5, the committee approved six additional bills.

House Bill 202 eliminates the statutory requirement for the development and implementation of Keystone Exams in English Composition, Algebra II, Geometry, U.S. History, Chemistry, Civics and Government, and World History.  

Senate Bill 458 provides new penalties for illegal household goods movers. 

Senate Bill 561 would require the approval of the General Assembly and the Governor for all new regulations with an economic impact or cost exceeding $1 million to the Commonwealth, its political subdivisions, and the private sector.

Senate Bill 624 amends the Bituminous Mine Subsidence and Land Conservation Act, providing for planned subsidence and for retroactivity.

Senate Bill 630 reforms insurance licensure requirements for travel agents. 

Senate Bill 646 amends Act 101 of 1988, the Municipal Waste Planning Recycling and Waste Reduction Act. 

Appropriations Subcommittee on Infrastructure, Environment & Government Operations 

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Infrastructure, Environment & Government Operations, chaired by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery), held a public hearing Wednesday to discuss Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed municipal fee for State Police coverage.  

Part of the Governor’s proposed state budget includes a plan to impose a $25 per-capita fee on municipalities without their own police force. Hearing Video  

Communications & Technology 

Three Senate committees held a joint public hearing Wednesday on the status of the statewide emergency radio system. First authorized in 1996, the system was to allow state and county emergency responders, as well as local police, fire and EMS, to communicate with each other on a shared network. However, the mobile radio component has been plagued with problems and remains unreliable. 

The hearing was held by the Senate Communications and Technology Committee, chaired by Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster), the Senate Law and Justice Committee, chaired by Sen. Chuck McIlhinney (R-Bucks), and the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, chaired by Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny).

Hearing Video & Testimony 

Education 

On June 5, the Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair), held a public hearing on the use of graduation requirements as a tool for teacher evaluation and accountability.  

Among the 40 states implementing multi-measure teacher evaluation systems that include objective measures of student learning and growth, six states, including Pennsylvania, are implementing systems that may include graduation rate data and that reference specific standardized, national exams. Hearing Video & Testimony 

Finance  

The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango), approved three bills June 5. 

House Bill 453 requires any agency receiving state funds to respond to an audit by the state Auditor General or future funding may be suspended.

Senate Bill 515 raises the cap on the Net Operating Loss carryforward amount to 45 percent of taxable income.

House Bill 1071 prohibits political subdivisions from imposing a recyclable plastic bag ban or levying a fee, surcharge or tax on plastic bags.

The committee also considered the nomination of Dan Hassell for Revenue Secretary. Video 

Judiciary 

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), approved three bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 529 provides those with low-level, nonviolent criminal records a mechanism to have their record sealed from public view.

Senate Bill 662 establishes a second degree felony for the delivery or distribution of an illicit drug that results in “serious bodily injury” to the user.

Senate Bill 741 addresses sunset provisions related to funding for the courts and indigent legal services. 

Labor & Industry 

The Senate Labor and Industry Committee, chaired by Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), approved Senate Bill 183 on Tuesday. The bill creates a state plumbers licensing program. 

Local Government 

The Senate Local Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York), approved three bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 690 establishes a mechanism for the initial apportionment of any home rule or optional plan municipality without a mayor that will be dividing into wards either partially or totally.

Senate Bill 691 establishes uniform residential qualifications of office for persons seeking election to, or appointment to fill a vacancy in a municipal elected office where recent service in the military might interfere with the person’s ability to satisfy the relevant residency requirements.

Senate Bill 693 allows political subdivisions and authorities to enter into contracts for services when two consecutive advertisements fail to induce bids. 

State Government 

The Senate State Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), approved two bills June 5.

Senate Bill 527 creates an independent Office of Inspector General.

Senate Bill 595 authorizes the electronic notarization of documents in cases where the signer appears before the notary by means of real-time audio-video communication.

On Tuesday, the committee held the first of a series of public hearings on Pennsylvania election issues. Topics included alternative methods of voting and delivery, and the use of poll workers.

Hearing Video & Written Testimony 

Urban Affairs & Housing

The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee, chaired Sen. Tom McGarrigle (R-Delaware), approved Senate Bill 446 on June 5. The bill provides for the regulation and certification of addiction recovery houses.

Senate Republican News Brief

“These children are victims, not criminals.  There is no such thing as a child prostitute.”

Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) on Senate passage of his legislation requiring that sexually exploited children be diverted from the criminal justice system to more appropriate human services.


Preview

Senate Session Today at 1 p.m.

Senate Bill 143 replaces the Middle Atlantic Truck Stop Operators with the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association on the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Board.  Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) 

Senate Bill 201 removes unfair tax obstacles for small businesses, allowing them to create jobs. Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) 

Senate Bill 222 adds judges to the courts of common pleas in Bucks, Cumberland, Delaware, Montgomery, Washington and Wayne counties. Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) 

Senate Bill 242  – transfers enforcement authority of the Pennsylvania One Call System from the Department of Labor and Industry to the Public Utility Commission, and removes several excavation work exemptions. Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) 

Senate Bill 269  – amends the Uniform Construction Code to reform the Review and Advisory Council. Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) 

Senate Bill 354 – strengthens licensee reporting requirements to the Department of State’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs’ 29 licensing boards and licensee suspensions. Sen. Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks) 

Senate Bill 497 – eliminates the waste designation for steel slag under certain conditions. Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver) 

Senate Bill 560 enables police officers to use body-worn cameras. Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) 

Senate Bill 651 – 2017 Capital Projects Itemization Bill. Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh)

Committee Hearings Streamed Live at PASenateGOP.com:

Tuesday, May 9 9 a.m. N. Office Bldg. Hearing Rm. 1
Senate State Government Committee, Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) Chair
SB 527 (Independent Office of Inspector General)

Tuesday, May 9 9 a.m. East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-A
Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) Chair
Nomination of Patrick McDonnell for DEP Secretary

Wednesday, May 10 9:30 a.m. East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-B
Center for Rural Pennsylvania, Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) Chair
Grandparent Caregivers of Children Due to Heroin/Opioid Addiction

Wednesday, May 10 9:30 a.m. N. Office Bldg. Hearing Rm. 1
Senate Law and Justice Committee, Sen. Chuck McIlhinney (R-Bucks) Chair, and House Liquor Control Committee
Joint Public Hearing on Pricing

Full Senate Committee Schedule

Review

Senate Acts to Protect Second Amendment Rights 

The Senate approved legislation April 25 to protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners. 

Senate Bill 5, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Langerholc (R-Cambria), prevents local jurisdictions from imposing firearms ordinances more restrictive than laws passed by the General Assembly. The measure now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. 

Senate Bill 5 permits individuals and organizations to take court action to block restrictive local firearms ordinances that run counter to the Second Amendment of the US Constitution as well as the protections explicitly set by Pennsylvania’s Constitution and state laws. 

Senator Langerholc: “When local governments enact regulations that clearly exceed state law, law-abiding citizens comply while criminals don’t, leaving innocent people unarmed and unprotected.” More 

Legislation to Protect Child Victims of Human Trafficking Passes Senate 

The Senate on April 25 approved “Safe Harbor” legislation sponsored by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) to require that sexually exploited children be diverted from the criminal justice system to more appropriate human services. 

More than 100,000 children are exploited through prostitution in the United States each year.  Adults psychologically manipulate these children, often with the use of illegal drugs.  As a consequence, children have been charged with prostitution, drug possession, loitering, and other offenses that are inherently related to prostitution. 

Senate Bill 554 would require law enforcement to report to the Department of Human Services any encounter with a minor who has been subject to sexual exploitation.  The Department will develop and implement a statewide protocol to deliver safe long-term housing, education, life-skills training, and counseling to the children who have been exploited. More 

Measure Calling for Fire/EMS Review Receives Final Approval 

A measure introduced by Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee Chairman Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) calling for a comprehensive review of Pennsylvania’s volunteer fire departments and EMS organizations received final legislative approval April 26. 

The Senate unanimously concurred in House amendments to Senate Resolution 6, which authorizes a follow-up to a comprehensive study of fire and EMS issues completed in 2004. 

SR 6 establishes a 39-member commission made up of legislators, first responders and representatives from municipalities. The commission would provide its recommendations by June 30, 2018. More 

Senate Approves Asset Forfeiture Reform 

The Senate on April 26 overwhelmingly passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) to reform Pennsylvania’s Asset Forfeiture Law. 

Key reforms in Senate Bill 8 include:  

  • Higher burdens of proof imposed on the Commonwealth.
  • Protections for third party owners by placing additional burdens of proof on the Commonwealth.
  • Improved transparency in auditing and reporting at both the county and state levels.
  • Specific and additional protection in real property cases by prohibiting the pre-forfeiture seizure of real property without a hearing.
  • Additional procedural protections for property owners, such as returning property to the forfeiture proceeding if there is undue hardship, and an extra level of protection for anyone acquitted of a related crime who is trying to get their property back. 

Senate Bill 8 was sent to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for consideration. More 

Senate Approves Full Practice Authority for Nurse Practitioners 

The Senate on April 26 took a major step to improve access to quality healthcare services in rural areas by approving a bill to give full practice authority to Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs). 

Senate Bill 25, sponsored by Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington), amends the Professional Nursing Law to permit qualified APRNs to practice in their field of specialty independent of a physician after they fulfill a three-year, 3,600-hour collaboration agreement with a doctor. Current law requires nurse practitioners to practice under a collaboration agreement at all times. 

Studies have shown that patients who are treated by APRNs have similar health outcomes to patients who are treated by physicians. Nearly 35 percent of Pennsylvanians live in an area or population group that has inadequate primary care access. Twenty-two states and Washington, D.C. have already adopted full practice authority for APRNs. SB 25 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. More

Committee Round-Up 

Agriculture & Rural Affairs 

The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver), and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, Workforce, Community and Economic Development held a joint public hearing April 25 on the proposed PA Farm Show Complex lease/leaseback plan. You can view the hearing here

Appropriations 

The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), approved three bills on April 24. 

Senate Bill 25  amends the state’s Professional Nursing Law to provide for the licensure of certified nurse practitioners by the State Board of Nursing.
Senate Bill 201 provides for “like-kind” exchange tax deferrals.
House Bill 224  provides civil immunity to trained school bus drivers who administer epinephrine auto-injectors (epi-pens) to students. 

Banking & Insurance 

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, chaired by Sen. Don White (R-Indiana), approved two bills on April 25. 

Senate Bill 143 makes changes to the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Board.
Senate Bill 630 reforms insurance licensure requirements for travel agents. 

Community, Economic, & Recreational Development Committee 

The Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee, chaired by Sen. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe), approved House Bill 151 on April 26. The bill defines “agent” as it relates to applications for grants from the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority. 

Environmental Resources & Energy 

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, chaired by Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), approved four measures on April 25. 

Senate Resolution 33 establishes a task force to study lead exposure in Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 144 amends Act 537 (Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act) to allow the use of “alternative systems” for planning purposes.
Senate Bill 497 eliminates the “waste” designation for steel slag when it is sold as a commodity and is not a discarded material.
Senate Bill 646 amends Act 101 of 1988, the Municipal Waste Planning Recycling and Waste Reduction Act. 

Finance 

The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango), approved four bills on April 26. 

Senate Bill 300 prioritizes the allocation of public funds for family planning purposes. 
Senate Bill 508 eliminates the 40 percent wholesale tax on vaping products and replaces it with a 5-cents per milliliter retail tax on e-liquid. 
Senate Bill 611 amends the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act to require pension forfeiture if a public employee or public official is convicted, pleads guilty, or no defense to any felony offense related to his or her employment.
Senate Bill 627 ensures that all air freight companies are treated equally under Pennsylvania tax law. 

Health & Human Services 

The Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), approved two bills on April 25. 

House Bill 23 adds acute stroke-ready hospitals and comprehensive stroke centers to the provisions of the Primary Stroke Center Recognition Act.
Senate Bill 200 would include postpartum depression as an “at risk category” for early intervention tracking under Act 212 of 1990 (Early Intervention Services System Act). 

Judiciary 

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), approved five bills on April 25.

Senate Bill 434 would reduce the allotted period of time that is necessary in order to acquire a title of a blighted or abandoned property through adverse possession under various situations and circumstances.
Senate Bill 461 would modernize and strengthen the use of DNA technology to better fight violent crime in Pennsylvania.            
Senate Bill 496 provides additional sentencing provisions for trespassing at gaming establishments.
Senate Bill 510 increases the penalty for threatening law enforcement officers, sheriffs, or members of their family.
Senate Bill 577 bans the sale, possession, or distribution of shark fins.  

Labor & Industry 

The Senate Labor and Industry Committee, chaired by Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), approved Senate Bill 269 on April 25. The bill amends the Pennsylvania Construction Code. 

State Government 

The Senate State Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), approved five bills on April 25. 

Senate Bill 168 provides for public notice of collective bargaining agreements prior to approval.
Senate Bill 353 is a land conveyance bill.
Senate Bill 503 removes the exemption of collective bargaining from the Sunshine Act. 
Senate Bill 504 removes the exemption of collective bargaining from the Right to Know Law.
Senate Bill 539 recognizes and preserves the Pennsylvania State Area of the Medal of Honor Grove in Schuylkill Township, Chester County. 

Transportation 

The Senate Transportation Committee, chaired by Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery), approved four bills on April 25. 

Senate Bill 332 would make it a summary offense to smoke in a vehicle in which children 12 years of age and younger are being transported.
Senate Bill 589 increases the maximum allowable gross weight for commercial vehicles powered by natural gas from 80,000 pounds to 82,000 pounds.
Senate Bill 614 designates the Diamondville Bridge in Cherryhill Township, Indiana County, as the Sgt. Robert Eugene Goodlin Memorial Bridge.
Senate Bill 648 creates a Distracted Driving Awareness Plate for passenger cars and trucks. 

The committee also held a public hearing on PennDOT’s Twelve Year Program, which prioritizes road and bridge construction projects. You can view the hearing and read testimony from Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards here.

Senate Republican News Brief

“Any public employee who violates the public trust in this manner should forfeit his or her pension. However, in too many cases, the guilty are able to strike a plea deal and continue collecting a taxpayer-funded pension. That needs to end.”

Sen. John DiSanto (R-Dauphin) on legislation to require pension forfeiture if a public employee or public official is convicted, pleads guilty, or pleads no contest to any felony offense related to his or her employment.

Preview 

Senate Session Today at 1 p.m.

 

Billls expected to be considered by the Senate this week include:

Senate Bill 8 reforms state law governing seizure and forfeiture of property related to criminal offenses. Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) 

Senate Bill 260 provides broader representation of crime victims on the Victims’ Services Advisory Committee within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) 

Senate Bill 399 prohibits Second Class township supervisors from holding any other elective township office or appointed position in the township. Sen. John Gordner (R-Columbia) 

Senate Bill 554 addresses the procedures applicable to victims of human trafficking who are encountered by law enforcement officers. Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) 

Senate Bill 560 enables police officers to use body-worn cameras. Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) 

Senate Bill 5 provides for Pennsylvania State Preemption over local firearms and ammunition regulations. Sen. Wayne Langerholc (R-Cambria)

Committee Hearings Streamed Live at PASenateGOP.com:

Tuesday 9:30 a.m. East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-A

Senate Transportation Committee, Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) Chair

PennDOT’s 12-Year Program and Project Prioritization

Tuesday 11 a.m. N. Office Building, Hearing Room 1

Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver) Chair

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, Workforce, Community and Economic Development, Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair) Chair

Farm Show Lease/Leaseback

Wednesday 8 a.m. East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-A

Nuclear Energy Caucus, Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) Chair

PJM Interconnection

Full Senate Committee Schedule 

Review

Martin Introduces Bill Targeting Repeat DUI Offenders

Repeat DUI offenders could face tougher punishments under legislation introduced by Sen. Scott Martin (R-Lancaster). 

Senator Martin’s legislation would mandate at least two years of jail time for any individual convicted of more than two DUIs in a 10-year period, with harsher sentences for offenses that lead to the death of another person. Under Martin’s bill, a repeat offender who causes the death of another person as a result of a DUI could be charged with a first-degree felony.

 “We have seen far too many tragedies in which innocent citizens have been victimized by the recklessness of others. We need to make sure repeat offenders face a punishment that matches the dangerous nature of the crime.”

More than half of all Pennsylvanians who lose their license due to a DUI conviction are repeat offenders. More

DiSanto Introduces Bill to Strengthen Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act

Sen. John DiSanto (R-Dauphin) introduced legislation, Senate Bill 611, to require pension forfeiture if a public employee or public official is convicted, pleads guilty, or pleads no contest to any felony offense related to his or her employment.

Currently, the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act requires a public employee to forfeit his or her pension only for certain crimes listed in the act. In practice, this law allows public employees charged with a forfeiture crime to plead guilty to a different non-forfeiture crime in order to avoid pension forfeiture.

In addition, the legislation ensures that such criminal convictions are reported to state pension boards. Current law does not require the employee, courts, or state agencies to send copies of court records upon conviction. More

UC Service Center Funding Gains Final Legislative Approval 

The Senate granted final legislative approval Wednesday of a bill that provides emergency funding to ease the hardships Pennsylvania’s unemployed workers have endured since Governor Wolf closed three Unemployment Compensation Service Centers late last year.

Senate Bill 250, sponsored by Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), authorizes a $15 million transfer from the Unemployment Compensation Fund (UCF) to the Service and Infrastructure Improvement Fund. The bill now goes to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law.

The Governor ordered the closure of service centers in Allentown, Altoona and Lancaster after his request for a transfer of $57 million in additional funding from the UCF failed to receive legislative approval before the end of the 2015-16 Legislative Session on November 30, 2016.

For four years, the Department of Labor & Industry tapped the UCF for a total of $178 million for technology upgrades. That spending is currently under review by the state Auditor General and the technology upgrades were not completed.

The unilateral decision by the Governor to close the three service centers substantially increased the demand on the five remaining centers: Duquesne, Erie, Harrisburg, Indiana and Scranton. This resulted in thousands of unemployed Pennsylvanians being forced to endure lengthy waiting times to receive assistance.

Senate Approves Independent Study of State-Owned Universities 

The Senate approved a resolution Tuesday sponsored by Sen. David Argall (R-Schuylkill) that requires an independent study of the future of the State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) to be completed by the end of the year.

Senate Resolution 34 requires the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) to study the future and sustainability of the 14 state-owned universities across the state. The universities include Bloomsburg University, California University of Pennsylvania, Cheyney University, Clarion University, East Stroudsburg University, Edinboro University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Kutztown University, Lock Haven University, Mansfield University, Millersville University, Shippensburg University, Slippery Rock University and West Chester University.

Between Penn State University, University of Pittsburgh, Temple University and Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, enrollment is expected to grow by 10 percent over the next four years. Community colleges and Thaddeus Stevens College are also expected to see significant growth over the next four years. Over the same period, PASSHE’s growth is not expected to reach 1 percent.

Senator Argall: “This study will help us understand, from an unbiased perspective, why enrollment at certain universities is declining, what the urgent needs are and how we best move forward to ensure the students of Pennsylvania can receive a quality and affordable degree.” 

Senate Votes to Give School Districts Options on Superintendent Contracts

The Senate on Tuesday approved legislation sponsored by Senate Education Committee Chairman John Eichelberger (R-Blair) that would allow school boards to better manage their professional staff.

Currently, the Public School Code requires school boards to notify a district superintendent and assistant superintendent well in advance of contract expiration whether it intends to renew the contract. Failure to notify that employee by the 150 day deadline results in automatic renewal of the contract for the same term length. This unnecessarily ties the hands of school boards in the management of school personnel in a way that can be costly for the school district.

Senate Bill 227 would allow school districts more flexibility in their decision making. It will alter the deadline for school boards to make renewal decisions regarding superintendent and assistant superintendent contracts from 150 to 90 days prior to expiration of the contract, allowing the school board more time to make their final contract renewal decisions.

Additionally, the legislation limits the automatic renewal of these contracts to one year if the renewal notice deadline is missed. These changes will give superintendents, assistant superintendents, and school boards fair and appropriate timeframes so that better decisions can be made regarding school management and administration.

Committee Round-Up 

Appropriations 

The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), approved four bills Tuesday.

Senate Bill 8 reforms state law governing seizure and forfeiture of property related to criminal offenses.

Senate Bill 260 provides broader representation of crime victims on the Victims’ Services Advisory Committee within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

Senate Bill 554 addresses the procedures applicable to victims of human trafficking who are encountered by law enforcement officers.

Senate Bill 560 enables police officers to use body-worn cameras. 

Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure 

The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee, chaired by Sen. Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks), approved six bills Tuesday.

Senate Bill 25  amends the state’s Professional Nursing Law to permit qualified Advanced Practice Registered Nurses to practice in their field of specialty independent of a physician after they fulfill a three-year, 3,600-hour collaboration agreement with a doctor.

Senate Bill 242 transfers enforcement authority for the Pennsylvania One Call System from the Department of Labor & Industry to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Senate Bill 354  strengthens licensee reporting requirements to the Department of State.

Senate Bill 458 provides new penalties for illegal household goods movers. 

Senate Bill 530  updates Act 136 of 1998, the Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors Act.

Senate Bill 531  updates the Social Workers, Marriage & Family Therapists and Professional Counselors Act. 

Community, Economic & Recreational Development 

The Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee, chaired by Sen. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe), approved House Bill 271 on Tuesday. The bill authorizes gaming at qualified airports.

Education 

The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair), approved five bills Wednesday.

Senate Bill 88 prohibits censorship of an American or Pennsylvania historical document based on any religious content.

Senate Bill 93 permits home-schooled or privately tutored students to have access to courses in schools and departments (i.e., vocational school, technical school) of a public school district. 

Senate Bill 273 prohibits any form of state funding to go to any institution of higher education that designates itself as a “sanctuary campus,” refuses to share information about undocumented students, or in any way impedes the federal government’s ability to enforce federal immigration laws.

Senate Bill 383 clarifies the authority school boards have to allow certain school employees to carry firearms on school property to further enhance security measures. 

Senate Bill 592 gives taxpayers an opportunity to examine the terms of employment contracts that the local school board extends to key district employees.

Local Government 

The Senate Local Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York), approved House Bill 16 on Tuesday. The bill amends the Local Tax Collection Law to prohibit tax payments to an account in an individual’s name and requires the creation of a separate account to be used solely for tax purposes.

Senate Republican News Brief

“The people have a right to know who is lobbying, what they are spending to impact public policy, and the issues at which those lobbying efforts are being directed. Timely internet publication of all lobbying documents is an important part of improving transparency in state government.”

Sen. Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) on Senate passage of his legislation that would require lobbyists to register and file reports electronically through a computerized system developed by the Pennsylvania Department of State.

Preview 

Senate Session Today at 1 p.m.Bills expected to be considered this week include:

Senate Bill 30 authorizes the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to establish the fees charged by the agency. Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair)

Senate Bill 171  requires Senate confirmation of the PA Turnpike Commission CEO. Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery)

Senate Bill 192 authorizes the Pennsylvania Game Commission to establish the fees for hunting and fur-taking licenses. Sen. Pat Stefano (R-Fayette)

Senate Bill 227 alters the deadline for school boards to make renewal decisions regarding superintendent contracts from 150 to 90 days prior to expiration of the contract. Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair)

Senate Bill 222 adds judges to the courts of common pleas in Bucks, Cumberland, Delaware, Montgomery, Washington and Wayne counties. Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery)

News Conferences and Committee Hearings Streamed Live at PASenateGOP.com: 

Monday 10 a.m. East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-B

Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery)
Senate Bill 400 and the investigation of police-involved shootings

Monday 11 a.m. Capitol Media Center

News Conference – Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Allegheny)
Video Gaming Terminals

Tuesday 10 a.m. East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-B
Senate Transportation Committee, chaired by Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) Hearing
PennDOT Budget and Program Priorities

Tuesday 12 p.m. Capitol Media Center

News Conference – Sen. Tom Killion (R-Delaware), Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington), Sen. Tom McGarrigle (R-Delaware), Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny)
Strengthening Protection from Abuse Laws

Wednesday 9 a.m. North Office Building, Hearing Room 1

Senate Labor and Industry Committee, chaired by Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, chaired by Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny)
State Workers Insurance Fund and Impact of the Cancer Presumption Act

Wednesday 1 p.m. North Office Building, Hearing Room 1

Senate Aging and Youth Committee, chaired by Sen. Michele Brooks (R-Mercer), Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), Senate Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington)
Consolidation of Departments of Health, Human Services, Aging and Drug & Alcohol Programs 

Full Senate Committee Schedule

Review 

Senate Approves Lobbyist Disclosure Bill 

The Senate on Wednesday approved government reform legislation introduced by Sen. Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) that would provide improved transparency regarding lobbyist disclosure reports.

Senate Bill 169 would require lobbyists to register and file reports electronically through a computerized system developed by the Pennsylvania Department of State. Currently, lobbyists may register and file reports on paper forms, which in some cases has delayed the posting of the information on the department’s website.

SB 169 requires the department to post on its website all lobbying registration and reporting documents it receives within seven days. The measure also bars lobbyists from charging a contingency fee for grants awarded to their clients. More  

Senate Approves Scavello Bill Allowing Falconry on Sundays

Legislation sponsored by Sen. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe) to allow Pennsylvanians to engage in falconry on Sundays was approved by the Senate on Monday.

Currently, Pennsylvania law prohibits hunting on Sunday, with the exception of the hunting of foxes and coyotes. Senate Bill 123 will add an exception for falconry, the sport of hunting small game species with birds of prey. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. More 

Firm Tells Committee State Could Save Millions Annually in Health Costs 

An experienced health care management firm told members of the Senate Majority Policy Committee on Tuesday that the state could see an 8 to 15 percent reduction in all medical costs through the use of new technology and evidence-based medicine.

During the hearing, representatives from MedExpert touted the results of its Medicaid coordinated care initiative in Alaska. The program uses technology and health care management tools to directly assist patients in getting the care they need.

The hearing, which was held at the request of Sen. Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) and hosted by Committee Chairman Sen. David Argall (R-Schuylkill), focused on how a similar system could be applied to Pennsylvania’s healthcare market. More

Committee Round-Up 

Appropriations 

The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), approved three bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 30 gives the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission the authority to establish the fees that it charges for licenses.

Senate Bill 192 gives the Game Commission the authority to establish the fees that it charges for hunting and fur-taking licenses.

Senate Bill 274 officially recognizes Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists under Pennsylvania statute.

Education 

The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair), held a public hearing on the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. Hearing Video & Testimony

Judiciary

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), approved seven bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 95 addresses lawsuits filed against a person or organization for statements made or positions taken in connection with a matter of public interest or regulation.

Senate Bill 222 adds court of common pleas judges in several counties across the state.

Senate Bill 260 addresses representation of crime victims on the Victims’ Services Advisory Committee within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

Senate Bill 298 increases the penalties for animal abuse (Libre’s Law).

Senate Bill 421 addresses the pay disparity between state corrections managers and officers.

Senate Bill 522 amends Title 42 and Title 61 to merge the Department of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole as the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 

Senate Bill 523 amends the Crime Victims Act to merge the Department of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole as the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 

Labor & Industry 

The Senate Labor and Industry Committee, chaired by Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), approved Senate Bill 250 on Tuesday. The bill authorizes a $15 million transfer from the Unemployment Compensation Fund to the Service and Infrastructure Improvement Fund.

State Government 

The Senate State Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), approved two bills and a resolution on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 178 updates and modernizes the state History Code.

Senate Bill 303 addresses Project 70 restrictions on lands owned by the Borough of Topton.

Senate Resolution 36 urges Congress to renew the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment to prevent the Department of Justice from spending funds to interfere with implementation of state medical marijuana laws.

Transportation

The Senate Transportation Committee, chaired by Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery), held a public hearing Tuesday on Highly Automated Vehicles (HAV) and legislation that would authorize autonomous vehicle testing in Pennsylvania.

Hearing Video & Testimony

Senate Republican News Brief

“Fortunately, the General Assembly and the Governor were able to reach an agreement on the issue, which resulted in this amended bill. I appreciate the efforts that made this legislation a reality and thereby offer a much brighter future for the conventional oil and gas industry and the thousands of Pennsylvanians whose jobs and livelihoods are dependent on those operations.”

Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) on passage of legislation that will promote conventional oil and natural gas development and remove it from inappropriate regulations drafted by the Department of Environment Protection.

Preview

Senate Reconvenes at 3 p.m.

The Senate has scheduled sessions days Wednesday, June 22 through Thursday, June 30. Dates and times are subject to change:

Wednesday, June 22, 3 p.m.
Thursday, June 23, 1 p.m.
Friday, June 24, 11 a.m.
Saturday, June 25 10 a.m.
Sunday, June 26, 5 p.m.

Monday, June 27, 1 p.m.
Tuesday, June 28, 11 a.m.
Wednesday, June 29, 11 a.m.
Thursday, June 30, 11 a.m.

Committee Action

Wednesday, 1:45 p.m. | Room 461 Main Capitol
The Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, chaired by Sen. Pat Vance (R-Cumberland): Consideration of Senate Bill 16, Senate Bill 1218 and House Bill 1351.

Wednesday, 2:30 p.m. | Room 8E-A East Wing
The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee, chaired by Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York): Consideration of Senate Bill 20, Senate Bill 141, Senate Bill 142, Senate Bill 666, Senate Bill 1282, Senate Bill 1307, House Bill 1437 and House Bill1500.

Wednesday  Off the Floor | Rules Committee Conference Room
The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh): Consideration of Senate Bill 840, Senate Bill 1221, Senate Bill 1226, Senate Bill 1283, Senate Bill 1292, House Bill 325, House Bill 664, House Bill 1877, House Bill 2137, House Bill 2138, House Bill 2139, House Bill 2140 and House Bill 2141.

Wednesday  Off the Floor | Rules Committee Conference Room
The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery): Consideration of Senate Bill 1311, House Bill 123, House Bill 869 and House Bill1581.

Thursday, 10 a.m. | Room 461 Main Capitol
The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver): Consideration of Senate Bill 1110 and House Bill 967.

Thursday 11 a.m. | Room 461 Main Capitol
The Senate Labor and Industry Committee, chaired by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne): Consideration of Senate Bill 199, Senate Bill1133 and House Bill 568.

Thursday, 12:30 p.m. | Room 461 Main Capitol
The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee, chaired by Sen. Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks): Consideration of House Bill 1841 and House Bill 1842.

Senate Committee Schedule

Review

Property Tax Elimination Measures Advance 

The Senate approved a measure June 13 that would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to permit complete property tax relief for principal places of residence.

House Bill 147, which was approved by the House of Representatives last year, would allow for the complete elimination of residential school property taxes through the homestead exclusion.  Since constitutional amendments must be approved in two consecutive sessions, the exact language of the measure must be approved by the General Assembly during the 2017-18 Legislative Session before it can be put up for a statewide referendum vote.

The Governor’s signature is not required for constitutional amendments.

In a related matter, the Senate also approved Senate Bill 1109, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne). The bill provides for a constitutional amendment to extend the property tax exemption program for disabled veterans to the surviving spouse of soldiers killed in action. That bill was sent to the House for consideration.

Bills to Protect Energy-Related Jobs Sent to the Governor

6/7/16 - Senate Bill 1195 (Clean Power Plan Extension)

Two bills to protect family-sustaining Pennsylvania jobs placed at risk by state and federal energy regulations received final legislative approval June 15 and were sent to the Governor, who is expected to sign them into law.

The Senate concurred Wednesday on amendments by the House of Representatives to Senate Bill 1195, sponsored by Sen. Don White (R-Indiana), which addresses Pennsylvania’s compliance with the federal coal regulations, and on amendments to Senate Bill 279, sponsored by Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango), which removes conventional oil and gas drillers from the Department of Environmental Protection’s proposed changes to state (Chapter 78) regulations on drilling operations in the Commonwealth.

Listen Senator Hutchinson

Cost-Saving Legislation for Schools Sent to Governor

Legislation that will allow school districts to save thousands of dollars in annual mailing costs received final legislative approval June 14 and is headed to the Governor for his signature. Senate Bill 1077, sponsored by Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver), eliminates the mandate that school districts annually inform parents by physical mailing when the district uses audio and video recording to identify and address discipline issues on school buses.

The mailer mandate was included as part of Act 9 of 2014, which gave school districts the ability to use audio recordings on school buses. Instead of the physical mailing, which can easily cost thousands of dollars each year, schools must post notice of the policy in the student handbook as well as on the school’s website.

Other Bills Sent to the Governor for Enactment

Senate Bill 772 updates the state Professional Psychologists Practice Act for the first time since 1986. Sen. John Gordner (R-Columbia)

Senate Bill 837 expands title protection to marriage and family therapists, ensuring that only licensed and properly trained professionals can market their services to clients. Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster)

Senate Bill 983 allows parents and guardians of disabled adult children in their care to receive disability license plates. Sen. Tom McGarrigle (R-Delaware)

Senate Approves Measure to Increase Education for Opioid Prescribing 

The Senate approved legislation June 15 that would require continuing medical education training as a way to stem the tide of opioid and prescription drug abuse in the state.

Senate Bill 1202, sponsored by Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), requires state licensing boards to call for two hours of continuing education in “pain management” and two hours in “opioid prescribing practices” for individuals applying for an initial license or renewal of an existing license or certification to prescribe medications in the Commonwealth.

The increased use of heroin, which often has roots in the abuse of prescription painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin, has catapulted Pennsylvania to seventh in the nation for drug-related overdose deaths in recent federal statistics.  According to a National Survey of Primary Care Physicians, nine out of 10 doctors reported prescription drug abuse as a moderate to large problem in their communities, and 85 percent believed that prescription drugs are overused in clinical practice.

The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Other Bills Sent to the House of Representatives

Senate Bill 163, which addresses the needs of children of incarcerated parents and services available to them. Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery)

Senate Bill 1113, which provides broader representation of crime victims on the Victims’ Services Advisory Committee within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) 

Committee Votes to Update Breach of Personal Information Notification Act

The Senate Communications and Technology Committee, chaired by Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster), approved legislation June 15 to update the Breach of Personal Information Notification Act.

Senate Bill 1048, sponsored by Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny), requires that in the event of a breach involving Personally Identifiable Information, the state agency involved will report the breach to the individual or individuals affected within seven days.  It also requires the Attorney General and the Office of Administration for Executive Branch agencies be notified within three days following the breach.

County and local governments, along with school districts, must notify their District Attorney within three days as well. The legislation will also require the Office of Administration to keep a policy for the storage and transmission of Personal Identifiable Information Data.

Senate Bill 1048 now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

Listen

Joint Hearing Explores Impact of New Federal Overtime Rules

6/21/16 - New Federal Overtime Regulations

The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), and the Senate Labor and Industry Committee, chaired by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), held a joint hearing Tuesday to explore the impact of the new Federal Department of Labor overtime rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The hearing focused on the impact on employers, nonprofits and the state budget. Key provisions of the new rules will become effective December 1, 2016.

Senate Republican News Brief

“One of my primary concerns in considering any change to liquor and beer sales is how we can make the process more convenient for consumers. The final product approved by the governor today will provide a much-needed update to the system and give consumers many of the reforms they have asked for, while at the same time generating additional state revenues that could help close the budget deficit.”

Senate Law and Justice Committee Chairman Chuck McIlhinney (R-Bucks) on enactment of liquor reform legislation he championed.

Preview 

Senate Reconvenes at 1 p.m. 

The Senate reconvenes today at 1 p.m. Bills expected to be considered by the Senate are as follows:

Senate Bill 163 clarifies that parental rights may not be terminated solely because a parent is incarcerated and addresses services available to those children. Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) 

Senate Bill 1109 amends the state Constitution to extend the state’s property tax exemption program for disabled veterans to the surviving spouse of soldiers killed in action. Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne)

Senate Bill 1113 broadens representation of crime victims on the Victims’ Services Advisory Committee within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) 

Senate Bill 703 creates a state plumbers licensing program regulating who can call themselves a state-licensed plumbing contractor rather than who can perform plumbing services. Sen. Tom McGarrigle (R-Delaware) 

House Bill 147 proposed Constitutional amendment allowing local taxing authorities to exclude from taxation up to 100 percent of the assessed value of the homestead property.

House Bill 602 increases the base minimum state active duty pay for National Guard personnel.

House Bill 1325 allows for assessments of storm water fees without the need to establish a municipal authority in Second Class Townships.

House Bill 1199 repeals the 1965 Act authorizing the Department of Highways to erect and maintain a toll bridge over the Monongahela River.

House Bill 1766 allows future life insurance policy reserves to be based on Principle-Based Reserving.

Committee Action

Monday, 10 a.m. North Office Building, Hearing Room #1

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery): Hearing on HB 1947, extending the statute of limitations for victims of child abuse to sue their abuser and the institution that employed the abuser.

Tuesday, 9 a.m. East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-A

The Senate Majority Policy Committee, chaired by Sen. David Argall (R-Schuylkill): Hearing on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)

Tuesday, 10 a.m. Majority Caucus Room

Public School Building Construction & Reconstruction Advisory Committee: Organizational Meeting

Tuesday, 11:30 a.m. North Office Building, Hearing Room #1

The Senate State Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon): Hearing on SB 413 (Administrative Law Procedure and Office of Administrative Hearings)

Wednesday, 10 a.m. East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-A

The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery): Release of reports on a performance audit of the PA Fish and Boat Commission, and afterschool programs in Pennsylvania.

Senate Committee Schedule

Hearings streamed live at PASenateGOP.com. 

Review 

Consumer-Centered Liquor Reforms Signed Into Law 

Legislation championed by Senate Law and Justice Committee Chairman Chuck McIlhinney (R-Bucks) to allow grocery stores to sell wine, increase opportunities for the sale of beer, and improve consumer convenience for overall liquor sales was signed into law Wednesday.

Act 39 of 2016 provides many changes that increase customer convenience, including:

  • Allowing grocery stores that sell beer, licensed restaurants, and hotels to sell up to four bottles of wine per customer.
  • Permitting licensed wine producers to ship their products directly to Pennsylvania consumers.
  • Allowing “six-pack” shops to upgrade their “eating place” licenses to “full” restaurant licenses to sell wine as well as beer.
  • Lifting the requirement that State Stores close on certain holidays and only operate on limited hours on Sundays.
  • Allowing special discounts and sales at State Stores.
  • Permitting casinos, for a fee of $1 million, to receive a license to sell alcohol 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Allowing lottery tickets sales in State Stores.

According to a detailed fiscal analysis of the bill, the plan could generate up to an additional $100 million to 150 million in profits for the state system. In addition to modernizing liquor sales, the bill also requires a comprehensive study of the valuation of the state system and various proposals to privatize liquor sales in the future.

Bills Sent to Governor for Enactment into Law

Senate Bill 61 officially recognizes bike medics and permits them to operate their bicycles in the same manner as a police officer on a bicycle. Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery)

Senate Bill 489 reduces the maximum fee that a check casher may charge for cashing government checks, requires the public posting of fees for cashing the checks, and allows for recovery of losses due to fraudulent misrepresentation. Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming)

Senate Bill 847 adds a representative from the Korean War Veterans Association to the State Veterans Commission, a panel composed of representatives from Pennsylvania’s major veterans associations. Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster)

House Bill 57 amends the Public Utility Code to change the interest rate associated with recovery of purchased gas costs, eliminate the migration rider, and provide for recovery of costs incurred to implement customer choice.

Senate Acts to Protect Energy Jobs

The Senate on Wednesday approved legislation to protect family-sustaining Pennsylvania jobs placed at risk by the new federal regulations.

Senate Bill 1195, sponsored by Sen. Don White (R-Indiana), provides procedures for the General Assembly’s consideration of the Department of Environmental Protection’s implementation strategy for the Clean Power Plan before its submission to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Senate Bill 1195 is a compromise agreement between the General Assembly and Governor Wolf that provides important safeguards that protect local energy-producing industries and the thousands of workers they employ from overreaching regulations that could come with Pennsylvania’s compliance with the federal regulations.

Senate Bill 1195 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Committee Approves Measure to Increase Education for Opioid Prescribing 

The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee, chaired by Sen. Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks), approved legislation Tuesday that would require continuing medical education training as a way to stem the tide of opioid and prescription drug abuse in the state.

Senate Bill 1202, sponsored by Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), requires state licensing boards to call for two hours of continuing education in “pain management” and two hours in “opioid prescribing practices” for individuals applying for an initial license or renewal of an existing license or certification to prescribe medications in the Commonwealth.

The increased use of heroin, which often has roots in the abuse of prescription painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin, has catapulted Pennsylvania to seventh in the nation for drug-related overdose deaths in recent federal statistics.  According to a National Survey of Primary Care Physicians, nine out of 10 doctors reported prescription drug abuse as a moderate to large problem in their communities, and 85 percent believed that prescription drugs are overused in clinical practice.
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Stefano Bill to Deny Public Benefits to Illegal Immigrants Advances

Legislation sponsored by Sen. Pat Stefano (R-Fayette) that would deny public benefits, such as Medicaid, welfare, and unemployment compensation to illegal immigrants living in Pennsylvania passed the House State Government Committee last week.

Senate Bill 9 would require anyone receiving public benefits in the Commonwealth to provide identification proving they are legal residents.  In addition, individuals would be required to sign an affidavit stating they are a United States citizen, or an immigrant lawfully residing in this country.  Any illegal immigrant who falsely claims they are residing in the country legally, in order to obtain public benefits, will have committed a second degree misdemeanor and be subject to arrest.

Federal law prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving state or local public benefits.  However, Senator Stefano said Pennsylvania is simply too lenient in enforcing the federal provisions.

Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to House

Senate Bill 428 provides additional sentencing provisions for trespassing at gaming establishments. Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland)

Senate Bill 1270 amends the Real Estate Appraisers Certification Act to bring Pennsylvania into compliance with updated Federal appraiser standards. Sen. Tom Killion (R-Delaware)

Senate Bill 1227 transfers the responsibilities of the Public Employee Retirement Commission with regard to pension legislation to the Independent Fiscal Office and the Office of the Auditor General.

House Bill 264 requires carbon monoxide detectors to be installed in long-term care nursing facilities, personal care homes and assisted living residences that use fossil fuel burning devices or appliances. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

House Bill 1241 amends the definition of public utility in state law to exempt water or sewer service provided by a resort and to exempt the provision of service by a municipal corporation under certain circumstances. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Senate Republican News Brief

“In the unfortunate event that a school district must furlough a teacher, we need to make sure that the very best remain. If we want high performing schools where every child has an opportunity to experience earned success, we cannot allow the vestiges of a system that protects low-performing educators to remain.”

Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) on Senate passage of legislation that would keep the best teachers in the classroom and boost student achievement by ending the practice of seniority-based layoffs.

Preview

Senate Reconvenes at 1 p.m.

The Senate reconvenes today at 1 p.m. Bills expected to be considered by the Senate this week include:

Senate Bill 180 the Donate Life PA Act, updating the law relating to organ and tissue donations. Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery)

Senate Bill 691 increases a retailer’s presumptive minimum cost of administering the cigarette tax. Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery)

Senate Bill 837 ensures only those with a professional license are permitted to represent themselves as a marriage and family therapist in Pennsylvania. Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster)

Senate Bill 910 places into law the school funding formula developed over the past year by the Basic Education Funding Commission. Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster)

Senate Bill 1031 reestablishes the Independent Counsel Authorization Act. Sen. John Gordner (R-Columbia)

Senate Bill 1038 allows a judge of the court of common pleas to serve on a juvenile detention board in third class counties. Sen. Don White (R-Indiana)

Senate Bill 1154 – updates the Civil Service Act to place the Commonwealth more in line with hiring practices of the private sector while maintaining the merit-based and non-political nature of the Civil Service hiring process. Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny)

House Bill 150 establishes a bicycle Share-The-Road registration plate.

House Bill 608 gives the Department of Health the power to quickly add chemicals to the list of “precursor substances” under the Drug Act.

House Bill 1484 further preserves Soldiers’ Grove located across the street from the Capitol Complex.

House Bill 215 further provides for the offense of neglect of a care-dependent person, and to create the offense of abuse of a care-dependent person.

House Bill 380 reduces the length of time for a no fault divorce based on separation from two years to one year.

Senate and House Leaders to Call on Gov. Wolf to Sign Teacher Furlough Reform

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson), Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre), Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) and House Leadership hold a news conference to call on Gov. Wolf to sign teacher furlough reform legislation, House Bill 805, the Protecting Excellent Teachers Act. (Tuesday, 1 p.m., East Wing Rotunda)

Committee Action

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Infrastructure, Environment and Government Operations, chaired by Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair), public hearing with the Office of Administration regarding technology investments. (Monday, 9:30 a.m., Room 8E-B)

The Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee, chaired by Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango), public hearing on Chronic Wasting Disease in the PA deer population. (Monday, noon, Room 8E-A)

The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, chaired by Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny), and the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee receive presentations by the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs on the services they can provide to state agencies during emergencies and their plans for closing armories; and by the Civil Air Patrol on its mission. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., N. Office Bldg. Room 1)

The Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee, chaired by Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), and the House Gaming Oversight Committee public hearing on the Revenue Department’s notification to casinos of its intention to increase the assessment for Section 1401 accounts from 1.5 percent to 2 percent. (Tuesday, 9 a.m., East Wing Room 60)

The Senate Transportation Committee , chaired by Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery), will consider Senate Bill 153 , Senate Bill 1219 , Senate Bill 1220 , Senate Bill 1267 and House bill 1713 . (Tuesday, 10:30 a.m., Room 8E-B)

The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster), and the House Education Committee public hearing on ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act). (Wednesday, 9 a.m., N. Office Bldg. Room 1)

The Senate Game and Fisheries Committee, chaired by Sen. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe), public hearing on expansion of Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania. (Wednesday, 9 a.m., Room 8E-A)

Senate Committee Schedule

Hearings streamed live at PASenateGOP.com .

Review

Teacher Furlough Reform Passes General Assembly

The Senate gave final approval Monday to legislation that would keep the best teachers in the classroom and boost student achievement by ending the practice of seniority-based layoffs.

House Bill 805, known as the Protecting Excellent Teachers Act, would strengthen the teaching profession and boost student success by ensuring that school districts use teacher performance to guide furlough and reinstatement decisions. Performance ratings would be based on the comprehensive statewide educator evaluation system adopted in 2012, under which observed educators are assigned a rating of distinguished, proficient, needs improvement or failing.

House Bill 805 prohibits school districts from using a teacher’s pay and benefits as determining factors for any layoff decision.

Currently, teacher layoffs are conducted in order of inverse seniority. The last teacher hired is the first person fired. Pennsylvania is one of only a few states that require seniority to be the sole factor in determining layoffs. House Bill 805 now goes to the Governor’s desk.

The Senate version of the House Bill 805, Senate Bill 5, was introduced by Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster).

ALSO: Schools, Lawmakers Call on Wolf to Stand with Students, Schools and Protect Excellent Teachers

Senate Unanimously Approves Bill to Increase Penalties for Home Invasions

Legislation sponsored by sponsored by Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) that would strengthen penalties for burglaries involving home invasions was unanimously approved by the Senate on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 1062 would change state law to reflect the seriousness of the violent crime of home invasions. The current burglary statute does not distinguish those burglaries where force or threat of force is used. The bill would create a sentencing enhancement to increase the recommended sentence for such crimes.

The legislation was drafted with input from the District Attorney’s Association and the Office of the Attorney General and has bipartisan support. The bill now goes to the House for consideration.

Senator Rafferty: “Home invasions go far beyond entering a home to steal property – they are violent acts that can leave permanent scars on those who are targeted in their own homes, where they should feel safest.”

Senate Approves Bill to Help Parents Avoid Truancy Fines, Get Children Back to School

On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) to help prevent a parent from being jailed for failing to pay fines associated with their child’s truancy.

Senate Bill 359 would require schools to offer a school attendance improvement conference to the student and their parents or guardian if the child continues to be truant following notification of the child’s third unexcused absence.

If a school attendance improvement conference is scheduled, further legal action is suspended until after the date of the conference has passed.

The legislation is in response to the death of a Reading woman while she was jailed for truancy charges in Berks County Prison. Eileen DiNino, a 55-year-old mother of seven, died of undetermined causes as she was serving a 48-hour sentence for not paying fines a magisterial district justice imposed following her sons’ absences from school. The bill now goes to the House for consideration.

Senator Greenleaf: “Referring a truancy case to the court should be the last resort. I believe intervention is more appropriate than legal action and will result in better school attendance for children who have been truant.”

Senate Approves Cost-saving Legislation for Schools

The Senate on Tuesday approved legislation to allow school districts to save thousands of dollars in annual mailing costs.

Senate Bill 1077, sponsored by Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver), eliminates the state mandate that school districts annually inform parents by physical mailing when the district uses audio and video recording to identify and address discipline issues on school buses.

The mailer mandate was included as part of Act 9 of 2014, which gave school districts the ability to use audio recordings on school buses. Instead of the physical mailing, which can easily cost thousands of dollars each year, schools must post notice of the policy in the student handbook as well as on the school’s website.

Senate Bill 1077 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senator Killion Sworn Into Office

Senator Tom Killion (R-9) was sworn into office during a Wednesday ceremony in the Senate Chamber. He was elected to the Senate on April 26 under a special election to represent the citizens of the 9th Senatorial District, which includes portions of Chester and Delaware counties.

Prior to joining the Senate, he served as a State Representative for the 168th Legislative District and was Chairman of the Delaware County Council. He also founded two local small businesses.

The Senate returned to its full complement of 50 members: 31 Republicans and 19 Democrats.

Watch: Senator Killion discusses his Senate priorities
Watch: Senator Killion discusses
state budget negotiations

Additional Bills Sent to Governor

House Bill 400 establishes the “Work Experience for High School Students with Disabilities Act.”

Senate Bill 811 provides for the Fiscal Year 2015-16 Capital Budget.

House Bill 1200 repeals part of an Act from 1903 that requires railroads under bridges or viaducts to pay maintenance fees.

House Bill 1788 clarifies circumstances in Philadelphia in which a Neighborhood Improvement District overlaps with a Tax Increment Financing district.

Additional Bills Sent to the House for Consideration

Senate Bill 1144 prohibits the sale of over-the-counter cough medicines containing dextromethorphan to minors.

Senate Bill 1156 requires health care personnel and clergy to obtain background checks.

Senate Bill 1229 corrects technical issues related to the distribution of Pennsylvania Breeding Funds.

Bills Returned to the House for Concurrence on Senate Amendments

House Bill 944 amends the Community and Economic Improvement Act to improve the management of neighborhood improvement districts in Philadelphia.

House Bill 1310 provides privacy and protects the safety of individuals who call 911 to report crimes.

House Bill 1574 updates the Anti-hazing Law to include hazing done as a condition for initiation or admission into any organization.