“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.
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 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)
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)
Hearings streamed live at PASenateGOP.com .
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.
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.
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.