Pennsylvania Senate Republicans E-Newsletter

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February 5, 2018

“The skyrocketing costs of public pensions in Pennsylvania have turned the state budget into a mess and have driven up school property taxes, while taxpayers are continuing to fund the pensions of public employees who commit felonies on the job. It is well past time to require all egregious offenders to face a financial penalty for violating the public trust.”

Sen. John DiSanto (R-Dauphin) on Senate passage of his legislation ensuring that public employees who commit job-related felonies are stripped of their taxpayer-funded pension.

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Preview

Senate Session Today at 1 p.m., Budget Address Tuesday

 

The Senate returns to voting session today at 1 p.m. Gov. Wolf will present his proposed 2018-19 state budget to a joint session of the Legislature on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m.  Legislation that could be considered by the Senate this week includes: 

Senate Bill 21 establishes the Employment First Act to provide competitive, integrated employment for individuals with a disability.

Senate Bill 792 creates labeling requirements for lawn fertilizer. Sen. Richard Alloway (R-Franklin)

Senate Bill 796 waives change of address fees charged to CDL licensees when their address changes solely as a result of a governmental action. Sen. John Gordner (R-Columbia)

Senate Bill 955 establish the Community College Secondary Education Fire Training Pilot Program to provide high school students with firefighter training. Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny)

Senate Bill 748 ensures responsible notice and consideration of any proposed closure of structures that employ individuals who provide law enforcement, security, or care custody, and control of inmates. Sen. David Argall (R-Schuylkill)

House Bill 631 requires the court to impose a mandatory three-year probation period consecutive to any term of total confinement for a person convicted of a Tier III sex offense under Pennsylvania’s Adam Walsh Act. 

Committee Hearings Streamed at PASenateGOP.com

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

Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery) Chair

Release of Sexual Assault Evidence Collection report, and Alternative Chesapeake Bay Nutrient Reduction Cost Estimate report

Complete Senate Committee Schedule 

Review

Senate Acts to Expand Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act

Legislation sponsored by Sen. John DiSanto (R-Dauphin) to ensure that public employees who commit job-related felonies are stripped of their taxpayer-funded pension was approved Tuesday by the Senate and sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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.

Senate Bill 611 would 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.

The measure also closes the “Mellow Loophole,” through which former State Senator Bob Mellow of Lackawanna County had his $245,000 a year pension restored despite pleading guilty and being sent to prison on federal conspiracy charges. More  

Senate Approves Framework for Growing Greener III Environmental Program

The Senate approved legislation Wednesday that would create a framework for the Growing Greener III program to better protect Pennsylvania’s natural resources.

The original version of Senate Bill 799, sponsored by Sen. Richard Alloway (R-Franklin), creates a new nutrient trading program to help Pennsylvania meet federal pollution reduction goals and improve drinking water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The legislation was amended to add a proposal introduced by Sen. Tom Killion (R-Delaware), Sen. Chuck McIlhinney (R-Bucks) and Alloway to authorize a new Growing Greener program to support critical environmental and quality of life projects in communities throughout the state.

Funding for the program has declined from approximately $200 million in the mid-2000s to $57 million last year. Senate Bill 799 would establish a framework to ensure the program will continue to fund vital environmental projects well into the future. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. More 

Senate Approves Proposal to Improve Special Emergency Response Times

Off-duty police officers who serve on Special Emergency Response Teams (SERTs) could respond to incidents quicker and more safely under legislation unanimously approved by the Senate today.

Senate Bill 1015, sponsored by Sen. Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) and Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster), would allow SERT officers to use flashing lights and sirens when using their private vehicles to respond to incidents, as volunteer firefighters are permitted to do.

Local officials estimate that the use of lights and sirens on personal vehicles could save 10 to 15 minutes in assembling a SERT team for incidents requiring special training, such as kidnappings, barricaded gunmen and hostage negotiations. More

Senate Passes Greenleaf’s Legislation Bringing National Guard Youth Challenge Program to Pennsylvania

On Monday, the Senate unanimously passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) which would bring the National Guard Youth Challenge Program to Pennsylvania.  The program is aimed at helping high school dropouts earn their diploma.

The program began in 1993 through an act of Congress as a 10-state pilot program to help at-risk youth gain work experience and earn their high school diploma or equivalent.  The program focuses on improving basic life skills and promoting fellowship and good citizenship through military-based training and supervised work experience for youth between the ages of 16 and 18.  In 1998, Congress made the program permanent.

Senate Bill 52 directs the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to apply for federal funding for the program. More

Senate Adopts Mensch Resolution Preparing for Statewide Safety Radio Rollout

A measure sponsored by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery) urging counties, local police and state authorities to prepare for rollout of a new statewide safety radio system was unanimously adopted Monday by the Senate.

Senate Resolution 237 urges counties and local officials to work with the Pennsylvania State Police and the Office of Public Safety Radio to explore and execute shared services arrangements to enable operation of the new Pennsylvania Statewide Radio Network (P-25 PA-STARNet).

The statewide rollout of the system began in northwestern Pennsylvania early last year and is set to be completed in 2021. More

Other Bills Approved by the Senate

Senate Resolution 32 directs the Joint State Government Commission to study the use of youth courts in Pennsylvania’s education and juvenile justice systems.

Senate Bill 52 establishes the National Guard Youth Challenge Program.

Senate Bill 234 lays the groundwork for counties and municipalities to create Property Assessed Clean Energy financing programs.

Senate Resolution 237 urges counties and local law enforcement, public safety and emergency services to work with the State Police to facilitate the rollout of the new P25 Pa-Star Net radio system.

Senate Bill 775 establishes the Pennsylvania Museum Preservation Fund.

Senate Bill 898 exempts municipal trucks from state bonding requirements when these vehicles are traveling in order to maintain local roads. 

Senate Bill 1015 allows Special Emergency Response Teams officers to use flashing lights and sirens when using their private vehicles to respond to incidents, much like firefighters now do.

Senate Bill 1034 addresses Congressional redistricting.

House Bill 359 addresses penalties for hunters who mistakenly kill an animal. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

House Bill 1653 makes students enrolled in distance or online education programs eligible for state grants.

Reschenthaler Calls for Stronger Constitutional Protections for Crime Victims

1/30/18 - Victims' Bill of Rights

Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Allegheny) joined legislators, law enforcement officials and victim advocates at a State Capitol rally on Tuesday to support legislation aimed at protecting and expanding the rights of victims of violent crime.

Reschenthaler called on the Legislature to pass Senate Bill 1011, also known as Marsy’s Law, which would establish a crime victims’ bill of rights in the Pennsylvania Constitution.  A companion bill sponsored by Representative Sheryl Delozier has been introduced in the House.

While many states, including Pennsylvania, have laws designed to assist victims in the judicial system, there are no provisions in those statutes to ensure compliance. More

Bartolotta Introduces Bills to Expand Economic Opportunities for Veterans

Two bills introduced by Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington) would help create new business and job opportunities for military veterans.

Senate Bill 1040 would require state agencies to provide appropriate credit for military service toward licensure and certification requirements. In current practice, credit is not given for the training and experience gained during military service.

Bartolotta also introduced Senate Bill 1041, legislation that directs the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to create special logos to promote veteran-owned and disabled veteran-owned businesses. More

Committee Roundup 

Agriculture & Rural Affairs

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

Senate Bill 816 increases the penalties for owners when their dangerous dogs cause severe injury to another person.

House Bill 1550 amends the Agricultural Area Security Law (Act 43 of 1981) to further provide for restrictions and limitations on preserved farms.

House Bill 1917 strengthens the training and oversight requirements of humane society police officers. 

Appropriations

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

Senate Bill 21 promotes the employment of people with disabilities.

Senate Bill 234 establishes the Property Assessed Clean Energy program.

House Bill 359 addresses penalties for hunters who mistakenly kill an animal.

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.

House Bill 653 provides for an accelerated foreclosure process for vacant and abandoned property.

Senate Bill 898 exempts municipal trucks from state bonding requirements when these vehicles are traveling in order to maintain local roads. 

The Appropriations Committee approved three bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 955 establishes a pilot program providing grants to community colleges to partner with secondary schools to train students in fire services.

Senate Bill 1034 addresses Congressional redistricting.

House Bill 1653 makes students enrolled in distance or online education programs eligible for state grants.

Banking & Insurance

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

Senate Bill 780 promotes telemedicine in Pennsylvania as a way to overcome barriers to quality patient care created by distance and reduce the costs of those services.

Senate Bill 1031 requires the Department of Insurance to submit an annual report detailing its spending for third-party contractors to conduct fiscal examinations of insurance companies doing business in Pennsylvania.

Community, Economic & Recreational Development

On Tuesday, the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee, chaired by Sen. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe), held a public hearing on Senate Bill 721, funding Pennsylvania tourism promotion.

Hearing Video & Written Testimony

Education

The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair), approved three bills on Monday.

Senate Bill 776 extends the Dyslexia and Early Literacy Intervention Pilot Program.

House Bill 1305 sets a training requirement for educators who provide secondary transition services.

House Bill 1653 makes students enrolled in distance or online education programs eligible for state grants.

Environmental Resources & Energy

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

Senate Resolution 104 urges the Governor to end the moratorium on non-surface disturbance natural gas drilling on state forest land. 

Senate Resolution 226 requires the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct an independent performance evaluation of the largest statewide environmental permitting programs administered by the Department of Environmental Protection. 

House Bill 1341 amends the Bituminous Coal Mine Safety Act to allow emergency medical responders to be employed at mines. 

House Bill 1486 exempts “high tunnels” from the requirements of the Storm Water Management Act.

Finance

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

House Bill 291 provides for an exemption from the inheritance tax for a transfer of property to a child age 21 or younger, from a parent, adoptive parent or stepparent.

Senate Bill 370 removes future non-public employees of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association from being eligible for public pension benefits. 

Senate Bill 952 exempts volunteer fire companies from remitting sales tax on food and beverages sold for fundraising efforts. 

Judiciary

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), approved Senate Bill 1011 on Tuesday. The bill amends the state Constitution to create a crime victims’ “Bill of Rights.”

Labor & Industry

The Senate Labor and Industry Committee, chaired by Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland),  approved House Bill 566 on Tuesday. The bill provides for suspension of performance if payment is not received by a contractor or a subcontractor in accordance with the terms of a construction contract.

Local Government 

The Senate Local Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York), approved 10 bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 114 enables a sewer authority to obtain a court order allowing it to terminate sewer service to commercial customers who are delinquent at least 6 months in payment of sewer bills

Provide for concise publication of annual financial reporting information

House Bill 104 amends Title 53 to require a municipal authority to publicly discuss all acquisitions and the sale or transfer of authority-owned water and sewer infrastructure and how the acquisition or sale will benefit the authority’s existing ratepayers; and requires annual reports within 180 days of the end of an authority’s fiscal year.

Authorize local governments to implement storm water management ordinances and to assess a fee to fund the planning, management, implementation, construction and maintenance of storm water facilities.

House Bill 1364 amends Act 78 of 1979 (“No Bid” Law) to provide for the award of contract for services when no bids are received

State Government

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

Senate Resolution 253 calls on Congress to amend the Gun Control Act of 1968 to protect the gun rights of medical cannabis users.

Senate Resolution 258 urges Congress to remove marijuana from Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act.

Senate Bill 748 establishes notice guidelines regarding the proposed closure of state prisons.

Senate Bill 1034 addresses Congressional redistricting.

On Tuesday the committee held a public hearing on voting technology in Pennsylvania.

Hearing Video & Written Testimony

Transportation

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

House Bill 26 allows for abbreviated portions of an organization’s name on motorcycle special plates.

House Bill 783 exempts manufactured homes not previously titled in Pennsylvania from the tax certification requirement.

House Bill 1239 increases the fine for driving a vehicle without the proper class or type of license from $25 to $200.

House Bill 1845 renames a bridge in Indiana County.

House Bill 1854 renames a portion of Route 522 in Snyder County.

House Bill 1926 renames a portion of Fort Washington Avenue in Montgomery County.

Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness

On Monday, the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, chaired by Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny), held a second public hearing on Senate Bill 1019, a rewrite of Title 35, the state Emergency Management Code. Hearing Video & Written Testimony

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