“Timely internet publication of all lobbying documents is an important part of improving transparency in state government and providing taxpayers with increased access to information.”
Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) on his legislation requiring lobbyists and lobbying firms to register and file reports online.
Senate Reconvenes at 10 a.m.
The Senate reconvenes today at 10 a.m. Bills on the calendar that may run this week include:
Senate Bill 538 – Legislation to strengthen 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)
The Senate Transportation Committee, chaired by Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery), and the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, chaired by Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), will hold a joint public hearing on Safe Transportation of Crude Oil and Other Energy Products by Rail. (Tues., 9 a.m., Keystone Building, PUC Hearing Room 1)
The Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee, chaired by Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), will hold a public hearing on Pennsylvania gaming, Internet gaming and related issues. (Wed., 9 a.m., Room 8E-B)
The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair), will hold a public hearing on proposals to increase the sales/use tax and the personal income tax. (Wed., 2 p.m., N. Office Bldg. Room 1)
Hearings are streamed live at PASenateGOP.com.
Senate Acts to Make Lobbying Disclosure Information More Accessible
The Senate passed bipartisan legislation June 1 to improve access to lobbying disclosure data.
Senate Bill 695, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson), requires lobbyists and lobbying firms to register and file reports electronically through the computerized system developed by the Pennsylvania Department of State. In addition, the Department will be required to post on its Lobbyist Disclosure website all lobbying registration and reporting documents it receives within a week of the filing.
Currently, lobbyists may register and file reports with the state on paper forms through traditional mail. In some cases this has led to delayed posting of the information on the Department’s publicly accessible website.
Senate Approves Bill to Improve Access Child Immunizations
Legislation that would improve access to child immunizations was approved Tuesday by the Senate.
Senate Bill 305, sponsored by Sen. Tom McGarrigle (R-Delaware), would allow pharmacists the ability to administer the flu vaccine to children 9 years of age and older with parental consent. The legislation would also permit pharmacy interns who have completed appropriate training to administer the flu vaccine under pharmacist supervision.
Current state law allows pharmacists and pharmacy interns to immunize only adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all children at least six months old receive a flu shot every year, but only about 55 percent of Pennsylvania children do.
Senate Approves Animal Cruelty Prevention Bills
The Senate approved a package of bills on Wednesday intended to help prevent animal cruelty.
Senate Bill 78, sponsored by Sen. Richard Alloway (R-Franklin), targets kennel owners who lose their license due to violations of the Dog Law. The legislation would prevent violators from continuing to operate a kennel at the same location by having a license issued to an immediate family member or another individual who resides at the same address.
Senate Bill 373, sponsored by Sen. Richard Alloway (R-Franklin), strengthens laws regarding the tethering of dogs. It also adds a provision regarding shelter for dogs and cats to ensure that they are protected against inclement weather, kept dry and allowed to maintain their normal body temperatures.
For more animal cruelty bills passed by the Senate, please see In the Spotlight, below.
Senate Votes to Subject PEMA Director Position to Senate Review and Confirmation
The Senate approved legislation Tuesday sponsored by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) to include the Director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency as a position subject to review and confirmation by the Senate. Currently, the post is filled by appointment by the Governor.
The additional review of this individual provided by Senate Bill 490 will improve agency accountability and ensure that there is strong internal and external communication and coordination between state and local agencies in responding to emergencies.
Senate Confirms Seven Cabinet Secretaries
The Senate confirmed seven cabinet nominations last week.
Robin Wiessmann – Secretary of Banking and Securities
Cindy Dunn – Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources
Pedro Rivera – Secretary of Education
John Quigley – Secretary of Environmental Protection
Ted Dallas – Secretary of Human Services
Teresa Miller – Insurance Commissioner
Pedro Cortes – Secretary of Department of State
Previously confirmed by the Senate:
Major General James Joseph – Adjutant General
Teresa Osborne – Secretary of Aging
Russell Redding – Secretary of Agriculture
Dennis Davin – Secretary of Community and Economic Development
Gary Tennis – Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs
Curtis Topper – Secretary of General Services
Dr. Karen Murphy – Secretary of Health
Kathy Manderino – Secretary of Labor and Industry
Leslie Richards – Secretary of Transportation
In the Spotlight
Senate Bill 294, sponsored by Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair), addresses the enforcement and application of Pennsylvania’s cruelty laws, particularly as they pertain to horses. It better defines “torture” and provides appropriate penalties based on language drafted with the assistance of the Farm Bureau. The bill also provides for the seizure of animals in extreme instances of torture or cruelty.
Senate Bill 594 adds a section to Pennsylvania’s Animal Cruelty Law to specifically address when it happens in a domestic-violence situation. Under the legislation, if a person with a protection-from-abuse order against them commits animal cruelty against the pet of their spouse or partner, they would face a minimum monetary fine of $2,000 and a maximum fine of $15,000.
Senator Alloway: “Our pets deserve a safe, comfortable environment both before and after they are adopted by loving families. Although the vast majority of people would never dream of harming a pet, stiff punishments are still necessary for those few bad apples who abuse defenseless animals. These bills will go a long way toward realizing that goal.”
Revenue Collections Continue to Improve
- Pennsylvania collected $2 billion in General Fund revenue in May, 2.6 percent more than anticipated.
- Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $27.7 billion, which is $618.9 million, or 2.3 percent, above estimate.
- Year-to-date sales tax collections total $8.6 billion, which is 0.2 percent more than anticipated.
- Year-to-date personal income tax collections total $10.9 billion, which is 0.6 percent above estimate.
- Year-to-date corporation tax collections total $4.5 billion, which is 3.9 percent, above estimate.