“As we look ahead to crafting a responsible 2016-17 state budget, Tom Killion’s experience and passion for protecting taxpayers will be a valuable addition. I look forward to working with him on issues important to the 9th Senatorial District.”
— Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) on the election of Senator-elect Tom Killion (R-9) in the 9th Senatorial District, representing portions of Chester and Delaware counties.
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 805 – eliminates the process of seniority-based layoffs in public schools.
House Bill 1574 – adds public and private secondary schools, and organizations not affiliated with schools in which students participate, to anti-hazing requirements.
House Bill 1310 – prohibits the release of all or part of a public record that contains a 9-1-1 caller’s name, telephone number, address or location.
House Bill 1788 – addresses circumstances with Neighborhood Improvement Districts overlap with Tax Increment Financing Districts.
Senator-Elect Killion to Be Sworn Into Office Wednesday
Senator-elect Tom Killion (R-9) will formally be sworn into office during a ceremony set for 11 a.m., Wednesday in the Senate Chamber.
Senator-elect Killion was elected to the State Senate on April 26, winning a special election to represent the citizens of the 9th Senatorial District, which includes portions of Chester and Delaware counties.
The Senate Transportation Committee, chaired by Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery), meets for the consideration of bills and a public hearing on Turnpike Commission budget, priorities and Winter Storm Jonas response. (Tuesday, 10 a.m., Room 8E-B)
The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster), holds a public hearing on Adult Literacy, and a meeting to amend SB 1194 (State Military College Legislative Appointment Initiative). (Wednesday, 9:30 a.m., N. Office Bldg. Hearing Room 1)
Streamed live at PASenateGOP.com.
General Assembly Closes Book on 2015-16 Budget
Bringing an end to the 2015-16 state budget impasse, the Senate approved legislation April 13 to immediately enact into law the school funding formula developed over the past year by the bipartisan, bicameral Basic Education Funding Commission and provide the overdue state reimbursements for school construction projects.
House Bill 1589, which was approved by a strong bipartisan vote of 37-11, directs all new state money for the current 2015-16 school year to be allocated to districts using the new formula and authorizes the release of state reimbursements under the state’s Planning and Construction Workbook, otherwise known as PlanCon.
The state budget approved by lawmakers in March included an additional $200 million in basic education funding and more than $350 million in PlanCon reimbursements. The language to implement the new basic education funding formula and authorize the PlanCon reimbursements was contained in House Bill 1327, the Fiscal Code.
However, on April 4 the Governor vetoed the Fiscal Code and created his own formula to drive out public education funding. As a result, 86 percent of Pennsylvania’s 500 public school districts would have received less money under this plan than they would have received under the Basic Education Funding Formula. The veto also halted the PlanCon reimbursements.
Under the Governor’s basic education funding formula, three of the state’s 500 school districts would have received nearly half of the overall increase. Philadelphia schools would have received an additional $78 million, including $34 million that was taken from rural school districts throughout the state.
The General Assembly’s action restored the Basic Education Funding increase. As with the Senate, the House of Representatives approved the new Fiscal Code with enough votes to override any veto and sent it to the Governor, who allowed it to become law without his signature.
Pennsylvania Enacts Medical Cannabis Legislation
The General Assembly gave final approval of legislation to permit the use of medical cannabis in Pennsylvania for limited medical conditions. The bill was signed into law.
Act 16 of 2016, sponsored by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), establishes a state program under the Department of Health that creates a network of growers, processors and dispensaries and allows doctors to certify a patient to receive medical cannabis for certain medical conditions, including cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
The bill was amended in the Senate to give dispensaries clearer authorization to operate and add stronger oversight for employees of medical cannabis organizations.
For many of our fellow citizens, especially children suffering seizures, cannabis provides relief from their conditions.
Senate Approves Special License Plate for Active Duty Military
The Senate approved legislation that recognizes and honors Pennsylvania’s active duty military personnel.
Senate Bill 1155, sponsored by Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Allegheny), establishes a special vehicle license plate for members of the United States Armed Forces adding special recognition for active members of the military, reserves, and Pennsylvania National Guard. This would be an addition to the currently available license plates with special recognition for World War II veterans, Purple Heart recipients and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans.
The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Bills Recently Signed into Law
Act 17 of 2016, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), provides that the Treasury Department may establish a program through which federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) savings accounts may be opened for eligible individuals for payment of qualified disability expenses.
Act 20 of 2016 establishes the Caregiver, Advise, Record, and Enable (CARE) Act, which requires hospitals to allow patients to designate a caregiver prior to discharge from the facility.
Act 19 of 2016 amends state law to allow television broadcasts or video images in a moving vehicle as long as the images are not visible to the driver.