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.