Senate Republican News Brief

“Medicaid is an enormous part of our state budget, and the cost to taxpayers will only continue to grow in the future. As we continue to grapple with a multi-billion dollar deficit, we should be exploring every way to potentially save tax dollars. It is extremely disappointing that Governor Wolf chose to ignore the potential benefits of a program that has already proven to be successful in other states.”

 – Sen. Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) on Governor Wolf’s veto of amendments to the Human Services Code, which would have created a pilot program that would make use of new technology to incorporate evidence-based medicine into care decisions for Medicaid recipients. 

PREVIEW 

 

The Senate continues work on finalizing a state budget revenue package. Legislation that could be considered by the Senate this week includes:

Senate Bill 251 – authorizes the use of RADAR and LIDAR by local law enforcement. Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny)

Senate Bill 542 – permits pharmacists to dispense emergency prescription refills for up to 30 days, with several restrictions. Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh)

Senate Bill 676 – amends the Workers’ Compensation Act to provide for reforms and to address underfunding of the Uninsured Employers Guarantee Fund. Sen. John Gordner (R-Columbia)

Senate Bill 827 – gives people the power to plan for the management and disposition of their digital assets in the same way they can make plans for their tangible property, by providing instructions in a will, trust or power of attorney. Sen. Tom Killion (R-Delaware)

Senate Resolution 168 – directs the Joint State Government Commission to perform a detailed study of the potential impact of removing Cambria County from the emissions testing requirement. Sen. Wayne Langerholc (R-Cambria)

Committee Hearings Streamed at PASenateGOP.com

Tuesday, October 24 9:30 a.m. Senate Majority Caucus Room
Senate Aging and Youth Committee, Sen. Michele Brooks (R-Mercer) Chair, and Health and Human Services Committee, Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) Chair
Lyme Disease Task Force Report

Tuesday, October 24 9:30 a.m. East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-B
Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, Sen. Don White (R-Indiana) Chair
Senate Bill 637 (Drug Pricing)

Tuesday, October 24 10 a.m. East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-A
Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) Chair
Senate Bill 800 (Updates to the Covered Device Recycling Act)

Tuesday, October 24 10 a.m. North Office Building, Hearing Room 1
Senate State Government Committee, Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) Chair
Senate 595 (Electronic Notarization of Documents)

Wednesday, October 25 9 a.m. North Office Building, Hearing Room 1
Senate Communications and Technology Committee, Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) Chair
Senate Bill 914 (Creation of Office of Information Technology)

Wednesday, October 25 9:30 a.m. House Majority Caucus Room
Rural Pennsylvania Legislative Briefing
Challenges of Addiction in Rural Pennsylvania

Wednesday, October 25 10 a.m. East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-B
Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) Chair
Nomination of Peter Barsz and Daniel Guydish to the State Tax Equalization Board

Wednesday, October 25 1:30 p.m. North Office Building, Hearing Room 1
The Senate Education Committee, Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair) Chair, Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) Chair, Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver) Chair
Potential Impact of the Failure to Fund the State-Related Universities

Senate Committee Schedule 

Review 

Senate Approves Yaw Bills Limiting Opioid Prescriptions, Updating Prescription Monitoring 

Legislation limiting the amount of opioids that individuals may be prescribed won bipartisan approval Wednesday in the Senate.

Sponsored by Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Senate Bill 472 addresses the increasing risk of individuals becoming addicted to opioids and heroin after being prescribed painkillers, and is one of several bills introduced by Senator Yaw aimed at curbing the drug epidemic that has killed, on average, more than 13 people per day in Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 728 would amend the Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescriptions Program Act to exempt Schedule V epilepsy drugs currently included in the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program querying requirement. The bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. More

Senate Acts to Make PHEAA Grants for Distance Education Permanent

The Senate on Tuesday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) that would permanently allow for distance education to be included in the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) State Grant Program.

In 2013, the General Assembly approved legislation creating a five-year pilot program permitting students who take the majority of their courses online to apply for PHEAA grants.  Senate Bill 53 would make the pilot program permanent. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. More

Senate Passes Legislation to Improve Disabled Parking Access

The Senate unanimously approved legislation Tuesday sponsored by Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) and Sen. Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) to improve accessibility and strengthen enforcement measures of parking spaces for persons with disabilities.

Under Senate Bill 888, violators who illegally park in parking spaces or block access aisles designated for persons with disabilities will be subject to towing, charged with a summary offense and susceptible to increased fines.

A key provision in this legislation creates parking regulations for access aisles. In order to accommodate vehicles equipped with ramps, wheelchair lifts and other devices, parking spaces that are designated for persons with disabilities include access aisles, generally marked with diagonal lines adjoining the space. These parking spaces and access aisles are necessary to improve mobility for persons with disabilities to access medical appointments, shopping centers and other locations. Senate Bill 888 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

More

Senate Panel Approves Bartolotta Bill to Improve Access to Mental Health Treatment

Legislation that would help reduce hospital emergency room overcrowding and connect patients who require mental health services to the care they need was approved Tuesday by the Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne).

Senate Bill 179, sponsored by Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington), would help improve communication between hospital emergency rooms and psychiatric units by creating a registry to identify psychiatric treatment facilities that have available beds for patients. The measure would help streamline the process for securing psychiatric beds for those patients entering hospitals, with the goal of reducing the amount of staff time spent searching for available beds. More

Panel Approves Stefano Bill Enabling Military & Overseas Voters to File Ballots Online

The Senate State Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), on Wednesday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Pat Stefano (R-Fayette) aimed at protecting voter integrity and make voting easier for members of the military and overseas residents.

Senate Bill 563 would require Pennsylvania to develop a secure online system for military and overseas residents to return their absentee ballots electronically. The federal Military and Overseas Voters Empowerment Act (MOVE) of 2009 requires states to provide blank absentee ballots to military and overseas voters in at least one electronic format. The measure now goes to the full Senate for consideration. More

Committee Approves Langerholc Resolution Seeking Review of Cambria County Emissions Testing

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, chaired by Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution sponsored by Sen. Wayne Langerholc (R-Cambria) seeking a comprehensive review of the potential impact of removing Cambria County from vehicle emissions testing requirements.

Cambria County is one of 25 Pennsylvania counties where vehicles are currently required to undergo emissions testing as part of annual safety inspections.

Senate Resolution 168, which now goes to the full Senate for approval, directs the Joint State Government Commission to perform a detailed study of the potential impact of removing Cambria County from the emissions testing requirement. More

Eichelberger Calls for Limited Constitutional Convention to Reform State Government

Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair) was joined by Sen. Pat Stefano (R-Fayette) and Sen. Don White (R-Indiana) for a news conference Tuesday to introduce companion legislation calling for a limited constitutional convention.

Senate Bill 867, sponsored by Senator Eichelberger would allow the public to vote in an upcoming election on whether or not there should be a constitutional convention limited to very specific topics.  Those topics include proposed changes to the terms and size of the General Assembly; spending without an enacted budget; the office of the Lieutenant Governor; and the judiciary. More

Committee Roundup 

Agriculture & Rural Affairs 

The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver), and the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee held an informational meeting Wednesday on the problems caused by the Spotted Lanternfly in parts of Pennsylvania. Video 

Appropriations

The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), approved four bills on Oct. 16.

Senate Bill 53 would permanently allow for distance education inclusion in the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency State Grant Program.

House Bill 165 creates the Pennsylvania Achievement Medal and the Pennsylvania Veterans Service Award and adds those two new decorations to the list of existing medals, badges, and awards that are authorized and presented by the Governor in the name of the Commonwealth.

Senate Bill 676 addresses ongoing funding deficiencies in the Workers’ Compensation Uninsured Employers Guarantee Fund.

House Bill 790 establishes the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act to provide for the regulation of noxious weeds and controlled plants and repeals the Noxious Weed Control Law.

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Infrastructure, Environment and Government Operations 

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Infrastructure, Environment and Government Operations, chaired by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery), held a public hearing Tuesday on municipal coverage by the Pennsylvania State Police. Watch

Banking & Insurance 

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

Senate Bill 877 amends the Insurance Department Act to allow producers and insurers to spend as much as $100 in marketing insurance to a client or prospective client.

Senate Bill 878 amends the Insurance Company Law to allow producers and insurers to spend as much as $100 in marketing insurance to a client or prospective client.

House Bill 1388 changes the expiration date of CHIP from December 31, 2017 to December 31, 2019 and prohibits the use of funds for sex change procedures.

Consumer Affairs & Professional Licensure 

The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee, chaired by Sen. Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks), approved three bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 384 removes the current exemption for Philadelphia from the Assessors Certification Act of 1992. 

Senate Bill 892 amends the Chiropractic Practice Act to provide clarity on the topic of clinical training.

House Bill 1019 establishes procedures for the sale and purchase of a cemetery and reasonable access guidelines.

Environmental Resources & Energy

The Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee approved two measures on Tuesday.

Senate Resolution 168 directs the Joint State Government Commission to establish an advisory committee to analyze the potential impact of removing Cambria County from the emissions testing program. 

Senate Bill 799 would improve water quality and help Pennsylvania meet federal pollution reduction mandates in the Chesapeake Bay watershed at a reduced cost to taxpayers.

Finance

The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango), approved House Bill 984 on Tuesday. The bill extends the income tax donation check-off box for the Military Family Relief Program until January 1, 2023.

The committee also held a public hearing on fees being charged to manage the state’s two public pension funds: Public School Employees’ Retirement System and the State Employees’ Retirement System. Watch

Health & Human Services 

The Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), approved three bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 179 creates a statewide voluntary reporting system to identify available psychiatric beds.

Senate Bill 439 requires carbon monoxide detectors in child care facilities if the facility uses a fossil fuel-burning heater or appliance or has an attached garage.

Senate Bill 674 implements automatic scheduling changes for controlled substances.

Local Government

The Senate Local Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York), held a public hearing Tuesday on beverage tax imposed in the City of Philadelphia. The hearing is being held at the request of Senator Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia/Delaware). Hearing Video & Testimony

State Government 

The Senate State Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), approved five bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 99 sets regulations for containers or bins placed in outdoor locations by organizations to collect donated clothing or other items for charitable purposes.

Senate Bill 563 requires the Department of State to develop a secure online system for military and overseas voters to electronically return absentee ballots.

Senate Bill 817 extends a lease.

Senate Bill 900 transfers a property title.

Senate Bill 921 conveys a property.

The committee also considered the nomination of Greg Fajt to serve on the Pennsylvania Board of Claims. Video

Urban Affairs & Housing 

The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee, chaired Sen. Tom McGarrigle (R-Delaware), approved two bills on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 851 amends the Real Estate Tax Sale Law to clarify ownership of properties that are in the delinquent tax sale process.

Senate Bill 919 allows a tenant of a housing authority unit, who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence, to be relocated to another unit.

Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness

The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, chaired by Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny), approved three measures on Tuesday.

Senate Resolution 5 establishes a Women’s Veterans’ Health Care task force to address the needs of Pennsylvania’s growing female veteran population.

Senate Bill 798 allows the appointment of a one-star or two-star military officer to the Military Enhancement Commission.

House Bill 1231 establishes a veterans’ registry, within the Department of Veterans Affairs, to provide veterans with information regarding state benefits, programs, and services.