Senate Republican News Brief

“Hardworking public employees and school teachers should not be forced to have money deducted from their paychecks in order to support a political agenda they do not support.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) on Senate passage of paycheck protection legislation.

Preview

Senate Reconvenes at 1 p.m.

The Senate reconvenes today at 1 p.m. Bills on the calendar that may run this week include:

Committee Action

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), will hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 869, Asset Forfeiture in Pennsylvania. (Tues., 10:30 a.m., Room 8E-B)

The Senate State Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), will hold a public hearing on Pennsylvania’s new online voter registration system. (Wed., 10 a.m., N. Office Bldg. Room 1)

Senate Committee Schedule

Hearings are streamed live at PASenateGOP.com unless otherwise indicated.

Review

Senate Approves “Paycheck Protection” Bill

The Senate passed groundbreaking “paycheck protection” legislation on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 501, sponsored by Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair), would ensure that public employee paychecks and taxpayer resources are no longer used as a vehicle for the collection of political money by outside groups. The law would only apply to public sector union contracts that currently benefit from this taxpayer-funded legal and financial privilege.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. For more on Senate Bill 501, please see In the Spotlight, below.

Senate Passes Legislation to Establish Fund for ATV Activities

The Senate approved legislation Tuesday that would ensure that funds received through the registration, certification and enforcement of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in Pennsylvania are used specifically to support ATV activities.

Senate Bill 648, sponsored by Sen. Pat Stefano (R-Fayette), requires that monies generated through ATV-related operations are placed in a restricted account to be used for a variety of purposes including the construction and maintenance of ATV trails and acquisition of equipment, supplies and interests in land.

Currently, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources does not separate expenditures related to ATV and snowmobile operations. As a result, these funds are being disproportionately allocated between user groups. While ATV operations contribute $1.4 million of the $1.6 million in the current fund, 80 percent of the total funding is allocated to expansion of snowmobile trails. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives.

Gordner Bill to Modernize the State Psychological Practice Act Passes Senate

The first modernization of the Pennsylvania Psychological Practice Act since 1986 was unanimously approved by the Senate on Tuesday.

Sponsored by Sen. John Gordner (R-Columbia), Senate Bill 772 would clarify that diagnosis is within the scope of practice for licensed psychologists; give the State Board the power to deny temporary licenses to those who have had disciplinary actions against them in other states; and require licensed psychologists to disclose other professional licenses held, and any disciplinary actions occurring under those licenses, along with other provisions.

The legislation now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Study of Public-Private Partnerships for Veterans’ Care Authorized

The Senate adopted a resolution Tuesday to study options to provide additional care for veterans.

Senate Resolution 171, sponsored by Sen. David Argall (R-Schuylkill), directs the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) to study the potential cost-savings and effectiveness of allowing the state’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to partner with the private sector to provide additional care for veterans.

The study will determine how many veterans are on waiting lists to be placed in state-owned veterans care homes, the average cost per day for care and treatment for a veteran at a state-owned veterans care facility compared to a privately owned health care facility, and the projected number of veterans who will require care over the next 10 years in Pennsylvania.

The resolution requires the study to be completed within six months.

Joint Hearing on Assessing Government Spending, Programs

A joint public hearing by the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair), and the Senate State Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), looked at ways to better assess government spending and programs.

Testimony was provided by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, Philip Durgen, and Inspector General Grayling Williams.

Hearing Video & Testimony

In the Spotlight

Senate Bill 501 allows public sector unions to continue to collect membership dues from union members and deduct the “Fair Share” amount from nonmembers, which is used strictly for collective bargaining purposes, grievances, and arbitrations.

In addition, unions can continue to spend political money, it just cannot be collected from employee paychecks by the government.  Political contributions and other political funds must be collected from individuals directly by the organization seeking the funds, just as every other political organization must do.

Senator Eichelberger: “This is what the majority of union members want and what the public deserves. It protects members from being forced through the union to fund political candidates or causes they don’t support.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson): “I congratulate Senator Eichelberger on his hard work to advance this important paycheck protection measure. It is crucial that electoral politics and official government business have clear separation and that taxpayer resources are in no way used for campaign purposes.”

Fast Facts

PA Education Spending

  • Total state, local and federal education spending in Pennsylvania: $27.4 billion
  • Pennsylvania’s rank for statewide education funding: 6th
  • Ranking for per pupil spending: 12th
  • Average per pupil spending (U.S.): $11,308
  • Average per pupil spending (PA): $15,000
  • Average teacher salary (U.S.): $56,103
  • Average teacher salary (PA):  $62,994

Questions or Comments?

Contact the Senate Republican Communications Office (717-787-6725). Current and archived News Briefs are also available online at PASenateGOP.com.