Senate Republican News Brief

“Fortunately, the General Assembly and the Governor were able to reach an agreement on the issue, which resulted in this amended bill. I appreciate the efforts that made this legislation a reality and thereby offer a much brighter future for the conventional oil and gas industry and the thousands of Pennsylvanians whose jobs and livelihoods are dependent on those operations.”

Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) on passage of legislation that will promote conventional oil and natural gas development and remove it from inappropriate regulations drafted by the Department of Environment Protection.


Senate Reconvenes at 3 p.m.

The Senate has scheduled sessions days Wednesday, June 22 through Thursday, June 30. Dates and times are subject to change:

Wednesday, June 22, 3 p.m.
Thursday, June 23, 1 p.m.
Friday, June 24, 11 a.m.
Saturday, June 25 10 a.m.
Sunday, June 26, 5 p.m.

Monday, June 27, 1 p.m.
Tuesday, June 28, 11 a.m.
Wednesday, June 29, 11 a.m.
Thursday, June 30, 11 a.m.

Committee Action

Wednesday, 1:45 p.m. | Room 461 Main Capitol
The Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, chaired by Sen. Pat Vance (R-Cumberland): Consideration of Senate Bill 16, Senate Bill 1218 and House Bill 1351.

Wednesday, 2:30 p.m. | Room 8E-A East Wing
The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee, chaired by Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York): Consideration of Senate Bill 20, Senate Bill 141, Senate Bill 142, Senate Bill 666, Senate Bill 1282, Senate Bill 1307, House Bill 1437 and House Bill1500.

Wednesday  Off the Floor | Rules Committee Conference Room
The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh): Consideration of Senate Bill 840, Senate Bill 1221, Senate Bill 1226, Senate Bill 1283, Senate Bill 1292, House Bill 325, House Bill 664, House Bill 1877, House Bill 2137, House Bill 2138, House Bill 2139, House Bill 2140 and House Bill 2141.

Wednesday  Off the Floor | Rules Committee Conference Room
The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery): Consideration of Senate Bill 1311, House Bill 123, House Bill 869 and House Bill1581.

Thursday, 10 a.m. | Room 461 Main Capitol
The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver): Consideration of Senate Bill 1110 and House Bill 967.

Thursday 11 a.m. | Room 461 Main Capitol
The Senate Labor and Industry Committee, chaired by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne): Consideration of Senate Bill 199, Senate Bill1133 and House Bill 568.

Thursday, 12:30 p.m. | Room 461 Main Capitol
The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee, chaired by Sen. Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks): Consideration of House Bill 1841 and House Bill 1842.

Senate Committee Schedule


Property Tax Elimination Measures Advance 

The Senate approved a measure June 13 that would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to permit complete property tax relief for principal places of residence.

House Bill 147, which was approved by the House of Representatives last year, would allow for the complete elimination of residential school property taxes through the homestead exclusion.  Since constitutional amendments must be approved in two consecutive sessions, the exact language of the measure must be approved by the General Assembly during the 2017-18 Legislative Session before it can be put up for a statewide referendum vote.

The Governor’s signature is not required for constitutional amendments.

In a related matter, the Senate also approved Senate Bill 1109, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne). The bill provides for a constitutional amendment to extend the property tax exemption program for disabled veterans to the surviving spouse of soldiers killed in action. That bill was sent to the House for consideration.

Bills to Protect Energy-Related Jobs Sent to the Governor

6/7/16 - Senate Bill 1195 (Clean Power Plan Extension)

Two bills to protect family-sustaining Pennsylvania jobs placed at risk by state and federal energy regulations received final legislative approval June 15 and were sent to the Governor, who is expected to sign them into law.

The Senate concurred Wednesday on amendments by the House of Representatives to Senate Bill 1195, sponsored by Sen. Don White (R-Indiana), which addresses Pennsylvania’s compliance with the federal coal regulations, and on amendments to Senate Bill 279, sponsored by Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango), which removes conventional oil and gas drillers from the Department of Environmental Protection’s proposed changes to state (Chapter 78) regulations on drilling operations in the Commonwealth.

Listen Senator Hutchinson

Cost-Saving Legislation for Schools Sent to Governor

Legislation that will allow school districts to save thousands of dollars in annual mailing costs received final legislative approval June 14 and is headed to the Governor for his signature. Senate Bill 1077, sponsored by Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver), eliminates the mandate that school districts annually inform parents by physical mailing when the district uses audio and video recording to identify and address discipline issues on school buses.

The mailer mandate was included as part of Act 9 of 2014, which gave school districts the ability to use audio recordings on school buses. Instead of the physical mailing, which can easily cost thousands of dollars each year, schools must post notice of the policy in the student handbook as well as on the school’s website.

Other Bills Sent to the Governor for Enactment

Senate Bill 772 updates the state Professional Psychologists Practice Act for the first time since 1986. Sen. John Gordner (R-Columbia)

Senate Bill 837 expands title protection to marriage and family therapists, ensuring that only licensed and properly trained professionals can market their services to clients. Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster)

Senate Bill 983 allows parents and guardians of disabled adult children in their care to receive disability license plates. Sen. Tom McGarrigle (R-Delaware)

Senate Approves Measure to Increase Education for Opioid Prescribing 

The Senate approved legislation June 15 that would require continuing medical education training as a way to stem the tide of opioid and prescription drug abuse in the state.

Senate Bill 1202, sponsored by Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), requires state licensing boards to call for two hours of continuing education in “pain management” and two hours in “opioid prescribing practices” for individuals applying for an initial license or renewal of an existing license or certification to prescribe medications in the Commonwealth.

The increased use of heroin, which often has roots in the abuse of prescription painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin, has catapulted Pennsylvania to seventh in the nation for drug-related overdose deaths in recent federal statistics.  According to a National Survey of Primary Care Physicians, nine out of 10 doctors reported prescription drug abuse as a moderate to large problem in their communities, and 85 percent believed that prescription drugs are overused in clinical practice.

The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Other Bills Sent to the House of Representatives

Senate Bill 163, which addresses the needs of children of incarcerated parents and services available to them. Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery)

Senate Bill 1113, which provides broader representation of crime victims on the Victims’ Services Advisory Committee within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) 

Committee Votes to Update Breach of Personal Information Notification Act

The Senate Communications and Technology Committee, chaired by Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster), approved legislation June 15 to update the Breach of Personal Information Notification Act.

Senate Bill 1048, sponsored by Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny), requires that in the event of a breach involving Personally Identifiable Information, the state agency involved will report the breach to the individual or individuals affected within seven days.  It also requires the Attorney General and the Office of Administration for Executive Branch agencies be notified within three days following the breach.

County and local governments, along with school districts, must notify their District Attorney within three days as well. The legislation will also require the Office of Administration to keep a policy for the storage and transmission of Personal Identifiable Information Data.

Senate Bill 1048 now goes to the full Senate for consideration.


Joint Hearing Explores Impact of New Federal Overtime Rules

6/21/16 - New Federal Overtime Regulations

The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), and the Senate Labor and Industry Committee, chaired by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), held a joint hearing Tuesday to explore the impact of the new Federal Department of Labor overtime rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The hearing focused on the impact on employers, nonprofits and the state budget. Key provisions of the new rules will become effective December 1, 2016.