Senate News Brief


“This bill is about permitting the 500 school districts of this Commonwealth to have greater choices when it comes to protecting our most precious resource – our children.”

Sen. Don White (R-Indiana) on his legislation that would give school boards the option of allowing licensed and trained staff to carry firearms on school property.


Preview

Senate Convenes at 1 p.m.

The Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee, chaired by Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango), will hold a forum on turning the “Abandoned Turnpike” of Bedford and Fulton counties into a biking trail. (Mon., 11 a.m., Room 8E-A)

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, chaired by Sen. Don White (R-Indiana), will hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 1441, sponsored by Sen. Richard Alloway (R-Franklin). (Tues., 10:30 a.m., N. Office Bldg., Room 1)

The Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee, chaired by Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), will hold a public hearing on Senate Resolution 408, sponsored by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), and House Bill 1550. (Tues., 12:30 p.m., Room 8E-B)

Senate Committee Schedule
Hearings are streamed live at PASenateGOP.com.

Review

Senate Acts to Encourage Private Development at Mass Transit Stations

The Senate unanimously approved legislation Wednesday to encourage private development at mass transit stations.

Senate Bill 1210, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware), will reform and modernize Pennsylvania’s Transit Revitalization Investment District (TRID) Act, originally enacted in December 2004. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senator Pileggi: “Pennsylvania’s TRID law is 10 years old. The goal is admirable: encouraging private development at mass transit hubs. However, only one TRID has been created in the past decade – making it clear that the law needs to be improved.”

For more on Senate Bill 1210, please see In the Spotlight, below.

Committee Approves Property Tax Elimination

Legislation to eliminate school property taxes was approved Tuesday by the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Brubaker (R-Lancaster).

Senate Bill 76, sponsored by Sen. David Argall (R-Schuylkill), would eliminate all school property taxes across the state. To replace the revenue the property tax currently provides to public schools, the legislation would broaden the base of the state sales tax to include more services and products as well as increase the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent. The remainder of the funding necessary for public schools would be generated by an increase in the state’s personal income tax from 3.07 percent to 4.34 percent.

Limits on State Spending Approved by Finance Committee

Legislation sponsored by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) to limit the growth of state spending was approved Tuesday by the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Brubaker (R-Lancaster), and sent to the full Senate.

Senate Bill 7, the Taxpayer Protection Act, would limit the growth of state spending to the lower of the following thresholds: the average change in personal income for the three preceding calendar years, or the average inflation rate plus the average percentage change in state population. The legislature has passed budgets within those parameters for the last four years.

For more on Senate Bill 7, please see Fast Facts, below.

Committee Approves Adoptee Access to Birth Records

The Senate Aging and Youth Committee, chaired by Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny), approved legislation Tuesday to provide adoptees with access to a noncertified copy of their original birth records.

The committee approved House Bill 162 sponsored by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery) that would give birth parents a three-year window to either open up the original birth certificate or to file a “Denial of Release” form. The measure was sent to the full Senate for consideration.

Delaware River Port Authority Reform Measures Approved by Committee

The Senate Transportation Committee, chaired by Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery), approved two measures Tuesday that are part of a bi-state legislative package intended to bring greater transparency and accountability to the Delaware River Port Authority.

Among other reforms, provisions of Senator Rafferty’s legislation: Senate Bill 1358 would prohibit the DRPA from engaging in economic development activity, allow people to obtain public records from the agency via Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law or New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act, and restrict DRPA board member, officer and employee perks.

A second bill, Senate Bill 1373, requires DRPA’s Pennsylvania commissioners to transmit meeting minutes to the governor, who would have 10 days to veto commission action.
Listen

Giving School Districts an Additional Security Option

The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), held a public hearing Tuesday on legislation that would give school boards the option of allowing licensed and trained staff to carry firearms on school property.

Senate Bill 1193, sponsored by Sen. Don White (R-Indiana), would allow school personnel to have access to firearms in school safety zones if school districts establish proper guidelines and they are licensed to carry a concealed firearm and have met training requirements in the use and handling of firearms.
Hearing Video & Written Testimony

In the Spotlight

Senate Bill 1210 streamlines the Transit Revitalization Investment District creation process, sets clear parameters for TRID funding and the use of those funds, and authorizes a new “tax capture” funding mechanism.

The legislation is supported by a wide range of organizations across Pennsylvania, including the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP), the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs (PSAB), the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS), the Pennsylvania Municipal League (PML), the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry (PA Chamber), the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce (GPCC), and the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA).

TRID can be an important tool in revitalizing and strengthening core neighborhoods, according to CCAP Executive Director Doug Hill.  He added that the improvements being made in Senate Bill 1210 will make it easier for counties to include TRIDs in planning efforts.

Fast Facts

Senate Bill 7 – The Taxpayer Protection Act 

  • Limits state government spending to the average change in personal income for the three preceding calendar years, OR
  • The average inflation rate plus the average percentage change in state population over the three preceding years (with exceptions for certain extraordinary circumstances).
  • Requires that 25 percent of any surplus be placed in the Budget Stabilization Reserve Fund, 25 percent in a new Taxpayer Protection Fund, and 50 percent in a new PSERS/SERS Unfunded Accrued Liability Fund.
  • Twenty-eight states have spending controls, revenue controls, or both, either by statute or as part of their state constitutions.