Senate Republican News Brief

“It is imperative for lawmakers to support efforts to protect our environment and develop our natural resources safely and responsibly.”

Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington), sponsor of newly enacted Act 47, which will help reduce the use of fresh water in oil and gas drilling operations.


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 State Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), and the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair), will hold a joint hearing on better ways to assess state government expenditures and programs. (Wed., 9 a.m., N. Office Bldg. Room 1)

Senate Committee Schedule

Hearings are streamed live at unless otherwise indicated.


Bill to Reduce Fresh Water Use in Drilling Enacted

Legislation to reduce the use of fresh water in oil and gas drilling operations was signed into law Oct. 8.

Act 47 of 2015 , sponsored by Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington), clarifies legal liabilities associated with the use of treated mine water in oil and gas operations.

Several oil and gas companies already use treated mine water in place of fresh water in the natural gas extraction process, but concerns regarding liability issues have prevented many companies from utilizing this approach.

The legislation does not weaken any existing environmental safeguards designed to protect public health. It would only clarify parties that could be held responsible if the mine water is not treated or utilized properly.

Senator Bartolotta: “The use of treated mine water by natural gas companies is an innovative approach that will help preserve millions of gallons of fresh water, and I am thankful that more companies will have the freedom to explore this option.”

Smucker Bill on Campus Arrest Powers Signed into Law

Legislation to better protect students and the public on college campuses was signed into law Oct. 1.

Act 41 of 2015, sponsored by Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster), clarifies where campus police officers employed by the 14 state-owned universities have arrest powers.

In an October 2014 court case, the Superior Court determined that a road running through a university campus was not technically “campus grounds,” so campus police did not have clear arrest powers along that stretch. As a result of this determination, a drunk driving conviction was overturned.

Act 41 ensures that campus police officers employed by the state-owned universities can make arrests on the highways, traffic ways, bike paths and pedestrian walkways that traverse or abut lands and buildings owned, controlled, leased or managed by the universities of the State System of Higher Education.  These duties are already possessed by municipal police officers and state-related university police officers.

Aument Introduces Legislation to Create Independent Office

Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) introduced legislation to statutorily create Pennsylvania’s Office of Inspector General to provide for the office’s appointment, term, power and duties.

Senate Bill 1025 being proposed by Senator Aument would create by law the post of Inspector General. The bill requires that the Inspector General be nominated by the Governor and confirmed by two-thirds of the Senate.

Senator Aument: “The Inspector General’s job as one of our Commonwealth’s top waste, fraud and abuse watchdogs needs to be enacted into law and given the appropriate authority to prevent and deter corruption and other illegal acts in state government.”


McGarrigle Bill Would Allow Disability License Plates for Parents of Disabled Adults

Sen. Tom McGarrigle (R-Delaware) has introduced legislation to allow parents or guardians with adult children in their care to receive disability license plates.

Senate Bill 983 would provide access to vehicle disability license plates to parents, including adoptive parents or foster parents, of adult children in their care who qualify for a disability license plate.

Senator McGarrigle has been working with a mother in his district seeking a disability license plate for her vehicle as she is the primary caretaker for her adult son. Her son is 21 and lives with blindness, autism and cerebral palsy. Because her son is an adult, PennDOT has refused to provide the disability plate.

Senator McGarrigle: “This legislation would provide a small amount of relief to the parents who care for their adult children with disabilities. They certainly have enough issues to contend with, and access to a disability license plate should not be one of them.”

In the Spotlight

The Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General was created in 1987 to prevent, investigate, and eradicate fraud, waste, abuse, and misconduct in the programs, operations, and contracting of executive agencies under the Governor’s jurisdiction.

Currently, the Inspector General is a cabinet-level official who is appointed by, and reports to, the governor. Pennsylvania is among a small minority of states that does not have a separate statute providing for the appointment, term and duties of the Inspector General. The office only exists if the governor wishes it to continue by Executive Order.

The legislation includes specific powers and duties for the Inspector General’s office, most of which are consistent with the current powers and duties of the office.  It calls for the Inspector General to make investigations and reports, work with state agencies to improve performance of their functions and responsibilities, engage in prevention activities and promote remedial actions to correct operating or other deficiencies in state agencies.

The Inspector General would also make regular reports to the General Assembly concerning problems or deficiencies relating to the administration of a program or operation in an agency. The bill includes important whistleblower protections that will continue to encourage Commonwealth employees who report – in good faith – fraud, waste, misconduct, malfeasance, misfeasance, nonfeasance or abuse.

Fast Facts


Pennsylvania’s High Tax Burden

  • Pennsylvania has the 3rd heaviest state and local tax burden of populous states.
  • Pennsylvania has the 10th heaviest state and local tax burden of all states.
  • Total state-local tax burden (per capita): $4,374
  • Tax burden as a share of state income: 10.3%

Source: Tax Foundation