“New Jersey understands the importance of choosing members to represent their interests on the Commission by requiring Senate confirmation and Pennsylvania should do the same.”
– Sen. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe) on his legislation requiring Senate confirmation of appointees to the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission.
Senate Reconvenes at 1 p.m.
The Senate reconvenes today at 1 p.m. Tuesday session begins at 11 a.m., with a 1 p.m. swearing-in ceremony for Senator-elect Guy Reschenthaler (R-37). Bills on the calendar that may run this week include non-preferred appropriations bills, property tax reform and the following:
Newest Senate Republican to be Sworn in Tuesday
Senator-elect Guy Reschenthaler (R-37) will formally be sworn into office during a ceremony set for 1 p.m. on Tuesday.
Senator-elect Reschenthaler was elected November 3, winning a special election to represent the citizens of the 37th Senatorial District, which includes portions of Allegheny County and Peters Township in Washington County.
With the election, voters gave Senate Republicans a 31-19 majority. For more on Senator-elect Reschenthaler, please see In the Spotlight, below.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), will hold a public hearing on the nominations of Lydia Kirkland and Leo Dunn to be members of the PA Board of Probation and Parole. (Tues., 10 a.m., Room 8E-B)
The Senate Law and Justice Committee, chaired by Sen. Chuck McIlhinney (R-Bucks), will hold a public hearing to consider the nomination of Tyree Blocker as State Police Commissioner, and consider House Bill 941. (Tues., 10:30 a.m., Room 461)
Hearings are streamed live at PASenateGOP.com.
Special Committee on Senate Address Holds Two Public Hearings
The Special Committee on Senate Address, chaired by Sen. John Gordner (R-Columbia), held public hearings Tuesday and Wednesday as it examines the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s ability to perform her duties with a suspended law license.
On Tuesday, the committee heard testimony from a panel of constitutional and legal ethics experts regarding their interpretation of constitutionally permissible actions by an attorney with a suspended law license, as well as related matters.
Wednesday’s hearing focused on the impact the license suspension is having on the operations of the Office of Attorney General, and featured testimony from OAG senior staff attorneys.
The committee is expected to submit the official report to the full Senate by Wednesday.
Senate Approves Bill Requiring Senate Confirmation of Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commissioners
Legislation sponsored by Sen. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe) requiring Senate confirmation of appointees to the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission (DRJTBC), Senate Bill 927, was approved Tuesday by the Senate.
The DRJTBC is made up of five commissioners each from New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The New Jersey members are nominated by the governor and confirmed by the New Jersey State Senate. The Pennsylvania members are appointed by the governor and serve without Senate consideration.
The commission maintains 20 bridges along 140 miles of the Delaware River. The Senate previously approved Senate Bill 286, sponsored by Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery), part of a bi-state legislative package to reform the Delaware River Port Authority, including a provision for the Pennsylvania Senate to confirm the governor’s appointees.
Senate Bill 927 now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Approves Senator Yaw’s Passenger Aid Bill
Legislation requiring passengers involved in motor vehicle accidents to contact emergency personnel and render reasonable assistance in cases where drivers “refuse” or “neglect” to offer aid was approved Tuesday by the Senate.
Current law only requires a passenger to render aid if a driver is physically unable to do so. Under Senate Bill 146, drivers who violate this law would commit a misdemeanor of the third degree. Any occupant who violates the law would commit a summary offense. Senate Bill 146 now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senator Yaw: “I introduced this bill at the request of Bradford County constituents who were deeply impacted by an unreported hit-and-run that involved the death of a young man. If the passengers in the vehicle involved immediately reported and aided the victim, he may still be alive today. Unfortunately, they did not. This legislation is about doing the right thing and saving lives.”
Highway Worker Safety Legislation Heading to Governor for Enactment
Legislation designed to prevent distracted and aggressive driving in work zones is heading to Gov. Tom Wolf for signature after unanimous concurrence by the Senate on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 887, which originally passed the Senate in June, toughens penalties for drivers who endanger or kill a highway worker or first responder in a construction zone. Co-sponsored by Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington), the bill also broadens the scope of “highway workers” to include emergency personnel, local government and municipal workers, members of the Pennsylvania State Police and law enforcement community, and contractors or utility company workers.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports that approximately 100 workers are killed and another 20,000 workers are injured every year in highway and street construction accidents.
Senate Approves Probationary License Revisions
On Wednesday, the Senate passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) aimed at reducing the life-long impact of license suspensions on those who have committed traffic violations at a young age.
Senate Bill 62 reduces by half the time periods that an individual must wait before applying for a probationary driver’s license which permits driving a non-commercial vehicle between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. The legislation does not address DUI or aggravated assault by motor vehicle.
A district judge brought this issue to Senator Greenleaf’s attention, raising his concern over youth between the ages of 16 and 20 getting their license suspended. Many young people before the judge had received a minor traffic violation, and for reasons of immaturity, they failed to respond to the citation. They subsequently incur a one year license suspension, which when also ignored, can soon result in multiple suspensions amounting to many years.
In the Spotlight
The son of former teachers, Senator-elect Guy Reschenthaler was raised in the South Hills of Pittsburgh, graduated from Penn State, The Behrend College, in three years, and completed law school at Duquesne University.
After law school, he fulfilled a lifelong dream and joined the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General Corps and volunteered for duty in Iraq. In Baghdad, he prosecuted nearly 100 terrorists, including top figures in Al-Qaeda. He also successfully defended a Navy SEAL falsely accused of misconduct.
Stateside, he served as a Navy lawyer in Norfolk, Va. and then in Texas and Oklahoma, where he was the first uniformed military officer ever to share in the prestigious Michael Taylor Shelby Award, given annually by the Southern District of Texas Chapter of the Federal Bar Association for outstanding ethics and professionalism.
Back home, he worked in private practice at a multi-state law firm in Mt. Lebanon and was elected Magisterial District Judge for Pleasant Hills, Jefferson Hills and South Park, winning the nomination of both parties.
Senator-elect Reschenthaler’s legislative priorities include improving education opportunities, limiting government and lowering taxes, and reforming the pension system.
New Senate Republican Majority
Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair)
Sen. Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware)