Pennsylvania Senate Republican News Brief


“We have to make hard decisions. At the end of the day our revenues have to match our expenditures. Our expenditures are growing at a rapid rate.”

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman (R-Centre) in Senate floor remarks stressing the need to implement pension and Medicaid reform to rein in government spending.


Preview

Senate Convenes Monday at 1 p.m.

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, chaired by Sen. Don White (R-Indiana), will hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 594, the Fairness in Copayment Act. (Tues., 10 a.m., N. Office Bldg. Room 1) 

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), will meet to consider bills and receive a report from the Civil Legal Justice Coalition. (Tues., 11:30 a.m., Room 8E-B)

The Senate State Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster), will hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 1070, the Pennsylvania Museum Preservation Act. (Wed., 9:30 a.m., N. Office Bldg. Room 1)

Senate Committee Schedule
Hearings will be streamed live at PASenateGOP.com.

Review

Senate Approves White’s Bill to Improve School Safety

The Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill drafted by Sen. Don White (R-Indiana) that would give local school districts the option to contract for police service to improve safety in classrooms and reduce response times in the event of an emergency.

In communities where police services are furnished solely by the Pennsylvania State Police, Senate Bill 1194 would give public and non-public school districts the option to contract with municipal police from nearby jurisdictions to provide security as well as school resource officers in their schools.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

For more on Senate Bill 1194, please see In the Spotlight, below.
Watch

Senate Approves Vogel Bill Providing More School Bus Options

Legislation that would bring Pennsylvania’s school bus laws in line with 45 other states and allow school districts and school bus contractors to choose the most appropriate vehicles based on their needs was unanimously approved April 28 by the Senate.

Currently state law arbitrarily limits school buses to 40 feet in length, despite the fact that other types of “non-school” buses are legal in lengths up to 45 feet.  Senate Bill 1312, sponsored by Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver), follows recommendations by the National Congress on Student Transportation, a group of pupil transportation experts from each state, and extends the length to 45 feet. The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senator Vogel: “By allowing school districts and school bus contractors to purchase longer buses, they will be able to better control their costs by streamlining routes.  Furthermore, it will allow school districts and contractors to choose from among the full selection of vehicles available with the latest technology and safety features to best meet the needs of their districts.”
Listen

Senate Acts to Boost Lyme Disease Prevention

The Senate on April 28 adopted Senate Resolution 338, sponsored by Senate Game and Fisheries Committee Chair Richard Alloway (R-Franklin), urging the Pennsylvania Game Commission to add Lyme Disease education to mandatory Hunter-Trapper Education courses.

Nearly 20 percent of the 22,000 Lyme Disease cases reported in the U.S. in 2012 were in Pennsylvania, with more than 4,000 cases reported. Lyme Disease is a frequently misunderstood illness that if not caught and treated properly can cause serious health problems.

Senator Alloway: “Sportsmen are at a much greater risk for Lyme Disease due to the amount of time they spend outdoors. The severe long-term consequences of this disease make it imperative to ensure sportsmen understand the risks and symptoms so they can seek prompt treatment if exposed.”

Committee Holds Hearing on Property Tax Elimination Bill

The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Brubaker (R-Lancaster), held a public hearing Wednesday on a comprehensive amendment to Senate Bill 76, sponsored by Sen. David Argall (R-Schuylkill), which would eliminate school property taxes and replace those taxes with a combination of funding from the Personal Income Tax and the Sales and Use Tax.

Testimony was heard from sponsors of the bill and amendment, and written testimony on recent Sales and Use Tax collections was discussed.
Hearing Video and Testimony

Committee Studies Gift Ban Proposals

The Senate State Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster), examined proposals April 28 that would prohibit legislators from receiving non-cash gifts from those seeking to influence the legislative process.

The hearing followed recent approval of legislation and a new Senate Rule to ban cash gifts to legislators.

The committee heard from Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission Counsel John Schaaf. Kentucky is widely considered to have one of the strongest legislative ethics laws in the nation.
Hearing Video and Testimony

In the Spotlight

Senator White noted that many schools located in municipalities covered by State Police are within a short distance of local police departments.  Senate Bill 1194 would allow school districts to contract for those services, which will enable additional response in emergency situations, as well as the opportunity for neighboring police departments to build relationships with school personnel and students in their nearby communities.

Senator White introduced Senate Bill 1194 on November 22, 2013, with the intent of deterring and responding to school violence, long before the stabbing incident on April 9 at Franklin Regional High School – a school in his Senatorial District.

Senator White: “To be clear, had SB 1194 been enacted prior to that tragedy, it would not have prevented it. Franklin Regional School District is already very capably protected by a full-time municipal police force. However, many of our 500 school districts and many of Pennsylvania’s private schools do not have local police coverage immediately available and they would certainly benefit from the options provided by my bill.”

Fast Facts

 

April General Fund Revenue

  • Pennsylvania collected $3.4 billion in General Fund revenue in April, which was $328.3 million, or 8.8 percent, less than anticipated.
  • Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections are $424.5 million, or 1.7 percent, below estimate, without adjusting for last month’s early $80 million liquor profits transfer.
  • Sales tax receipts for April were $4.2 million above estimate, with year-to-date sales tax collections 1.4 percent less than anticipated.
  • Personal income tax (PIT) revenue in April was $185.7 million below estimate, bringing year-to-date PIT collections in at 2.6 percent below estimate.
  • April corporation tax revenue was $94.7 million below estimate, with year-to-date collections 2.2 percent below estimate.