Thanks to Winter Storm Stella, the House of Representatives made short work of this week’s session; adjourning on Monday afternoon to allow members to have a safe trip back to their districts.
There was time for a few committee meetings before everyone got out of dodge: the House Insurance Committee reported out H.B. 133 (Baker, R-Bradford), amending the state Insurance Code to provide for the purchase of health insurance from companies located in another state. The House Health Committee moved its Tuesday meeting to Monday, and reported out H.B. 114 (Baker, R-Bradford), clarifying when a child of divorced parents would be eligible for Medical Assistance; H.B. 424 (Benninghoff, R-Centre), allowing physician assistants to sign death certificates; H.B. 478 (Pickett, R-Bradford), modernizing psychiatric supervision requirements in outpatient clinics; and H.B. 644 (Baker, R-Bradford), amending the Community Based Health Care Act. Finally, the House Human Services Committee reported on H.B. 395 (DiGirolamo, R-Bucks), amending the Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescriptions Program to ensure access to epilepsy and seizure medications.
The House Appropriations Committee also met to consider bills, among them was H.B. 202 (Turzai, R-Allegheny), allowing tests other than the Keystone Exams to be used to show graduation readiness; H.B. 224 (Simmons, R-Lehigh), authorizing school bus drivers and crossing guards to administer epi-pens; and H.B. 250 (Turzai, R-Allegheny), increasing the amount of tax credits available under the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs. All three bills were passed by the House later that day, and will now head to the Senate for consideration.
The Appropriations Committee also reported out H.B. 218 (Saylor, R-York), a General Appropriation Bill for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. The bill was given first consideration by the House and then laid on the table. Though it’s always big news to see a budget bill on the move, we’re still a long way from enactment of a spending plan for the new fiscal year. Best case scenario: this bill is amended several times and used as a budget vehicle in June.
A Look Ahead
Both chambers will return to Harrisburg for voting session on Monday, so expect a busy week on the legislative front.
Monday kicks off with a joint hearing of the House and Senate Education Committees regarding the Federal Every Student Succeeds Act.
On Tuesday, the House will hold committee meetings that had been cancelled earlier this week, as well as other newly scheduled meetings. The House Finance Committee will meet to consider bills amending the Tax Reform Code, including H.B. 46 (Caltagirone, D-Berks), and allowing contributions for pediatric cancer research through tax return check-off. The House Judiciary Committee will consider seven bills, including: H.B. 759 (Ortitay, R-Allegheny), amending the Gaming Act to allow persons charged under the self-exclusion provisions of the act to be sentenced to counseling; and H.B. 352 (Culver, R-Northumberland), which would allow a person to obtain title to property under adverse possession after ten years, instead of 21 as is currently provided for in Pennsylvania law. The House Professional Licensure Committee will meet to consider five bills, including: H.B. 454 (De Luca, D-Allegheny), requiring pharmacy technicians to register with the state Board of Pharmacy. Finally, the House Urban Affairs Committee will meet to consider H.B. 595 (Brown, R., R- Monroe), which would assign investigation of complaints regarding planned communities, cooperatives and condos to Bureau of Consumer Protection in the Attorney General’s Office; and H.B. 758 (Ward, R-Blair), which would allow tax abatements for developers who build on blighted or abandoned properties.
There are a few hearings scheduled for Tuesday as well: the House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee will hold a hearing with DCED’s Tourism Office on marketing and promotional programs, and the House and Senate Transportation Committees will team up for a hearing on Highly Automated Vehicles Testing legislation.
On the Senate side, the Senate Judiciary Committee will meet to consider two bills by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Bucks), S.B. 522 and S.B. 523, which together would amend the laws necessary to consolidate the functions of the Department of Corrections, Board of Probation and Parole, as well as other criminal justice boards and agencies under a new Department of Criminal Justice. Combining these functions and creating a new consolidated department has been touted by Gov. Wolf as a way to bring savings to the Commonwealth in what is going to be another tight budget year.
The House Human Services Committee will meet Wednesday, and will consider H.B. 381 (Snyder, D-Greene), clearing up ambiguities in the law allowing minors to consent to medical treatment; and H.B. 396 (DiGirolamo, R-Bucks), strengthening practices under the ABC-MAP program. The House Children and Youth Committee will also meet to consider H.B. 235 (Watson, R-Bucks), establishing a task force to study the impact of the opioid crisis on the Commonwealth’s children. The House Local Government Committee will consider several bills, including H.B. 266 (Harper, R-Montgomery), amending the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act. And finally, the House Consumer Affairs Committee will hold a public hearing with representatives from the telecommunications industry, while the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee will hold an informational hearing on the Meals on Wheels Program.
The week’s end brings additional hearings: the House and Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committees will discuss veterans’ issues on Thursday, and the Senate Democratic Policy Committee will hold a hearing on job training and vocational opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
For a full list of committee meetings, click here.
As for floor action, The Week Ahead indicates a potentially busy week in the House. Of note, H.B. 218 Saylor, York) is scheduled for second consideration. H.B. 218 is a General Appropriations bill for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. Though this doesn’t mean that the budget is anywhere near the June 30 finish line, any amendments posted to the bill can give us a sneak peek at what some members’ spending priorities will be this budget year.
The Senate hasn’t published a marked calendar yet, but you can find it here when it is available.
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