News from Second and State

by Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC

Budget, budget, budget. While the budget debate was at the forefront of activity this week, there were a number of other developments on the legislative front. Here’s a rundown of some noteworthy non-budget happenings this week:

  • S.B. 514 — The House finally passed S.B. 514 (Vance, R-Cumberland), which would allow a pharmacist to substitute a generic biological product for a biological product prescribed by name as long as the products are considered interchangeable by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The bill is now in the Senate for concurrence.
  • S.B. 1156 — The House also finally passed S.B. 1156 (Sabatina, D-Philadelphia), which closes a loophole in the Child Protection Law by ensuring that health care personnel and clergy who have direct contact with children or are responsible for their welfare are required to obtain background checks. Also, the background check exemption for employees at institutions of higher education has been repealed. The bill is now in the Senate for concurrence.
  • S.R. 7 — The Senate passed S.R. 7 (Hughes, D-Philadelphia) directing the Joint State Government Commission to study the issue of student suicide in higher education.
  • H.B. 60 — H.B. 60 (Baker, R-Bradford) will soon be on the Governor’s desk for signature. The bill will require insurance coverage parity for orally administered chemotherapy medications.
  • H.B. 1196 — This bill, sponsored by Rep. Petri (R-Bucks), allows the Democratic National Convention to get the necessary liquor permits for events to be held during the convention, which is being held in Philadelphia during the last week of July. The bill is caught up in a virtual legislative volleyball match, as it goes between the House and Senate and continually amended with additional liquor reforms. The bill is in the House for concurrence in Senate amendments; however, subsequent amendments made by the House will require it to return to the Senate for yet another vote.
  • H.B. 1391 —Sponsored by Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming), H.B. 1391 would guarantee a minimum royalty payment to oil and gas lease holders. The bill was reported from the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, given first consideration and then re-referred to the House Rules Committee.
  • H.B. 1871 — (Taylor, R-Philadelphia) proposes an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution to allow Philadelphia to impose differing tax rates on commercial and residential real estate. If enacted, Philadelphia would be permitted to exceed the tax rate applicable to other parts of the state, but not by more than 15 percent. The bill is now in the Senate on third consideration.
  • H.B.1947 — The Senate finally passed H.B. 1947 (Marsico, R-Dauphin), extending the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse from age 30 to age 50 and removing the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution of childhood sexual abuse. The bill is now back in the House for concurrence vote.
  • H.B. 2013 — H.B. 2013 (Ellis, R-Butler) would allow the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to enter into public-private partnerships (P3’s) to provide additional recreational activities in Pennsylvania state parks. It was defeated on final passage by a vote of N:123/Y:77, but a motion to reconsider the vote was made after the roll call vote, leaving the possibility of another vote open in the future.
  • Action at IRRC The Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) disapproved the Public Utility Commission’s Regulation #57-304: Implementation of the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act of 2004 for a second time. This comes after the IRRC disapproved the regulation, and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) resubmitted it. Now, the House Consumer Affairs and Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committees can either: (1) consider IRRC’s disapproval and report a disapproval resolution; or (2) fail to report it, which would authorize the Attorney General to approve the regulation and allow it to become law. The rulemaking would revise PUC’s regulations pertaining to net metering, interconnection and portfolio standards in relation to the AEPS Act.
  • Judicial confirmations This week, the Senate Judiciary committee met to consider a number of judicial nominations in order to fill open seats on the statewide and county benches. All nominees were unanimously reported from committee and confirmed by the full Senate. Most notably, Sallie Mundy (R) will fill the seat of former Justice Michael Eakin on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The court now is comprised of five Democrats and two Republicans. Hugh Geoffrey Moulton and Lillian Harris Randsom will be new members of the Superior Court, while Carl Solano, Joseph Cosgrove and Julia Hearthway join the Commonwealth Court.

The legislative schedule is unclear for the next few days as the legislature continues to hash out the remaining elements of the 2016-2017 state budget. As budget-related and other bills move, we’ll be sure to keep you posted. Stay tuned to this blog and follow us on Twitter @BuchananLobbyists for updates.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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