News from Second and State

by Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC
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Weekly Wrap

It was a busy week in Harrisburg, with both the House of Representatives and the Senate here for one of only two weeks of voting session scheduled for this month.

On Monday, the legislature continued the hard work of combatting the state’s opioid crisis: the House Appropriations Committee considered (and the whole House later passed) H.B. 1043 (Baker, R-Bradford), which requires registration of pain management clinics in the Commonwealth. The House Human Services Committee reported out H.B. 119 (Kaufer, R-Luzerne), which establishes a certification process for drug and alcohol houses that receive taxpayer dollars, and H.B. 122 (Kaufer, R-Luzerne), which establishes the “Project Lazarus Commission,” charged with consolidating overdose prevention efforts statewide.

The House Education Committee also met on Monday to consider H.B. 679 (Ortitay, R-Allegheny) establishing a central repository of online courses and H.B. 524 (Tallman, R-Adams), which, as amended, brings the state statute regarding military recruiter access to school students into alignment with the Federal Every Student Succeeds Act. Furthering state compliance with federal laws, the House State Government Committee sent S.B. 133 (Ward, R-Westmoreland) to the full floor. The bill establishes the REAL ID Compliance Act and repeals the REAL ID Nonparticipation Act.

Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced S.B. 269 (Baker, R-Luzerne) to the Senate Floor for consideration, which includes comprehensive amendments to Pennsylvania’s Construction Code, as well as S.B. 522 (Greenleaf, R-Montgomery), which requires the consolidation of the Department of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole. That measure has been promoted by Gov. Wolf as a cost-savings measure for the Commonwealth since last session. The Committee also reported out the Capital Budget bill for fiscal year 2017-2018, S.B. 651 (Browne, R-Lehigh). Finally, the Senate also passed H.B. 224 (Simmons, R-Lehigh), which applies the Good Samaritan civil immunity to school bus drivers who administer epi-pens to students, provided the school bus driver complies with policy and completes necessary training.

On Tuesday, the House continued its efforts to curb opioid abuse in Pennsylvania: the House Appropriations Committee sent H.B. 118 (Kaufer, R-Luzerne) to the House floor for a vote, which allows already-licensed healthcare facilities to provide detoxification under the existing healthcare facility license, and H.B. 454 (DeLuca, D-Allegheny), which requires pharmacy technicians to register with the State Board of Pharmacy. Those bills were also passed by the full House of Representatives later that day.

The House Commerce committee also met on Tuesday to consider H.B. 1213 (Kampf, R-Chester). The bill eliminates the practice now used by some school districts to file spot appeals of the property tax assessments of individual properties. Further on the tax front, the House Finance committee reported H.B. 646 (O’Neill, R-Bucks) out of committee. Rep. O’Neill’s legislation increases the allocation for the Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit Program (NAP). On the House floor, H.B. 782 (Nesbit, R-Erie) unanimously passed. The bill expedites Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approval requirements for businesses that provide nongaming goods and services to casinos.

Finally, in the House, the Liquor Control Committee considered and reported H.B. 1033 (Ellis, R-Butler) from committee. The legislation creates a Wine Enhanced Permit and a Spirits Enhanced Permit that may be obtained by a beer distributor in order to sell unlimited quantities of wine and/or spirits for consumption off the premises.

But Tuesday’s biggest news came from the Senate, where the Senate Environment Resources and Energy Committee approved the nomination of Patrick McDonnell for Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. McDonnell could be confirmed by the full Senate when they return to Harrisburg later this month.

The busy pace continued into Wednesday, when the House Aging and Older Adult Services committee considered several bills, including four PACE-related bills: H.B. 270 (Farry, R-Bucks) increases the maximum allowable income limits for participation in PACENET program; H.B. 296 (Sonney, R-Erie) excludes cash earned on the sale of savings bonds by seniors from being included in the calculation of income when applying for lottery funded programs; H.B. 425 (Nelson, R-Westmoreland) extends the current Social Security COLA Moratorium for PACE/PACENET until December 31, 2019; and H.B. 673 (Goodman, D-Schuylkill) exempts veterans’ benefits from being included in the calculation of income when determining eligibility for the PACE and PACENET programs. All four were unanimously reported as committed.

Also on Wednesday, the House Liquor Control Committee held a joint public hearing with the Senate Law and Justice Committee on liquor pricing.

Wednesday’s Senate activities included a Senate Transportation Committee meeting to report out S.R. 76. The resolution directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study of the feasibility of providing two additional passenger rail trips daily between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg and its impact on existing freight rail service. On the floor, the Senate unanimously confirmed the nomination of Estelle Richman to the Philadelphia School Reform Commission.

Week Ahead

On Monday, the Senate Education Subcommittee on Support Services and Transportation will hold a public hearing on current practices and issues in pupil transportation. Potential cuts to pupil transportation funding are being promoted by Gov. Wolf as part of the 2017-2018 state spending plan.

Tuesday is the municipal primary election in Pennsylvania, where many local positions and judicial seats will be voted on. For a list of the state-wide judicial races, check out one of our previous blogs.

In Other News

  • Poll: On the heels of legalizing medical cannabis, Pennsylvania voters shift toward making the use of recreational marijuana legal.
  • Attorney General Josh Shapiro will examine an incident involving Republican candidate for Governor Scott Wagner.
  • After allegations of mistreating staff, the wife of Lt. Gov. Mike Stack has begun seeking in-patient treatment for a mental health issue.
  • Governor Wolf announced $33 million in traffic signal improvement funding.
  • The Governor appointed Deputy Chief of Staff Obra Kernodle to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) Board, after Representative Dwight Evans announced he is stepping down.

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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