Harrisburg was a hive oinally activity this week, with both the House and Senate in town for voting session. There were committee meetings aplenty, too. On Monday, the House Appropriations Committee reported out H.B. 1956 (Harper, R-Montgomery), which would require public meetings before a municipality sells or leases a water or sewer system, and H.B. 1737 (Maher, R-Allegheny), which would provide for the safe disposal of household prescription drug and pharmaceutical waste. Both bills were passed by the House later on that day and are now before the Senate for consideration.
Also on Monday, the Senate Law and Justice Committee met to consider H.B. 1196 (Petri, R-Bucks), which, as amended, would allow the Democratic National Convention to obtain a special occasion permit to serve alcohol at DNC events. The permit allows the DNC, being held this year in Philadelphia from July 25-28, to serve adult beverages under relaxed liquor rules. The bill will now return to the House for a concurrence vote. However, if you plan to imbibe in Philly or anywhere else in the Keystone State, proceed with caution. S.B. 290 (Rafferty, R-Montgomery), which would require ignition interlock for first time D.U.I offenders, was finally passed in both chambers this week and will soon be on the Governor’s desk for his signature.
Tuesday was busy as well, with lots of business before the committees. The House Gaming Oversight Committee held a joint hearing with the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee regarding the Department of Revenue’s increased assessment on the Commonwealth’s 12 operating casinos. Health care issues were also a hot topic on Tuesday: the House Health Committee met to consider and reported out H.B. 1104 (Godshall, R-Montgomery), allowing terminally ill patients to use investigational drugs (known as “Right to Try” legislation) and H.B. 1785 (Corbin, R-Chester), requiring assisted living and personal care homes to post information about the flu vaccine; the House Insurance Committee met to consider and reported out H.B. 1064 (Evankovich, R-Allegheny), changing the standard of care for emergency physicians and personnel under the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (MCare) Act; and the House Judiciary Committee met to consider and reported out H.B. 30 (Petrarca, D-Armstrong) and H.B. 585 (Sabatina, D-Philadelphia, Resigned), both dealing with issues surrounding anatomical gifts. The House Judiciary Committee also considered H.B. 1428 (Kampf, R-Chester), establishing the Fairness in Claims and Transparency (or “FaCT”) Act. The bill, which would require certain disclosures in asbestos-related lawsuits, was amended by the committee, but then failed by a vote of 12-13.
More from Tuesday: The House State Government Committee amended and reported out H.B. 1499 (Tobash, R- Dauphin), which, as amended, is a comprehensive state pension overhaul bill. This could be an indication that pension reform will be part of the 2016-2017 budget discussion, but it’s too soon to say for certain. Also, the House Urban Affairs Committee reported out H.B. 1051 (Dean, D-Montgomery), which would allow victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking to terminate their rental lease obligations without penalty or to change the locks at their own expense. The Senate Appropriations Committee reported out S.B. 1159 (Dinniman, D-Chester), providing for legislative review of the State Plan required under the Every Student Succeeds Act, and S.B. 1227 (Blake, D-Lackawanna), which would transfer some of the Public Employee Retirement Commission’s duties to the Independent Fiscal Office. Senate Appropriations Committee also passed H.B. 1436 (Godshall, R-Montgomery), providing for calculation of public utility’s tax expenses for ratemaking purposes, which was then passed by the Senate on Wednesday. Finally, the Senate Finance Committee reported out S.B. 1161 (Reschenthaler, R-Allegheny), which would clarify procedure for use of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) in years when there is a budget impasse.
Tuesday had some newsworthy floor action, as well: The Senate passed S.B. 180 (Greenleaf, R-Bucks), which would update state law related to anatomical gifts, and the House concurred in H.B. 1574 (Marsico, R-Dauphin), which would bring secondary schools under the purview of the state Antihazing Law. Marsico’s bill will is now before the Governor for his signature.
And speaking of the Governor, on Tuesday, Gov. Wolf signed H.B. 400 (Gingrich, R-Lebanon), establishing the Work Experience for High School Students with Disabilities Act, which will help students gain competitive employment. Further from the Governor, as promised, hevetoed H.B. 805 (Bloom, R-Cumberland), which would end the practice of seniority based layoffs in the Commonwealth’s school districts. This might not be the last of that bill, however, as Republican leaders have vowed to make it an issue in the 2016-2017 budget negotiations.
Read the veto message here: http://wallaby.telicon.com/PA/library/2016/2016051848.HTM
And what Republican leadership has to say here: http://www.pennlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/05/gop_leaders_to_wolf_veto_teach.html
Finally, it was an unusually busy Wednesday this week. The House Appropriations Committee met to consider H.B. 1295 (DiGirolamo, R-Bucks), which would require review of suboxone-related deaths under the Methadone Death and Incident Review Act; the House passed the bill and sent it to the Senate later that same day. The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee met to consider S.B. 1265 (White, R-Armstrong), allowing employers to pay employee wages in the form of a debit card. Additionally, the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee reported out S.B.1221 (Costa, D-Allegheny), providing for reforms to the Pittsburgh Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority. The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee also met and reported out S.B. 717 (Vance, R-Cumberland), further defining the scope of practice for advanced practice nurses, and H.B. 1241 (Brown, R., R-Monroe), excepting resorts offering water or sewer services to private homes who take service within the resorts boundaries from the definition of public utility.
A Look Ahead:
The Senate has recessed until Monday, June 6 (unless sooner recalled by the President Pro Tempore), so only the House will gavel in next week for voting session, and it seems to be shaping up to be a relatively busy week on the committee front. On Monday, the House Professional Licensure Committee will hold a public hearing on H.B. 1851 (Tallman, R-Adams), which would require that Diabetes Educators be licensed by the State Board of Nursing, and the House Transportation Committee will also hold a public hearing on Monday to discuss H.B. 1057 (Ellis, R-Butler), which would streamline the collection of the Alternative Fuels Tax.
To read H.B. 1851, go to: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2015&sInd=0&body=H&type=B&bn=1851
To read H.B. 1057, go to: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2015&sInd=0&body=H&type=B&bn=1057
On Tuesday, the House Children and Youth Committee will hold a voting meeting on S.B. 1156 (Sabatina, D-Philadelphia), which would clarify the Child Protective Services Law regarding background checks for doctors and hospital personnel.
To read S.B. 1156, go to: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2015&sInd=0&body=S&type=B&bn=1156
Last but not least, on Wednesday, the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee will hold an informational meeting on homecare, home health care and hospice services, and the House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee will meet to consider S.B. 179 (Greenleaf, R-Bucks), which consolidates the laws regarding hotels and lodging establishments.
To read S.B. 179, go to: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2015&sInd=0&body=S&type=B&bn=0179
For a full list of committee meetings, go to: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/session.cfm
For expected action on the House Floor, check out the Week Ahead: http://wallaby.telicon.com/PA/library/2016/2016051958.PDF
In Other News: