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Weekly Wrap

This was the first of two weeks where both the House of Representatives and the Senate are in Harrisburg before the budget rush in June, and it was a busy one.

On Monday, the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee held a joint public hearing with the Senate Aging and Youth Committee on the Office of State Inspector General’s Report on the Department of Aging’s county based system for monitoring elder abuse.

The House Consumer Affairs Committee held their third public hearing on H.B. 11 (Mehaffie, R-Dauphin), which would update the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act by establishing nuclear energy as a Tier III alternative energy source. The fourth hearing will take place on Monday. The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee also held a hearing on nuclear waste containment.

The House Education Committee met on Monday and reported out three bills:

  • H.B. 49 (Brown, R-Monroe), which would require public schools to allow students to apply credits earned through courses in personal financial literacy to satisfy graduation credit requirements;
  • H.B. 800 (Turzai, R-Allegheny), which would increase the amount of tax credits available under the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program by $110 million, to $210 million; and
  • S.B. 115 (Killion, R-Delaware), which would require the Department of Education to develop model curriculum and guidelines for CPR instruction for public school students in grades 9-12.

The House Health Committee reported out H.B. 1058 (Rapp, R-Warren), which would require information be given to a woman on the option of perinatal hospice care after her unborn child is diagnosed with a life-limiting condition, and H.B. 1001 (Oberlander, R-Clarion), which would license and regulate donor milk banks.

Rounding out the busy day of committee meetings and hearings in the House, the House Local Government Committee reported out H.B. 1074 (Turzai, R-Allegheny), which would make changes to the composition of the Allegheny County Airport Authority.

Moving to House floor action, the House finally passed H.B. 826 (Marshall, R-Beaver), which would authorize nonprofits affiliated with major league and collegiate sports teams to conduct 50/50 drawings for charity.

Elections and campaigns were the hot topic on Monday in the Senate. The Senate Appropriations Committee reported out S.B. 178 (Browne, R-Lehigh), which would require all candidates and political action committee to electronically file campaign finance reports with the Department of State, and the full Senate finally passed S.B. 133 (Argall, R-Schuylkill), which would allow gubernatorial candidates to select their own running mate for Lieutenant Governor.

Tuesday was no less busy. Starting with public hearings, the House Human Services Committee held a public hearing on residential choices for people who have a disability; the House State Government Committee held a public hearing on the Separations Act; and the Senate State Government Committee held a public hearing on election law legislation.

The House advanced (most of) the House Republican regulatory reform package, sending the following bills to the Senate for consideration:

  • H.B. 430 (Benninghoff, R-Centre), which would give the General Assembly the authority to initiate the repeal of any regulation currently in effect by concurrent resolution;
  • H.B. 509 (Rothman, R-Cumberland), which would reform the permitting process by requiring all agencies to increase transparency throughout the process;
  • H.B. 762 (O’Neal, R-Washington), which would require agencies to designate an employee as the agency’s regulatory compliance officer; and
  • H.B. 806 (Keefer, R-York), which would require the General Assembly to vote on a concurrent resolution to approve an economically significant regulation.

However, H.B. 1055 (Klunk, R-York) was defeated on final passage. The bill would establish the Independent Office of the Repealer.

In addition, the House passed H.B. 476 (Mako, R-Northampton), which would require the Department of Environmental Protection to notify municipalities when certain violations of the Solid Waste Management Act occur.

The Senate finally passed S.B. 48 (Gordner, R-Columbia), which would delay the mass decertification of current voting machines and establish a Voting System Decertification Commission to review the state’s plan for decertification and S.B. 440 (Phillips-Hill, R-York), which would establish a flexible instructional days program to allow up to five cancelled school days to be counted toward the 180 days of instruction currently required.

Finally, the Senate confirmed the nominations of the following cabinet secretaries by a vote of 48-0.

  • Russell Redding, Secretary of Agriculture
  • Cynthia Dunn, Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources
  • Jennifer Smith, Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs
  • Curt Topper, Secretary of General Services
  • Rachel Levine, Secretary of Health
  • Jessica Altman, Insurance Commissioner
  • Dan Hassell, Secretary of Revenue
  • Leslie Richards, Secretary of Transportation

Things slowed down a little on Wednesday, when the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held an informational meeting on permit review process for Erosion and Sediment Control permits, and the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee held a joint public hearing with the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee regarding Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS).

And lastly, there was shuffling of some chairs. Due to retirements, there were some vacancies in the chairmanships of the Senate standing committees. The Senate Republicans announced changes to Committee Chairs for the following Committees. The previous Chair is in parentheses.

  • Banking & Insurance – Sen. Mario Scavello (Sen. Don White)
  • Communications & Technology – Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (Sen. Wayne Langerholc)
  • Community, Economic & Recreational Development – Sen. Tom Killion (Sen. Mario Scavello)
  • Education – Sen. Wayne Langerholc (Sen. Ryan Aument)
  • Intergovernmental Operations (Acting Chair) – Sen. Camera Bartolotta (Sen. Judy Ward)
  • Urban Affairs & Housing – Sen. Judy Ward (Sen. Tom Killion)

The Week Ahead

Next week could shape up to be another busy one, before the Senate recesses until June 3.

On Monday, the House Health Committee will consider H.B. 321 (Klunk, R-York), which would prohibit an abortion solely due to the diagnosis of possible Down Syndrome.

The House Labor and Industry Committee will hold a public hearing on H.B. 1234 (Cox, R-Berks), which would provide workers’ compensation coverage for latent occupational diseases.

The House State Government Committee will consider H.B. 283 (Simmons, R-Lehigh), which would permit a state or local agency to charge additional fees for Right-to-Know Law records requested for a commercial purpose, and H.B. 305 (Snyder, D-Greene), which directs the Department of General Services to conduct an inventory of all communication towers, poles, buildings, facilities and other assets owned by the state and leverage existing state-owned assets for the provision of high-speed broadband to unserved areas and underserved areas.

The House Transportation Committee will consider H.B. 317 (Rothman, R-Cumberland), which would provide restrictions on the use of data collected from automated license plate reader systems and establish a grant program to assist municipalities in obtaining the system.

Moving to Tuesday, the House Insurance Committee will hold an informational meeting on how a state-based exchange and reinsurance program would benefit citizens.

On Wednesday, the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee will consider the nomination of Patrick McDonnell as Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection; while the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee will hold an informational meeting on the Department of Environmental Protection’s permitting program.

The House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee will hold an informational meeting to discuss issues regarding licensed long-term care facilities.

The House Professional Licensure Committee will consider H.B. 770 (DeLuca, D-Allegheny), which would establish requirements for pharmacy technicians, and H.B. 1172 (Hickernell, R-Lancaster), which would provide for license portability for licensing boards and commissions under the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs.

A full list of committee meetings can be found here.

Anticipated Senate floor action can be found here; House floor action can be found here.

In Other News

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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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