News from Second & State

by Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC

Weekly Wrap

The House of Representatives and Senate were in session, as this week was filled with voting meetings, public hearings and informational meetings.

Monday, the House Consumer Affairs Committee held a 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. On Wednesday, the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee held a public hearing on the Senate version, S.B. 510 (Aument, R-Lancaster). The House will hold another public hearing on Monday.

Also in the House, the House Liquor Control Committee reported out H.B. 423 (Topper, R-Bedford), which would create a ballot initiative for municipalities to explicitly opt in or opt out of allowing alcohol sales. The House Finance Committee favorably voted H.B. 880 (Lewis, R-Dauphin) out of their committee. The bill would lower the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program’s (RACP) debt ceiling by $100 million annually until 2026.

As far as informational meetings go, the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee heard testimony on polystyrene and the consequences of a statewide ban, and the House State Government Committee discussed issues surrounding replacing the state’s current voting system.

The full Senate unanimously passed S.B. 372 (Scavello, R-Monroe), which would update laws regarding archives and historical property. The bill goes to the House for consideration.

Tuesday began with an informational meeting in the House Human Services Committee on the prescription drug monitoring program and warm hand-offs. Sticking with the healthcare industry, the House Health Committee reported out H.B. 833 (Owlett, R-Tioga), which would require non-custodial parents of children for whom Medical Assistance is sought to enroll their children in their own health insurance plan before the Commonwealth would pay for medical care. In addition, the House Children and Youth Committee reported out H.B. 316 (Owlett, R-Tioga), which would establish a task force focused on the impact of opioid abuse on children.

In the upper chamber, the Senate State Government Committee reported out S.B. 48 (Gordner, R-Columbia), which would prohibit the Commonwealth from disapproving or decertifying voting machines in more than half of the counties until a plan is submitted to the legislature and a newly established commission reviews the plan. On the Senate floor, members unanimously passed S.B. 144 (Martin, R-Lancaster), which would establish a grant program for intermediate units for the use of telepresence equipment and services for educating homebound students. The bill now goes to the House for consideration.

Wednesday was a day packed with hearings:

  • The House Tourism and Recreational Development and House Human Services Committee held a joint public hearing on the challenges for people with a disability who are traveling;
  • The House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee held an informational meeting regarding options for home-based care including home health, hospice and personal care services;
  • The House Health Committee and Senate Health and Human Services Committee held a joint informational meeting on gene replacement therapy and its use in the treatment of genetic diseases; and
  • The House Local Government Committee held an informational meeting to discuss a package of municipal debt reform legislation.

In the transportation space, the Senate Health Committee reported out S.B. 390 (Baker, R-Luzerne), which would delay the implementation of a statewide or regional broker for the Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP) and authorizes the Joint State Government Commission to conduct a study on the topic. In the House Transportation Committee, H.B. 364 (Gabler, R-Clearfield), which would authorize the use of revolving and flashing yellow lights for school vehicles, was reported out.

The Senate unanimously passed H.B. 264 (Mako, R-Northampton), which would create a system of financial best practices for municipal authorities when handling collected money. The bill now awaits the Governor’s signature.

Three bills of note passed finally in the House and will make their way to the Senate:

  • H.B. 629 (Rapp, R-Warren), which would provide for patient access to diagnostics and treatments for Lyme disease and related tick-borne illnesses, and requires healthcare policies to provide certain coverage;
  • H.B. 684 (Sonney, R-Erie), which would exclude savings bonds from being counted as income in the determination of eligibility for the PACE/PACENET programs;
  • H.B. 754 (Thomas, R-Bucks), which would extend the PACE/PACENET social security cost-of-living adjustment moratorium until December 31, 2021.

Throughout the week, the following department heads had their nomination unanimously approved by their respective Senate committee. Their nominations will now go to the full Senate for approval. Once approved, each will be reconfirmed for another term.

  • Jessica Altman as Insurance Commissioner;
  • Dan Hassell as Secretary of Revenue;
  • Russell Redding as Secretary of Agriculture;
  • Leslie Richards as Secretary of Transportation; and
  • Curt Topper as Secretary of General Services.

The Week Ahead

The House of Representatives will be the only chamber at the Capitol for session next week.

On Monday, the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee will take up a regulatory reform package of bills:

  • H.B. 430 (Benninghoff, R-Centre), which would give the General Assembly the authority to initiate the repeal of any regulation by concurrent resolution;
  • H.B. 509 (Rothman, R-Cumberland), which would require all agencies that issue permits to increase transparency throughout the process;
  • H.B. 762 (O’Neal, R-Washington), which would require state 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, in order for that regulation to go into effect.

The committee will also consider H.B. 414 (Zimmerman, R-Lancaster), which would require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to complete its permitting approval or disapproval within 45 days for the Erosion and Sediment Control program; and H.B. 476 (Mako, R-Northampton), which would require DEP to forward notices of violations of the Solid Waste Management Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act to the municipality where the violation occurred.

Tuesday, the House State Government Committee will consider H.B. 1181 (Fritz, R-Susquehanna), which would require notification of a breach of personal information from the entity where the breach occurred to the affected consumer. Also, the House Commerce Committee will vote on H.B. 858 (Brown, R-Monroe), which would authorize certain financial institutions to offer incentive-based savings programs.

The House Human Services Committee has three pieces of legislation on their schedule:

  • H.B. 596 (Heffley, R-Carbon), which would provide for a detoxification and addiction treatment bed registry;
  • H.B. 1024 (Rader, R-Monroe), which would specify that a person does not need to test positive for drugs in order to begin addiction treatment; and
  • H.R. 216 (Polinchock, R-Bucks), which would establish a task force on overdose recovery and direct the Joint State Government Commission to conduct a study on warm hand-off to treatment for individuals with a substance use disorder.

Wednesday is filled with informational meetings, including:

  • The House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee will hold an informational meeting on aging demographics and current aging programs and services;
  • The House Transportation and House Tourism and Recreational Development Committees will hold a joint informational meeting on anti-litter initiatives and their impact on the state’s tourism economy; and
  • The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee will hold an informational meeting on the recycling industry.

In Other News

  • The PUC recognized April as National Safe Digging Month.
  • Changes are coming to Pennsylvania’s first day of deer hunting.
  • A former inmate will serve as Secretary to the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons.

[View source.]

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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