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Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC

Weekly Wrap

For the last time until June, the House of Representatives and Senate were both in session this week.

Starting off on Monday, the House Consumer Affairs Committee held its fourth, and last scheduled, public hearing on H.B. 11 (Mehaffie, R-Dauphin). The bill would update the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act by establishing nuclear energy as a Tier III alternative energy source. The House Labor and Industry Committee also held a public hearing, focusing on H.B. 1234 (Cox, R-Berks), which would clarify the availability of workers’ compensation coverage for latent occupational diseases.

As for voting meetings, the House State Government Committee reported out 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. Further, the House Local Government Committee voted favorably on H.B. 1203 (Ryan, R-Lebanon), which would require that annual audits of municipal authorities comply with state and federal standards and allow the municipality to request assistance from the Auditor General. Lastly, the House Health Committee reported out H.B. 321 (Klunk, R-York), which would prohibit an abortion solely due to the diagnosis of possible Down Syndrome, along a party-line vote with the Democrats voting in the negative.

On the Senate floor, S.B. 178 (Browne, R-Lehigh) passed unanimously. The bill would require all candidates and political committees to file campaign finance reports and statements electronically. It also would permit residual funds to be donated to a nonprofit organization. In addition, three bills of note passed on the House floor and will now be considered by the Senate:

  • H.B. 332 (Grove, R-York), which would authorize a commerce court program, within the Superior Court and county-level Courts of Common Pleas, to preside over business-related cases.
  • H.B. 860 (Miller, R-Lancaster), which would amend the Right-to-Know Law by exempting personal and agency financial account information.
  • H.B. 1058 (Rapp, R-Warren), which would require that information be given to a woman on the option of perinatal hospice care after her unborn child is diagnosed with a life-limiting condition.

Tuesday began with the House Insurance Committee holding a public hearing on the impact of a state-based exchange and reinsurance program for the residents of Pennsylvania

The House Liquor Control Committee favorably reported out H.B. 1346 (Masser, R-Northumberland), which would allow licensed businesses to buy wine from the private sector, rather than through the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. The Senate Education Committee reported out S.B. 536 (Browne, R-Lehigh), which would establish the Public Higher Education Funding Commission. Also, the Senate Labor and Industry Committee reported out S.B. 140 (Killion, R-Delaware), which would require an employer to provide up to six weeks of the same unpaid leave available under federal law to an eligible employee.

The House finally passed H.B. 800 (Turzai, R-Allegheny), which would increase the amount of available tax credits in the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program from $160 million to $260 million.

Wednesday, the House Environmental Resources Committee held an informational meeting on the Department of Environmental Protection’s permitting process and its impact on the regulated community, and the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee held a public hearing on long-term care facilities.

The House Professional Licensure Committee reported out two bills: H.B. 770 (DeLuca, D-Allegheny), which would require pharmacy technicians to be registered with the State Board of Pharmacy; and H.B. 1172 (Hickernell, R-Lancaster), which would require licensing boards and commissions under the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs to provide licensure by endorsement for applicants who hold similar licenses in other states. H.B. 423 (Topper, R-Bedford) unanimously passed on the House floor. The bill would allow questions related to the sale of liquor in a municipality to be on the ballot at any election other than a special election.

In the Senate, the Senate Local Government Committee reported out S.B. 321 (Martin, R-Lancaster), which would provide municipalities with the option to prohibit a truck stop establishment to place and operate video gaming terminals on their premises. Finally the Senate Finance Committee reported three bills from their committee:

  • S.B. 201 (DiSanto, R-Dauphin), which would allow for like-kind exchange tax deferrals;
  • S.B. 541 (Argall, R-Schuylkill); which would make changes to the Historic Preservation Incentive Tax Credit Program; and
  • SB 616 (Hutchinson, R-Venango), which would clarify the term “exclusive use” in relation to the sales and use tax exemption on certain services or goods purchased by a qualified business located within a Strategic Development Area.

Robin Wiessmann (Secretary of Banking and Securities) and Jerry Oleksiak (Secretary of Labor and Industry) were both confirmed by the Senate for an additional term. In addition, the Senate standing committees reported out the re-nominations of the following cabinet officials with a favorable recommendation. They still require a final vote by the full Senate.

  • Robert Evanchick, State Police Commissioner;
  • Dennis Davin, Secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development;
  • Patrick McDonnell, Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection;
  • Teresa Miller, Secretary of Human Services;
  • Robert Torres, Secretary of Aging; and
  • John Wetzel, Secretary of Corrections.

The Week Ahead

Although just the House is in session, it’s already shaping up to be a busy week in the Capitol.

Monday, the House Insurance Committee will consider H.B. 924 (Toohil, R-Luzerne), which would prohibit discrimination in the provision of life, accident and health insurance based on the status of an insured as a living organ donor. The bill would also allow for family leave to provide care during transplantation.

On Tuesday, the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee will hold an informational meeting on the demand response industry. In addition, the House Judiciary Committee will consider H.B. 1402 (Nesbit, R-Mercer), which would create the crime of sexual extortion. This crime occurs when a person uses coercion and misuses their power to demand sexual acts, images, or videos from victims. The House Tourism and Recreational Development will vote on H.B. 787 (Heffley, R-Carbon), which would require online home sharing and short-term rental companies doing business in Pennsylvania to register with the state and share information with taxing authorities.

The health-related committees are busy on Tuesday, as the House Health Committee will consider five bills:

  • H.B. 397 (Masser, R-Northumberland), which would allow residents or their representative to place electronic monitoring devices in a room with appropriate notice sand consent of the facility and other residents.
  • H.B. 783 (Marshall, R-Beaver), which would establish an infant CPR and Choking Education and Prevention Program;
  • H.B. 1005 (Cox, R-Lancaster), which would add Narcan/Naloxone to the Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescriptions Program (ABC-MAP);
  • H.B. 1214 (Struzzi, R-Indiana), which would add pain management clinics to the list of health care facilities regulated by the Department of Health; and
  • H.R. 268 (Struzzi, R-Indiana), which would direct the Joint State Government Commission to study the impact of the behavioral health care system capacity on hospital emergency departments and patient health.

The House Human Services Committee will consider three bills:

  • H.B. 672 (Ortitay, R-Allegheny), which would clarify provisions regarding mental health age of consent;
  • H.B. 1052 (Nelson, R-Westmoreland), which would define best practices for notification when an individual leaves addiction treatment against medical advice; and
  • H.R. 193 (McNeill, D-Lehigh), which would direct the Joint State Government Commission to conduct a study on the mental health provider shortage in this Commonwealth and to issue a report.

Wednesday, the last session day of the week, will include a meeting of the House Finance Committee to consider H.B. 17 (Ryan, R-Lebanon), which would establish a 10-year time period for the Department of Revenue to collect assessed personal income tax, and H.B. 1232 (Dunbar, R-Westmoreland), which would make the Enhanced Revenue Collection Account permanent. The account was created to fund the Department of Revenue’s expanded tax return reviews and tax collection activities.

The House Commerce Committee will vote on H.B. 1429 (Galloway, D-Bucks), which would require pre-foreclosure notices before a lender may attempt to accelerate or pursue any legal action against the homeowner, and H.B. 1437 (Keller, R-Perry), which would update the Rural Jobs and Investment Tax Credit Program, including increasing the annual cap from $4 million to $15 million. Lastly, the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee plans to consider H.B. 956 (Murt, R-Montgomery), which would amend the State Lottery Law to reduce the statutorily mandated rate of return.

See here for a full list of committee meetings:

Also, see here for what to expect on the House floor next week.

In Other News

  • The State Board of Education announced their support of the Governor’s proposal to require students to start school by age 6 and remain until age 18.
  • The Pennsylvania Long-Term Care Council (LTCC) released its Blueprint for Strengthening Pennsylvania’s Direct Care Workforce.
  • The House Government Oversight Committee launched their first investigation, which will look into Department of State’s implementation of transparency provisions in the lobbying disclosure law.
  • Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) will introduce legislation to require the sale of the Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor’s residence.

[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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Updated: May 25, 2018:

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