News from Second & State

by Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC

Weekly Wrap

As it gets further into the month of June, budget negotiations, like the weather, are beginning to heat up. Although there hasn’t been any movement on budget-related legislation, talks are ongoing and things are expected to move rather quickly in the next week or so. In the meantime, the House and Senate are moving non-budget bills between chambers and to the Governor’s desk.

Monday, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported out three bills of note: S.B. 735 (Brewster, D-Allegheny), which would allow counties to impose a fee on properties sold for delinquent taxes; S.B. 891 (Argall, R-Schuylkill), which would establish coordination between state agencies regarding vital records of PACE and PACENET enrollees; and S.B. 1098 (Browne, R-Lehigh), which would give school districts the option to install automated enforcement system on school buses and would penalize drivers for failing to stop at the flashing red light.

On the House floor, H.B. 85 (Lawrence, R-Chester), which would allow a philosophical exemption for student assessments, passed finally. The bill will now go to the Senate for consideration. Also, H.B. 653 (Masser, R-Northumberland), which would provide for an expedited foreclosure process on abandoned property, will head to the Governor’s desk after the House concurred in Senate amendments.

Tuesday, the House Children and Youth Committee reported out H.B. 2477 (Watson, R-Bucks), which would amend the Medical Marijuana Act by clarifying the section on academic clinical research centers and clinical registrants. The House Health Committee favorably voted on three bills relating to prescription medications: H.B. 2211 (Ward, R-Blair), which would permit pharmacists to disclose prescription drug price information; H.B. 2212 (Heffley, R-Carbon), which would give the Department of Human Services (DHS) the ability to request payment information from pharmacy benefit managers; and S.B. 978 (Baker, R-Luzerne), which would authorize health and hospice agencies to properly dispose of unused medications following a patient’s discharge or death. In addition, the House Human Services Committee reported out H.B. 2200 (Ortitay, R-Allegheny), which would require the collection of state agency data relating to substance abuse.

On the Senate side, the Health and Human Services Committee reported out H.B. 1659 (Tobash, R-Schuylkill), which would prohibit DHS from providing Supplemental Assistance Program (SNAP) work requirements waivers without prior approval of the General Assembly, and H.B. 2138 (Dowling, R-Fayette), which would add work requirements for certain medical assistance enrollees. Both bills received no Democratic support.

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held a voting meeting to consider several pieces of natural gas-related legislation. All three bills were reported out of committee: S.B. 1189 (Baker, R-Luzerne), which would provide compensation to landowners impacted by the Delaware River Basin Commission’s gas drilling moratorium; S.R. 373 (Rafferty, R-Montgomery), which would establish a commission to recommend and develop legislation on improvements for the transport of oil, natural gas and other liquids through pipelines; S.R. 375 (Bartolotta, R-Washington), which urges Congress to support measures to advance the development of an Appalachian storage hub for petrochemical feedstock.

Wrapping up the committees on Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee reported out three bills: H.B. 2124 (Quinn, R-Delaware), which would require institutions of higher education to provide information regarding loan debt to their students; S.B. 1181 (Reshenthaler, R-Allegheny), which would provide for early intervention depression screening of school-age children; and S.B. 1198 (Eichelberger, R-Blair), which would establish a website that provides comprehensive information about school performance indexes and reports.

H.B. 1641 (Cutler, R-Lancaster), which would establish the Employment First Act to provide employment for individuals with disabilities, and S.B. 655 (Yaw, R-Lycoming), which would create opioid prescription guidelines, both passed finally on the Senate floor. While S.B. 655 makes its way to the House for consideration, H.B. 1641 is in the hands of the Governor and awaiting his signature.

Wednesday started off with a few public hearings. The Senate Transportation Committee held a public hearing on automated work zone vehicles and platooning. Next, the House Labor and Industry Committee held a public hearing on H.B. 861 (Grove, R-York), which would preempt local regulation of employer policies and practices.

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee reported out H.B. 1800 (Nelson, R-Westmoreland), which would provide for medication synchronization. In addition, the Senate Judiciary Committee, on a party-line vote, reported out H.B. 2050 (Turzai, R-Allegheny), which would prohibit an abortion due to a diagnosis of possible Down Syndrome. Lastly, for committees, the Senate Education Committee favorably voted on S.B. 1095 (McGarrigle, R-Delaware), which would provide alternatives to the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement, and on S.R. 293 (Martin, R-Lancaster), which would direct the Joint State Government Commission to conduct a comprehensive study on school safety.

Moving to the floor, on the House side, H.B. 1987 (Barbin, D-Cambria) unanimously passed. The bill would limit the distribution of fentanyl and its derivatives. The House also passed S.B. 172 (Argall, R-Schuylkill), which would create an automated speed enforcement pilot program for highway work zones and two pilot programs within the City of Philadelphia. Since the bill was amended in the House, the Senate must vote on the new version of the bill.

On the Senate floor, S.B. 22 (Boscola, D-Northampton) passed finally after much debate. The bill was amended the prior day by adding language on judicial districts for the state’s appellate courts. S.B. 22 would also establish an independent redistricting commission for the purpose of drawing the state’s congressional and legislative districts. Each issue would have its separate ballot question, assuming the legislation passes the House this legislative session and again by both chambers next session.

Less controversial, these bills unanimously passed in the Senate: S.B. 667 (Stefano, R-Fayette), which would grant redevelopment authorities the same powers given to land banks; S.B. 780 (Vogel, R-Beaver), which would authorize licensed, certified or registered healthcare providers to practice telemedicine; S.B. 851 (Argall, R-Schuylkill), which would clarify ownership of properties that are in the delinquent sale process; and S.B. 934 (Baker, R-Luzerne), which would establish the Elevator Safety Board and establish fees.

The Week Ahead

On Monday, the House Finance Subcommittee on Tax Modernization and Reform will hold a public hearing on local tax assessments. Furthermore, the House Consumer Affairs Committee will hold a public hearing on competitive energy supplier sales and marketing practices. The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee will hold a workshop on historic preservation tax credits.

Tuesday, the House Finance Committee will hold an informational meeting on H.B. 1289 (Metcalfe, R-Butler), which would apply certain provisions of the Internal Revenue Code that permit the deferral of taxation on a lump sum distribution from the Employee Stock Ownership Plan of company to the Tax Reform Code. Following the informational meeting, the Committee will vote on S.B. 1056 (Brooks, R-Erie), which would allow for bonus depreciation deductions to be taken against a company’s Corporate Net Income Tax liability.

On Wednesday, the House Consumer Affairs Committee will consider H.B. 107 (Godshall, R-Montgomery), which would provide for an infrastructure charge for natural gas facilities. The committee will also take up H.B. 2075 (Charlton, R-Delaware), which would allow water and wastewater utilities to replace contaminated lateral lines and damaged sewer lines.

For a full list of committee meetings see:

In Other News

  • Governor Wolf provided an update on the state’s progress on battling the heroin and opioid crisis.
  • The Auditor General announced two audits, one on voting security and another on prescription drug pricing.
  • Governor Wolf proposed job licensing reforms.

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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