News from Second & State - November 2019

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC

Another busy session week has come to an end, and the legislature won’t reconvene for voting session until Monday, November 18.

This week started out with a few public hearings held on Monday:

  • The House Education Committee held a public hearing on S.B. 751 (Aument, R-Lancaster) and H.B. 1607 (Topper, R-Bedford), which would reform the teacher evaluation system;
  • The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held a public hearing on carbon dioxide and the climate; and
  • The House Transportation Committee held a public hearing on the Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP).

In the Senate, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported two bills to the full floor for consideration: S.B. 67 (Ward, R-Blair), which would allow for tele-psychological practice across state lines and temporary in-person services; and H.B. 305 (Snyder, D-Greene), which would direct the Department of General Services to take an inventory of state-owned assets and county-owned assets for the development of mobile broadband services in unserved areas and underserved areas.

As for floor action, the Senate finally passed three bills of note:

  • S.B. 320 (Killion, R-Delaware), which would provide for the management and disposition of digital assets in the same way a person can make plans for their tangible property;
  • S.B. 332 (Stefano, R-Fayette), which would increase the cap on a service charge that a merchant may charge for a bad check; and
  • S.B. 351 (Ward, R-Blair), which would add a health care practitioner or technician to the list of individuals protected by the aggravated assault statute.

It was a typical busy Tuesday, starting out with a House Finance Committee Subcommittee on Tax Modernization and Reform informational meeting on state tax reforms.

The House Health Committee reported out H.B. 1880 (Gillespie, R-York), which would remove the requirement for surnames to be displayed on health care employees identification badges. Also, the House Insurance Committee reported out H.B. 1862 (Pickett, R-Bradford), which would provide protections for consumers receiving surprise balance bills for covered health care services from out-of-network providers.

The House Labor and Industry Committee took up legislation and one regulation. First, they reported H.B. 1234 (Cox, R-Berks) to the floor. The bill would clarify workers’ compensation as the exclusive remedy for claims related to latent occupational diseases. Secondly, the Committee disapproved the Governor’s proposed regulation on raising the minimum wage: Regulation #12-106: Minimum Wage, with the Democratic members voting in the negative

Moving to the upper chamber, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported out two notable bills: S.B. 906 (Yudichak, D-Luzerne), which would establish a moratorium on the closure of the Polk and White Haven state centers; and H.B. 1410 (Stephens, R-Montgomery), which would establish a per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) remediation program for affected military installations and municipalities located nearby. Also moving two bills out of committee was the Senate Judiciary Committee, who reported out S.B. 647 (Hutchinson, R-Venango), which would create a fund to be used to train law enforcement in drug recognition, and H.B. 1402 (Nesbit, R-Mercer), which would create the offense of sexual extortion

The Senate Education Committee reported out S.B. 850 (Langerholc, R-Cambria), which would establish the Community Integrated Schools for Success pilot program in order to connect students and their families with community-based organizations that address academic and nonacademic barriers to learning. In addition, the Senate Local Government Committee reported out H.B. 1203 (Ryan, R-Lebanon), which would require the annual audit of an authority to comply with state and federal standards and allow the municipality to request assistance from the Auditor General. Finally, the Senate Transportation Committee voted favorably on S.B. 858 (Pittman, R-Indiana), which would reduce transfers from the Motor License Fund to fund operations for the State Police.

On the floors, the House finally passed S.B. 421 (Boscola, D-Northampton), an omnibus Election Code bill, that among other things would eliminate straight-party voting, changes the voter registration deadline from 30 to 15 days, allows mail-in ballots, and issues up to $90 million in bonds for counties to replace voting machines.  The Governor signed the bill later in the week. The House also passed S.B. 694 (Yaw, R-Lycoming), which would allow for cross unit drilling for unconventional wells. Both bills are before the Governor for his signature.

The Senate sent three bills to the House for its consideration:

  • S.B. 733 (Browne, R-Lehigh), which is the Gaming Economic Development and Tourism Fund Capital Budget Itemization Act for 2019;
  • S.B. 819 (Mensch, R-Montgomery), which would update the Older Adult Protective Services Act; and
  • S.B. 919 (Yaw, R-Lycoming), which would prohibit the use of firefighting foam that contains PFAS chemicals for testing or training.

Wednesday began with the newly established House Government Oversight Committee approving the final report of Investigation 1-2019 (lobbying disclosure law). Then the House Gaming Oversight Committee held a public hearing on H.B. 1598 (Moul, R-Adams), which would legalize “skill machines” for entities holding a small games of chance license or a tavern gaming license. The Senate Communications and Technology also held a public hearing in order discuss the consolidation of the state’s IT services and making improvements to cybersecurity capabilities

The House Local Government Committee reported out H.B. 406 (Cox, R-Berks), which would require municipalities to have at least one publicly advertised meeting prior to finalizing an agreement to sell or lease a sewer or water system. The Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee approved S.B. 570 (Langerholc, R-Cambria), which would increase the amount of grant money available to distressed municipalities under Act 47, and S.B. 784 (Yaw, R-Lycoming), which would make numerous changes to the Small Games of Chance Act. Lastly, the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee reported out S.B. 596 (Mensch, R-Montgomery), which would establish the Clean Transportation Infrastructure Act to support electric, natural gas and hydrogen vehicles and equipment, and S.B. 637 (DiSanto, R-Dauphin), which would reform occupational licensure boards and commission’s rules for consideration of criminal records.

On the House floor, the following bills unanimously passed and will go to the Senate for consideration:

  • H.B. 190 (Quinn, R-Delaware), which would set the minimum threshold for vehicles with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) headlights or taillights to pass inspection;
  • H.B. 1315 (Gleim, R-Cumberland), which would require an industry-recognized credential attained by a student to be included on their high school transcript; and
  • H.B. 1896 (Hennessey, R-Chester) ), which would transfer land in East Vincent Township, Chester County to the Pennsylvania American Water Company for a new water treatment plant.

The full Senate also passed three bills that will make their way to the House:

  • S.B. 841 (Martin, R-Lancaster), which would reauthorize the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council;
  • S.B. 857 (Vogel, R-Beaver), which would authorize the practice of telemedicine by health care providers; and
  • S.B. 905 (Browne, R-Lehigh), which is the Capital Budget Project Itemization Act of 2019-20.

The Week Ahead

Tuesday, November 5 is the Municipal Election, where county and other municipal officials will be on the ballot. The only statewide race is for two vacant seats on the Superior Court. The Superior Court of Pennsylvania is responsible for appeals in criminal and most civil cases from the Courts of Common Pleas and appeals on matters involving children and families. Christylee Peck and Megan McCarthy King are the Republican candidates, while Amanda Green-Hawkins and Daniel McCaffery are the Democratic candidates. There are also retention votes for some of the Superior Court and Commonwealth Court judges.

Go to for more information on your voter registration status, the location of your polling place, and contacts for your county election office.

In Other News

  • The Crime Victims’ Rights Amendment, also known as Marcy’s Law, will be on Tuesday’s ballot but the votes won’t be counted.
  • The Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) submitted comments to the Office of Attorney General on Regulation #59-10: Unfair Market Trade Practices.
  • Governor Wolf signed H.B. 265 into law, which will support career and technical education as well as workforce development.
  • The Department of General Services is looking to rent space to wireless providers to generate revenue.
  • The Governor issued a Request for Information (RFI) to gather input on local efforts and needs to reduce lead exposure.

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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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