News from Second and State
It was a short and sweet session week, since Monday was a national holiday and only the Senate met for voting session, and there’s little to report on the legislative front. The headliner this week was the Senate’s largely party-line passage of S.B. 501 (Eichelberger, R-Blair), known to most as the “paycheck protection bill.” The measure would disallow the deduction of funds from public sector union employees’ paychecks other than money that is used specifically for negotiating and administering a union contract. While the bill enjoys a great deal of Republican support in both the House and Senate, four members of the Senate GOP voted with the Democrats against S.B. 501, bringing the final tally to 26 yeas and 23 nays. Along with most Democrats in the legislature, Gov. Wolf opposes the bill.
To read S.B. 501, go to: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2015&sInd=0&body=S&type=B&bn=0501
To see how members voted, go to: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/Legis/RC/Public/rc_view_action2.cfm?sess_yr=2015&sess_ind=0&rc_body=S&rc_nbr=275
Also of note, S.B. 925 (Rafferty, R-Berks) will be heading to the governor’s desk. The bill extends the time period for a school bus driver to have his or her required physical from 12 to 13 months. Requiring the physical within 12 months was forcing drivers to pay out of pocket for the exam, since most insurance policies cover an exam only once 12 months have passed. Once signed in the House, it will be before the governor for his signature.
There’s some news of note from the Governor’s Office this week. Pennsylvania has entered into a cooperative agreement with West Virginia and Ohio to make the most of economic and employment opportunities in the shale gas region. The aim of the three-year agreement, which does not include any regulatory changes, is to “maximize development in an environmentally safe way” said Wolf, and to “attract new businesses, strengthen workforce development programs, spur investment in expanding infrastructure and delivery of natural gas and liquids, and encourage (its) academic institutions to expand and collaborate on research.”
Read the full press release and the agreement here: http://wallaby.telicon.com/PA/library/2015/2015101352.HTM
Finally, we would be remiss not to give a budget update, no matter how brief. There’s been no real movement on that front as we approach the end of a fourth month without a state spending plan. While talks among the caucuses and the Governor’s Office may have resumed, no proposal has yet been shared.
Read more here: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2015/10/pa_budget_talks_resume_with_st.html#incart_m-rpt-2
A Look Ahead:
Both the House and Senate will be back in action next week, and the committee schedule is already pretty well packed. On Monday, the House Education Committee will meet to consider H.B. 1606 (Christiana, R-Beaver), which would establish the SchoolWATCH Act, and H.R. 540 (Kampf, R-Chester), which would direct the Joint State Government Commission to conduct a comprehensive study of school discipline policies, laws and regulations. Also, the House Insurance Committee will hold an informational meeting on H.B. 1633 (Pickett, R-Bradford), which would move the oversight of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) from the Insurance Department to the Department of Human Services.
To read H.B. 1606, go to: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2015&sInd=0&body=H&type=B&bn=1606
To read H.R. 540, go to: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2015&sInd=0&body=H&type=R&bn=0540
To read H.B. 1633, go to: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2015&sInd=0&body=H&type=B&bn=1633
On Tuesday, the House Finance Committee will meet to consider H.B. 406 (Cox, R-Berks) and H.B. 1162 (Schweyer-D, Lehigh), both of which would amend the Taxpayer Relief Act, and the House Judiciary Committee will meet to consider H.B. 1336 (Cutler, R-Lancaster), which would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to provide for merit selection of the state’s appellate level judges.
To read H.B. 406, go to: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2015&sInd=0&body=H&type=B&bn=0406
To read H.B. 1162, go to: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2015&sInd=0&body=H&type=B&bn=1162
To read H.B. 1336, go to: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2015&sInd=0&body=H&type=B&bn=1336
Finally, on Wednesday, expect a House Gaming Oversight Committee meeting (agenda to be announced) , a House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee informational meeting on the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee’s report on elder abuse, and a House State Government and Senate State Government Committees joint hearing on PA’s new online voter registration system.
For a full list of committee meetings, go to: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/session.cfm
On the House floor, expect a vote on H.B. 1326 (Godshall, R-Montgomery), which would establish a process for determining fair market value of a water or wastewater company acquired by a water or wastewater public utility for rate making purposes. Also expect a vote on H.B. 1233 (Quinn, R-Bucks), which would require that certain medical test results be sent directly to patients.
To read H.B. 1326, go to: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2015&sInd=0&body=H&type=B&bn=1326
To read H.B. 1233, go to:
Check out The Week Ahead for additional scheduled floor action in the House: http://wallaby.telicon.com/PA/library/2015/2015101580.PDF
To see what might happen in the Senate, check out the Senate Calendar: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/SessionCalendars/index.cfm?Chamber=S
In Other News:
- The only debate of Supreme Court candidates was held this week, See what they had to say here: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/elections/mc-pa-supreme-court-debate-20151014-story.html
- Are PA’s odds of expanded gambling getting better? http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20151013_Pa__lawmakers_may_agree_on_expanding_gambling.html
- Certain environmental organizations have issued their first ever judicial endorsements. See who they like: http://wallaby.telicon.com/PA/library/2015/2015101365.HTM
- Gov. Wolf has named Pennsylvania’s “Distinguished Daughters.” See who made the cut: http://wallaby.telicon.com/PA/library/2015/2015101479.HTM