This week’s headliner was, of course, Gov. Wolf’s third budget address. Wolf proposed a budget with a modest increase in spending for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, and focused on education, helping seniors, streamlining government and continued efforts to combat opioid abuse. The Governor also urged Democrats and Republicans to work together to “reimagine and reinvent our state government, recommit to our schools, our seniors and our most vulnerable citizens, and rebuild our middle class.”
For more on the budget address and the themes of this year’s budget see our newsletters from earlier this week:
In addition to the flurry of activity that is typical for budget day, there was plenty of other business under the dome this week. On Monday, the House Education Committee reported out H.B. 202 (Turzai, R-Allegheny), providing for testing other than the Keystone Exams as a way to show readiness for graduation; H.B. 224 (Simmons, R-Lehigh), authorizing school bus drivers to administer epi-pens; and H.B. 250 (Turzai, R-Allegheny), increasing the amount of tax credits available under the Education Improvement Tax Credit or “EITC” program. The House Labor and Industry Committee also met to consider four bills amending the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act; among them, H.B. 162 (Maloney, R-Berks), providing for Pennsylvania-specific code manuals, was reported to the full floor for consideration. Finally on Monday, two controversial bills advanced in the Senate: S.B. 10 (Reschenthaler, R-Allegheny), which would withhold state funding from localities holding themselves out as “sanctuary cities” was reported from the Senate Rules and Executive Nominations Committees, and S.B. 3 (Brooks, R-Crawford), prohibiting abortions after 20 gestational weeks. Both of those bills passed the Senate by Wednesday and will now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Other than the speech, Tuesday was a relatively quiet day in the capitol, but we did see some notable action. The Senate Education Committee reported the Governor’s nomination of Estelle Richman to the Philadelphia School Reform Commission to the full Senate for consideration. The Senate Finance Committee reported out a three bill package addressing tax issues for small business: 1) S.B. 201 (Folmer, R-), providing for “like-kind” exchanges; 2) S.B. 202 (Eichleberger, R-Blair) allowing small business to use the Net Operating Loss deduction; and 3) S.B. 203 (Hutchinson, R-Venango), allowing small businesses to take the full federally-allowed deduction for depreciation of machinery and equipment.
Finally, on Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee reported out H.B. 17 (Hahn, R-Northampton), allowing a parent or guardian to give consent for drug testing for a minor child, which passed the House later that day. Also on Wednesday, the House Consumer Affairs Committee reported out H.B. 179 (Day, R-Berks), clarifying legal requirements applicable to household goods movers, and H.B. 104 (Godshall, R-Montgomery), providing for greater transparency in transactions related to municipal acquisitions. Also, the Senate finally passed S.B. 241 (McGarrigle, R-Chester), amending the Equal Pay Law providing for wages to be paid based on experience and education.
Two public hearings took place to finish up a busy session week. The first was a public hearing on drug price transparency in the House Insurance Committee. The second, a Senate Communications and Technology Committee public hearing on the impact of Act 38 of 2012, as it relates to the requirements of the federal government’s REAL ID Act.
A Look Ahead
Next week will be quiet with the exception of a few notable public hearings. On Monday, the Public School Construction & Reconstruction Advisory Committee will hold a meeting at Red Lion High School on school building construction issues. On Wednesday, the House Labor and Industry Committee will hold a public hearing on preventing opioid abuse in the worker’s compensation system.
Beyond that, members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committee will return to Harrisburg for budget hearings beginning on February 21. See below for links to the complete budget hearing schedule:
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