News from Second and State

Weekly Wrap

It was a quiet week at the Capitol, as the Memorial Day holiday meant no session for either chamber. Other than a few House Policy Committee hearings, the last few days leading up to the June budget crunch were uneventful to say the least.

Week Ahead

The House and Senate return to Harrisburg this week to begin what’s expected to be one of the busiest months of the year. Along with the usual business, both chambers will work with the Governor to make an on-time budget, by June 30, a real possibility.

The Senate Appropriations Committee will kick things off on Sunday night by considering S.B. 1 (Corman, R-Centre). The bill establishes a new stacked hybrid pension plan for future public school and state employees. Protected savings derived from S.B. 1 could reach nearly $3 billion over the next three decades.

Monday will be a day full of public hearing. The Senate Education Committee will hold a public hearing on graduation requirements as tools for assessment and accountability. The House Consumer Affairs Committee will discuss legislation amending the Underground Utility Line Protection Act (PA One Call). In the House Labor and Industry Committee, the public hearing will focus on the Unemployment Compensation SIIF (Service and Infrastructure Improvement Fund) audit by the Auditor General. Finally, the House Democratic Policy Committee will hear testimony on the proposed unification of the Departments of Human Services, Health, Aging and Drug and Alcohol Programs.

Besides public hearings, the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee will consider S.B. 446 (McGarrigle, R-Delaware), which provides standards for drug and alcohol recovery houses. The House Consumer Affairs Committee will meet off the floor to consider H.B. 1490 (Turzai, R-Allegheny). The Speaker’s bill places the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority under the oversight of the Public Utility Commission.

On Tuesday, the House Health Committee will consider three bills: H.B. 353 (Nesbit, R-Erie), mandating the electronic prescribing of opioid medications; H.B. 835 (Bernstine, R-Lawrence), gives people in treatment the right to be free from abuse, neglect and exploitation; and H.B. 1309 (Baker, R-Tioga), which amends the Clean Indoor Air Act by prohibiting indoor smoking at bars, casinos, private clubs and hotels. The House Commerce Committee will consider H.B. 566 (Santora, R-Delaware), which allows for suspension of work if payment is not received by a contractor or a subcontractor in accordance with the terms of their construction contract.

There will also be a few public hearings on Tuesday, as the House State Government Committee will concentrate on the state government regulatory process. The Senate State Government Committee will hear an overview of various election topics impacting the Commonwealth.

On Wednesday, continuing with the trend of public hearings, the Senate Law and Justice, Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness, and Senate Communications and Technology Committees will hold a joint public hearing on the Statewide Radio System. In addition, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Infrastructure, Environment and Government Operations plans to hear from stakeholders regarding the Governor’s proposed municipal fee for State Police coverage.

Also on Wednesday, the House Finance Committee will consider a handful of bills, including H.B. 871 (Taylor, R-Philadelphia), which proposes an amendment to the state Constitution that authorizes the City of Philadelphia to impose taxes on real estate used for business purposes at a tax rate that exceeds the tax rate applicable to other real estate. Currently, the Uniformity Clause of the Constitution requires that all taxes be applied uniformly among the same class of subjects, thus prohibiting what Rep. Taylor’s legislation hopes to achieve.

In the House Judiciary Committee, members will vote on bills including H.B. 238 (Kampf, R-Chester), the Fairness in Claims and Transparency Act (FaCT). The bill applies the principles of the state’s Fair Share Act to asbestos litigation such that defendants would pay only for their individual fault, and would require claimants to make and disclose all their bankruptcy claims up front. The Committee will also consider H.B. 1346 (Pyle, R-Armstrong), which prohibits the operation of drones in a manner which places another in reasonable fear of bodily injury.

A full list of committee meetings can be found here:

For anticipated floor action, see below:

In Other News

  • The Pennsylvania Department of Education approved the establishment of the Rural Regional College of Northern Pennsylvania.
  • It was announced this week that Three Mile Island plans to close in 2019.
  • Report: Pennsylvania among most gerrymandered states in U.S.
  • Hoping other state entities will follow, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced that his Department will post all their expenses online.

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