Pennsylvania’s state spending plan for the 2017-2018 fiscal year is long overdue. Yes, we had a “budget” by July 1, but legislation necessary to raise revenue needed to pay for it has been stalled ever since. And while no real fiscal crisis (yet) has caused a hiccup in state services or compelled any action, Gov. Wolf has warned that the state can only stay in budget limbo until October 1. With that in mind, even though only the House of Representatives returned to Harrisburg this week for three days of voting session, leaders from both the House and Senate, along with the Governor’s Office, have been meeting to hash out the long-overdue revenue package needed to balance our books.
Meanwhile, the House did conduct some of its regular legislative business. On Monday, the House Consumer Affairs Committee held a public hearing on H.B. 798 (Davis, R-Bucks). The bill would place municipal water and sewer authorities under the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. Also, the House Transportation Committee reported out H.B. 1657 (Maloney, R-Berks), which provides provision for parking around bike lanes.
Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee considered a number of bills. H.B. 1037 (Kampf, R-Chester), which would provide for damage caps in suits against nursing homes and assisted living facilities, was reported as committed by a one-vote margin. H.B. 401 (Grove, R-York) was also reported out, which would allow the courts of common pleas and the Superior Court to create “commerce courts” to hear cases affecting business and financial enterprises.
Also on Tuesday, the House unanimously passed H.B. 1739 (Baker, R-Tioga), which clarifies that physicians providing direct primary care based on a medical service agreement are not considered insurers subject to regulation by the Insurance Department.
Finally, on Wednesday, the House Labor and Industry Committee held a public hearing on workers’ compensation issues; in particular, the effects of a recent Supreme Court case and its effect on workers’ compensation impairment rating evaluations.
A Look Ahead
Given the progress in budget negotiations, both the House of Representatives and the Senate will be in Harrisburg for session next week. Though it’s hard to say for sure, next week could finally be the week we wrap up this pesky budget business.
Beyond the budget, expect some committee action, at least in the House. On Tuesday, the House Human Services Committee will hold a public hearing on workforce issues related to care for people who have disabilities. The House Judiciary Committee will consider H.B. 1803 (Costa, D., D-Allegheny), which would update the state’s hate crime statute to include crimes motivated by mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or sexual identification.
Wednesday, the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee will have an informational meeting on the current state of licensed long-term care facilities in the Commonwealth. The House Commerce Committee will consider H.B. 1562 (Christiana, R-Beaver), which would transfer the management of PennWATCH, the state’s one-stop-shop to find information about the state budget, revenues and how money is being spent, to the Independent Fiscal Office. The bill would also extend the data available online.
For a full list of committee meetings:
For anticipated floor action:
In Other News
- The Pennsylvania Supreme Court revived a lawsuit over how public schools are funded.
- Comments on the state’s medical marijuana patients and caregivers temporary regulations will be accepted until October 2.
- The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board had another record year during the 2016-2017 fiscal year.
- Pennsylvania received a $5.7 million federal grant to fight the opioid epidemic.
- Coders will converge in Harrisburg and Philadelphia this weekend for the “Code4PA” hackathon.
- Will PA be Amazon’s newest home?
- Pittsburgh, who has been in Act 47 “financially distressed” status since 2003, could have the title removed by next year.