Beyond the budget, there was some significant legislative activity. First, on Monday the House Education Committee reported out two noteworthy bills; H.B. 1386 (Hill, R-York), which would update teacher certification levels, and H.B. 1653 (Quigley, R-Montgomery), which would allow students enrolled in distance education to be eligible for PHEAA grants. The House Insurance Committee also met and considered two bills; H.B. 1335 (Pickett, R-Bradford), which would require the Insurance Department to annually report the regulatory costs incurred by Pennsylvania insurers, and H.B. 1535 (Ward, R-Blair), which would provide transparency in rate setting for intellectual disabilities and autism. H.B. 1335 was reported to the full floor for consideration, while H.B. 1535 was reported with a request to re-refer to the House Human Services Committee.
The House Labor and Industry Committee held a public hearing on H.B. 1641 (Cutler, R-Lancaster), which would promote competitive wages for people with disabilities. The House Transportation Committee also held a public hearing, where they were briefed on H.B. 1699 (Marshall, R-Beaver), which would make 102-inch wide truck trailers the new standard for all Pennsylvania highways, followed by a voting meeting to report out S.B. 172 (Argall, R-Schuylkill), which would create a pilot program for speed cameras in active work zones.
With data breaches on the rise, the House Commerce Committee reported out two bills designed to protect consumers and their confidential identity information. H.B. 1846 (Ellis, R-Butler), would require that an entity subject to a breach notify affected consumers, and H.B. 1847 (Driscoll, D-Philadelphia), would waive credit freeze fees and provide consumers with free credit monitoring for three years and reports for one year after a breach occurs. Along with these bills, the committee also reported out H.B. 1562 (Christiana, R-Beaver), which would transfer the management of PennWATCH, the state’s “transparency website” from the Office of Administration to the Independent Fiscal Office. And finally, the House Rules Committee reported out, and the House passed finally, H.B. 176 (Pickett, R-Bradford), which amends the PA Construction Code Act to exclude roadside stands from the Uniform Construction Code.
Both chambers had plenty of meetings and hearings on Tuesday. The City of Philadelphia was front and center, as the Senate Local Government Committee held a public hearing on the Philadelphia beverage tax and the House Finance Committee held an informational meeting on the Sterling Act and the Philadelphia wage tax. Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee held an informational meeting on the current trends in opiate abuse and other illegal drug use, and the Senate Appropriations Committee held a public hearing on municipal police coverage being provided by the Pennsylvania State Police.
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee reported out S.B. 179 (Bartolotta, R-Washington), which would create a mental health treatment database for availability of services, and S.B. 674 (Rafferty, R-Montgomery), which would implement automatic scheduling changes for controlled substances in Pennsylvania in coordination with a proposed federal scheduling change. S.B. 741 (Greenleaf, R-Montgomery), which would increase court filing fees and remove the sunset provision in the Access to Justice Act, and H.R. 515 (Fritz, R-Susquehanna), which urges the Delaware River Basin Commission to suspend consideration of a moratorium on natural gas drilling in the basin, both finally passed in the House and were sent to the Senate for consideration. In addition, the House passed S.B. 242 (Baker, R-Luzerne), which would provide updates to the PA One Call, the state’s communications system for underground utilities.
The House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee reported out H.B. 1588 (Diamond, R-Lebanon), which would establish coordination and information sharing between the Department of Aging and Department of Health regarding vital records in the PACE/PACENET programs. The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee reported as amended H.B. 1388 (Irvin, R-Huntingdon), which would reauthorize CHIP, which is set to expire at the end of the year. In the amended version, it would prohibit CHIP policies from covering sex reassignment surgery and sex transition services.
The Senate unanimously passed two pharmaceutical-related bills: S.B. 472 (Yaw, R-Luzerne), which would limit the prescription for controlled substances containing an opioid to seven-days unless there is a medical emergency, and S.B. 728 (Yaw, R-Luzerne), which would exempt Schedule V epilepsy drugs currently included in the Prescription Monitoring Program requirements.
A Look Ahead
As mentioned, the House of Representatives will not convene in voting session next week.
No committee meetings are scheduled yet for Monday. On Tuesday, The Senate Aging and Youth Committee will hold a joint public hearing with the Senate Health and Human Services Committee to receive an update on the Lyme Disease Task Force report. Also, the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee will have a public hearing on S.B. 800 (Alloway, R-Franklin), which would provide updates to the Covered Device Recycling Act. The Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee will consider S.B. 234 (Blake, D-Lackawanna), which would establish a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program.
On Wednesday, the House Finance committee will hold a public hearing on the Department of Revenue’s collection practices. Adding to the list of public hearings, the Senate Communications and Technology Committee will have a hearing on S.B. 914 (Aument, R-Lancaster), which would consolidate the executive branch’s IT services into one newly established entity, the Office of Information Technology. The House Children and Youth Committee has an informational meeting scheduled with the Auditor General on his special report on the state’s child welfare system. Finally, the Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a joint public hearing with the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee on the impact of the failure to fund the state-related institutions of higher education, the agricultural research and extension programs and the veterinary medicine school.
Thursday, the House Commerce Committee will hold a public hearing on cyber security.
Also next week, the Governor could take action on a few bills that are on his desk, including H.B. 409 (Evankovich, R-Westmoreland), making comprehensive amendments to the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act. The last day for action on H.B. 409 is October 27th.
For a full list of committee meetings and what to expect on the Senate’s schedule, see below.
In Other News
- Lots of budget action this week. Read about it here.
- The first licensed grower and processor of medical marijuana got the green light to start production.
- Pennsylvania received another extension to comply with Real ID, this time until October 2018.
- Pennsylvania to offer $1 billion in tax incentives to lure Amazon to state.
- The state Supreme Court ruled on a case dealing with the state’s business loss carry-over tax deduction.
- Gov. Wolf has awarded $4M in grants to fight the opioid epidemic.
- Pennsylvania is approaching its 250th birthday; where does the time go?