This week, only the Senate was in Harrisburg for three days of voting session.
On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice held a joint public hearing to discuss criminal justice issues. The Senate Judiciary Committee also held a voting meeting and reported out S.B. 652 (Regan, R-Cumberland), which would enhance penalties for those who criminally trespass on critical infrastructure facilities such as refineries, generating facilities and water treatment facilities.
H.B. 595 (Brown, R., R-Monroe) was reported from the Senate Appropriations Committee and set on the Senate Calendar. The bill would provide for alternative dispute resolutions to resolve disputes in condominiums, cooperatives and planned communities.
Tuesday, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee reported out three bills of note: S.B. 576 (Dinniman, D-Chester), which would provide for the reimbursement of programs for patient expenses associated with participation in cancer clinical trials; H.B. 1233 (Murt, R-Montgomery), which would establish a new standard for assisted outpatient mental health treatment; and H.B. 1869 (Mackenzie, R-Lehigh), which would establish a formal process to review maternal deaths in the Commonwealth. The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee and Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held a joint public hearing on pipeline safety.
On the Senate floor, two bills were passed finally and will head to the House of Representatives for consideration. The first, S.B. 761 (Argall, R- Schuylkill), would amend the state Constitution to require each candidate for Governor, upon winning their party’s nomination, to choose a candidate for Lieutenant Governor. Currently, there is a separate election for the Lieutenant Governor. The second bill, S.B. 792 (Alloway, R-Franklin), would repeal and replace Pennsylvania’s Fertilizer Act.
To wrap up the week, the Senate Finance Committee reported H.B. 2017 (Ryan, R-Lebanon) from committee on Wednesday. The bill would reverse a corporate tax bulletin issued in response to recent changes to federal tax law and clarify the allowable state tax deduction for depreciation on qualified property. The Senate Game and Fisheries Committee held a public hearing on the yearly reports of the Game Commission and the Fish and Boat Commission.
The Senate unanimously passed S.B. 919 (Haywood, D-Philadelphia), which would amend to the Housing Authorities Law to allow a victim of domestic or sexual violence to be relocated, and S.B. 1011 (Reschenthaler, R-Allegheny), which would amend the state Constitution by establishing a crime victims’ bill of rights.
Finally, congratulations to four cabinet officials who were confirmed by the Senate this week: Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jennifer Smith, and Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman. Governor Wolf also announced the appointment of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Evanchick as acting Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner to succeed Colonel Tyree Blocker, who will retire today.
A Look Ahead
Like this week, just the Senate is in session next week.
On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold another joint public hearing with the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice to discuss criminal justice issues. The House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee will hold an informational meeting on forest conservation easements. The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee will consider two bills: S.B. 1088 (Hutchinson, R-Venango), which would rewrite the Oil and Gas Act to reflect the current conventional oil and gas industry, and H.B. 544 (Moul, R-Adams), which would amend the state’s recreational use of land liability law to expand protections for property owners found liable for injuries to recreational users.
Tuesday, the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee will hold a public hearing on the nomination of Gladys Brown to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. Brown has been a PUC Commissioner since 2013 and was appointed by Governor Wolf to serve as Chairman in 2015. Her term expires April 1, 2018.
Also on Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee will have a budget hearing with the Department of Health and Department of Human Services. This budget hearing was rescheduled due to snow earlier in the month. The Senate State Government Committee will hold a public hearing on redistricting. In addition, the House Game and Fisheries Committee will hold an informational meeting on the Fish and Boat Commission’s annual report.
The House Game and Fisheries Committee will hold another informational hearing on Wednesday, this time to receive the Game Commission’s annual report.
A full list of committee meetings can be found here:
In Other News
- A week after the congressional special election, Rick Saccone (R) conceded to Conor Lamb (D).
- Nearly 100 candidates are running for Congress in Pennsylvania.
- Online gaming is coming to Pennsylvania.
- Over a quarter of a million teachers were offered credit monitoring after their personal information was released because of human error.
- Plans were revealed for Round 2 of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program.