We saw some very early movement on budget-related issues this week, as the House Appropriations Committee reported bills to fund the state-related universities as well as the housekeeping bills (which appropriate funding for self-funded agencies) to the full floor for consideration. It’s a long way and there’s a lot of work between now and June 30, but it’s always encouraging to see early movement on budget bills.
On Monday, the House Finance Committee held a public hearing on an analysis of the Corporate Net Income Tax (CNIT) in Pennsylvania. Representatives of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and Council on State Taxation testified before the Committee. The committee also discussed H.B. 2017 (Ryan, R-Lebanon), which would address legislative changes needed for the calculation of bonus depreciation.
The House Judiciary Committee also held public hearings on the issues of public safety, gun laws and violence. The committee will hold at least five of these hearings this month, where members who have sponsored gun violence and school safety measures may address the committee regarding their proposals.
Finally, the House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee held a public hearing on H.B. 1810 (Heffley, R-Carbon), which would require online home sharing and short-term rental companies like Air BnB and VRBO doing business in the Commonwealth to register with the state and share information with taxing authorities to ensure the proper collection of the state’s hotel tax.
The House Education Committee reported out H.B. 564 (Boback, R-Luzerne), which would require students to take and receive a passing score on a civics test as a condition of high school graduation. The House Health Committee reported out H.B. 2050 (Turzai, R-Allegheny), which would prohibit the abortion of any child due to a diagnosis of possible Down Syndrome.
On the floor, the House unanimously passed: H.B. 994 (Grove, R-York), which would clarify that the sales of telephones, modems, tablets and related items are not subject to the gross receipts tax; H.B. 1851 (Pickett, R-Bradford), which would require the Insurance Department to schedule a conference with an insurance company prior to commencing examination fieldwork; and H.B. 2049 Moul (R-Adams), which would provide requirements for documentation of service animals in housing. S.B. 877 and S.B. 878 (White, R-Indiana), which would allow insurers to offer an insured or a prospective insured a rebate or inducement, both passed finally as amended and will head back to the Senate for concurrence. In addition, the House passed H.B. 333 (Nelson, R-Westmoreland), which would allow small businesses to take the full 179 deduction (the purchase price of qualifying equipment) allowed under the IRS tax code.
Tuesday, the House Finance Committee held an informational meeting on the Keystone Scholars Program. Under the Program, the Pennsylvania Treasury Department is investing $100 for every baby born or adopted to families who live in the designated counties during 2018 and 2019 to be used for the baby’s future higher education expenses. The House State Government Committee reported out H.R. 429 (Hill, R-York), which would establish a legislative task force on the delivery of high-speed broadband services.
The House Health Committee reported out two human services-related bills: H.B. 1618 (Walsh, R-Westmoreland), which would require public assistance funds not used within six months of receipt to be forfeited; and H.B. 2138 (Dowling, R-Fayette), which would add work requirements for Medical Assistance enrollees. H.B. 331 (Bloom, R-Cumberland), which would allow pass-through entity shareholders to defer their personal income tax (PIT) for link-kind exchanges, passed on the House floor by a near unanimous vote.
On Wednesday, the House Professional Licensure Committee held a public hearing on H.B. 1805 (Ward, R-Blair), which would provide for the practice of surgical technologists in healthcare facilities. The House Human Services Committee also held a public hearing on H.B. 2069 (Miller, D-Allegheny), which would codify an expiring grant program that provides assistance to dead and blind individuals. The House Human Services Committee will vote on the bill next week. In addition, the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee held an informational meeting on legal services available to older adults.
Also on Wednesday, the House Consumer Affairs Committee reported out H.B. 1782 (Delozier, R-Cumberland), allowing for utility alternate ratemaking mechanisms. Finally, the House advanced H.B. 645(O’Neill, R-Bucks), which would double the amount available for the Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit, and also passed H.B. 1699 (Marshall, R-Beaver), which would make 102 inch wide trailers the new standard on Pennsylvania highways.
A Look Ahead
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate will convene for voting session. This is one of the rare times this spring that both chambers will be in Harrisburg together, so expect a busy week.
On Monday, the House Insurance Committee will consider H.B. 1800 (Nelson, R-Westmoreland) which would allow for “medication synchronization” to keep patients from having to make multiple trips to the pharmacy. The House Health Committee will also meet to consider H.B. 1659 (Tobash, R-Schuylkill), addressing work requirements for food stamps, and H.B. 1997 (Bernstine, R- Beaver) which would allow patients in crisis to be “deemed eligible” for behavioral health services under Medical Assistance. Finally, the House Labor and Industry Committee will hold a public hearing on H.B. 1781 (Keller, F., R-Snyder), which would provide a certification method for independent contractors for the purpose of workers’ compensation.
On Tuesday, the House State Government Committee will meet to consider H.B. 1642 (Hill, R-York), which would require DGS to inventory state communication towers in order to address how to bring high-speed broadband to underserved areas of the Commonwealth.
Wednesday, the House Professional Licensure Committee will hold a public hearing on H.B. 789 (Christiana, R-Beaver), which would put the Department of Health’s regulation requiring physician supervision of administration of anesthesia into statute. The House Commerce Committee will hold a public hearing on S.B. 234 (Blake, R-Lackawanna), which would establish Pennsylvania’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program.
The House Health Committee will consider H.B. 1535 (Ward, R-Blair), which would provide transparency in intellectual disability and autism payments and reimbursement rates, and H.B. 2126 (Ortitay, R-Allegheny), which would require the Department of Human Services to enforce provisions of existing law related to a child’s consent for their own treatment.
For a full list of committee meetings, click here.
In Other News
- The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Advisory Board voted to recommend allowing the use of dried leaf marijuana.
- PennDOT, the Turnpike Commission and Penn State University announced a partnership to plan and design a state-of-the-art safety, training and research facility.
- PennDOT unveiled an action plan for high automated vehicles.
- Pennsylvania students outperformed peers in national reading, math exams.
- Facebook issued a series of news releases this week.