It’s been a rare week so far this year when both chambers have been in session and this week was no different, as only the Senate convened for three days of voting session. On Monday, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported out S.B. 1031 (Laughlin, R-Erie), which would require transparency and establish procedural guidelines for Insurance Department examinations, and the Senate Education Committee reported out H.B. 679 (Ortitay, R-Allegheny), which would establish a central repository of online courses accessible to the public.
Tuesday, the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee favorably voted a package of bills to address pipeline safety: S.B. 835 (Dinniman, D-Chester), which defines and regulates “land agents;” S.B. 930 (Dinniman, D-Chester), which would provide for the communication and coordination between emergency management agencies and pipelines companies; and S.B. 931 (Dinniman, D-Chester), which provides for pipeline safety valves.
The Senate Aging and Youth Committee reported out two bills: S.B. 891 (Argall, R-Schuylkill), which would establish coordination between the Department of Aging and Department of Health regarding vital records of PACE and PACENET enrollees; and H.B. 1232 (Murt, R-Montgomery), which would require all schools and hospitals to display a poster with the statewide toll-free telephone number for reporting suspected child abuse or neglect. Another pair of bills were reported from the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee: H.B. 864 (Mustio, R-Allegheny), which would allow the state’s international airports to conduct 50/50 drawings; and S.B. 1047 (Costa, D-Allegheny), which would dissolve the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority of Pittsburgh. The Authority was established during the City’s time under Act 47 status and tasked with stabilizing Pittsburgh’s long-term fiscal outlook.
On the Senate floor, S.B. 627 (Killion, R-Delaware), which would treat all air freight companies equally under the state’s tax law, unanimously passed. Also, S.B. 1056 (Brooks, R-Erie), which would allow for bonus depreciation deductions to be taken against a company’s Corporate Net Income Tax liability, received final passage and will head to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Wednesday, the Joint Legislative Budget and Finance Committee released a report entitled “Promoting the Long-Term Sustainability and Viability of Universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.” The House and Senate Education Committees will hold a joint public hearing on the study next Tuesday. The Senate Transportation Committee reported out S.B. 1098 (Browne, R-Lehigh), which would provide school districts the option to install stop-arm cameras on school buses and penalize drivers who fail to stop for school buses with flashing red lights.
The day was filled with floor votes as the Senate passed H.B. 1869 (Mackenzie, R-Lehigh), which would establish the Maternal Mortality Review Committee. The bill heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature. H.B. 478 (Pickett, R-Bradford), which would provide for outpatient psychiatric oversight, unanimously passed as amended and goes back to the House for concurrence. S.B. 435 (Boscola, D-Northampton), which would require drivers to clear snow and ice from their vehicles before driving, and S.B. 1136 (Brooks, R-Erie), which would allow schools located in a municipality with no municipal police department to enter into a cooperative police agreement with another municipality for part-time police coverage, both passed and make their way to the lower chamber for consideration. Finally, the Senate unanimously passed S.R. 258 (Williams, D-Philadelphia), which would urge Congress to reschedule marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance.
A Look Ahead
Keeping with what seems like our new tradition, only the House will be in session next week. On Monday, the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee will consider H.B. 2154 (Causer, R-McKean), which would update the Oil and Gas Act. The House Consumer Affairs Committee will hold a public hearing on H.B. 2113 (Oberlander, R-Clarion), which would prohibit health insurers from altering the coverage or premiums during the policy term when an insured has already received a specific treatment, service or prescription drug. Also, Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Leslie Richards will brief the House Transportation Committee on PennDOT’s proposed policy plan on the testing of highly automated vehicles.
Moving to Tuesday, the House Finance and House Tourism and Recreational Development Committees will hold a joint public hearing on H.B. 1511 (Quinn, M., R-Bucks), which would collect hotel occupancy taxes from online travel companies. The House Commerce Committee will consider: H.B. 1360 (Quinn, M., R-Bucks, which would establish a licensure and other requirements for third party solicitors of charitable organizations; S.B. 234 (Blake, R-Lackawanna), which would create Pennsylvania’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program; and H.B. 2241 (Mustio, R-Allegheny), which would preempt local taxation of food, beverage and food and beverage containers in the Commonwealth.
A full list of House committee meetings can be found here and expected floor action here.
In Other News
- Pennsylvania got more federal aid to fight the opioid crisis.
- Governor Wolf took executive action to curb overprescribing of opioids in workers’ compensation.
- Pennsylvania is planting 10 million trees to curb pollution in waterways.
- The fireworks industry is suing the state over an additional 12 percent sales tax.