Both chambers were in session three days this week, but with a little bit of an unusual schedule: the Senate was in Harrisburg Monday through Wednesday, while the House of Representatives was here Tuesday through Thursday.
On Monday, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported out: S.B. 655 (Yaw, R-Lycoming), which would establish the Safe and Effective Opioid Prescribing Advisory Council and require the Secretary of Health to promulgate regulations relating to opioid prescription guidelines; S.B. 1142 (Browne, R-Lehigh), which would establish the Safe2Say Program for anonymous reporting concerning unsafe, potentially harmful, dangerous, violent or criminal activities or threats in schools; and H.B. 1034 (Mako, R-Northampton), which would standardize fiscal procedures for municipal authorities. S.B. 1047 (Costa, D-Allegheny), which would dissolve Pittsburgh’s Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA), established after the city was placed in to Act 47 status, was also voted out of Committee.
On the Senate floor, S.B. 1031 (Laughlin, R-Erie), which would require the Insurance Department to establish financial examination best practices, passed unanimously, and is now before the House Insurance Committee.
Tuesday, the House of Representatives joined their counterparts in the Senate for a session day. The Senate Transportation Committee favorably recommended the re-nomination of Pat Deon to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. The Committee also held a public hearing on the Turnpike’s budget and program priorities. Senate Education Committee reported out the highly controversial S.B. 2 (DiSanto, R-Dauphin), which would establish education saving accounts for students to use to pursue alternative schooling options. One Republican and all the Democrats on the Committee voted against the bill and Governor Wolf already announced his disproval of the legislation. In addition, the Committee unanimously reported out: S.B. 1032 (Dinniman, D-Chester), which would require a fiscal note for any regulation enacted by the State Board of Education; S.R. 322 (Aument, R-Lancaster), which would direct the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to study standardized testing; and H.B. 564 (Boback, R-Luzerne), which would require schools to administer a civics test to students at least once during grades seven through twelve.
Three bills of note were voted favorably from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee: S.B. 1001 (Costa, D-Allegheny), which would allow the Secretary of Health to declare a public health emergency during an event that poses an imminent threat; S.B. 1054 (Brooks, R-Erie), which would provide for the licensing of office-based buprenorphine prescribers; and S.B. 1089 (Stefano, R-Fayette), which would require medical assistance behavioral health managed care organizations administering a provider network on behalf of a county for treatment of substance abuse to maintain a provider network that is geographically accessible.
Also related to healthcare, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported out H.B. 126 (Baker, R-Tioga), which would allow for the prescription, storage and administration of epi-pens by certain entities such as colleges, places of employment and sports arenas. Finishing up the committees in the Senate, the Senate State Government Committee unanimously reported out S.B. 22 (Boscola, R-Northampton), which would establish an independent legislative and congressional redistricting commission.
On the House side, the House Health Committee reported out H.B. 1987 (Barbin, D-Cambria), which would limit the distribution of fentanyl and fentanyl derivatives, and H.B. 2152 (Brown, R-Monroe), which would give hospice staff the authority to properly dispose of unused medications following a patient’s death. The House Appropriations Committee unanimously reported out H.B. 200 (Toohil, R-Luzerne), which would include postpartum depression as an at risk category for early intervention tracking.
Wednesday was the Senate’s last session day of the week and the chamber finally passed S.B. 257 (Ward, R-Westmoreland), which would provide parity for eye care; and S.B. 652 (Regan, R-Cumberland), which would increase penalties for those who criminally trespass on critical infrastructure facilities.
The House Urban Affairs Committee reported out S.B. 667 (Stefano, R-Fayette), which would grant county redevelopment authorities the same powers as land banks; and S.B. 851 (Argall, R-Schuylkill), which would clarify ownership of properties that are in the delinquent tax sale process. H.B. 111 (Cutler, R-Lancaster), which would provide for merit selection of judges of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Superior and Commonwealth Courts, was reported from the Senate Appropriations Committee and now awaits a vote on the House floor. Speaking of the floor, the House finally passed S.B. 234 (Blake, D-Lackawanna), which would establish Pennsylvania’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program.
Also on Wednesday, after a two-year process, the Public School Building Construction and Reconstruction Advisory Committee released its final report. The report makes recommendations that are separated into four categories: (1) the administrative process; (2) high-performance building standards; (3) maintenance, repairs and modernization projects; and (4) reimbursement formula.
Finally, the House convened briefly on Thursday: the House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee reported out H.B. 1810 (Heffley, R-Carbon), which would require home sharing and short-term rental companies to register with the state and share information with taxing authorities. Also, the House Transportation Committee passed S.B. 251 (Vulakovich, R-Allegheny), which would create a pilot program for radar enforcement by police officers. On the floor, the House passed S.B. 880 (Langerholc, R-Cambria), which would standardize the width for all trucks at eight feet, six inches (102 inches). The bill now goes to the Governor for his signature.
The Week Ahead
Following the long holiday weekend, expect a quiet week in the Capitol next week. Both chambers will reconvene June 4 for what we hope will be a month of work on the state budget, due to be passed by June 30.
In Other News
- Former Gates Foundation director selected as State System of Higher Education’s next chancellor
- Governor Wolf announces statewide ‘Resurface PA’ initiative to attack potholes, effects of long winter
- Central Pennsylvania’s population is up since 2010 state census
- Campaign seeks to boost Pennsylvania’s floundering dairy industry
- Pa. marijuana dispensaries join Michigan pain study