As the calendar turns from May to June, the Pennsylvania legislature turns its full attention to the budget. The June 30 deadline will be here in no time, meaning both chambers have plenty of work to do. Thus, the House of Representatives and the Senate were both in session this week
On Monday, the House Education Committee reported out H.B. 85 (Lawrence, R-Chester), which would allow for a student to opt out of assessments for philosophical reasons. In addition, the House Labor and Industry Committee voted favorably, along party lines, on H.B. 1840 (Kauffman, R-Franklin), which would restore the use of the Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE) process in determining whether an injured worker can be moved from total to partial disability status. On the House floor, H.B. 2152 (Brown, R., R-Monroe), which would authorize home health and hospice agencies to properly dispose of unused medications, unanimously passed and will go to the Senate for consideration.
The Senate Appropriations Committee reported two bills regarding substance abuse in the criminal justice system. First, S.B. 859 (Greenleaf, R-Montgomery), which would establish the Mental Health and Justice Grant Program to improve the effectiveness of treatment services for individuals with mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Second, S.B. 860 (Greenleaf, R-Montgomery), which would provide duties to the Department of Corrections and the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs regarding education and training to screen for addition
Tuesday, the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee held a public hearing on S.B. 792 (Alloway, R-Franklin), which creates requirements for fertilizer. The House Health Committee passed H.B. 899 (Oberlander, R-Clarion), which would allow FDA-approved anti-obesity drugs to be considered a compensable item under Medicaid. Two bills of note were reported out of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee: S.B. 934 (Baker, R-Luzerne), which would establish an Elevator Safety Board, and H.B. 1641 (Cutler, R-Lancaster), which would establish the Employment First Act, to promote the employment of people with disabilities at competitive wages.
In the Senate Judiciary Committee there were three bills that made their way out and on to the Senate calendar: S.B. 1043 (Greenleaf, R-Montgomery), which would treat employees the same as job applicants when it comes to the use of criminal records in employment decisions; H.B. 1346 (Pyle, R-Armstrong), which would establish the offense of unlawful use of an unmanned aircraft, also known as a drone; and H.B. 1918 (Hill, R-York), which would criminalize the possession and use of credit card skimming devices.
H.B. 2154 (Causer, R-McKean), which would establish the Conventional Oil and Gas Wells Act passed the House finally. The bill relates to conventional wells and well sites only. In the Senate, H.B. 564 (Boback, R-Luzerne), which would require schools to administer a civics test at least once to students in grades 7-12, unanimously passed. The following day, the House concurred in Senate amendments and the bill will head to the Governor for his signature. The Senate also unanimously passed S.B. 922 (Langerholc, R-Cambria), which would establish the Nonnarcotic Medication Substance Use Disorder Treatment Program.
On Wednesday, H.B. 1805 (Ward, R-Blair), which would establish education and certification requirements for surgical technologists, was reported from the House Professional Licensure Committee with a request to re-refer to the House Health Committee. The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee voted favorably on S.B. 668 (Gordner, R-Columbia), which would update the Optometric Practice and Licensure Act, and H.B. 1782 (Delozier, R-Cumberland), which would provide for alternative rate mechanisms.
The Senate Finance Committee held a public hearing on S.B. 512 (Fontana, D-Allegheny), which would increase the allocation for the Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit Program (NAP). Also, the Joint Legislative Budget & Finance Committee met and released four reports: Feasibility of Establishing a Water Use Fee in PA, Interim Report on the Establishment of the Northern PA Regional College, PA Game Commission Compliance with Strategic Plan, and the Impact of Tavern Gaming on the PA State Lottery.
On the House floor, members unanimously passed S.B. 667 (Stefano, R-Fayette), which would grant county redevelopment authorities the same powers as land banks. Also receiving unanimous support, these bills passed finally in the Senate: S.B. 1003 (White, R-Indiana), which would provide for reimbursement for emergency services; and S.B. 1142 (Browne, R-Lehigh), which would establish the Safe2Say Program, to allow individuals to report threats in schools anonymously.
Although there wasn’t session on Thursday, the House Consumer Affairs Committee stayed in Harrisburg to hold a public hearing on Act 164 of 2016, which regulates transportation network companies.
The Week Ahead
Like this week, both chambers will be in town for session.
On Tuesday, the House Health Committee will consider H.B. 2211 (Ward, R-Blair), which would permit pharmacists to disclose prescription drug price information to a patient. Also, the House Human Services Committee will vote on H.B. 2200 (Ortitay, R-Allegheny), which would require government agencies to collaborate on drug addiction issues.
The House Environmental Resources Committee plans to consider H.B. 2304 (Fritz, R-Susquehanna), which would provide a series of reforms regarding how the Department of Environmental Protection regulates oil and gas operations. In the Senate, the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee will consider: S.B. 1027 (Rafferty, R-Montgomery), which would establish notification requirements for residents impacted by pipeline construction; S.B. 1189 (Baker, R-Luzerne), which would provide economic justice to landowners impacted by the gas drilling moratorium by the Delaware River Basin Commission; and S.R. 373 (Rafferty, R-Montgomery), which would establish a commission to study pipeline construction and operations. H.B. 2154 (Causer, R-McKean), which passed in the House this week, is also on the schedule.
Wednesday, the House Labor and Industry Committee will hold a public hearing on H.B. 861 (Grove, R-York), which would preempt local governments from passing labor policies.
Expect more committee meetings to be added before next week. A full committee schedule can be found here:
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