This week we started down the homestretch of the 2017-18 legislative session. Quick maneuvering has begun to get unfinished legislation over the finish line before the last session day, which, as of now, is scheduled for October 17.
On Monday, both the House of Representatives and the Senate were in session, but there wasn’t a whole lot of legislative action. The House Insurance Committee reported out S.B. 1205 (Laughlin, R-Erie), which would require insurers to disclose their corporate governance structure, policies and practices to the Insurance Department on an annual basis. On the floor, the House finally passed H.B. 1511 (Quinn, R-Bucks), which would clarify the manner in which an online travel company must collect and remit the hotel occupancy tax. The tax collected by a booking agent on accommodation fees is to be deposited into a newly established Tourism Promotion Fund and used for the promotion of tourism across the state. On Wednesday, H.B. 1511 was reported from the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee. Moving to the Senate, S.B. 623 (Yaw, R-Lycoming), which would update and revise the law to include the codification of Pennsylvania Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST), was finally passed with only negative vote. The bill has been referred to the House Health Committee.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that we’re also in the homestretch to this year’s gubernatorial election. On Monday evening, Governor Tom Wolf (D) and challenger, Scott Wagner (R), squared off in a debate at the PA Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner, moderated by (who is) Alex Trebek.
Only the Senate was in session on Tuesday, but it was a much busier day. The Senate Labor and Industry Committee reported out H.B. 1840 (Kauffman, R-Franklin), which would reestablish the Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE) process when determining workers’ compensation costs. In the Senate Education Committee, members favorably voted on H.B. 2159 (Staats, R-Bucks), which would expand the online database of articulation agreements by requiring public institutions of higher education to submit copies of all such agreements to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
In other committees, the Senate Judiciary Committee moved out H.B. 1931 (Taylor, R-Philadelphia), which would authorize law enforcement officers to remove illegal trespassers or squatters from a residential property, when the person claims to be living there legally. Furthermore, the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing reported out two bills: SB 340 (Browne, R-Lehigh), which would require tax sale purchasers of blighted properties to enter into redevelopment agreements with the local municipality or redevelopment authority; and SB 1185 (Killion, R-Delaware), which would create a state housing tax credit to incentivize private investment to create new and preserve existing affordable rental housing.
On the Senate floor, the following bills passed finally: S.B. 172 (Argall, R-Schuylkill), which would establish a five-year pilot program for automated speed enforcement systems in active highway work zones. Members also passed H.B. 126 (Warner, R-Fayette), an omnibus Title 35 (Health and Safety) bill, allows a prescriber, in certain instances, to issue opioids to minors without checking the prescription drug monitoring program. The legislation also allows for the prescription, storage and administration of epinephrine auto-injectors by certain entities. Lastly, the bill provides for cancer trial access to patients. Both bills will head to the Governor’s desk for his signature. The Senate also passed S.B. 180 (Greenleaf, R-Montgomery), which would update and revise the law relating to organ and tissue donations, but because it was amended, it will return to the House for a concurrence vote.
Finally, on Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee reported out two bills amending the Tax Reform Code: H.B. 645 (O’Neill, R-Bucks), which would increase the allocation for the Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit Program (NAP) from $18 million to $36 million; and S.B. 1258 (White, R-Indiana), which would exclude canned and customized software, financial institution security equipment, and services fees on financial institutions from the sales and use tax. The companion bill to S.B. 1258, H.B. 2556 (Sankey, R-Clearfield) will be considered by the House Finance Committee on Tuesday.
On the floor, the Senate finally passed H.B. 2060 (Quinn, R-Bucks), which would provide for the relinquishment of firearms following a conviction of a misdemeanor offense of domestic violence or the court issuance of a protection from abuse order. The bill now heads to the Governor for his signature. The Senate also sent two bills to the House for its consideration: S.B. 912 (Brooks, R-Erie), which would extend presumptive eligibility to individuals receiving home care, home healthcare or older adult living center services; and S.B. 1237 (Baker, R-Luzerne), which would establish the Rural Health Redesign Center Authority, to promote access by residents of rural counties to high-quality health care and to encourage innovation in healthcare delivery.
The Week Ahead
Only the House will convene next week, and session days will be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday due to the Columbus Day holiday on Monday.
So far we know that the House State Government Committee will meet on Tuesday to consider H.B. 1704 (Grove, R-York), which would consolidate all the executive branch’s information technology services, funding and oversight into the newly established Office of Information Technology. The House Transportation Committee will meet to consider S.B. 1098 (Browne, R-Lehigh), which would allow for the placement of stop arm cameras on school buses to capture violations relating to illegal passing. Also, the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee will consider S.B. 138 (Yaw, R-Lycoming), which would require proceeds from the production of oil and gas to be paid within 60 days of product and allow royalty interest owners the opportunity to inspect records of the gas company to verify property payment.
Then on Wednesday, the House Human Services Committee will meet to consider S.B. 31 (Scavello, R-Monroe), which would establish the Spinal Cord Injury Research Program and allocate funding from the Tobacco Settlement Fund for appropriate research.
Full list of committee meetings:
Anticipated floor action:
In Other News
- Pennsylvania collected $3 billion in General Fund revenue in September, which was $183.8 million, or 6.4 percent, more than anticipated.
- Governor Wolf announced funding for 42 projects that received funding through PennDOT’s Multimodal Transportation Fund.
- PennDOT’s Office of Public-Private Partnerships (P3) is now accepting unsolicited proposals for transportation projects from the private sector through December 31.
- Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera announced $8.4 million in competitive Safe Schools Targeted grants have been awarded.
- Applications for entities to become Clinical Registrants (CRs) in the medical marijuana program were released.