News from Second and State

Weekly Wrap

This week’s big news is not from the General Assembly, but from the Commonwealth’s judicial branch. Candidates in party primary elections squared off on Tuesday for a shot to run for positions on the Commonwealth, Superior and Supreme Court this fall. Check out our blog from earlier this week for a summary of the judicial races and other noteworthy elections.

It’s been quiet around the Capitol this week, with the exception of a few public hearings. On Monday, the Senate Education Subcommittee on Support Services and Transportation held a public hearing on current practices and issues in pupil transportation. Testimony and questions raised by the senators addressed the Governor’s proposed $50 million cut to pupil transportation. The cut is 10% of the line item’s current funding.

On Thursday, the Senate Aging and Youth, Health and Human Services, Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, and Intergovernmental Operations Committees held a joint public hearing in Philadelphia on the proposed consolidation of the Departments of Health, Human Services, Aging, and Drug and Alcohol Programs. The proposal, which will yield an estimated $90 million in savings to the Commonwealth, is likely to be discussed as part of the greater budget conversation next month.

Week Ahead

Next week could shape up to be a busy one, as members convene for the last few days of session before the Memorial Day holiday. On Monday, the House Democratic Policy Committee will also hold a public hearing, with the subject being a Marcellus Shale severance tax. The Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, the Secretary of Department of Community and Economic Development, and the Chairman of the Public Utility Commission are expected to appear before the Committee.

Also on Monday, the House Gaming Oversight Committee will meet to consider five bills: H.B. 965 (Masser, R-Northumberland), requiring the PA Gaming Control Board to begin assessing casinos for repayment of loans authorized under the PA Race Horse Development and Gaming Act; H.B. 1162 (Cephas, D-Philadelphia), redirecting unclaimed gambling winnings to the Lottery Fund; H.B. 1281 (Quinn, R-Bucks), requiring slot machine and table game license fees  to be paid within 10 days of issuance of the license; and  H.B. 1301 (Harkins, D-Erie) and H.B. 1342 (Santora, R-Delaware), both of  which address the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling regarding host fees paid by casinos to their home municipalities.

On Tuesday, the House Health Committee will hold a public hearing on anti-obesity medications. The Senate Urban Affairs and Republican Policy Committees will hold a joint roundtable discussion on anti-blight efforts. The House Children and Youth Committee will consider H.B 200 (Toohil, R-Luzerne), which provides early intervention services for infants and mothers dealing with postpartum depression. In the House Commerce Committee, members will vote on H.B. 593 (Thomas, D-Philadelphia), which allows businesses that have existed more than seven years to participate in the Second Stage Loan Program.

Moving on to Wednesday, the House and Senate Education Committees will hold a joint public hearing on education savings accounts. The House Human Services Committee will consider H.B 825 (Heffley, R-Carbon), providing for a psychiatric and detoxification bed registry, and H.B. 1233 (Murt, R-Montgomery), establishing a new standard for court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment in the community.

The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee will consider S.B. 586 (Argall, R-Schuylkill), which limits circumstances under which municipalities can bring spot appeals of property assessments in Pennsylvania. The Committee will also consider S.B. 667 (Stefano, R-Fayette), which grants redevelopment authorities the same powers currently allotted to land banks through the Pennsylvania Land Bank Act; H.B. 595 (Brown, R., R-Monroe), which assigns the investigation and mediation of complaints regarding planned communities, cooperatives and condominiums to the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection; and H.B. 758 (Ward, R-Blair), which allows developers and property owners to receive a tax abatement incentive once they apply and are approved to rebuild upon an abandoned or blighted property or in a deteriorated area.

In addition, the Joint Legislative Budget and Finance Committee will release three reports on Wednesday: (1) public charter school fiscal impact on school districts; (2) the impact of tavern gaming on the Pennsylvania State Lottery; and (3) Commonwealth Board and Commission members salaries and expenses interim report.

On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on the proposed consolidation of the Department of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole.

A full list of committee meetings can be found here:

House

Senate

For anticipated floor action, see below:

House

Senate

In Other News

  • Pennsylvania unemployment rate increases to 9 percent.
  • auditor general to audit DNC host committee grant.
  • Healthcare consultant seeks GOP nod in Pa. governor’s race.
  • Senators propose Pennsylvania sell naming rights to state buildings.

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