News from Second & State

Weekly Wrap

It was back to the grind this week, as the House of Representatives convened in Harrisburg for three days of voting session. With budget hearings behind us and the budget deadline just about three months out, the House advanced a General Appropriations Bill on Monday. Though a purely procedural move, it was encouraging that the House Appropriations Committee reported out H.B. 2121 (Saylor, R-York), a budget bill that mirrors last year’s bill but is expected to be the ultimate vehicle for the 2018-2019 state spending plan.

In non-budget matters, on Monday, the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee reported out H.B. 1412 (Barrar, R-Delaware), which would establish the Energy Resiliency and Emergency Preparedness Act, encouraging the use of new technologies such as micro grids to ensure continuity of access to public infrastructure and community services during emergency events. Also in the energy realm, the House Transportation Committee reported out H.B. 1446 (Quinn, M., R-Bucks), which would set statewide and regional goals for alternative energy vehicle refueling stations. The committee also reported out H.B. 1699 (Marshall, R-Beaver), which would make 102 inches the standard width for all trucks.

The two-bill trend continued with the House Urban Affairs Committee, as they reported out H.B. 2010 (O’Brien, D-Philadelphia), which would provide a uniform definition for the term “blight,” and H.B. 2049 (Moul, R-Adams), which would address documentation requirements for service animals in housing. Finally, the House Commerce Committee voted two bills out of committee: H.B. 1284 (Peifer, R-Pike), which would create a one-stop-shop online permitting portal for businesses, and H.B. 2124 (Quinn, C., R-Delaware), which would require institutions of higher education to send annual letters to students with information on their student loan debt.

On Tuesday morning, the House State Government Committee considered a portion of the House Republicans’ regulatory reform package: H.B. 209 (Phillips-Hill, R-York), which would establish the Independent Office of the Repealer to review statutes and regulations for possible revision or repeal, H.B. 1959 (Rothman, R-Cumberland), which would reform the administration of permits by state agencies, and H.B. 1792 (Benninghoff, R-Centre), which would give the General Assembly the ability to initiate the repeal of any regulation by a concurrent resolution. All three bills passed without any Democratic support. Later in the day, the committee met again and reported out two more bills: H.B. 1849 (Bloom, R-Cumberland), which would prohibit the use of project labor agreements on public construction projects, and H.B. 2030 (Bernstine, R-Lawrence), which would require borough electric providers to calculate their rates the same way that municipal authorities are required to calculate rates.

The House Judiciary Committee reported out H.B. 1419 (Delozier, Cumberland), known as the “clean slate” legislation. The bill would establish a process for limiting public access to criminal history records where the offender committed a low-level, nonviolent offense. In addition, the Committee amended two organ donation bills: S.B. 108 (Sabatina, D-Philadelphia), which would prohibit the discrimination of any potential organ transplant recipient on the basis of a physical or mental disability, and S.B. 180 (Greenleaf, R-Montgomery), which modernizes the Donate Life PA Act.

On the House floor, the following bills passed unanimously and will head to the Senate for consideration: H.B. 1846 (Ellis, R-Butler), which would provide for notifications of a data breach, H.B. 1847 (Driscoll, D-Philadelphia), which would address fees charged by consumer reporting agencies following a data breach, and H.B. 1958 (Rothman, R-Cumberland), which would authorize the use of fully autonomous work-zone vehicles by PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission.

The House also passed H.B. 153 (Knowles, R-Schuylkill), which would reduce the number of Senate districts from 50 to 38 and the number of House districts from 203 to 151. Since the bill amends the state Constitution, once it passes the Senate it, it must pass in a second, consecutive legislative session and receive approval by the electorate by a ballot question.

Wednesday, the House Local Government Committee reported out H.B. 1990 (Harper, R-Montgomery), which would provide training and qualifications of assessment appeal board and auxiliary appeal board members, and H.B. 1991 (Harper, R-Montgomery), which exempts building permit information submitted by municipalities from the Right-to-Know Law. The House Labor and Industry Committee voted favorably on H.R. 754 (Benninghoff, R-Centre), which would direct the Joint State Government Commission to study the long-term workforce and workforce training needs of the Commonwealth’s healthcare sector.

On the floor, the House passed H.B. 2017 (Ryan, R-Lebanon), which would reverse a corporate tax bulletin issued in response to recent changes to federal tax law and clarify the allowable state tax deduction for depreciation on qualified property.

A Look Ahead

Next week only the Senate is in session.

On Monday, the Senate Appropriations Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a joint public hearing to discuss criminal justice issues. The hearing will focus on issues relating to corrections reform. Also on Monday, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee will hold a public hearing to consider the nominations and confirmations of Department of Human Services Acting Secretary Teresa Miller, Department of Drug & Alcohol Programs Acting Secretary Jennifer Smith, and Department of Health Acting Secretary Rachel Levine.

Tuesday, the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee will hold a joint public hearing with the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee on pipeline safety.

Thursday, 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.

For a full schedule of committee meetings:

In Other News

  • Governor Wolf launched a school safety task force.
  • In Tuesday’s special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, Democrat Conor Lamb won in an upset.
  • Wednesday was “Saquon Barkely Day” at the Capitol.

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