This week, only the Senate was in Harrisburg, and only for two days.
On Monday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice held a joint public hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss criminal justice issues. The full Senate Appropriations Committee met later in the day and reported out S.B. 521 (Killion, R-Delaware), which would provide CPR instruction for high school students, and S.B. 880 (Langerholc, R-Cambria), which would increase the standard truck-trailer width for all trucks from 96 inches to 102 inches. Also, the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee met to hold an informational meeting on forest conservation easements.
In response to a hot-off-the-press Supreme Court decision on redistricting, on Tuesday, the Senate State Government Committee held a public hearing on legislation and potential constitutional amendments that would modify the way congressional and legislative districts are drawn. As for voting meetings, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee reported S.B. 257 (Ward, R-Westmoreland) from committee, which would require a participating provider agreement between an eye care provider and an insurer, vision care plan or government program to comply with certain provisions.
The Senate Judiciary Committee also met and reported out: S.B. 859 (Greenleaf, R-Montgomery), which would establish a grant program to assist counties in diverting individuals from mental health problems from the criminal justice system; S.B. 860 (Greenleaf, R-Montgomery), which would provide duties of the Department of Corrections and the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs regarding education and training to screen for addiction; S.B. 922 (Langerholc, R-Cambria), which would require court assessments for participation in the Nonnarcotic Medication Substance Abuse Treatment Program; and S.B. 1090 (Corman, R-Centre), which would create criminal offenses related to hazing.
Also on Tuesday, the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee unanimously reported the nomination of Gladys Brown to the Public Utility Commission (PUC) from their committee. Brown currently serves as Chairman of the PUC and her term expires April 1, 2018.
Finally, the Senate held a rescheduled budget hearing with the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services. Members discussed topics ranging from the opioid epidemic, vital records and the Community HealthChoices program.
A Look Ahead
All will be quiet on the Capitol front next week; neither chamber will convene in voting session. The House Transportation Committee will hold a public hearing on Tuesday to discuss legislation on distracted driving. On Wednesday, the committee will hold another public hearing, this time on the issue of local and regional police use of radar as a speed timing device. In addition, the House Liquor Control Committee has a public hearing scheduled to receive an update on Act 39 of 2016, the compressive liquor reform bill that passed last legislative session.
In Other News
- A PUC administrative law judge recommended that the full commission reject a proposal to reverse the flow of the Laurel Pipeline.
- Facebook announced major changes to their user privacy tools and data settings.
- Governor Wolf unveiled a public-private partnership that will focus on data used in the fight against the opioid epidemic.
- The Governor introduced his “21st century voting reform plan.”
- The Legislature is expected to take up autonomous vehicle legislation this Spring.
- Cumberland County was named the fastest growing county in the state.