Week of March 15, 2021
In this Edition:
Regan Marks Irish American Heritage Month in Pennsylvania
On Wednesday, St. Patrick’s Day, I spoke on the Senate floor regarding Senate Resolution 27, which I prime sponsored with Senator John Blake, designating March as Irish American Heritage Month in Pennsylvania.
As a third generation Irish American, I was proud to recognize this designation for the many Pennsylvanians that trace their roots to Ireland. In fact, Pennsylvania is just one of six states to have over 15% of its population claiming Irish heritage.
Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform Convenes First Hearing
On Monday, the Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform, which I have been appointed to serve on, convened its first hearing with a focus on best practices from other states.
The committee received testimony from election officials from Colorado, Utah, and Florida, which based on what we heard, have many aspects of their election systems, particularly with regard to mail-in ballots, worthy of consideration for Pennsylvania.
I had the opportunity to question the panelists, including Colorado’s former Secretary of State, Wayne Williams, which you can watch in the above video, or you can click here to watch the entire hearing.
And don’t forget, if you haven’t already, you can submit comments for the committee’s review based on your own experience voting in the 2020 General Election.
Our next hearing will be held on Tuesday, March 23rd, and we will be hearing from Pennsylvania county and state election officials.
Transportation Committee Supports Bill in Response to Bridge Tolling Proposal
On Wednesday, the Senate Transportation Committee advanced Senate Bill 382, which aims to reform the Public-Private Transportation Partnership (P3) law and would negate PennDOT’s proposal to toll 9 bridges across the Commonwealth, including the I-83 South Bridge in Harrisburg.
While I do not serve on the Transportation Committee, I am a co-sponsor of SB 382, and recall, I participated in a press conference last week announcing the legislation. You can view my remarks from that event here.
Click here to watch the Transportation Committee meeting.
Judiciary Committee Advances Constitutional Amendment for Childhood Sexual Abuse Victims
The Senate Judiciary Committee, which I serve on, met on Tuesday to consider several bills, including House Bill 14. This legislation amends the Pennsylvania Constitution to provide for a two-year window in which an individual may file a civil action alleging childhood sexual abuse.
You may recall that the legislature passed such a constitutional amendment in the previous two legislative sessions, as is required for constitutional amendments. However, Attorney General Josh Shapiro and former Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar failed to fulfill their statutory responsibility of advertising the amendment to the public. Because of this failure, we are now left picking up the pieces, and they have forced us to pursue an emergency constitutional amendment, which we amended into HB 14 in committee. This is an effort so the proposed amendment can still be placed on the May primary ballot for voters’ consideration.
The amended HB 14 awaits further action by the Senate.
Recovery to Work Proposal Sent to House
The Senate approved legislation on Wednesday as part of our ongoing efforts to help combat the heroin and opioid epidemic in the Commonwealth.
Senate Bill 69 would create a Recovery to Work pilot program to connect individuals suffering from substance use disorders with high-priority occupations. Under the pilot program, the state would coordinate with workforce development organizations, treatment and recovery professionals, and employers and training providers to find training and employment opportunities for individuals recovering from addiction.
The pilot program would be led by the Department of Labor and Industry with the assistance of the departments of Health, Community and Economic Development, and Drug and Alcohol Programs, as well as the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
SB 69 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
A recap of activity by the Senate committees I serve on.
Community, Economic & Recreational Development
The Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee approved Senate Bill 154 on Tuesday. The bill establishes a dedicated fund for distressed municipalities under Act 47 using a portion of what is known as the “Johnstown Flood Tax,” an 18% tax on liquor.
I questioned the prime sponsor of the bill about oversight of the funds granted to these municipalities, considering the nature of why these municipalities are designated as distressed in the first place. While I have my concerns, including the fact that the estimated transfer from the General Fund would be $25 million this year, none of which would benefit municipalities in the 31st Senatorial District, I did vote to advance the bill out of committee. I believe this is a topic for the entire Senate to debate and for our Appropriations Committee to analyze.
Click here to watch the committee meeting.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved two bills on Tuesday in addition to House Bill 14.
Senate Bill 137 would impose a $5 fee on DUI violations to be deposited into a fund for the Pennsylvania State Police to implement and administer Drug Recognition Expert training for detecting if an individual is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Senate Bill 411 consolidates the Department of Corrections with the Board of Probation and Parole and transfers the supervision of offenders and certain administrative functions from the board to the department and preserves parole decision–making responsibilities within the board.
Click here to watch the full Judiciary meeting.
Other Committee Action
Game & Fisheries
The Senate Game & Fisheries Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 241 exempts the cost of fishing licenses for veterans and other individuals taking steps towards physical or mental recovery as part of therapeutic recreation events or programs.
Senate Bill 403 aligns the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s boat registration period with the calendar year.
Click here for video of the Fish and Game Committee meeting.
The Senate will be in voting session again next week beginning on Monday, March 22nd at 1pm. You can watch a livestream of session on my website at www.senatormikereganpa.com.
The Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform hearing will be livestreamed here on Tuesday, March 23rd at 10am.
Also, the Capitol will be reopening to the public on Monday. Tours will resume as well and can be scheduled here. Due to the size of my Capitol office, I respectfully request that you call ahead to arrange a time to stop by.