Week of March 18, 2019
In this Edition:
Miss Pennsylvania USA, Hailing From Camp Hill, Visits Capitol
On Tuesday, I had the unique honor of hosting Kailyn Perez, a 31st District resident who was recently crowned Miss Pennsylvania USA 2019, as a floor guest in the Senate where she was afforded the opportunity to address members during session.
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Reports Out Four Bills
The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, which I chair, met on Tuesday to consider four pieces of legislation.
Senate Bill 139 amends the Pennsylvania Price Gouging Act to ensure that a Governor’s emergency declaration does not place an undue and unnecessary burden on operations and businesses outside of and unrelated to the disaster.
Senate Bill 146 makes online training more available to current and prospective first responders.
Senate Bill 298 transfers “Stolen Valor” fines to the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Trust Fund.
Senate Bill 439 expands the Pennsylvania Heart and Lung Act to include several law enforcement entities that are not currently protected by this coverage.
Regan Meets with Governor Regarding School Safety
On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to sit down with Governor Wolf to discuss recent develops with last year’s school safety legislation signed into law as Act 44 of 2018, as well as other school safety related bills I am sponsoring.
As you may have seen recently in my interview on ABC27, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued their own interpretation of Act 44, which states that only school police officers (SPOs) and school resource officers (SROs) – but not school security guards – have the authority to carry firearms.
In response, I intend to introduce legislation to clarify that school security guards that obtain the necessary training and certification are allowed to carry firearms as part of their duties. I have also requested the Governor and the Secretary of Education allow schools that had armed security guards with proper certification to continue operating under the original intent of the law while we work to pass the legislation.
Additionally, during my meeting with the Governor, I shared with him the importance of other legislation I am sponsoring that ties together with our efforts to ensure school safety. First, Senate Bill 199, which calls for depression screenings at the time of physicals for 6th and 11th graders and soon to be introduced legislation that directs schools to establish or work with a community organization to present a Child Abuse Awareness Education Program.
By giving students the tools to recognize they are being abused and how to report that abuse we can hopefully get them the necessary help to prevent the path towards depression.
And for those students that have already started down that path, a depression screening may help parents, health care providers, and schools become aware of the child’s current mental state and if deemed necessary, obtain the appropriate services to assist them.
Greek Independence Day at the Capitol
On Wednesday, The Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Camp Hill held a celebration at the Capitol to recognize Greek Independence Day. I had the pleasure of joining the festivities, along with Rep. Sheryl Delozier.
Senate Approves Regan Civil Air Patrol Measure
Four bills received final Senate approval this week and were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration, including legislation I am sponsoring to better secure state funding for the Civil Air Patrol.
The Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and has three core missions – Aerospace Education, Cadet Programs, and Emergency Services (Search & Rescue, Disaster Relief, and Counter-Drug Support). The 55 Civil Air Patrol units in Pennsylvania work alongside state police, fire, and other emergency personnel to help save lives.
The other bills approved by the Senate this week include:
Senate Bill 43, which designates a portion of Route 30 in Westmoreland County, as the J. Edward “Hutch” Hutchinson Memorial Bypass.
Senate Bill 117, which designates a bridge on Route 3016 (Bedford Street) over Solomon Run in the City of Johnstown, Cambria County, as the Seaman Apprentice Kenneth D. Scaife Memorial Bridge.
Senate Bill 190, which conveys property in Somerset Township, Somerset County.
Pension Forfeiture Measure Sent to Governor
Legislation ensuring that public employees who commit job-related felonies are stripped of their taxpayer-funded pensions received final legislative approval this week and was sent to the Governor’s desk for enactment into law.
Currently, the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act requires pension forfeiture only for certain crimes. This allows public employees charged with a forfeiture crime to plead guilty to a different non-forfeiture crime in order to avoid losing their pension.
Senate Bill 113 requires pension forfeiture after a public employee or official is convicted of, or pleads guilty or no contest to, any felony offense related to his or her employment.
The measure closes the “Mellow Loophole,” through which former Senator Bob Mellow of Lackawanna County had his $245,000 a year pension restored despite pleading guilty and being sent to prison on federal conspiracy charges.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a number of bills on Monday to initiate the process of achieving a final budget for Fiscal Year 2019-2020 by the constitutional deadline of June 30th.
Senate Bill 234 is the General Fund Budget for Fiscal Year 2019-20.
Senate Bill 235 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Bureau of Professional & Occupational Affairs.
Senate Bill 236 Workers’ Compensation Act and Pennsylvania Occupation Disease Act funding for Fiscal Year 2019-20.
Senate Bill 237 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Office of the Small Business Advocate.
Senate Bill 238 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Office of the Consumer Advocate.
Senate Bill 239 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Public School Employees’ Retirement Board.
Senate Bill 240 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the State Employees’ Retirement Board.
Senate Bill 241 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Philadelphia Parking Authority.
Senate Bill 242 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
Senate Bill 243 State Gaming Fund appropriations funding for Fiscal Year 2019-20.
Senate Bill 244 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for Penn State.
Senate Bill 245 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the University of Pittsburgh.
Senate Bill 246 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for Temple University.
Senate Bill 247 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for Lincoln University.
Senate Bill 248 provides Fiscal Year 2019-20 funding for the University of Pennsylvania for veterinary activities and for the Center for Infectious Diseases.
The Senate Education Committee approved five measures on Tuesday.
Senate Resolution 34 establishes a Global Education Task Force.
Senate Bill 89 updates the Public School Code to replace “vocational-technical schools” with “career and technical schools.”
Senate Bill 115 integrates CPR instruction into existing curriculum for grades 9-12.
Senate Bill 144 creates the Keystone Telepresence Education Grant program.
Senate Bill 440 provides for flexible instruction days.
The Senate State Government Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.
House Bill 18 authorizes the release of Project 70 restrictions on land owned by the Borough of Topton, Berks County, in exchange for the imposition of the restrictions on other land to be acquired by the borough. The bill also provides for land conveyances in Chester, Lehigh and Monroe counties.
Senate Bill 372 updates the state History Code.
Fort Indiantown Gap Hosts Senate Veterans Affairs Committee
On Thursday, I was accompanied by members and staff of the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee on a tour of and briefing on the operations at Ft. Indiantown Gap, the primary training grounds for the Pennsylvania National Guard – one of the busiest National Guard installations in the nation. The installation supports training for Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard, first responders, law enforcement, and other federal and state agencies. The highlight of the day was flying a helicopter via a simulator. I have so much respect for the pilots who do it for real – it is not easy.
The Senate reconvenes on Monday at 1pm and will also convene on Tuesday at 1pm and Wednesday at 11am. You can watch Session Live on my website.
The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee will hold hearings on Monday and Tuesday. Both hearings will be streamed live.