Week of April 29, 2019
In this Edition:
Regan GI Bill for Families Approved by Veterans Affairs Committee
On Tuesday, I was joined by my fellow Chairs of the Senate and House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committees at a joint press conference to unveil legislation – Senate Bill 589 and House Bill 1324 – to establish the Military Family Educational Program, or the Pennsylvania GI Bill for Families. The legislation would provide higher education benefits to the spouse and/or children of a Pennsylvania National Guard member who commits to serve a second six years with the Guard.
As Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, I am sponsoring Senate Bill 589, together with the Minority Chair, Senator Lindsay Williams (D-Allegheny). Following the press conference, we convened a committee meeting, during which the legislation received unanimous support from members to advance the bill to the full Senate. The House Veterans Affairs Committee also approved House Bill 1324, sponsored by Committee Chairs, Representatives Steve Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware) and Chris Sainato (D-Lawrence).
To view videos from both the press conference and the Senate committee meeting use the following links:
Revenue Collections Exceed Expectations
On Tuesday, Senate and House Republicans held a joint press conference to announce that Pennsylvania revenues have reached $800 million more than anticipated. This is thanks to fiscal restraint and a commitment to preventing massive spending increases and higher taxes proposed by the governor.
While such a surplus is excellent news as we face a June 30th deadline to approve the 2019-2020 Fiscal Year budget, we must be responsible with how these additional revenues are used. I look forward to our continued efforts in the legislature of being conservative fiscal stewards of your money.
For more details regarding April 2019 revenues, be sure to check out the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Monthly Report.
Senate Passes Bill Providing Schools with Flexible Instructional Days
The Senate approved legislation on Tuesday that would give school districts the option to implement flexible instructional days in the event of an emergency school closure.
Senate Bill 440, sponsored by Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York), allows any public school to use up to five flexible instructional days in special instances such as weather-related closures, building or infrastructure problems, or if threats are made against buildings.
School districts have the option to use technology for the purposes of having students complete necessary coursework and rather than losing a day that must be made up later in the school year to fulfill the 180 days required by law.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Other Bills Approved by the Senate and Sent to the House
Five additional bills were approved by the Senate and sent to the House this week.
Senate Bill 48 delays the impending mass decertification of current voting machines until an appropriate plan for the method by which it will be accomplished — and paid for — can be agreed to by the Governor and the General Assembly.
Senate Bill 110 amends the Home Rule Law to eliminate the current allowance for Home Rule questions to be placed on a ballot during a primary election and to require four years to elapse between a defeated Home Rule ballot question and a subsequent attempt.
Senate Bill 133 amends the State Constitution to allow gubernatorial candidates to select their own running mate.
Senate Bill 316 allows newly elected Second Class Township Supervisors to attend conferences, institutes, schools and conventions prior to officially taking office.
Senate Bill 317 amends the Second Class Township Code regarding mandatory annual budget requirements.
A recap of activity by the Senate committees I serve on.
Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure
The Senate Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee approved six bills on Wednesday.
House Bill 318 prohibits telemarketing on legal holidays and provides robo-call requirements.
Senate Bill 491 provides for the appointment of two Certified Pennsylvania Evaluators by the Governor to the State Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers.
Senate Bill 492 clarifies that revaluation company personnel who are directly responsible for the valuation of real property must be certified as a Certified Pennsylvania Evaluator.
Senate Bill 543 provides a rate increase for river pilots who navigate vessels on the Delaware River and its navigable tributaries.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved five bills on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 275 ensures that a strangulation conviction could be considered in sentencing for subsequent crimes and in custody proceedings.
House Bill 279 provides for civil immunity when there is damage to a motor vehicle when forceful entry is necessary to rescue a child.
Senate Bill 500 creates a County Adult Probation and Parole Advisory Committee.
Senate Bill 501 streamlines the process for placement in intermediate punishment, allows parole agents to quickly detain parolees for violations, and streamlines the process for paroling individuals who receive a short sentence to prison.
Senate Bill 502 amends the Crime Victims Act to better provide information and compensation to victims.
The Senate Local Government Committee approved six bills on Tuesday.
House Bill 510 amends Title 53 (Municipalities Generally) regarding intergovernmental cooperation.
House Bill 511 amends the Second Class Township Code, providing for intergovernmental cooperation.
House Bill 512 amends Title 11 (Cities) providing for municipal authorities and cooperation with other political subdivisions.
Senate Bill 531 prevents local jurisdictions from imposing firearms and ammunition regulations and ordinances more restrictive than laws passed by the General Assembly.
House Bill 547 amends the First Class Township Code to allow townships to set their annual assessment of the property tax millage rate by resolution.
House Bill 548 amends the Borough Code and the Third Class City Code to allow boroughs and third class cities to assess their annual property tax millage rate by resolution.
Rules & Executive Nominations
The Senate Rules & Executive Nominations Committee approved Senate Resolution 31 on Tuesday. The measure adopts a temporary rule of the Senate relating solely to amendments to the General Appropriation Bill and other appropriation bills for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2019, including any amendments offered to or for supplemental appropriations for prior fiscal years.
Other Committee Action
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved several bills on Monday including the following.
Senate Bill 89 updates the Public School Code to replace “vocational-technical schools” with “career and technical schools.”
Senate Bill 146 makes online training more available to current and prospective first responders.
Senate Bill 178 requires the electronic filing of campaign finance reports with the Department of State.
Agriculture & Rural Affairs
The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 583 ensures that agri-tourism activities are authorized on farms preserved under the state farmland preservation program.
Senate Bill 585 establishes the Pennsylvania Dairy Future Commission to review the current status of the dairy industry in the Commonwealth and make recommendations on how to support its future.
The Senate Finance Committee approved three bills on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 478 provides a personal income tax credit for landowners who lease or sell their land, buildings and equipment to beginning farmers.
Senate Bill 568 clarifies the Sales and Use Tax regarding canned and customized software, financial institution security equipment, service fees on financial institutions and information retrieval services.
Senate Bill 613 amends the Administrative Code repealing provisions relating to employees with access to federal tax information and providing for criminal history background checks of employees and contractors with access to federal tax information.
Game & Fisheries
The Senate Game & Fisheries Committee approved two bills on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 485 provides for the sale of antlerless deer hunting licenses through the Game Commission’s automated licensing system.
House Bill 808 authorizes the Fish & Boat Commission to establish the fees for fishing and boating licenses and permits by regulatory action and expands the allowable use of funds from the sale of Lake Erie permits.
The Senate Transportation Committee approved three bills on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 45 waives Turnpike tolls for emergency vehicles when responding to an emergency situation or participating in the escort of: a fallen firefighter, ambulance service or rescue squad member, law enforcement officer, or armed service member killed in the line of duty.
Senate Bill 588 amends the Vehicle Code to permit milk haulers to travel on highways during a declaration of disaster emergency.
Senate Bill 593 designates a bridge on Interstate 79 over West 16th Street in Erie as the Thomas J. Kennedy, Jr., Memorial Bridge.
The Senate returns to session on Monday, May 6th at 1pm. You can watch session live on my website.