Week of May 6, 2019
In this Edition:
FOP Memorial Service Honors Fallen Officers
Monday afternoon I had the profound honor and privilege to be a part of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Memorial Service held at the Forum Building in Harrisburg to honor law enforcement officers killed in the line-of-duty.
While my position as the Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee lead me to sponsor and present a Senate Resolution marking May 6th as Police Officers’ Memorial Day in Pennsylvania, my participation in the event had special meaning.
One of the four officers being remembered was US Deputy Marshal Chris Hill, who transferred to Harrisburg from Washington D.C. during my tenure as US Marshal for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. It was a pleasure to share with attendees my admiration and fond memories of Deputy Marshal Hill.
Additionally, we honored the lives of Officer Alex Sable with the York City Police Department, Detective Sergeant Brian Cuscino with the New Castle Police Department, and Officer Raymond Diaz, Jr. with the Philadelphia Police Department. All four men were well-respected officers of the law that we lost entirely too soon.
Regan School Security Bill Garners Unanimous Vote in Education Committee
On Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee, Chaired by Senator Wayne Langerholc, unanimously voted in favor of Senate Bill 621, legislation I am sponsoring to improve upon last session’s school safety law, Act 44 of 2018.
While Act 44 accomplished a great deal to make our schools safer in this Commonwealth, it was brought to my attention that as it read, the new law neglected to include sheriffs and deputy sheriffs as school resource officers (SROs), which was never the intent. Several schools already use these individuals as SROs and found themselves out of compliance with the law. SB 621 resolves that issue to allow those schools to continue operating as they had been.
Additionally, the Department of Education recently issued a statement to all school districts with the department’s interpretation of Act 44 related to the role of school security personnel, particularly with respect to firearms. Once again, school districts found themselves questioning whether or not they were following the law.
Senate Bill 621 clarifies some uncertainty and interpretation surrounding those individuals allowed to carry a firearm within their official duties as a school security provider.
In addition to outlining firearms training requirements, the legislation establishes a baseline of training for all school security personnel – whether armed or not – to ensure that School Police Officers, School Resource Officers, and School Security Guards are trained for the purpose of working in a school setting and alongside our students.
Overall, we are not mandating that our schools have armed school security but rather we are providing them with options to make the best choice for their communities.
Click here to watch video of the entire meeting, during which the Committee also approved Senate Bill 456 to allow private licensed schools to create branch campuses in counties outside the county that houses the primary site.
Northern High School Star Athletes Recognized by Senate
On Wednesday I had the privilege of welcoming to the Capitol and introducing on the Senate floor, three star athletes from Northern High School – swimmer Kate Lutz, cross country runner Marlee Starliper, and wrestler Kyle Swartz. Click the video above to watch my remarks and to learn more about these outstanding athletes.
Civil Air Patrol Day at the Capitol
Left to right: Lt. Col. Berry, Sen. Regan, and Lt. Col. Fleming
On Tuesday, the Civil Air Patrol – the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force – held its annual Day at the Capitol.
Colonel Gary Fleming (CAP Commander) and Lt. Colonel Kevin Berry (CAP Vice Commander) briefed House and Senate members on their three primary missions: Aerospace Education, Cadet Programs, and Emergency Services (Search & Rescue).
The Pennsylvania Wing of the Civil Air Patrol has 45 squadrons, including one at the Capitol City Airport. The Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program is the Air Force version of the JROTC for the Army – and is open to youth ages 12 to 21. For more information, please click here.
On Wednesday, the House Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee unanimously reported my legislation, Senate Bill 128, which would codify the Civil Air Patrol into the Pennsylvania Department of Military & Veterans Affairs. I am hopeful that this legislation will get to the Governor in the coming weeks.
EMS Week in Pennsylvania Resolution Adopted
On Wednesday, the Senate adopted Senate Resolution 128, which I sponsored, designating May 19th through 25th as EMS Week in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania’s EMS system encompasses dispatchers, emergency vehicle operators, air medic personnel, emergency medical responders, emergency medical technicians, ambulance attendants, paramedics, firefighters, police officers and other law enforcement, and emergency room doctors and nurses — ALL who render aid around-the-clock in the wake of sudden, life-threatening illness or injury.
Their combined efforts makes our communities stronger. And they are always there for us – 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. They often provide care at great risk to themselves, responding to the scene of brutal crimes, raging fires, and devastating traffic accidents. For sick and injured patients, access to high-quality emergency care significantly improves their recovery process and chances of survival.
I am working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to help implement the recommendations of the SR 6 Fire & EMS Commission from last session. There is much work to do on that front, but for now, we take a moment to publically recognize and honor our EMS Providers.
Senate Passes “Farming First” Legislative Package
The Senate approved a package of “Farming First” bills this week that would help Pennsylvania agricultural operations remain competitive and profitable for current and future generations of farmers. The bills in the “Farming First” package would:
The “Farming First” legislative package builds on the longstanding efforts of Senate Republicans to support Pennsylvania’s farm families and maintain agriculture’s status as the state’s top industry. Pennsylvania’s 59,000 farm families manage more than 7.7 million acres of farmland. The agriculture industry generates more than $7.5 billion in cash receipts annually.
All of the bills in the “Farming First” package were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. Click here for more information.
Senate Sends Child Safety Bill to Governor
The Senate approved a bill on Wednesday that would provide civil immunity for people who rescue children from locked vehicles during a crisis, such as when they are left alone in a locked, hot car.
House Bill 279, which provides for civil immunity when there is damage to a motor vehicle when forceful entry is necessary to rescue an individual, now goes to the Governor for enactment into law.
Under the measure, immunity would be granted based on several criteria, including a belief that the individual is in imminent danger of suffering harm and is unable to exit the vehicle without assistance. A reasonable attempt to locate the driver and contact law enforcement or an emergency responder must also be made prior to entry.
Measure Aims to Assist with Volunteer Firefighter Numbers
The Senate approved a bill on Monday that would help Pennsylvania’s volunteer fire companies recruit and retain members. Senate Bill 146, which makes online training more available to current and prospective first responders, now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
In the 1970’s, Pennsylvania had more than 300,000 volunteer firefighters; today we have fewer than 40,000. Firefighters – especially younger, tech-savvy firefighters-in-training – have requested that some courses be offered online, so that they can learn vital skills from the convenience of their own homes and on their own schedules.
Other Bills Passed by the Senate and Sent to the House
Two additional bills cleared the Senate this week and were sent to the House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 89 updates the Public School Code to replace “vocational-technical schools” with “career and technical schools.”
Senate Bill 613 amends the Administrative Code to repeal provisions related 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.
A recap of activity by the Senate committees I serve on.
Law & Justice
The Senate Law & Justice Committee approved Senate Resolution 105 on Tuesday, which directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to study the statutory cap on the current Pennsylvania State Police complement and issue a report of its findings and recommendations to the Senate.
Other Committee Action
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved several bills on Monday, including many of the “Farming First” bills mentioned above. Additionally, they voted to support Senate Bill 174, which provides for the tax sale of abandoned properties.
The Senate Finance Committee approved five bills on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 28 reduces the inheritance tax on property passing to non-sibling heirs.
Senate Bill 201 provides for “like-kind” exchange tax deferrals.
Senate Bill 541 improves Pennsylvania’s historic preservation incentive tax credit program.
Senate Bill 616 clarifies an existing sales and use tax exemption on certain services or goods purchased by qualified businesses located in a Strategic Development Area.
Senate Bill 618 grants a 10-year extension of the Coal Refuse Energy and Reclamation Tax Credit — from the currently mandated year of 2026 to 2036 — and increases the amount of tax credits to $45 million.
Game & Fisheries
The Game & Fisheries Committee approved three bills on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 481 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 552 gives the Game Commission the authority to establish fees.
Senate Bill 553 gives the Fish and Boat Commission the authority to establish fees.
Labor & Industry
The Senate Labor & Industry Committee approved three bills on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 91 requires the Department of Labor & Industry to collect and disseminate data about emerging and projected future employment sectors.
Senate Bill 118 creates a “Recovery to Work” pilot program.
Senate Bill 140 extends the rights of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act to siblings, grandparents and grandchildren in certain cases.
The Senate State Government Committee approved six bills on Tuesday.
House Bill 223 conveys land in Asylum Township, Bradford County, to French Azilum, Inc.
House Bill 227 clarifies that school director candidates will be required to submit 10 signatures for nomination.
Senate Bill 412 amends the state Constitution to repeal a provision that excludes federal, state, county, and municipal employees from serving as poll workers.
Senate Bill 413 amends the state Constitution to eliminate a provision requiring a separate ballot or a separate column on voting machines for the retention of justices, judges, and justices of the peace.
Senate Bill 538 conveys to the Cumberland Valley Rails-to-Trails Council a permanent easement for land owned by Shippensburg University for a parking lot.
Senate Bill 617 conveys land in the Borough of Lewistown to Mifflin County.
The Senate will reconvene on Monday, June 3, 2019.
In the meantime, I will be out and about in the district – meeting with constituents, touring local businesses, and presenting Senate Citations to Eagle Scouts.
Additionally, I will be participating in several Memorial Day events, including Camp Hill Borough’s parade and ceremony. I look forward to seeing many of you as we remember those who served our country and paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.