In this Edition:
Senate Votes to End Disaster Resolution, Implement Legislative Oversight
Stressing that Governor Wolf’s extended lockdown of Pennsylvania hurt families and did irreparable harm to employers, the Senate this week voted to end the statewide shutdown and provide for greater legislative oversight in the future.
On Monday, the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, which I chair, approved House Resolution 836, which was then approved by the full Senate on Tuesday. HR 836 terminates the Governor’s executive order that was issued on March 6 and renewed on June 3. The Governor used the emergency declaration to change and suspend state laws and spend state and federal taxpayer dollars without the approval of the General Assembly. Click above to watch my floor remarks prior to final passage of HR 836 and here for remarks at a press conference the following day.
On Wednesday, the Senate approved Senate Bill 1166, which would amend the state Constitution to require legislative approval of future emergency disaster proclamations beyond 30 days.
Regan Veterans Preference Bill Passes Senate
This week, the Senate voted in support of three pieces of legislation to benefit Pennsylvania Veterans, including a bill I sponsored to expand on the current Veterans Preference Law, which provides a hiring preference to qualified Veterans seeking public employment in line with the skills and experience obtained during their military training.
On Tuesday, the Senate approved my legislation, Senate Bill 952, which makes several changes to the law such as clarifying the transfer of the Veterans Preference to spouses and allowing those transitioning from military service or in the Reserves or National Guard to receive the Veterans Preference.
Legislation to streamline the verification process for a “Veteran” designation on driver’s licenses was approved by the Senate on Monday. The “Veteran” designation was established by Act 176 of 2012.
Senate Bill 927 would require PENNDOT to independently validate documentation provided by veterans and immediately issue the driver’s license with the designation. Currently, PENNDOT submits the application to the Department of Military & Veterans Affairs for verification.
Veterans must produce a DD Form 214, retired military ID, a Federal VA Medical ID card, or other acceptable discharge documents to be eligible for the designation.
Also on Monday, the Senate passed Senate Bill 276, which increases monthly payments by the Blind Veterans Pension Program and the Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans Pension Program from $150 to $180. The programs serve more than 2,000 veterans who suffered service-connected injuries or diseases that resulted in loss of vision, paralysis, or the loss of two or more extremities. The payments were last increased in 1999.
The bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Bill Mandating Review of 2020 Primary Sent to Governor
Legislation mandating an extensive review of the 2020 Primary Election received final legislative approval this week and was sent to the Governor’s desk.
House Bill 2502, which would help ensure election integrity under Pennsylvania’s new election laws, was approved by the Senate on Wednesday and by the House of Representatives on May 19. The bill directs the Department of State to issue a detailed report on the election to the State Government Committees of the House and Senate and post the information on its webpage.
The report would include data from each county, such as the number of applications for an absentee ballot that were approved and received; the number of applications for a mail-in ballot that were approved and received; the number of mail-in and absentee ballots that were voted by electors; and, the number of qualified electors voting by a provisional ballot.
Dangerous Dog Legislation Advances to the House
The Senate passed legislation on Monday to better protect the public from dogs that have severely injured a person or a domestic animal.
Currently, a victim, the state dog warden or a police officer may file a complaint with a magisterial district judge charging a dog owner with the summary offense of harboring a dangerous dog. In addition to proving that the dog has severely injured a person or domestic animal, it must be demonstrated that the animal has a violent history or the propensity to attack. Senate Bill 798 would require only that victims or authorities prove that the dog inflicted serious injury, without provocation, to secure a conviction. It also increases the annual registration fee for a dangerous dog from $500 to $1,000.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. Other bills sent to the House this week include:
Senate Bill 430, which requires carbon monoxide detectors in child care facilities that use a fossil fuel-burning heater or appliance or has an attached garage.
Senate Bill 494, which authorizes political subdivisions and authorities to enter into contracts for services when two consecutive advertisements fail to receive bids.
Senate Bill 905, which is the Capital Budget Project Itemization Act for Fiscal Year 2019-20.
Senate Bill 995, which increases the maximum allowable width of multipurpose agricultural vehicles on public roadways.
Senate Bill 1125, which gives school districts the option to extend property tax discount periods and base periods, and remove penalties for payments through June 30, 2021.
House Bill 1510, which renames several bridges and highways. The bill returns to the House of Representatives for concurrence on Senate amendments.