Harrisburg Happenings – A report on the Legislative Session Week of January 22, 2013

The Senate kicked off its 2013-14 Legislative Session floor activity this week by meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday. State government was closed on Monday in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Senate floor activity focused primarily on accepting annual reports from various state agencies, formalizing standing committee assignments and introduction and referral to committee of legislation.

Intergovernmental Operations Committee moves STEB bill

I am pleased to report that the Intergovernmental Operations Committee which I chair held its first meeting on Wednesday to consider and approve Senate Bill 66. This bill will complete the process of formally moving State Tax Equalization Board (STEB) into the Department of Community and Economic Development.

This move, which actually was included as part of the 2012-13 state budget, is intended to save taxpayer money while streamlining and enhancing STEB operations. STEB provides a vital service, especially for school districts that operate in multiple counties.

Private management of Lottery reviewed by committee

The Senate Finance Committee, on which I serve as Vice Chairman, held a public hearing on Monday, January 14, to evaluate the proposal for private management of the Pennsylvania Lottery. The hearing focused on negotiations between the Corbett Administration and Camelot Global Services, a firm which operates Britain’s national lottery and is the sole bidder to provide management of the Pennsylvania Lottery.

The Committee heard from Secretary of Revenue Dan Meuser, Secretary of Aging Brian Duke and Pete Tartline from the Governor’s Office of the Budget as well as Diane Thompson, chief executive officer, and Alex Kovach, president, of Camelot Global Services PA LLC.

Audio, video and written testimony from the hearing are all available online at: www.pasenategop.com/committees/finance/2013/011413/agenda.htm.

Judiciary Committee holds hearing on prison closings

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 22, to receive testimony on the planned closing of the State Correctional Institution at Cresson and the State Correctional Institution at Greensburg. Testifiers at the hearing included Corrections Secretary John Wetzel, municipal officials from Cresson Township, Cresson Borough and Hempfield Township and union representatives.

Audio and video from the hearing are available at: www.senaterepublicannews.com/committees/judiciary/2013/012213/agenda.htm

Majority Policy Committee considers special education challenges

The Senate Majority Policy Committee held a public hearing on Wednesday, January 23, to hear from school officials and experts on special education and the challenges faced by school districts. Testifiers, including superintendents and education advocates, discussed specific cost drivers in special education and the inequities in the state funding formula. Among the school districts testifying were the Upper Darby School District (Delaware County), the Lewisburg Area School District (Union County), and the North Allegheny School District (Allegheny County).

Audio, video and written testimony from the hearing are all available online at: https://policy.pasenategop.com/2013/01/23/special-education-challenges-facing-pennsylvania-school-districts/.