Harrisburg Happenings – A report on the Legislative Session Week of January 28, 2013

The Senate passed legislation on Wednesday to ensure that fines paid to the NCAA by Penn State would benefit Commonwealth residents. Senate Bill 187, which I co-sponsored, would place the fine money in a trust fund administered by the state Treasury and appropriated to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency for child advocacy programs and to combat child sex abuse.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

STEB measure is first Senate Bill to clear the chamber

The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 66 on Tuesday, making it the first such measure to be sent to the House during the 2013-14 Legislative Session. 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. Because of the Constitutional requirement for uniform taxation, it is necessary that locally assessed millage is equalized when entities, such as school districts, encompass municipalities in multiple counties. It is STEB’s responsibility to conduct this equalization on an annual basis.

The Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee, which I chair, approved the bill last week.

Violent crime task force to be empanelled

The Senate adopted Senate Resolution 6 on Tuesday. This measure directs the Joint State Government Commission to establish an advisory committee to review proposals that address the issue of violent crime. The Task Force on the Prevention of Violence will study the underlying causes of mass shootings and other violent crimes. The panel will consider the various gun regulation proposals that are being introduced , weigh in on proposals to strengthen Pennsylvania’s mental health laws so that people receive treatment before they commit criminal acts, and determine if more can done to combat bullying including cyberbullying.

Remembering former Senator Oesterling

The Senate passed my Condolence Resolution on Tuesday for former Senator Donald Oesterling who passed away on Sunday, January 20 at the age of 85. Senator Oesterling formerly resided in Butler and represented the 21st Senatorial District from 1964 to 1972.


Legislation strengthening DNA laws approved by committee

A long-overdue modernization of the laws governing the collection and use of DNA technology to fight crimes in Pennsylvania was unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 150 will allow law enforcement agencies to make better use of DNA evidence by requiring individuals arrested for serious crimes to submit DNA samples. The bill also authorizes a new type of DNA search to help identify suspects in unsolved crimes, strengthens privacy protections and requires DNA laboratories and technicians to meet national standards.

The Judiciary committee also approved Senate Bill 75, a measure extensively revising state law on human trafficking and Senate Bill 304, which amends Titles 15 (Corporations and Unincorporated Associations) and 54 (Names) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.

Committees review Unemployment Compensation call centers

The Senate Labor and Industry Committee held a joint hearing with the House Labor and Industry Committee on Tuesday to review issues related to unemployment compensation call centers.

The committees held the hearing in response to complaints, primarily in Philadelphia about difficulties some individuals have had in contacting the centers. This and other issues were discussed by state Labor and Industry Secretary Julia Hearthway and other testifiers at the hearing.

Video, audio and testimony from the joint hearing are available at https://pasenategop.com/committees/labor-industry/2013/012913/agenda.htm.


Justin Leventry
(717) 787-9684

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